Are you ready for some shocking statistics? (You may or may not be surprised at some of them...)
* 25% of American’s with two-car garages don’t have room to park their cars in them; 32% have room for only one car. - U.S. Department of Energy
* 50% of homeowners rate the garage as the most disorganized place in the house. - NAPO (National Organization of Professional Organizers)
* In a recent homeowner survey, 92 percent of homeowners surveyed described their home as somewhat or very organized, one fourth of them admitted embarrassment with the garage and nearly one third said they keep their garage door shut so others won't see the mess. The survey also found that one out of five homeowners have actually gotten into an argument with their spouse about the organizational state of their garage. - Garage Works® Gladiator (a leader in garage organization and storage systems)
* From 2009 through 2011, an estimated 6,600 fires broke out annually in garages attached to single-family homes and other residential structures. Those fires caused an estimated 30 deaths a year, along with 400 injuries and $457 million in property damage. During the three-year period, the average garage fire caused $54,800 worth of damage. More than 45 percent of garage fires reach other parts of a home. - U.S. Fire Administration
If you take a look at your garage right now, do you know what's in it? With cooler weather on the horizon, it might be time to tackle your garage (as well as your flower beds)!!
Here are my best practices for organizing your garage:
#1 - Identify Stacks of Miscellaneous Stuff Non-car space is often used as a clutter burial ground. We tend to put things in the garage that are no longer a part of our life, but we are not yet ready to let them go. When it’s too hard to let something go, it usually ends up in a stack in the garage. Things unseen and not used create a dull and chaotic feeling.
TIP: Let go of anything you’re not using. When you’re done, put the donation items in your car and drive them over to your local charity. Clutter left sitting in bags or piles is still clutter destructively impinging on your life. Put the trash items in garbage cans.
#2 - Outdoor Stuff and Tools Maybe you like to keep your lawn mower and other outdoor products in your garage. That’s not a problem as long as they are easy to get to and nothing is on top of something else. It helps to have what you need to use easily accessible.
TIP: If you keep tools in the garage, it’s worth going through them to see what you actually use. If you have multiples of items, decide what you need and use and let the rest go.
#3 - Other People’s Things or Items from the Previous Owners Have you borrowed things from other people that ended up in your garage? Are you using these things? Is it time to return them?
TIP: If you’re done with a borrowed item, call the person right now to set up a time to return the item. This keeps the momentum going. If the previous owner left items at your house and has not contacted you to retrieve them, go ahead and get rid of the items. Once they are left at the house, they are considered your property.
#4 - Divide the Garage into Zones It is easier to identify specific areas for things such as: lawn and garden equipment, sporting goods, tools and other hobbies.
TIP: Keep all like items together, store them in a way that you can easily access them and where they won’t get damaged.
#5 - Take Pride in the Garage An ideal garage organization system grows with homeowners as they grow, while providing functional, flexible storage options for a number of different products.
TIP: Some people take great pride in the model of car they drive or the brand of lawnmower they ride or the tools they own, but may not put that same amount of pride into how they store those expensive items. Make sure you take the same pride in garage storage as you do with the items you are storing.
#6 - Take Everything Out of Your Garage Looking at the space you have as a blank canvas can give you a better idea of what you're working with and can help you decide which areas are best to designate for certain activities.
TIP: If you feel like you might get overwhelmed by taking everything out at one time, do it in phases by breaking it up into smaller segments of the garage.
#7 - Prevent Garage Fires Store oil, gasoline, paint, propane and varnish in a shed away from your home. Put items that can catch fire on shelves away from electrical appliances.
TIP: Install a heat sensor or smoke alarm. Keep the garage tidy; don’t allow junk and/or boxes accumulate. Install shelving units to organize items that you store in the garage.
#8 - Maximize the Space Have a garage storage solution that takes advantage of the wall space that garages provide. Getting items like boxes and bikes off the garage floor with modular hooks and shelving.
TIP: Use as much vertical and ceiling space as possible. This rule is particularly important if you're planning to park your car in the garage. Make sure that you'll have room for your car without running into or onto anything.
#9 - Label Absolutely Everything Taking the time to label each and every drawer and shelf can make a world of difference and save money.
TIP: By labeling small items such as nails, screws, bolts and other things is tedious, it is definitely worth it in the long run and will also prevent frustration.
#10 - Eliminate the Waste Clutter is one of the biggest issues with garage organization. Remember that disposing of old paint containers or automotive fluids should be done properly.*
TIP: Always ask, “Am I still using and loving this or can I let it go?” If you find yourself saying, “I’ll decide later” or “I don’t know, can’t I just keep it here” or “It’s not harming anything out here” then that’s your subtle way of saying that this thing is no longer a part of your life, and you can let it go. If you decide you want something, ask, “Would I be okay about bringing this back in my home and making it part of my life again?” If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, trust that it’s outlived its use for you and it’s ready to go.
Dallas County Hazardous Waste (Home Chemical Collection Center) will accept household and construction chemicals including paint, kerosene, lighter fluid, automotive fluid, propane tanks, electronic equipment and a host of other non-trash, non-landfill items.
Call 214.553.1765 for more information including hours and location. If you live outside of Dallas County, google "chemical waste disposal" in your area.
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