NJ Kids Organization Tips: The American Garage
The US Department of Energy reported in 2010 that one-quarter of Americans with a two-car garage have so much stuff stored in it there is no room left for vehicles. How much room is in your garage?
Why do we have so much stuff? The why’s aren’t nearly as important as the question of what to do with it all. This is a classic situation of filling up an empty space. When we have a large cavernous space that rarely sees a houseguest, when an item is without a clearly defined home, it goes to the garage to be out of sight. By determining homes for our belongings we are better able keep our garage in check and therefore place our vehicles inside.
A simple answer includes shelving, plastic tubs, and purging. Place the shelving along the walls then place small items in the tubs. Eliminate items on the floor by utilizing ceiling hooks and top spaces.
Your garage is an in-between area of your home…secure in many ways but still susceptible to the elements. Always store anything in your garage at least 2” off the floor. This will serve as a very basic protection from possible floods. I would also recommend storing nothing in cardboard boxes. These will deteriorate over time and are not a viable method for long-term storage. Plastic tubs are the ideal method for garage storage. Make sure to purchase clear tubs and always get similar shapes to assist in planning and stacking.
To have a well-oiled garage, create areas for each type of item used, for example, store all camping equipment together, bike equipment together, tools and so on. This will give you the luxury of knowing the general area of an item, if not it’s exact location. If you have other members of your household handling garage items, make signs to indicate what the areas should contain. These can be as fun and creative as you are. This is also a fantastic way to enlist the help (read: support) of younger family members.
Be sure to utilize wall space with magnetic strips and peg boards. A very inexpensive peg system can be purchased from Amazon.com and is called a Peg-a-System. It can be expanded to meet just about any number of possible needs.
Finally, purchase metal shelving with open racks. This will allow any dust, debris, or pest remains to trickle through the shelves and swept away with a broom. Racks with locking wheels are the best investment as they are easily moved as your needs change.
As I have said before, an organizing system is only as good as the people using it. Mark your calendar to clear out your garage twice annually…and remember the 12-month rule: If you haven’t used it in the past twelve months, and are unable to foresee using it in the next twelve months, it is best to let it go and replace it later, if needed.