The morning after the first proper dump of winter snow many people can be heard saying “What already?!”; followed shortly after by the depressing question, “How am I going to fit my truck/car in the garage?”. If your garage is home to everything but the kitchen sink, and the thought of trying to clear it out is giving you nightmares, then try some of these ideas to get your garage winter-ready.
One of the hardest things about organizing a garage is the large variety of items we store in them. Start by identifying all the different categories of items your family store in your garage (other than your vehicles) such as shoes/coats, DIY tools, gardening tools, kids’ toys and bikes, sports equipment etc. Have a good sort through all of the items in each of your categories and let go of the things you no longer need before investing in any storage solutions for the stuff you actually use.
Now think about how often you need to access each of these categories. Generally the items you need to access most frequently should be closest at hand and at stored at eye-to-waist level and items you use less often can be on the lowest or the highest shelves. Designate a zone in your garage for each of the categories and try to put all of the items for each category together. For example if you have a workbench put all of your tools and other accessories nearby.
Shoes and coats are best stored as close to your house access door as possible - having an enclosed or built in wardrobe keeps coats and shoes free of the grim and dust that can so easily build up in garage spaces. Try to keep only the shoes and coats appropriate for the season and vacuum pack the rest and store in your basement or under a bed to minimise the clutter and confusion when leaving the house in a hurry. Having a labelled shelf area or specific hooks and a labelled tote for each family member can significantly speed up everyone finding their own coat, boots, torques and mitts in the morning.
If storing your vehicle(s) inside during the winter months is a priority, and you have limited garage space then consider moving other items you do not need to use during the winter months, such as gardening tools, to a different location such as the basement or a shed. If your garage is very narrow, then high level individual shelves and wall hooks and containers, rather than standing shelving units, are probably your best bet. Customised overhead storage can also be useful for maximising the use of your space, but make sure you take into account the amount of the free ceiling space your garage door needs to open.
Shelving and hooks that minimise the number of items you have to store directly on the floor will not only give your garage a more spacious feel, but will make it easier to clean the melt from cars off the garage floor. Bikes are best hung on the wall using heavy duty hooks or padded angle brackets. Sports equipment comes in all shapes and sizes, so look at what you have and then buy specific hardware to suit. Wire mesh containers attached to the wall are great for storing balls, pads etc. Snow shovels and ice picks, as well as any everyday winter sports equipment, are best hung close to your main garage door for easy access from the outside.
If you find that there are a lot of items in your garage that you no longer need and still want to keep to sell next spring, then sort through, donate what you can and box up the rest to store elsewhere until the snow finally decides to melt. Then you can finally create your own garage heaven.