Our garage had gotten, in a word, crazy. We have a three car garage. With two cars, this leaves one empty area for the rest of our ‘stuff’.
Unfortunately, this area had turned into a big mess. Bikes, kid toys, the lawn mower, other lawn stuff, and a multitude of other items had turned the third garage bay into a nightmare. It was impossible to get anything out without having to take something out first. We actually got to the point where we avoided taking bike rides or having the kids play with the stuff stored there, simply because it was too hard to do anything there.
In addition, the ‘flow’ of other stuff just didn’t make sense. We had shelving units in a couple of different spots, in addition to some permanent wall shelving, but on each shelf area there was a mixture of different things. Kids toys (bubbles, playground chalk, balls, etc.) were on three different shelving areas. Also, gardening stuff, fertilizers, random garage stuff, it was everywhere.
It got to the point where it was so bad that we didn’t even try to straighten up anymore, because it became obvious that it had to be dealt with on a larger scale versus just ‘picking up’ or ‘moving things around’. Realizing that was a good revelation, but it did have the negative consequences of making it worse, since we basically abandoned all pretense at keeping clean once we realized an entire overhaul was needed. So, it got bad. Really, really bad!
Something had to give.
Fixing this was something that Mrs. Beagle and I wanted to do together. While the garage was typically my domain, when we stared adding in all the kid stuff, it became a more shared space. I think what happened is that the kid space got shoved into whatever available space came up, and was never organized.
That was about to change.
We actually sent the kids packing for the day over to their grandparents, so that we could focus on this. At the end of the day, the transformation was remarkable.
Sorry, no pics, but I’ll walk you through the process.
Everything out. First, we cleared out everything from the garage. We didn’t move the tool bench I have there, because it weighs about 800 pounds. I also left a few items on some of the permanent shelving units because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. But, everything else came out.
Get rid of the dirt. With everything out, I attacked the floors with the broom, sweeping up all the dirt, leaves, and other stuff that makes its way into a garage no matter what. With nothing in the way, I was able to get a lot of stuff swept up. I followed this up by hosing down the slabs to get even more dirt out of the garage.
Identify easy trash and giveaway. While I waited for the water to dry, we had lunch and I started going through some of the obvious stuff that was garbage. Into the bin it went. The main thing that was taking up a lot of room was boxes. Lots and lots of cardboard boxes. From diapers. From baby wipes. From Amazon orders. They all got broken down and stuck into the recycling. I also found stuff that we didn’t need but could be donated. Instead of starting a ‘pile’ I moved that right into my trunk, which would force me to take it to the donation center.
Set up shelving. One of our goals was to have all the kids stuff in one spot. As it was, they got a shelving unit set up in the front of the garage, so that their toys could be right in front. The shelving unit was cleaned off and set up. Another shelving unit was moved to the back of the garage.
Set up areas. We then started setting up stuff in areas where everything would be put together. The back corner of the extra garage stall was for all the yard stuff. The wheelbarrow went in, then the trimmer, edger, and other stuff went into the wheelbarrow. Fertilizer, dirt, etc. went in that area. Everything was put in a place where it took the least amount of room, yet was available so that I wouldn’t have to tear the area apart.
Big stuff in. The bikes, the wagon, the bike trailer, the lawn mower all went into the third stall. I put them in as if they were going into angled parking spaces. This let me put everything against the wall, while keeping an ‘aisle’ clear. That way, any item could be taken out and put in without having to move anything else. This is huge!
Random stuff. After we got all this done, there was still a lot of random stuff that didn’t have an exact spot. A lot of it we decided we didn’t need and threw away. Other stuff got put into a ‘random’ spot on the shelving unit that was available. A few items fit better inside in the basement, going with other like stuff (e.g. a cooler).
Final cleanup. After everything was finally put away, I did a last sweep of the garage. Then, I took the leaf blower and blew off the driveway. A lot of little dust and such had come off, and I knew if I just left it there, it would eventually just blow right back into the garage.
At the end of the day, the garage looked awesome. It took about five hours total between the two of us.
The first thing my wife did the next morning was take the kids out to play. We also went for bike rides, and when we went for after-dinner walks, we were able to take whatever it was we wanted to use to take the kids (bike trailer, wagon, stroller) without making a decision based on what would involve the least amount of moving things around. That’s honestly what had been dictating that decision for the last few weeks.
Our next step will be to keep it clean and to make a clean transition down the road when the summer stuff needs to be put away. I did keep that in mind when laying things out (e.g. the lawn mower can go where the snow blower is now).
I think we’ll have a much better remainder of the summer as far as the garage is concerned.
What de-cluttering projects have you undertaken recently?