Weekend DIY: Organize your garage

Banish the junk and make space for essentials with these helpful tips

By Jay Somerset

Banish the junk and make space for essentials with these helpful tips.

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North Americans are funny: we pack our garages full of worthless stuff–half-empty paint cans, broken rakes, old bikes–while our pricy cars sit open on the driveway, vulnerable to theft and weather. Save for crawlspaces, the garage is the first room to fall prey to packrat mentality. And yet it can offer so much.

Springtime is a great time to clean the garage. For one, the warm weather makes a day outside not so bad; second, it’s yard-sale season, and if your garage is packed to the gills, chances are there’s a few items you could get rid of. But before you empty out the space and ram things back in, consider ways of using your garage.

If you’ve ever worked in a professional kitchen or even just watched shows on the Food Network, you’re likely familiar with the French term “mise en place,” which, loosely, translates to “put in place” or “prepared and ready to use.” This term is useful when planning a garage: will you merely make room for a car or do you want to create space to use on a regular basis, such as a workshop for woodworking or gardening, cold storage, or a place to stow sports equipment?

Here are four tips to help you on your road to garage organization.

1. Make a list

So, where to begin? Writing down your ideas–what you want to keep and get rid of; how you want to use the newly freed space–turns this project from a rainy-day someday into a project you will actually tackle. Then when it comes to the job, it won’t seem so overwhelming because you will have a plan.

2. Don’t let anything touch the floor

Speaking of plans, the cardinal goals here are the same for almost all homeowners: Getting things up off the floor (solves both space and moisture-related issues) and grouping similar items (so you can find things–remember, mise en place!).

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