Garage is now organized!

aloha2009February 16, 2014

I didn't initially realize the clutter in the garage had been caused by yours truly until things got bad enough for me to say no more as I parked the car in the garage and would walk in having to dodge around things. Granted my tolerance level of "junk" is fairly low but even so the chaos was too much.

I've been selling and giving away items on CL for the past few months here and there and was waiting for a nice day to venture out for a final purging. Yesterday was the nice enough day, I had been waiting for.

My DH and I went out to see what was available for shelving and bins. We found some heavy duty 27 gallon storage bins for only $8.10 (after pricing matching & 10% more off). The heavy duty material allows us to stack them on top of each other w/o crushing the others so we nixed the shelving completely. We only wanted to go 3 high so we could have easy access to the most used items. We initially bought 9 and ended up going back for 6 more for a total of 15 bins! We brought items that had been stored in the basement to the garage where it made more sense to store. We actually had more in the garage then ever but it ended up MUCH better organized and clutterless.

It made me question the amount of things we were keeping but it's all used being that we are DIYers and active in games/activities.

After years of organizing, and then having to reorganize again because the "system" wasn't working, I learned a very important lesson. Organize to the way I live, not to the way I want to live. I know for myself if things are easy to toss together in a bin with like categories, I'm much more likely to put it there. If I have many bins in smaller categories, it isn't going to happen for me.

For example, I've got 2 bins for my gardening now. 1 is the chemicals & fertilizers. The other is planting soil & tools. Before the chemicals were together with other chemicals, the fertilizers were on another shelf, the tools were in multiple places (didn't have a true home) and the soils were in another location. Not only were they all over the place, it looked messy!

We've got a few things we need to give away yet (my DD just took the tomato cages & soaker hoses last night) and we're in desperation for the recycling to come (aagh 11 more days yet), with cardboard & garden pots. After that it will look just like I had envisioned.

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Wow! I'm SO jealous! Our clutter in the garage is not caused by me, but by my hubby. You've actually given me some good ideas and the bin idea rocks! I've organized and reorganized the garage more than once, but it NEVER stays that way! Park my truck in there? No way! But, when you said you have to organize to the way you live, rather than the way you WANT to live, that made so much sense. I'm buying Bins and then will HELP to make sense of that mess out there! Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:20AM
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Grandmamaloy, I'm glad you were able to find some ideas that will work for you.

We were very systematic about the whole organizing. We initially got the 9 containers which took care of everything in the garage. It seemed so good, we decided to put some of the things that were in the basement closer to where they are actually used.

For example, the camping gear was all in the basement. We'd have to lug it upstairs, where now we can take out what we need, or in some instances just take the entire container. So often we'd come home and were too tired to put it away. Having it in the garage though makes it much easier to just empty the camping gear from car to I said it's how we live.

Even the location of the bins, my DH and I sat down to determine, what was stored in the top bins, and what got delegated to the bottom. My gardening bins are in the top, where all I have to do is pop the top off, to take out and put back in what I need. Extension cords and sports equipment also made it in the top 5 bins.

Below all these main bins are the items we use a few times a year like camping gear, inflatable kayaks (blow up in the spring, store in the fall).

Time will tell if we finally got it right, but I'm betting we have (I sunk what I consider a lot of money with the bins).

Your DH may feel so buried he doesn't know where to begin and will welcome your help. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Send a garage pic...organized garages are my dream!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:22PM
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The heavy duty material allows us to stack them on top of each other w/o crushing the others so we nixed the shelving completely. We only wanted to go 3 high so we could have easy access to the most used items.

I worry that you should have gotten the shelves anyway, to put the bins on. I predict that you will find it to annoying or hard to access the lower bins.

One good thing--you can add shelving for the bins pretty easily if that turns out to be the case.
Especially if you are DIYers. You can get 3/4" thick external-grade plywood, cut it into strips (since your bins are identical in size, the measurements, etc., of the shelves will all be the same, so that'll help make it fast), and attach them into cubbies or shelves sized for the bins to slide into. (Do you have a Kreg pocket-hole jig? that would make short work of the project).

My plan w/ bins--if I can ever get to it--is to make shelving units that the bins slide into as if they were drawers. And I'm going to make them as carts, so I can pull them out of our deep, skinny storage closet. That way it's easier to get to the stuff in the back. Still more work that other people have, but far better than now.

Because I think that you're totally right--when you come home from camping, you just want to dump the stuff, not lug it to the basement. And maybe not shuffle bins around. If you can pull the proper bin straight out (instead of lifting off the wrong bin to get to the right bin, and then stacking them all back), you may find it even more appealing to do so.

I think you're so wise to focus on making it easy to put it away. And I have many places where the "just dump it all in there" thing works better than lots of dividers (that's how I file paperwork--big categories. If I want the stuff, I'll go digging for it, so it's OK if getting it out is more of a chore).

Congrats on your garage!!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 7:14PM
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I have to wait until the temperature gets consistently above 0 before I can tackle the garage. Maybe next month...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:29AM
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Here's the sort of shelf/cubby I was thinking of for aloha2009 (shorter for her, maybe--though if she can build up more (bcs the cubbies make the lower bins easy to access), she can free up more floor space.

Plus, love the storage on the sides.

This is sort of what I want to do, but I think i can only fit 3 bins vertically, and I want to put big casters on them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Family Handyman, Garage Storage Tower

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Firsthouse. there are a few more tweaks I want to make prior to picture taking. A gardening friend is picking up a ton of extra pots and now I'm storing some plants that I should be able to plant in Aprilish.

TalleySue - we thought long and hard about the bins but decided that it would be MUCH easier to access the stuff we use a lot if we only had to pop the top off. If we were to put things on a shelf, we'd have to slide the bin out and then pull the lid off since there wouldn't be enough room from shelf to shelf to pull the lid off.

The top 5 bins house the things we are multiple times per year. The extra 10 bins are things we typically use once or twice a year. For instance, we have our inflatable kayaks in 2 bins. We'll inflate them late spring, and put them away in the fall. Outdoor lights are in another. Tent equipment usually gets used once per year...I think you get the picture. Though we will on occasion have to remove a bin to get to another, it will only be a few times per year.

Another reason we decided not to get the shelves was the heaviness of some of the bins. There is no way I would want/could pull out the "correct" bin for those items that we rarely use (but do use). Though all the bins are used they aren't equally used. Super easy access to the much used items, and the infrequent items are more difficult...kind of like your filing system. Even if someone were to give me bins for free, I wouldn't want them...time will tell.

I'd still like my DH to move the rakes, shovels, brooms, etc to the other side of the garage but where they are is OK (the other side is less noticeable).

Annkh - good luck on your garage. It's been a cold winter for much of the US out East (not sure where you are). We had that nice weekend and we were able to toss what we needed to. Now when I come home, I look over the garage to see that nothing else starts creeping in. This summer will be a real test and I'll be watching for signs that the basic organization needs tweaking. It kind of feels strange (but good) not having to navigate around things.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:33PM
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I see that "pop the top off" idea!

I just know that I'd have more trouble digging to the bottom; it's what frustrates me w/ my stacks of bins. The one I want is always on the bottom.

But it sounds like you've got your easy-access concept thought out for your situation!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 10:26PM
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Wow I'm even more proud then I was before about this project.

Reading everyone's notes, inspired me to search for even better ways to get the garage organized. When I was searching, I thought, geez my garage looks a lot better then these "organized" garages. I can't say that for all of them, but a lot of garages seemed still messy to me.

The ones with expensive, tall specialty cabinets and painted flooring (I would like that done some day) stood out from the crowd BUT mine looks pretty nice nevertheless compared to other organized garages. Instead of spending a few thousand on cabinets, I spent about $140.

For myself, I would love to have everything in cabinets, but can't justify the expense for the garage to look like it should be in a magazine.

Anyone postponing till spring, I would suggest starting now. Get rid of any obvious large items that you no longer want or use. I really didn't spend that much time on the actual garage clean up since I had gotten rid of things in the months preceding the final clean up.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:00PM
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Our city has a Spring Cleanup Week - free collection of virtually anything put out on the curb that week (including appliances, furniture, etc). It's always an incentive to clean up! It's some time in May.

Aloha, our average temperature here in North Dakota has been right around 0ðF since the first of December. This week we'll be above freezing for several days in a row, which we haven't seen all winter. We still have 2 feet of snow on the ground. I'm pretty tough about doing things in the winter (I went skiing on a 0ð day), but I really don't want to spend a couple of hours in the garage until I can do it in comfort. I'm waiting for a sunny, 50ð day that falls on a weekend, and that might not be until April!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:41AM
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Anyone postponing till spring, I would suggest starting now. Get rid of any obvious large items that you no longer want or use. I really didn't spend that much time on the actual garage clean up since I had gotten rid of things in the months preceding the final clean up.

I love this advice.

We're all sick of winter, right? We wish we could "trash" it?
So use that "rejection" energy to get rid of stuff. Then it'll be so much easier to figure out how to store stuff, because the things you don't want won't be filling up your mental image of what there is.

But yeah, a cold garage; too much show to make it easy to cart stuff to the curb or the recycling center or the Goodwill...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 2:24PM
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Our weather yo yos a lot in Colorado and we rarely have snow on the ground unless it's snowed recently. It was so nice to be outside that it made cleaning the garage, dare I say enjoyable.

I gave a few things away on CL and threw some away. Much of it, got into the bins though as we did need much of the stuff.

When it gets consistently nice, I'd like to scrub the garage floor. Winters track in soooo much yuck!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Wanted to follow up as to how the garage organization is working out....IT'S BEEN GREAT!!!

Opening the bins is easy and convenient and so is the cleaning up afterwards. Like items are now together w/o having to search in several locations for the needed items.

We gave away a few more items along with throwing some more out. We've got a few items to take back to the store but it's looking and working out really nice.

Now that's it's warmer, I swept the garage again, knocked some cobwebs down, and scrubbed the oils stains. My DH commented this morning that it sure is nice being able to walk through the garage and not feel like he has to put on his shoes or else "brave the elements".

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 9:39PM
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I'm so glad it's working for you! Thanks for the followup, and the inspiration.

Extra nice to hear that your organization work then made actual cleaning so much easier.

I had another thought about accessing those bottom bins. Maybe you could use shelves that are only two layers, and the top bins sit on top of them.
Then you can pop the tops off the top layer, so you have that ease of accessibility for those.

But the bottom layers can be pulled out in one motion, opened (2nd motion), closed (3rd) and pushed back in (4 motions).
Because right now you have the same number of motions for the top bin (remove top bin, open, close, lift top bin back on top), but with much more lifting. However, for that bottom bin, you have 6 motions, since you have to take off the top 2 bins.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Talley Sue - I may not have explained myself well enough but basically we want super easy access 80% of the time, and we'll do the lifting the other 20% of the time

Currently the top bin is at just the right level (no bending) and even at 5'3" I can easily reach in and see all the contents. I have 2 motions, open lid, close lid - no lifting whatsoever.

Sorry the stacking bins didn't work for you, but we're loving it. Several unsolicited compliments as to what a nicely organized garage we have. I thought we may have to tweak the organization but it seems to be working great!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 8:59PM
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I still haven't done my garage (we've been crazy busy, and out of town a lot), but it's getting close. I might just have to take a day off from work and get it done. My sons came home from college and dumped all their stuff in the family room, and are still chipping away at that, which is first priority.

We have been accumulating a lot of scrap iron to sell, and that takes up room. I have lots of shelves in the garage with tubs, and I want to go through those, and probably toss a bunch.

We also have a storage shed under the deck. It's hard to get to, since the deck is only 4 feet off the ground, and we tend to toss stuff in but not clean out. That's on my list too!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Annkh, personally I wouldn't dream of taking a day off of work to organize. Organizing IMO is best done done in stages. I know I sure don't have the stamina to go 8 hours straight (and I regularly work out).

It's fun to have the kids back from college I'm sure. Something I did with my kids was to have their junk in their own rooms and not all over the house. By the time they were teenagers, I found it impossible to have them keep their room tidy (you have to choose your battles) but I did make them confine it to their rooms.

The ah ha moment was when I looked down the foyer and saw 4 backpacks, 4 pairs of shoes with 4 coats on the floor (4 kids) when they came back from school. Their rooms could be a dumping ground but not the common areas which we all shared.

I too would wait until I had enough and then get rid of it. You might be surprised though of how energizing it is to do some. It's not nearly as exhausting. I found that though I would think I had all of it, there was something else I forgot to get rid of. Knowing that you just take a fair amount and will be coming back again in the near future, allows for the enjoyment as you "build" on an organized place.

The storage shed under the deck is likely all junk since it's hard to get to. Unless it's large items (storage for a canoe etc.) small items can easily get lost.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about minimalism and that's now what I'm striving towards. Minimalism isn't so much about having only a few things as it's about having things that you really need or want.

We all struggle with the maybe I'll use it someday, or the sentimental attachment an item has that you personally don't like, and my personal struggle is throwing away something that is a part of a set. The more I read about minimalism though the more I understand what holds me back at times, which frees me to purge deeper. Letting go of the stuff, allows more room for those around us and time to do what you really want to do in you really want to take a day off to organize?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 7:00AM
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Saturday was Garage/Shed day, at last! Our neighbors are doing some remodeling, and had a rolloff in the driveway, so we were able to toss some larger things without paying for an extra trash pickup.

I have shelves above the garage door (only accessible when the door is closed). There I found several tubs of books - mostly paperbacks. DH and I went through them, found a few we wanted to keep, and donated the rest to our library's book sale.

There were a few tubs of things that belonged to my MIL. DH is in the process of going through them, and getting rid of most things.

The shed contained a generator (that we rarely use, thankfully); a couple of old suitcases that got tossed; some lawn chairs; a large tent; kids' toys that we want to keep (our sons had a huge collection of Thomas the Tank Engine cars and tracks); a large collection of National Geographic magazines that I was finally ready to let go.

The shed needs to be leveled (it's not on a foundation), then all that's going back in will be the generator and a few tubs.

Oh, the scrap iron is gone, along with at least 8 pairs of shoes. Every time someone in the family gets a new pair of tennis shoes, the old ones get tossed in the garage, to be used for lawn mowing/painting. But DH and the boys all wear the same size - they really only need 1 or 2 pairs for the three of them.

Our garbage can is full, but the garage is a lot emptier!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 5:46PM
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Good job, Ann!

Aloha, which totes did you use? I have a bunch of clear totes that I've been using for a few years, and I really like them. I love being able to see what's inside. The problem is that I want more, and I have no idea of the brand/size. If I have to start over with new totes, I want to make sure that I get some that are decent.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Yes Ann you have really been working it!

Errant my totes are not the prettiest but they are VERY durable. I had Home Depot price match Costco's price of $8.99 which is how I got them for the $8.10. As you can see, that was a real bargain. I personally like not seeing the things on the outside. It seems messy and when there are smaller items. I grouped mine into logical groupings on paper before we went out and got the bins.

It still amazes me how great this system is working for us. So much area to walk around it, with no worrying I'm going to trip over something.

Here is a link that might be useful: Totes

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 7:25PM
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    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 1:12PM
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PPrioroh, if you mean pictures from myself, I can't post them. Several months ago, the networking for my computer & DS's hasn't been working. My DH's access is fine, so we've been hobbling along w/o easy access to pictures. So until he has time to set aside (being he's outside now redoing a custom rock wall), it's not going to happen. I don't feel it's fair to bug him, since he's been doing a ton of exterior jobs around the house.

I've started "messing" things up some in the garage, luckily nothing to do with the organizing method we've got in place. I've been going through another "layer" of possessions, and have a 3 boxes of items to go to the Goodwill (after my kids get 1st dibs) on the garage countertops.

I've got a LOT of empty space in my kitchen cabinets now!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 5:16PM
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So the organizational plan seems to be working!

The garage stayed relatively tidy most of the summer. This past week though it was getting pretty messy(at least to my new standard), when my DH came home from climbing four 14,000+ mountains in a day, dumped all of his camping equipment into the garage because we had company come in from out of town. At least all this mess didn't come INTO the house.

We finally had a chance to tidy it up today and it took all of 10 minutes, to put the remainder of displaced items away, and sweep out the garage. It's now as tidy as it was back in February.

Since I have no other place to propagate new seedlings, I'm going to have to mess up the counter top with all kinds of plants. Oh well my little plant darlings always trump having things look just so.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 2:43PM
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