Is Your Garage Your Home’s Biggest Junk Drawer?
Andover resident Nancy Patsios runs a move management and organizing business.
My husband was fond of relaying his experience of having our garage cleaned out and organized. I use the term fond a bit loosely. Whenever the conversation with friends or family turned to anything organizing, he chimed in with this story. He arrived home one day to find the contents of the garage in the driveway.
His first reaction was something along the lines of, “What the heck is going on here?” He had not granted permission to our children, grown men, who (thankfully) agreed with me that there was just too much stuff in there. A lot of it was typical of what you might find in a garage. Items that would be useful for household projects — if said projects were to be done. There was leftover this and that from projects gone by as well as the usual seasonal paraphernalia.
And by the way, I did and continue to park my car in the garage.
Garage Runneth Over
A lot of American garages are so stuffed to overflowing that there is simply no room for a vehicle. In fact, a UCLA study found that to be true in three out of four respondents. It is startling considering that 80 percent of home buyers factor in having a garage when deciding to purchase. A garage door replacement had the highest average return, yielding almost 100 percent of the project cost at the time of resale. That is a hefty influence and investment to safeguard the home’s biggest junk drawer.
The garage does seem like a logical place to store some items. Without a shed, yard and gardening tools likely call the garage home, as do bicycles and other outdoor toys or equipment. But it also becomes the drop zone for things to be dealt with later, or not at all.
Reclaim Space in the Garage
There are certain things that should just not be stored in the garage. Anything that is vulnerable to the fluctuating temperatures or items that hold value, monetary or sentimental, should not be housed there. Hazardous materials, especially anything that can ignite should be stored outside. Things that will attract pests (the rodent and bug variety) are included in this category. That means food, clothing, papers, even pet food should not be kept in the garage. And cardboard boxes especially should not be used as storage containers for their attractiveness to pests. It is time to find new homes for these items.
Once you know the types of objects that will live in the garage, map out a plan and create zones for each category of storage. Take advantage of lots of vertical wall space. Mounted pegboards, hooks and brackets provide easy access for garden supplies and sports equipment. Free-standing, floating or shelves on a track system are good options to hold bins of auto supplies, camping gear or tools. It is best to keep everything up off the floor whenever possible.
If you have extra plywood sitting in your garage, for you know, those just in case projects, it may now become useful. Use it to create a solid backdrop for installing shelves, hooks, and brackets. Don’t overlook ceiling storage, either, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the garage door mechanism. Some rack systems operate with pulleys so while stuff is stored up and away, it is easy to access when you need it.
Park Street Vehicles in the Garage
It may go without saying that you want to clear enough space in the garage to park your car. But other street vehicles, namely bicycles, are better protected there as well, since leaving bicycles out in the elements can cause their deterioration over time. Bicycles are bulky and take up a good deal of room, so be sure to include adequate space in your overall garage organizing plan to house as many as necessary for your household.
Luckily, there are lots of options to help accomplish this goal, and some take up minimal precious space.
floor bike stand
A floor bike stand is a simple and effective storage option and holds multiple bikes securely in place. Once filled, it can take up significant space, so it is best to take some measurements and plot its best placement in the garage. There are however versions of floor bike stands that hold just one or two bikes offering a much smaller footprint.
wall-mounted track system
A wall-mounted track system offers flexibility with hooks that can be repositioned anywhere along the track. It also gets bikes off the ground providing potential space beneath for other storage.
vertical bike racks
Vertical bike racks offer a space-saving solution, however, they can accommodate fewer bikes than the floor or wall-mounted options.
Simple bike hooks are the least expensive option and can easily keep bicycles stored neatly and accessible. Assembly does require installation into a stud (the wood variety!) vs. drywall so they can be placed conveniently on garage walls while opening space below.
Maintaining your newly organized garage is worth the investment of time and materials to declare it a clutter-free zone. Each season may bring temptation to shove another thing or two in the garage so use the changing seasons as a reminder to do a clutter check. Your car and bicycles will thank you.