For many Australians, the garage is an unsalvageable wasteland. A place so far-gone that even the thought of a clean-out is enough to cause heart palpitations.
But a tidy garage has many benefits. Noticeably, it will save you time when you need to find things.
Whether you’re renting or own your house, you’re paying for that additional space. In this guide we will help you to convert it into a usable area and a valuable part of your home.
What is the main purpose?
A garage can be a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s a blank slate that can be adapted according to your priorities. For many, it is ultimately a safe place for a car. In this case it’s important to ensure there’s plenty of space to park a vehicle and enough room to open doors. For others, a garage is a space for creating and repairing. A central workbench could be the most important item in the room and it should always be easily accessible. And for many families, particularly in cities, a garage is purely for additional storage. Rarely used items can be securely locked up and kept out of the house.
Whichever you choose, it’s important to keep this in mind as you re-organise and re-shape your space.
It’s easier to tackle your garage if you have some themes and know roughly where you’ll store things. Have a look at what you have stored away and see if you can group like things together in zones. For example, have one shelf for Christmas decorations (out of the way), a corner for gardening tools and store your camping gear along one wall.
Identify your most-used items
We all have tools and toys in our garage that get used every other day. These should be instantly accessible. Perhaps they can be stored together in a space next to the entrance. This can be a designated ‘used weekly’ zone and can be updated with the seasons as required.
Go through everything and decide whether you need to keep it. A good test is to see if you’ve used something in the last twelve months. If you haven’t, it is unlikely you’ll use it in the future. Coordinate your garage revamp with a council bulk rubbish pick-up and chuck-out with abandon. Even better, keep things out of landfill by giving away anything in good condition. Put it on Facebook Marketplace or place it on the footpath with a ‘free’ sign.
If you have old chemicals to throw away, contact your council to find out the best way to dispose of them. Old chemicals are dangerous to have lying around, but if they end up in landfill they can seep into the groundwater, contributing to dangerous pollution.
By now, you’ve decided on your priorities, you’ve picked out some zones and you’ve removed the clutter. Now it’s time to thoughtfully put things away. The trick is to make the most of your garage space by storing things vertically. Install hooks for hanging and build shelves against walls. Store heavy items on lower shelves for stability and lighter boxes up high. Clearly label your boxes and tubs so that you can see what’s inside at a glance.
Any dangerous chemicals or tools should be off the floor, either locked away in a cabinet or stored out of reach up high.
Don’t forget to make sure regularly used items are easily accessible. These items might include your lawn mower, tool box and even golf clubs.
Everything should have a place so that when you need to find it, you know exactly where to look.
Just when you think you’ve used up every corner of your garage, don’t forget to look up. The space above car-height is perfect for storing long thin items, such as ladders and surfboards. Install some ropes for a DIY solution, or purchase some purpose-built ceiling brackets or shelves <http://www.garagestorageworld.com.au/product-catalogue/garage-ceiling-overhead-storage/> for some sturdy hidden storage.
Stashed but not forgotten
If you are generously storing furniture or homewares for someone else, (often parents will store some things for their adult children) now is a good time to remind them what you have and ask whether they would like you to sell or give away anything. They may have forgotten what you’re storing and that twelve seater dining table may not fit in with their inner-city lifestyle anymore.
Go easy on yourself
Organising a garage can be a daunting project. Remember; doing something is better than doing nothing. And don’t try to do it all in one day in case you burn out and give up. Every bit you do helps. Each corner you can rearrange and each box you can declutter will help make your garage more usable. Good job!