Do you own a garage? Or is it actually a vastly disorganized but very convenient dumping ground? Garages become the accumulation of everything from the day you moved in, to the present day, all dangerously piled, covered in dust, and any arachnophobe’s nightmare. Are we doing ourselves a disservice with the state of our garages? They don’t need converting into second reception rooms, new kitchen-diners, or a fourth bedroom to be useful. Actually, if they were well organized, they’d make the perfect storage space, DIY room, and even laundry room. If your garage resembles a landfill site more than a room of your home, here’s how you could go about making better use of the space.
First things first, you’re going to want to get everything that is inside the garage, outside. This is the perfect time of year for this because you’re less likely to die of exposure or hypothermia, and you’re stuff is less likely to get rained on. So take everything outside, and then start organizing it into piles out the front of your home. One pile is for Goodwill, one pile to trash, and one pile to keep. Chances are, as you get further back into the depths of the room, you’re going to find more and more things you can’t even remember buying. Be brutal and realistic – if you’ve not needed it in the last decade, you’re probably not going to need it in the next.
Once the space is empty and everything is organized into piles, it’s time to attack the room. Chances are you’ll have enough cobwebs to make your skin crawl, as well as dust, sawdust, and potentially some vermin as well – seldom-used garages make the perfect environment for little mouse families to prosper in. It could be worth calling an exterminator at this point to have a look around and give you a quote for removing any pests.
Then you’re going to want to blast it. An air compressor is perfect for this job. It’ll blast all the loose dust and sawdust out from tiny crevices and cobwebs from the corners, leaving you with the empty shell you need to start rebuilding from. It’s possible to hire an air compressor, but they’re inexpensive to buy, and a useful thing to have around. When choosing the best portable air compressor, be sure to find one which enables you to use it for paint jobs as well – it’ll make painting the floor and walls a whole lot easier. Once you’ve cleaned it, have an electrician look at any wiring you might have. This is a good time to make any major changes, as pretty soon you’ll be painting and refilling it.
You’re going to want bright, light colors, especially if you have no windows. The dingier the room, the less usable it is. Go for bright white, or an off-white color for the most versatility. A fairly hard-wearing paint intended for use on exterior walls will be longer lasting. This sort of paint will be able to take a battering, and it also won’t suffer so much from the freezing temperatures it could experience in winter.
As mentioned previously, there’s no point having a dingy garage. You need bright light to do anything in there, so if it means taking out the old, poor quality halogen strip light and replacing it with far brighter spot lights, it’s a sacrifice worth making to ensure the space is usable. The type of light does depend on how you plan to use the space – if you’re just going to use it for storage and the odd bit of DIY, a bright bulb is fine, but if you’ll ever use it for relaxing or socializing, you might prefer a bulb with a dimmer switch in order to reduce glare.
What do you plan on using your garage for? Is it just storing gardening equipment, children’s outside toys, and a few tools? Do you plan on practicing the drums, or letting your kid have their band practice out there? Will you use it for laundry, DIY, or working on your car? Before you bring everything (that you’re keeping) back inside, decide how you’re going to zone it.
Allocating areas of the garage to certain tasks helps to ensure that you make the most of the space, but it will also help you to resist the temptation of getting lazy and just chucking things back in again. A great way to break up the zones is just with lines of paint on the floor separating storage areas from DIY areas from play areas, if that is what you want to do. It also helps you to clarify how you will use the garage, and means that any far-flung ideas have to either be materialized or scrapped.
This is the fun bit, and you can really test your problem-solving skills. Now it’s time to start moving everything back in. Do it slowly, only putting things in their rightful and permanent place. To maximize floor space, attach everything you can to the wall. Use braces and hooks for holding tools, sports equipment, and even bicycles, just be careful not to store anything too heavy above head height, in case you cause an injury. Use cupboards and shelves for keeping smaller tools and pieces of equipment on. Never underestimate the power of a few baskets on a shelf for keeping tiny objects organized. If something hasn’t got a place, consider whether you even need it, and if you do, find it the perfect storage solution.
Use cabinets for seasonal items like Christmas decorations and Halloween pieces so they can be accessed and put away easily when the time of year comes around. Anything that’s too big to go in a wall or cupboard, such as a workbench or the lawnmower, should get its very own spot on the floor. Be sure to organize it by accessibility – something you only need every blue moon can afford to be tucked away, or kept at a higher level. Things you might need to access on a monthly basis should be nearer the front and easier to reach.
You’ll have to give some time up to do it, but once you do, you’ll never look back.