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Excavating Garage Grunge


Published: 06/14/2012


The garage is often the largest, most disorganized space in the house. Are you sheltering less than a few hundred dollars worth of stuff in your garage, yet keeping one of your biggest investments, your vehicle, out in the cold where it can be damaged?

Before running out to purchase a shed to store your yard and sports equipment, consider paring down. Pull everything out of
your garage and start sorting.

Choose a warm, dry day for this task, get an early start, and turn on some music to keep you motivated. Get rid of broken
items, give away duplicates or seldom-used items, and set aside any tools or other stuff you've borrowed from your neighbours so you can return them at the end of the day.

Many discarded items from the garage may be considered hazardous waste, so make arrangements to transport them to a
hazardous waste site within a day or two; check your phone book for a location near you. Once the garage is empty, sweep and hose it down. Next, it’s time to store what’s left. You can organize it yourself or take advantage of a company
that specializes in garage transformations and can supply customized storage solutions.

Getting the most from your space:

Store as many items as you can on the wall or ceiling so the floor space will be available for that expensive investment we
talked about earlier. You can maximize wall space in a number of ways.

* You can buy or make shelves using particleboard and heavy-duty brackets securely fastened to studs. Use shelves
to hold clear plastic storage tubs that can store home and garden supplies. Store similar items together in the tubs and clearly label them.

* Hang bikes, ladders and folded lawn chairs on heavy-duty, rubber-coated hooks.

* Use ceiling-mounted shelves to take advantage of otherwise wasted overhead space. Look for units that can go
above the open garage door. Store seasonal items here, like skis in the summer or camping equipment in the winter.

* Use brackets to hang your recycling bins. Locate them closest to where you would use them (mud room/laundry room door).

* Hang long-handled yard equipment like rakes, brooms and shovels to keep them off the floor yet easily accessible. Drill holes in the handles and thread with some strong twine, or place them on special hangers. Another option, if you have the floor space, is to purchase a durable upright plastic tool organizer and tuck it in a corner.

* Keep nails and screws organized in small jelly or baby food jars. Nail the jar lids to the underside of wood shelving and simply screw each jar into its lid. Group these items by type and size.

* Add a pegboard to hang small tools. Use paint to outline the shape of each tool so you’ll know where it goes when you are done using it. Place a shelf on top of the pegboard for larger items and, if you need one, a workbench underneath. Store heavy items on the bottom shelf of the workbench.

* If you have the floor space, consider purchasing freestanding utility cabinets with lockable doors to keep hazardous chemicals out of the reach of children. If floor space is limited, mount cabinets to the wall, at a height that is out of children’s reach.
Organize shelves by category (fertilizers and pesticides in one area, paint and solvents in another).

* Keep potting soil in large trash containers to prevent spillage.

For those who have the budget and want a clean, polished look, inquire about customizing your garage with a professionally installed slat wall storage system. These systems are similar to those used to display merchandise on store walls and can be outfitted with an array of organizing accessories.

With the hard work done, you’ll spend less time searching for hidden tools and more time enjoying the sunny days ahead. Maybe your vehicle might even get a safe, dry home!

Hellen Buttigieg is a professional organizer,  To subscribe to her free newsletter, visit For information on how to hire one of her organizers, call 905-829-2219 or e-mail


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