The Garage Makeover – Clearing the Junk and Organizing the Garage
After our last move, our house was a work site for months. At first, the garage was where all the supplies and materials were kept. Then when we finally moved into the new house, the stuff from the old house was piled right on top of the mess because we were running out of time for when we had to be out of the old house. It was literally the dumping ground for all things we didn’t want to deal with, or had no space for in the new house. As much as I hate to admit it, my garage was actually a safety hazard. Things had gotten out of control. A garage makeover was needed, but I have been putting off organizing and cleaning it out because there were so many other things that needed to be done first. And, to be honest, the idea of it overwhelmed me completely.
Then a few weeks ago, I heard that Good Housekeeping was looking for bloggers that had a messy space that could use some guidance in cleaning up and organizing. I sent off the email response, along with some cringe-worthy pictures of the state of my garage that day. It was rather embarrassing, since I never willingly show anyone that space. A few days later, I got a email saying I was chosen to participate. I can’t say I was surprised, after all, the garage looks like a hoarder situation and they probably feared for my safety. Maybe they felt it was their duty to step in and help me clean up my “little mess”. I’ll never know for sure, but it was good to be picked – it gave me a reason – and a deadline – to finally tackle it.
So, do you want to see the pictures I sent to show where this all started? Ugh. Don’t judge me, please.
Besides the move, the only other defense I have for this mess is that when we moved, it was from a house with two huge sheds on the property that housed all our yard and garden stuff, and my furniture projects, etc. Now, we just have a two car garage to squeeze it all into. Granted, I gave away a TON of stuff when we moved, but we still ended up dragging a bunch of stuff here at the end of the move just to get it out of the old house.
See that shelf on the wall to the left? Well, it’s not really on the wall is it? It fell off the wall the day before, spilling all the contents of it onto the cabinet below, knocking all of that stuff onto the floor too. Thank god no one was in there when it happened!
Looking into the garage from outside is just as scary.
Although it doesn’t quite look like it, there was a teeny, tiny bit of organization happening in there… Who am I kidding? Any kind of clean up I did a few months ago was basically covered up by new things. There was furniture that was waiting to be reupholstered, bikes, trikes, tools…
Our storage options are basically a collection of found items, or shelves we used in the house previously that moved to the garage when we couldn’t use them inside anymore. Nothing really had a home, and things were impossible to find because they were just tossed where there was a spot to put them.
When they sent me the email saying they had chosen me, they sent me some organization tips from Jeni Aron, owner of Clutter Cowgirl. Although she had included links to amazing items that would have made my garage the prettiest and best organized one on the block, they cost more money than I could spend on the makeover at this time. (Good Housekeeping did not pay for any of the items used in this makeover, they just supplied the tips below). The tips were pretty helpful, and at least gave me some ideas of where to start. Here they are…
- . PURGE! Any cleaning supplies, old furniture and general supplies that are not being used or have no value need to hit the curb. That should get rid of about 20% of the bulk. Don’t waste time giving things away to friends unless the item has a value. Nobody wants your old dirty stuff. Nobody.
- Categorize your items. Physically place items where you want them to live in groupings. All cleaners and liquids can go on one open shelving system. Get rid of the mismatched shelving units and invest in tall shelving that will utilize the wall height. And then you can get clear plastic tubs that will house all of the supplies.
- Install wall mounted shelving and peg board near the worktable area for tools, screws, etc.
- For the furniture, trunks, luggage, big pieces that you’re keeping, mount a ceiling unit lofted storage piece to get it up off the floor and away from things you use on a daily basis. You can mount more than one because you have the ceiling space for it. You can hang bikes off the railing so those suckers won’t be on the floor either.
- Break down boxes that you think you’ll need to keep (like the HUGE printer box) and put them overhead in the ceiling mounted storage when you get that.
Although I wanted to dive right into it, I knew that a few things had to happen first. I had to sell our dining room furniture. Why? I needed to be able to put the dining room set that was in the garage in it’s place. Then I needed to reupholster said dining room set in order to bring it in the house – which took way longer than I thought, but it’s done now and I love how they turned out. (I’ll post about that soon).
After getting the chairs out of the garage, I got started.
On day one, I started by clearing out the items and putting them in piles on the driveway. I started with a few main categories:
- Garden items, including fertilizer, soils, weed killers, tools, bug sprays, etc.
- Recreational items, including sports equipment, fishing equipment and the like.
- Tools – the big ones
- Paint and DIY tools
- Stuff to donate – went straight to the car to drop off
- Stuff to sell
- Items waiting for their makeover. To be honest, most of that stuff was donated because I will never get to all those projects.
- Trash. Those items went straight to the trash cans actually – no need to move it around twice.
I got a lot of the garage cleared out, about 50% of it – and then it started pouring! I had to run like a madwoman to get everything back in the garage! Are you kidding me?! Gotta love South Florida! Grrr…
Anyway, the only thing I could do after that is drop off the donations I had already in the car, and sort the screws and nails into the new case I had bought my husband last year.
I can’t believe how many boxes of the same kind of screws I found – each with just a few missing – because my husband would rather just buy a new box than have to look through that mess. It’s so nice to have them all in one spot, easily accessible.
On day two, I realized that the walls were so dirty and gross – they made the space feel depressing. I don’t think they had been painted or cleaned in years and years. So I mixed up some navy sample paint with a leftover gray from the house and ended up with a nice blue. I painted as much of the garage as I could – and then I ran out of paint, so I’ll have to go get it color matched to get it finished. I should have made more to begin with… ugh.
Using Jeni’s advice, I had planned on putting a pegboard above the green work table, but then I saw this awesome garage makeover on The Creativity Exchange, and I knew that was the better use of wall space on the other side of the garage. So a quick trip to Home Depot and Lowes to pick up supplies, which ended up costing about $150 for everything (wood, pegboard and accessories), and I was ready to go!
I built it myself, using some of the tips from Cyndy – and basically just figuring out things as I went. I wish I had the time to paint the pegboard and wood, but I was trying to get to the organizing part, so that will have to wait until I have some more time. I am pretty proud of myself for getting it done in a few hours, by myself! If you want directions on how Cyndy built her shelves, click on the picture above to find out. So much easier than I ever thought possible. As you can see, my shelves were not as long as hers, but I love how they turned out. I am embarrassed to admit that I still don’t have enough space for all my spray paint – or regular paint for that matter. 😛
After painting and building the shelves, I set to work moving things into their new “homes”. Paint, power tools, and other various items went on the new wall.
As for the other stuff, I feel like I played musical spaces with the other areas, moving things out of one space in order to move other things into their new designated spots. I sorted most of it as I went, not bothering to make the piles on the driveway again since I wasn’t sure if it was going to rain again. The only things that went on the driveway this time were the things I was getting rid of – either directly in the trash or donated.
We own a lot of big tools, and unfortunately there is no way to store them neatly out of the way, so I organized them into aisles and now they are easy to get to. I don’t think we’ll ever get to use the garage to house our cars, but that’s okay.
Although Jeni’s advice was to move the big boxes to storage, I didn’t fold up the big boxes that were all over the place, I broke them down and threw them out. The chances of me actually ever needing them were slim to none.
We moved the bicycles and trikes to a small outside shed, so we were able to clear up some floor space and I didn’t have to figure out how to hang them from the ceiling. Thank goodness because I don’t know if I could have done that by myself!
I painted the old filing cabinet that we store the lawn and garden tools and other tall things. I love that bright blue!
In the above picture, you can see where I was able to slip all the big pieces of wood to the space between the fridgerator and the wall. As soon as that was done, and there wasn’t a bunch of things propped up all over the place, it felt so much more open and less claustrophobic. Weird how that works, isn’t it?
In one corner, and on the wall above the green cabinet, the previous owners had put up some really unstable shelves on a plank wall shelving system – and all of them needed to be cleared off and taken down. They had made the shelves out of plywood that were cut too deep, and therefore if you put anything on them that was slightly heavier in the front, they were at risk of flipping – which happened above the cabinet.
I took down all the ones that were in really bad shape, and ended up using the braces to hang things on.
It got a lot of things off the floor, and out of the way. Since I didn’t want to spend money on new matching storage containers, it’s doesn’t look pretty but it works. Maybe later down the line, I will replace these things with nice matching cabinetry and shelving, but for now, I like that the only thing I spent money on was the pegboard wall. Everything else was already there to make use of.
For the most part, everything is organized by purpose. Garden stuff all together on two shelves on the back wall. Paint and spray paint all on the new wall. Cleaning supplies on the shelves together. And the tools are where tools should be – in the toolbox or on the wall. It took organizing them all to find that we are missing quite a few of our power tools – and that makes me sad. I thought for a while that I would eventually find my Ryobi brad nailer somewhere in the mess, but now I know it’s just gone and I can stop looking for it. At least now I’ll be able to see what’s missing from the wall and make sure to get it back where it belongs. Or get it back from whomever borrowed it!
I think I filled up 4 big cans with garbage, brought plenty of things out to the curb for the big item trash pickup, and made two trips to donate stuff that was still usable. Usually I would have texted friends or family to see if they could use anything, but I didn’t want to store it anymore or risk that they wouldn’t pick it up. It feels great to walk through the space now, not having to fit through a tiny path or trip over things. Being the last major space in this house that needed a re-fresh, it feels amazing to be “done”. I know it’s not magazine worthy, but it’s no longer a place I’m embarrassed to have to show people.
If you love this project, I’d be so happy if you share it!!
Thanks so much for coming by!