Today’s makeover is a three-car garage I worked on a while back. It’s also proof that when you set up a functional organization system, and follow the “put it back where it lives when you’re done” rule, you CAN maintain an organizing home.
Even in the garage.
I worked with this family 2 years ago. They moved here from Atlanta and had downsized from a 6,000 sq. ft. home to a 3,000 sq. ft. home in Fort Worth. Even though they let go of a LOT of things before the move, they still ended up with a 3-car garage packed almost to the ceiling.
We started with an assessment of what we’d find in there and a starting idea of set-up. I don’t normally think that far ahead but they had an organized garage in their old home so – unlike most garages I work in – they had a fairly good idea of what we’d end up dealing with. Also because they had an organized garage before, they already had plenty of great shelving – necessary for an organized garage.
We decided that 2 of the bays would be used for cars and the third bay would be used for recreation. This is where we set up a ping-pong table and many of their children’s’ outdoor toys and games.
As we got started, my clients had other workers that put together the shelving they brought over from the Atlanta house. They also had large, ceiling mounted shelves installed over each of the bay doors.
Pro tip: shelving over the garage doors is perfect for things like holiday decorations that you’ll only get to once or twice a year. However DO NOT install these shelves just so you don’t have to deal with making decisions on your things. Face it, Sunshine. You’ll have to eventually so may as well do that now and get it out of your head space as well as real space.
Over 20 boxes after about 3 hours of work.
We started at one end of the garage and systematically went through, unpacking the boxes. As we unpacked each box, my client would make a decision on whether each item would stay or go. If it went, we put it into the trash, recycle bin, or into a pile to be dropped off at charity. If it stayed, it went into a sorted category. Only after this was done would I allow my client to move on to the next box. This may sound tedious but this technique prevents you from getting too overwhelmed. We also worked in 2-3 hour time chunks so 1) my client wouldn’t get too tired and start making bad decisions and 2) because my client still had to put the “stay” items that lived in the house where they lived and I didn’t want her to get too overwhelmed with that either.
We kept up this technique of working for 2-3 hours at a time systematically working through the boxes until they were all emptied. Because I got my client going on the right road, she also continued and did quite a bit of work on her own.
After we got everything unpacked, it was time for setup. On the shelves above the garage doors went things that are only minimally accessed: holiday decorations and childhood/family memorabilia.
Pro tip: Unless your garage is climate controlled, do not store anything that will ruin with weather fluctuations. i.e. – candles, photographs, etc. If it’s truly precious, it needs to be somewhere better than your garage.
We created sections for games, swim, home repair (paint, tiles, etc), home utility (I’ve never seen so many light bulbs), and tools among other things. Then placed everything in its designated section according to how best it would function: toys and sports equipment near the ping-pong table for a recreation area, swim next to the door by the swimming pool, utility and tools near the door nearest the house, etc. etc. Once we were done, we had a lovely garage!
Now for whatever reason, I didn’t take after pictures directly after we were finished. We’d worked on other areas of the house and I just never thought about it. But here’s how I know that they beautifully maintained our work and their investment. Last year they brought me back out for a directional consult. At that time I saw the garage and it was still well maintained. Then I get a phone call a couple of weeks ago. They’re moving back to Atlanta so I helped them with a touch of weeding and consolidating to make it easier when the movers come to pack everything up.
And you know what? The garage still looked great!
Side note – those bins in the left of the picture normally lived somewhere else. We pulled them out to use them to start pre-packed some smaller things. And the bikes usually lined flat against the shelves.
Total hands on time: Initially 12 hours, spread over a month’s time. My clients put in a LOT of homework time to accomplish this massive makeover. We put in another 2 hours together the other week.
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