By Dan Rafter
For Katrina Teeple, a garage is a luxury. And it should be treated that way.
Too many homeowners take their garages for granted, stuffing them with so many boxes, old couches and broken toys that they can’t even fit their cars.
“People have too much stuff,” Teeple says, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based organizing service Operation Organize. “You can reclaim your garage and make it so that it’s not just a junk zone. You can turn your garage into an extension of your house. Maybe half of your garage will be for your car and the other half for arts and crafts, or a tool bench or a treadmill.”
The good news is that it takes just a bit of effort – and maybe some shelving units, hooks and storage bins – to turn that mess of a garage into an oasis.
For Teeple, the key is to have a vision of what you want your garage to be. Some might want a safe spot to store their prized baseball-card collections. Others might want a room to exercise away from the rest of the family. Still others might simply want a garage that’s clutter-free enough to hold not just one but two cars.
Deborah Hanson, safety expert for Aurora, Ill.-based The Lehigh Group, maker of Crawford garage and home-workshop organization products, says that the key is for homeowners to start by sorting the mess.
This means separating a garage’s contents into categories.
Most garages are filled with auto products, gardening tools, holiday decorations and sports equipment. Hanson says that owners should dedicate one wall for sports equipment, one corner for gardening tools and so on.
“It’s an easy way to divide up your garage,” Hanson said. “It’s an easy way to find what you are looking for.”
Owners should take advantage of vertical space, too. Inexpensive shelving units and hooks mounted into walls can allow owners to hang everything from their lawn equipment to their bicycles and ladders off their garage floor.
Such a move will have a dramatic impact, Hanson says.
Hanson adds, “There are so many products designed specifically for the garage. You’d be amazed at how many products there are that are designed to hold objects that are a little bit awkward.”
For example, a special tool is designed to hold wheelbarrows off the floor.
Teeple suggests that garage owners invest in storage containers that are all the same size. This allows homeowners to store more items in less space. An old, but functional, dresser full of drawers might make a nice addition against a garage wall. This could be a good space to store tools or gardening equipment.
Organizing a garage can pay off in a variety of ways, Teeple says. It might boost your mental health.
“There are two ways to use a garage: One, you can use it to park your cars. Two, you can use it as a workspace or a functional storage space. What too many people end up doing is neither,” Teeple says. “They put things in the garage that they don’t know what to do with. It becomes this growing junk room that you don’t want to open. It becomes a sore spot every time you walk in there.”
But when a garage is clean and organized, “your garage is prime real estate. Most Americans are wasting it,” Teeple says. “Our garages too often become a source of clutter and stress. It we get a new perspective, we can make our garages whatever we want. Having a clean, clutter-free garage? It gives you a whole new attitude.”