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Complete Garage Makeover

A step-by-step strategy for making your hardest-working space work better.

By Kelly Tagore
Sports equipment on a pegboard in a garageDavid Prince

1. Arm Yourself

Organizing a garage is a messy, time-consuming job. And if you're doing it right, you'll end up with a lot of things to throw away, give away, and get repaired. Before plunging in, gather heavy-duty 33-gallon plastic garbage bags, 6 to 10 large cardboard boxes (but not so large that you won't be able to move them when they're full), a marking pen to label boxes, a roll of packing tape to seal boxes, a box cutter to cut down any old boxes you empty as you organize, and a ball of twine to tie up newspapers, magazines, and cut-down boxes.

2. Sort and Purge

  • Pick a corner for sorting and then line up three boxes (first reinforce the bottoms with packing tape). Label one GIVEAWAY, one REPAIR, and one NOT SURE. Set up a trash bag for the things you're going to throw away.
  • Start pulling out items one at a time. Look at each item and ask yourself if it's something you need, want, or use. If the answer is no, put it in the trash bag or the giveaway box. If the answer is yes but it's broken and you're going to fix it yourself, put it in the repair box. If you're going to take it to someone else to be repaired, put it in your car. 
  • Put items that are in working order on the floor in the center of the garage. As these items start to accumulate, sort them into piles (for instance, all the tools in one pile, garden equipment in another, sports equipment in another). Eventually, you'll create a separate storage area for each of these piles.
  • Fill the "not sure" box as you go. But remember that you'll have to decide what to do with everything sooner rather than later.
  • As boxes and trash bags fill up, seal them and take them out of the garage so you have more room to work. (Cover with tarps if you have to.)
  • If you have things stored in the rafters, sort them last.
  • Though there's no telling how long sorting and purging will take, it will be easier and go faster if you concentrate on one small area at a time and sort it completely before moving on.
Read More About:Home & Organizing

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