Ah, spring! The birds singing, the flowers blooming, and… the stress of trying to extricate the gol-dang weed whacker from a garage filled with who-knows-what.
If “declutter the garage” is on your spring to-do list, you’re in luck! Today I’m sharing 7 ways to help you declutter your garage this spring. To help illustrate those tips, I’m sharing some pictures from a recent afternoon I spent with a good friend of mine, helping her get her garage in order.
Here’s a picture of where we started…
#1. Make the stuff in your garage reflect your life NOW
Like most storage spaces, garages often become the dumping ground for things we aren’t sure what to do with. That coffee table from college? Roller-blades from high school? The turkey frier we thought was awesome but (shockingly) we’ve found that we rarely have the need to deep fry a large fowl?
Think about your life NOW when you look at your garage, because each item inside absorbs your energy to store and maintain. Make it worth it. For example, if you have paraphernalia from your early-twenties backpacking phase, but the only backpacks making a regular appearance in your life now are the Ninja Turtle ones your kids take to school, well, perhaps it’s time to bequeath your gear to some young soul with stronger legs. (I speak from personal experience, after donating my backpacking equipment to the college-aged kids across the street. My backpack has been all around the world in recent years. So much better than gathering dust at my house!)
To make sure you only keep items that reflect your life now, jot down a list of what you need your garage to do for you. In other words, what is the PURPOSE of this space?
For the project with my friend, our list looked like this:
- Outdoor sports
As we sorted, we made sure the items we kept fit within the parameters of this list. Keeping purpose in mind is key to decluttering any space.
#2: Donate duplicates
How many hammers, screwdrivers, and tape measures do you really need? Unless you’re an octopus, you only have two arms. At most, you could probably wield two hammers, Thor-style. (And if you want to do that, by all means, rock it out.) But donating your duplicate tools helps others in need, and–surprise bonus–having less tools means you’ll take better care of the ones you have.
#3: Toss the Miscellany
Bags of random, rusted screws. Jars of various hinges. The extra hardware that came with your blinds… or maybe those were from the blinds at your last house… no, wait, those go with those IKEA shelves…. I think. We find LOTS of miscellaneous small items in garages. Wasting your time dealing with miscellaneous items will grind a garage decluttering project to a screeching halt.
If you don’t know what something is as soon as you look at it, toss it. You were living your life just fine before you “discovered” it in your garage and you will live your life just fine thereafter. If it would take you 30 minutes to sort that bag of random screws, throw them away. I’m serious. Screws are cheap. You can afford to buy new, correctly-sized screws when you start a new project. Only keep screws, nuts, bolts, and the like that are still in their original labeled packaging. Toss the rest.
#4: Opt for open shelves
I’ve never been in a garage that had too much open shelving. Open shelving is gold. Good storage should mimic a store, and stores always have open shelves.
Imagine if you walked into Lowe’s and they’d replaced all their open shelving with closed cupboards. It would be annoying, if not impossible, to find anything. Buy yourself some basic, freestanding open shelving and then channel your inner stock boy. Put like items together, stacked neatly back-to-front, with labels facing out. Group similar, small items (nails, work gloves, etc.) into clear, open containers.
#5: Label everything
I’m not sure who designed the tool chest, but they either had a photographic memory or were clairvoyant. I can just imagine them closing their eyes and conjuring images of the tools hidden inside these bright red drawers. Yes… the extra blades for the bandsaw will be found in drawer 3 on the lower level…
But for most of us, finding anything in one of these contraptions is nothing more than an exercise in frustration as we open drawer after drawer, trying to find the right-sized socket wrench. Tool chests are great for storing tools, but not-so-great for remembering what is inside. Quite often, I find tool chests nearly empty, with tools strewn about the floor, simply because this is easier than trying to remember what’s stored inside. So for this project, I labeled the outside of the tool chest with my favorite labeling supplies–Sharpie and painter’s tape. The same goes for closed cupboards.
#6: Hook It Up
Anything that can be attached to the wall on hooks should be. I’m talking leaf blowers, extension cords, sleds, snow shovels, ladders, your cat, etc. (Kidding about the cat! But I’ve gotta make sure you’re still reading…) Install peg board to hang hammers, wrenches, and other quick-grab tools. Unlike your living room, your garage is not the place to hang an artful cluster of decorative mirrors. Make those walls work for you and cover them with as much functional swag as you can.
#7: Corral the Tall-Skinnies and Rounds in Laundry Hampers
Sports equipment presents a particular challenge, as it is often tall and skinny (think baseball bats, hockey sticks, fishing poles, etc.) or round (all manner of balls). These awkwardly shaped items don’t fit well on shelves or walls, but are perfect in sturdy, tall, lidless laundry hampers. I have two in my garage to hold all our sporting equipment. Simple, easy, and affordable.
I hope I’ve motivated you to get into your garage and give it a good decluttering this spring.
And hey, if you want some more inspiration to declutter your garage, and maybe your whole house, you’re in luck…
Enrollment for the next round of my 6-week LESS™ Method LIVE Decluttering Challenge starts March 27. Click here to get on the waiting list!
To less stuff and more you this spring!
PS Ready to simplify your home but not sure where to start? Grab my FREE Minimalism Starter Guide and let’s get going!