Can You Park The Car In Your Garage?

by Ramona Creel

Think In Terms Of Activities

Few people use their garage for just parking a car. This has become one of the most multi-functional living spaces in the entire house. It's the spot where you work on home improvement and yard projects, it's a storage area for sports equipment, it's the off-season home for beach supplies and holiday decorations. Your garage might have as many personalities as you do, but you can keep your space from becoming schizophrenic by setting up a series of centers.

Whether each “center” involves just a few shelves and wall-pegs or an elaborate work area — the goal is to store everything you need for that activity in one place, along the perimeter of the garage, leaving room for your vehicle in the middle. Some examples of useful centers might include:

  • a car care center
  • a gardening center
  • a cleaning supply center
  • a tool and workbench center
  • an exercise center
  • a sports center
  • a “warehouse store overflow” center
  • seasonal centers (beach, winter, holiday, etc.)

Another trick is to set up portable “kits” for each of your major garage activities (gardening, car care, etc.) Simply fill a bucket or basket with those items that you use most, label the container, and store it on the shelf. The next time you get ready to weed your flower bed or clean your vehicle, you won't waste half the day searching for all your tools and supplies. Everything is right at your fingertips — just grab and go!

Containerizing Is The Key

The reason that your garage is such an organizing challenge has nothing to do with the space (after all, it's just a big room, like every other part of your home). The problem is the stuff stored within — so much of it is small and strangely-shaped, a bunch of miscellaneous “what-the-heck-do-I-do-with-this?” items that won't sit nicely on a shelf or in a drawer.

It's up to you to regain control by putting everything that is currently rolling around loose into containers. This serves two purposes — not only do plastic tubs with lids keep out dampness, dirt, and insects, but it will be a heck of a lot easier to find that one part or tool you need when it's stored together with all the other similar odds and ends.

Organize your containers into logical categories (tools, gardening gloves, paint brushes, etc.) and label them clearly. Then set each shelf aside for a different category of “stuff” — for example, one shelf might hold cleaning supplies, another could be designated for holiday decorations, and a third may be just for non-perishable grocery items you buy in bulk. Also label each shelf clearly so there is never any question about what gets stored where.

Maximize Your Space

It's unfortunately that so much of your garage space is less than 100% accessible — especially if you have high ceilings that you can't reach without a ladder. I understand why most folks ignore storage above shoulder height, but these hard-to-reach areas are great for seasonal things you only need once or twice a year — like holiday decorations. Put in some high shelves and a few hanging racks — suddenly you have twice as much room, and you can save your more accessible storage for items you use all the time.

Also investigate the many specialty garage hanging racks available on the market — there are some really creative solutions for storing tubs, coolers, artificial Christmas trees, and even bikes from the ceiling. These organizers generally involve either a pulley system or some other mechanical method for raising and lowering the rack or platform, making it easy to both store and retrieve your “stuff.”

Of course, you can also go out and invest in those trendy garage organizersthat are designed to store specific types of items — tools, sportsequipment, gardening paraphernalia. But some of the best solutions canbe created from items you already own. Large barrels and trash canswith lids are a great way to store things that normally sit around inopened bags — like potting soil, mulch, dog food, charcoal, etc. Thesecontainers prevent spills, keep out moisture and bugs, and line upnicely against the wall in your garage — just be sure to label them soyou know what you have! Big open containers like these can also be usedfor those items that won't fit in a small tub on a shelf. I'vemade use of low wide-mouthed baskets for balls (soccer, basketball,kickball, football) or bulky sports equipment (gloves, pads, sparringequipment, you name it) — and tall trash bins for long-handled tools(rakes, mops, brooms, shovels) or long gangly sports items (bats,hockey sticks, ski poles, etc.) You can even turn discarded furniture into garage storage — a dresser with drawers for power tools, or an old armoire to store jackets, boots, and overshoes. Be creative!

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.