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We all know people who can no longer fit their car into their garage. Perhaps we are even among them. (Hey, I just moved, okay? And we downsized dramatically! And there are no basements! And, and, and... I'll take my own advice soon, I swear!) The garage has become a repository for all the stuff that they have nowhere to store. Look around your neighborhood, I am willing to bet that most people are using at least one of their garages for storage.

Did you know that Americans are renting storage units to store all of the stuff that won't fit into their houses? According to this article "self-storage units cover 72 square miles, the area of Manhattan and San Francisco combined." That's a whole lot of people storing a whole lot of stuff, that frankly they probably do not need.

My take on the self storage phenomenon for the average suburban American? Get rid of it. Make decisions about what you really use and need, then get rid of the rest. If it isn't useful or making your life better in some way, then you do not need it. The problem that most people have is that they do not organize their stuff and therefore they cannot find it when they need it.

Where do you begin.

First ask yourself what the things are that need to be stored in the garage? Begin by making a list of the items you need to live in your garage. It might be different from mine.

Sports Equipment
Yard toys
Lawn/garden care
Seasonal Storage

Next thing about where to logically store these items in your garage.

I have the toys and sports equipment stored on the wall near the entrance into the house. Presumably the children can put their stuff away while they are on their way into the house from playing outside or coming home from a sporting event. Not that this actually happens every time, but at least I can say, "You walked right by it!"

Similarly, store things like your lawnmower and other lawn care items near the back door of your garage where you enter and exit to your yard.

Install some shelving on which you can store bins. Ikea has some fabulously inexpensive shelving that gets the job done. If you are handy you could also build similar shelving with 2x4s. The Container Store also has shelving units for the garage. They are decidedly more expensive, but if the aesthetics of your garage storage matter to you, the elfa system might be more to your liking.

Containerize. Yes, this is so a word. The things you use regularly need to be the most accessible. If you have to work to get the items you need, your system won't last, no matter how good your intentions. For example, I keep all of the out of season sports gear segregated into individual containers: baseballs one bin, baseball gloves a second bin, baseball pants yet another bin. And because I don't readily need these bins I store them on one of the highest shelves. When baseball season comes I know exactly where to find what I need and I bring the bins down and replace them with whatever other off season sporting items need storage. Items that are used regularly are stored permanently on lower shelves.

Make the container fit. Small items, small container. Large items, large container. You don't want to be searching through a shoebox sized bin for the proper sized screw.

Label. Label the bins and the shelves. That way there is never a question of where things belong. I am a fan of removable labels on the shelving, just in case there is a time when you might want to rearrange the way things are stored. You might decide that your Christmas lights need to be readily accessible at anytime, you never know.

Go up. Large screws in the ceiling of your garage can hold bikes or ladders.

Hopefully taking these few steps will get that car back in the garage or at the very least enable you to walk through the garage without tripping.


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