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Spring Cleaning — Garage Style | Spring 2005 Out Here Magazine

A little cleaning and organizing puts everything within reach in a place that makes sense, so upkeep will be easier.

By Amy Green

Photography by Donnie Beauchamp


What does the inside of your garage look like? Besides housing the family car, most garages also serve as a workshop, laundry, second pantry, recreation hub, or recycling center. Or all of the above.


That's a lot of household responsibilities for one space, and it all can spin out of control quickly.


But too many homeowners shy away from organizing because they equate the task with purging, says Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order, a professional organizing firm based in Portland, Ore. Instead, organizing should be about viewing a room in context with the rest of the home and deciding what belongs in that room — and what belongs elsewhere.


"Organizing is about making room in your life for the things that matter," says Norris, a regular on the HGTV cable network show, Mission: Organization.


She advocates an approach to organizing the garage that involves more than rearranging; set aside a weekend and clear everything out, she says. With it all piled in the driveway, you'll immediately see that two dozen cans of oil are more than enough, or that you're sufficiently stocked with mountains of toilet paper and canned food.


You'll also see what you need — adjustable shelving and clear storage bins, perhaps — and what you should move to other places, such as family photos and other heirlooms that can be damaged by moist weather.


Then, organize the garage space by creating individual "centers" that fit your family's needs. Centers for tools, laundry, recycling, and recreational items (such as skis, bicycles, and skates) are examples that would fit most households.


Consider family habits. If you're a fix-it family, organize a corner for tools and other hardware. If the family recycles, place the bin near the door so it may easily be carried out for pickup. If the family hasn't skied in years but is not ready to give up the skis, place them in a far corner or in the attic. Over time you'll find the upkeep to be easier because everything will be within easy reach in a place that makes sense.

Individual "centers" within the garage, such as this space designated for tools, can be tailored to better serve each family’s needs.


Involve the children, and celebrate when the project is complete.


"It does have this wonderful ripple effect," Norris says. "We experience the benefits of this wonderfully organized garage … (now) how about the playroom?"


Amy Green is a journalist based in Nashville, Tenn.