Saturday, November 17, 2012

15 days to a simpler home: day 14 - the garage

Everything that I'm about to suggest for simplifying and organizing your garage all boils down to one point.
Park. Your. Cars. In. Them.
Especially if you live somewhere that gets cold in the winter, this is so important.  Your garage is such an amazing thing, and makes life so much easier and comfortable when it's cold and snowy.  You don't have to scrape your windows, you don't have to start your car 20 minutes before you leave, just so it's slightly warmer than it is outside; it's a beautiful thing.
Now, I recognize that I am a new homeowner, so we haven't accumulated as much as a lot of people have, but there are ways to simplify your garage, starting with your lawn and outdoor tools.  Get them hung up in one spot so they are easy to locate and put away. This doesn't have to be fancy.  Most of these tools have some type of hole in their handle that you can just hang onto a nail.

Also, if you have a broom for outside that is different than the one used inside, like we do, keep this with the outdoor tools.  That way, there will be no confusion on which broom should be used where.
If you're like us, then you tend to hang on to scrap pieces of wood and drywall for future projects.  So we keep all of these items together, and small scraps in a bin.  I plan to go through this bin every spring, and clear out the pieces that I probably won't use, and just keep common boards that I am more likely to utilize.
I would also suggest hanging ladders either on the wall, or from the ceiling, but I just need to go buy those hooks to do that...
If you keep your trash can in the garage, keep it near the door.  Where our trash can is positioned, we can toss things in there without stepping on the cold garage floor. 
Speaking of the door, we also plan to paint this side of the door black.  Not only will it look really nice, but white is just not practical for a garage door.  Dirty fingerprints and muddy hands make this door dirty often, and the dark color will help.
We also keep our indoor broom and dustpan right outside the door.  We don't really have a good place for these inside, so it's nice to keep them out of the way, but easily accessible at the same time.  Again, these are just hung up with some nails.
Our house came with this shelving, and although it's not my favorite, and I hope to upgrade it at some point in time, this is what we have for tool, garden and other garage-related storage.  Keep like-items together so they are easy to find, and only keep what you really need.  For instance, when we get a full-size grill, this small one will be sold/donated.
 I keep each box labeled so that we can find things easily, and so that they can be put away easily as well.
In the future, we actually plan to build a workbench, over by where the scrap wood is currently.  And then, we will probably utilize a peg board for small tools. 

 For other tools you might have in your garage currently, think about what you really need.  Look at each one and ask yourself "have I used this within the last 1-2 years?", "could I borrow this same tool from a neighbor or family member?". Think the same things when buying a tool, could you share tools with a neighbor? Or is it likely that you will use the tool again, so renting from your hardware store might be a better option?  Going through these points will help you to make a decision on whether to bring (and spend money on!) another item home.

We also hang up other items in the garage, like our sporting goods (tennis rackets, frisbee, etc.), and our snow shovels.  Make sure every item in your garage has a home, and it will stay clean and organized.
If you go through your whole garage and there are too many items, really consider what you need.  Or perhaps you could put some items in the basement, or in an outside storage/tool shed.  Either way, make room for what actually belongs in your garage: your cars.  You will be so happy you did!
Read the Other Posts in this Series:

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