Todays New Homes
Expert Advice Column
Q: Our garage is cluttered with everything from soccer balls to holiday decorations. I can’t face another winter of tripping and banging the car door into his stuff. Many of us treat our garages like oversized junk drawers and shove all kinds of things into any spot we can find. The c1utter is not only disorganized, but it is also dangerous. Tripping over lawn tools or putting a ding in the car door by opening it into a lawn chair is typical garage accidents. Losing a fishing pole or pair of shoes to the garage is not uncommon.
With a well designed plan you can get organized, and stay organized. Your everyday entrance to your home, (through the garage door) will be more welcoming, your home can be cleaner, and your possessions will be easier to see and reach. To help you in your planning, we talked to Sally Schulman, co-owner of White Rabbit Garage Organizers in Deerfield.
“First you need to determine what you are trying to accomplish,” said Schulman. “You may want to add features, like a work bench or a mud-room or make the space workable for block parties or band practice. Or you may be trying to condense your possessions through the organization process.
“We encourage people to really look at what’s in the garage and decide what should be disposed of. We suggest a three pile strategy: Put everything you don’t want in one pile, put everything you need or want to keep in another pile, and put all the things you’re just not sure about in a third pile. The things that land in the third pile go in a box that’s sealed and dated. If it hasn’t been opened in a year, just get rid of it. Never open it again.
“Once you’ve determined what stays in the garage, planning the space is the next step. I come out to help you determine what’s possible and what’s practical,” said Schulman. “We make an assessment of what’s actually in the garage. Some are so full. I find that most things in the garages are utilitarian like lawn chairs, gardening tools, sports equipment. Space is needed for those items more than for storage.
“A key area to plan is the space night by the door. That’s prime real estate in the garage. Some people like their recycling bins set there. It’s easy to toss things out from the inside of the house. Some people want the bins down by the garage door, so they’re easy to put out for the truck.
“A seating bench with adjustable shelves underneath is also popular. You can change your boots, pull on the rollerblades, or stash dirty shoes underneath before entering the house. It’s a great way to keep the dirt out of the house.”
Schulman stresses the importance of vertical storage. Go as high on the wall as possible so you can get things off the floor. Sweeping, not to mention walking, is much easier.
“Promoting the garage to a new attractive, well organized status does come at a price. People are surprised at the price. Probably because it’s a new segment of the industry,” says Schulman. “Just remember, you’re talking about outfitting a really large space.” The average price for fully organizing a garage ranges from $2,500 to $3,500. “If your plan outruns your budget, you can put your cabinet up this year and wait until next year to put up cabinet doors, or do one wall at a time,” advises Schulman.
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