Can we survive organizing the garage?

Now that we’ve been living with (and loving) our newly organized laundry room for awhile, it’s time to get serious about our next project: organizing the garage.

The project of getting the garage organized has lingered on our to-do list for quite awhile. I actually took these “before” pictures a year ago, when we had every intention of getting the project done before the summer heat arrived. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and here we are a year later making the same resolution to ourselves!

Organizing the Garage before

This year, however, the project is even more urgent than last year. After back-to-back years slammed by major hurricanes, we decided to install hurricane shutters on the house. Right now we don’t have anywhere to store the panels in this mess between storms. We also want to be able to get the car in the garage to protect it during storms and for day-to-day safety. We haven’t parked in the garage in at least a decade, it embarrasses me to say.

One of the prices that people pay for living in the snow-free paradise of Florida (besides the hellacious heat, humidity, storms, and massive bugs) is the lack of a basement for storage. Florida is basically one giant swamp, so it’s impossible to dig a basement because the water table is too high. This obviously leaves us Florida residents with quite the storage challenge. We need to find places to put all that stuff that up north would just find a home in the basement: Christmas trees, old clothes, luggage, etc. A lot of that stuff ends up in the garage out of necessity, especially in a house like ours with very limited closet space.

Organizing the Garage before

We’ve also built up junk in the garage from purges in the house. We staged it here preparing to take it places in town. But it seems to build up faster than we make trips to take it, and some furniture has also built up that we need to call to have picked up.

Basically, the garage has become a completely unusuable black hole. We can’t get a car in it. We can’t find or get to the things stored here that we need. It’s preventing us from completing projects in other areas of the house and yard because we can’t get to tools and supplies we need, and don’t have the open workspace in here to use them. So that, coupled with the need to store the new hurricane shutters, has made organizing the garage the next needed step in our push to make our house work better for us.

Organizing the Garage before

Since I took these photos, we progressed some on the project (although it’s hard to tell looking at the garage). We hauled the piles of old cans of paint to the local hazardous waste recycling. We replaced one damaged shelving unit. During the holidays, we sorted and purged the Christmas items stored here. We have taken a few small car loads to charity.

This is a project that we’ve been wrestling with completing for literally years. How are we finally going to get it done?

Step 1: Remove Donations. First, we’ll need to haul some trips to the charity drop-offs. We hope that removes enough stuff to make the furniture accessible so that we can get it picked up. The furniture removal will open up space to move things around, sort, and organize.

Step 2: Sort and Purge. Once we remove the items designated for charity, we need to work on the items stored in the garage. We need to go through tools, gardening supplies, seasonal items, luggage, and just random boxes that ended up here. We’ll have to decide what goes, and what stays.

Step 3: Organized Storage. Once we know how much stuff is staying then we will decide how to store it all. Space will be at a premium in the garage, especially if we want to get the car back in.

How fast do we need to do this mountain of a project for organizing the garage? Well, hurricane season officially starts June 1st. That is also the time that it gets too miserably hot to work outside in Florida. We expect the completion of our hurricane shutters around that time too. So that seems like when we need to try to have it completed. Can we do it? Only time will tell!

Do you have any favorite tips for organizing the garage? Please share in the comments – we obviously need all the help we can get!

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