Whoever came up with the phrase, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” must have been trying to organize a garage.

An organized garage makes it easy to contain clutter, leaving room for essential items, like vehicles.

Once you start having things organized in your garage you’re more apt to put it back in its place,” says Tom Heuer of Elite Construction and Maintenance Services of Appleton.

Organizing a garage can be a daunting task, especially for home owners who have accumulated years’ worth of stuff. But the hard work is worth the effort, says Heuer.

“The little bit of effort you put into it, it pays off,” he says, noting that “it’s prime real estate in a garage. Every square inch counts.”

The first thing to do is clean out the garage.

“Many home owners have items in their garage that they don’t use anymore, that are not working anymore or are seasonal,” says Paul Collen, owner of Mr. Handyman of the Fox Cities.

Heuer agrees.

“When I walk in, I notice that they have more items than they should,” he says. “They are always struggling over the junk they have.”

Getting outside help is sometimes just what home owners need to get the job done.

Having someone help you can help push the person to do it,” says Jennifer Strachan, owner of In Its Place Organizing Services in Neenah. “Set a date with them and stick to it.

“I can go in and play devil’s advocate,” Heuer says. “Some people just need that little extra push.”

Setting goals is also important, says Strachan.

“Writing down the goals a person wishes to accomplish can help motivate them and make it less dreadful,” she says. “Specifying certain aspects of getting an area organized can make a job seem more manageable.”

Once the garage is cleaned out, it’s time to think about organization and storage options.

When a former employer decided to upgrade the cubicle shelving in the office, Dale Knutson of Appleton came up with a creative use for them, instead of seeing them go into the landfill.

The shelving is on the walls of his garage, providing a place for family members to place tool, garden equipment, sporting equipment, toys and more.

“With the kids and all their toys and that, it just didn’t work just putting it on the shelf,” he says.

With the cubicle type shelving, which has a door, the family can store belongings inside and out of sight.

“I wanted something they could put it into when they were done with it,” he says. “Once in the shelf, it’s gone and out of sight and it looks nice.”

Knutson says his family has been good about putting things back.

“It makes it easier for them to find things too,” he says, noting with the large shelves “each person can get a lot of stuff in their area.”

Custom storage options are also ideal because they fit lifestyle needs, says Heuer.

“Each garage is unique and everybody is different too,” he says.

Items around the house can also be used for storage, says Strachan.

“People can look around and see what they have already to use to save money,” she says, noting options such as checkbook boxes, shoe boxes, baby wipe containers and egg cartons.

Plastic storage containers, especially those with lids, are perfect for garages. Strachan says home owners can be creative with storage containers.

“The pluses about containers are that they are more reliable in keeping dust, water and pests out,” she says. “If the lid is used, it keeps everything from falling out — what a time saver that can be.”

Collen recommends home owners use every square inch of the garage, from the space along the sides and rear to the space above, like the ceiling, rafters and attic.

“Installing a flooring system, where necessary, and installing a garage attic ladder system can provide home owners with valuable storage space for seasonal items such as garden hoses, sporting equipment, patio furniture or any items requiring storage and occasional/seasonal usage,” he says.

Often the difficult part of garage organization is maintaining it.

“What people need to realize is that just because you cleared the clutter, bought the shelves and containers, and got everything organized, they still have to maintain it,” says Strachan. “The systems you create will help make it easier to clean, but your home won’t do it for you.

Collen agrees, noting that home owners should clean out the garage once a month.

“Although these systems can provide the organization every home owner desires, they can become a haven for items that are no longer needed anymore,” he says.

By Linda Dums
For the Post Crescent

In Its Place Organizing Services