Did you know that only 25% of homeowners with a two car garage can actually park a car in their garage? They usually have everything in them except for cars. It becomes the dumping ground for anything they no longer want in the house. It goes from the house to the garage because you’re not ready to get rid of it yet. First one thing, then another and another until the garage becomes jampacked with all kinds of things you no longer use. Enter the “black hole.” That’s what the garage has become. Once it gets into the garage it is truly forgotten. After some time, most people couldn’t tell you what is in there and even if they can, they usually can’t tell you where to find it. Hence, the “black hole.”
Whether you are in Encino or Pasadena or anywhere else the garage houses the same things. People put old furniture in there as well as pantry items, sporting equipment, seasonal gear, bins and boxes of old clothing, and of course, tools. Earthquake kits, which are greatly needed in Southern California, are another thing that ends up in the garage. As an aside, to make sure yours is up to date check out Safer Family Alliance. The point is that you can usually find any and everything in the garage except a car. Unless it is a toy car for one of the kiddos. How nice would it be to actually use the garage for something useful?
For far too long you have lived with an unorganized, cluttered garage. You’ve finally made the decision to do something about it. Let’s say you want the garage to be a storage space. The best thing to do, if you can, is to hire a professional to install cabinets or slat walls (depending on your needs). This will make your storage and organization that much easier. Here in Los Angeles, we love the company Organizit. Check your local area as I am sure there is a great company near you too. In the event that you can’t hire a professional, you can always DIY it with metro shelving or something similar. Either option will give you the tools to make your space nice and organized.
Another option would be to use that wasted space and convert it into an extension of your home. Think about it. Perhaps you were thinking about moving because you needed more space. This would be a great way to get some more space without actually having to move.
So, what could you do with this extra room? Perhaps you just want it to be a storage area which is perfectly fine as long as it is organized and you can easily access everything. Or maybe you just want to use it as an actual garage and a place to park your car. Or maybe it’s going to be a man cave or workspace or a teen hangout or a playroom for the little ones. It’s easier than you may think. What are your complaints about your house currently? Think long and hard about it, talk to other family members, and if necessary just Google what to do with garage space or converting a garage to a family room or even partial garage conversion ideas. The possibilities are endless. It can be anything you want it to. The most important thing is to put a plan in place and set a vision for the space. Then the storage and organization will depend on what the goal and vision are that you have for your garage.
Another great place to look for inspiration is HGTV for garage workbench ideas, garage playroom flooring, garage to den conversion, man cave ideas, playrooms, or just plain old storage ideas. Once you have that vision put a plan in place. Literally make a list of the things you need to do, the supplies you to need to make it happen and the time frame you think it will take to accomplish the project. Also, contact any contractors that may be needed to complete the job. You might need a painter or electrician or an actual contractor. Regardless of the help you may need, you want to make sure they are available during the time frame in which you will be working.
So now the task at hand is to declutter the garage. Hmm, declutter garage ideas? That’s the next step but how you ask? If your garage is packed to the gills you should plan on spending the whole day on this project. You might want to enlist some help as well. Especially if some of the items require 2 people to move them. Once you have your time allocated and some trusty helpers it’s time to begin. I would also recommend to try and do this project on a day that it is not too hot. Because as we all know there is no A/C in the garage and it can get pretty hot in there.
Let’s begin. First, make sure that your driveway is clear because you are going to need the space. Trust me on this. Now start by removing everything from the garage. Yes, I said, everything! As you take everything out of the garage sort the items into piles, like with like. So put all the sports equipment together, the furniture together, seasonal items together….and so on and so on. You need to see exactly what you have so that you can make intelligent decisions. For example, if you have 3 drills that you rarely use then you need to know that and realize you only need to keep one. Don’t forget that you will definitely need a pile for trash as well.
So, what to keep and what to let go of you ask? This will largely depend on your vision for the space and how much space you have for storage. Some of the items may have a use in your new space. First off, anything that is damaged, broken or unusable should immediately go in the trash pile. My philosophy is to only throw out what is pure trash and keep it out of the landfill. My little way to save the planet one home at a time.
The next step is to go through each pile and decide what you should keep, throw out or give away. The one mistake a lot of people make is wanting to give certain items to friends and family. If it is just an item or two that is completely fine. The problem is that often there is a sizable pile of things to now give other people. Usually, it takes a lot of effort to get it to them and it just sits around and creates more clutter. Most of the time it is easier to just donate the items and be done with it.
Congratulations! You have decluttered your garage and lived to tell the tale.
The question now is what to do next? At this point, it is safe to say that the trash has been discarded and the donations are gone. So all you are left with are the items you are keeping. So where do they go? It doesn’t matter if you are in Woodland Hills or West Los Angeles, if you have cabinets professionally installed or just using freestanding shelves, the process is exactly the same. Containerize what you can. In order to keep things organized put what will fit into containers. It could be a bin or hanging bag or specialized rack. The more that can be stored in something the more organized you will be. Holiday items should be stored in bins, preferably color coded for the season (yes there are orange ones for Halloween and red and green ones for Christmas), seasonal items such as ski clothes and the like should be in bins, balls could be in a hanging bag since that makes them easily accessible and tools should be in small containers. Of course, big things like bikes, and skis and surfboards and large tools won’t fit into bins but they can still be organized. Above all else do not forget to label the bins so you will know what’s inside. They could be store bought, put on with a post-it, or even written on with tape.
Now to organize. If you store pantry items in the garage you should put those closest to the entry of the house. This makes them easy to grab when needed. Everything else should be stored like with like. Are you noticing a theme here? That means put all the tools together, all the holiday décor together, all the painting supplies together and so on and so on. Before you know if you will have a beautifully organized garage.
If you opted to convert your garage into an extension of your home, you could still use part of it for storage. It is easy enough to hide the stored items behind a curtain or standing screen. Just follow your plan to complete the rest of the garage. The sit back and enjoy and pat yourself on the back. You did it!