How to Organize Your Garage
Last weekend was a long weekend for Thanksgiving here in Canada. Since we celebrated with some family the week before, so took advantage of the long weekend to overhaul our garage. It was quite the undertaking considering we haven’t paid the garage any attention since we moved in in May. Except to use it as a dumping ground for all our summer stuff that is.
But coming from a semi-detached house in the city with no garage and a shared driveway, we are super grateful to have an indoor space for our car and our outdoor winter equipment. I was determined not to take advantage of this space and to make sure we could make it work for us. So we got to work!
As you can see from the pictures below, we had a lot of work to do!
Do you have a messy garage that needs organizing? It can be overwhelming when you are staring at so much stuff and such a variety too. Where to start?
First, just get prepared. Grab some gloves, a few bins you can use to sort items and a garbage bag. If you have a lot of things to take to the donation centre, it’s good to have cardboard boxes you don’t mind letting go of. Then think about what you want your space to look like. It helps if you have a vision of the ideal space.
Here’s the process we used to overhaul our garage inside and out in three days. (And in all honesty, we could have done it in two because we only put in a couple hours of work on two of those days).
For our garage we knew we needed it to have the following elements:
Car: This includes the actual car, off seasonal tires, windshield washer fluid, jerry can .
Garbage & Recycling: A place to keep the garbage, recycling and compost bins where they can be sorted easily.
Equipment: For the winter, it’s mostly shovels, an ice scraper and the snow blower. Winter in Ottawa is no joke. But we also wanted to create a safe storage solution for the ladder and big broom.
Kids: A place to store the winter outdoor toys and stroller.
Tools: Most of our tools are kept in the basement, but it was important to us to make sure anything that was in the garage was safely out of reach of little hands.
Once we had our plan of what we wanted in the garage, it was easier to get started.
Pick a place and dive into sorting and organizing. I start by grabbing one bin and filling it with all the stuff that actually belongs inside. (For example, in our garage, my kids shoes, hats, jackets and basically anything we take with us in the stroller often get forgotten in the garage.)
Since we have an empty garden shed, I decided to move all the gardening equipment and summer toys there for the winter - we still have access until it snows! Other toys went down to the basement for indoor use. If there is anything in your garage you want somewhere else, take it there now.
Once that's done, you'll know you're only left with things that will stay or go away.
There is a lot in our garage to go away. It’s been used as a storage space for items destined for Goodwill, things that were left behind from the previous owners, and things that need to be properly recycled. So all this stuff came out next. Some things got posted on our local free/trade groups to be picked up that day and everything else we took to donation drop-offs and recycling centres right away. We had to wait for recycling day for the rest of the cardboard, but we made sure to cut and collapse all the boxes.
This only took a few hours total. We called it quits for the day and felt pretty satisfied being left with only the things we actually wanted in the garage - but there was still lots of work to do.
This was our longest day and I am very grateful I had my husband’s help. We took advantage of the only sunny day and painted. Usually I would save painting till the end, if we could count on the weather. But since it was the only sunny day of the weekend, we spent it painting the garage door and trim.
We noticed before we bought the house that the garage trim needed to be repainted to protect the wood. There wasn’t anything really wrong with the door, but since we were painting the trim anyway I decided to use the opportunity to modernize the look and try to tone down the pink in our brick. I really hate how prominent garage doors are in the architecture of most suburban homes, so I prefer to make them blend in more than stick out. I chose the colour Nordic Grey because it’s a nice brownish grey which helps bring down pink tones and because I thought it complemented the accent brick colour nicely.
It took a few coats, but I’m really happy with how it turned out! We finished just before the sunset, which feels super early now!
For our third and final day, we just had to put it all back together. This is the fun part!
We spent the morning with family celebrating the holiday and then got back to work in the afternoon.
Our final stretch of work began by taking out all the remaining items - the things that would all stay in the garage. We swept and cleaned the floors and then it was time to put the pieces together. We had our plan from the beginning of the sections we wanted. I ordered hooks from Amazon to hang all the shovels, brooms and the ladder on the wall. So we got those up first, then did each of the other sections one at a time. It went quickly and was so satisfying to see it all come together with so much EXTRA SPACE!
It’s honestly such an amazing feeling to finally have a space sorted out and to know you’re going to be able to find and get to what you need when you need it.
Yes, it is a lot of work! That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, whether from friends and family or a professional. More hands on deck always helps!