When it comes to decluttering the home there's one space that's so commonly overlooked that it actually becomes the liminal space for all the junk you just can't bring yourself to throw away. We call it the garage, and the chances are yours could do with a sort-out.
You know how to declutter a room, but tackling the garage is an entirely different ball game. Garden furniture, power tools, holiday decorations; you name it, it all lives here. Before long, your garage becomes an elephant's graveyard for all those half-forgotten belongings you're not really sure what to do with.
'Garages are often the most overlooked and neglected spaces in a home,' says Aaron Traub, decluttering expert at My Professional Organizer Dallas. 'They tend to become the catch-all for everything that needs a proper place in the house, and over time, this clutter can become overwhelming. The key to decluttering a garage is approaching it with a plan, breaking the process down into manageable tasks, and committing to maintaining the space.'
To help you get started, we've asked a selection of top declutterers and organizing experts to share their expert advice. Here's what they had to say.
Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. A firm believer that a tidy home is a happy one, she's committed to helping readers organize and declutter their spaces through sharing practical tips and guides. For this piece, she spoke with professional organizers to learn how to approach one of the most cluttered spaces ever: the garage.
1. Start by taking everything out
There's nothing quite as overwhelming as looking up at the mountain of stuff that's accumulated in your garage without a clue of where to start. If your end goal seems like a distant reality, one of the best decluttering tips involves taking everything out before you begin your mission.
'The reason the garage can be overwhelming is because the objects people put in a garage are things they don't want to deal with: things that are broken, things for the yard, holiday stuff, stuff they don't know where else to put,' 'says Felice Cohen (opens in new tab) professional organizer and author of 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (opens in new tab), (available at Amazon). 'When you get a huge space filled with things you don't want to deal with, it makes it worse.'
To get a better idea of the stuff you're working with - as well as the sheer volume of it - it's a good idea to empty your garage completely. 'My best advice for decluttering a garage is to begin by taking everything out of the space and sorting it into piles for keeping, donating, or discarding,' says Aaron from My Professional Organizer Dallas (opens in new tab). 'Then, once you've decluttered, you can start organizing and categorizing what you have left.'
2. Categorize what's left over
Decluttering and organization come hand-in-hand. Once you've had a good purge and thrown away all the trash and donated everything that's unwanted, you'll hopefully be left with considerably less stuff than you started with. At this point you want to start categorizing in preparation for your garage organization.
'You will start to get a sense of how much of each category you have and now know how much room you'll need for storage,' says Felice. From there you can reserve one wall of the garage for your garden tools, for example, and designate a row of your shelving for boxes of holiday decorations.
3. Make use of modular storage
Modular shelving systems are the best thing since sliced bread. These clever storage ideas make it easy to adapt your shelving or organizational system to the size and shape that works best for your space to make the most of every spare inch.
'Using a pegboard or installing shelving can be a great way to organize tools and equipment,' says Aaron. 'It lets you see everything at a glance and keeps items off the floor, where they can take up valuable space.' Pegboards are especially popular for garages with workbenches as they keep all your tools within easy reach without the need to fiddle around within drawers.
If you opt for shelving, it's a good idea to find containers that match the dimensions of the height of your shelves to maximize space. 'To stay organized, I recommend using large clear plastic storage bins and labeling them with the contents,' Aaron adds. 'It will make it easy to see what's inside, and you can stack them efficiently to create more space.'
Pegboard combination kit, Amazon (opens in new tab)
Keep everything organized with this 57 piece pegboard from Amazon. These durable boards can be attached and customized to any size or shape depending how many you buy making them the perfect space saving hack for your garage. We love how the white design looks fresh and modern, plus it's super easy to install too.
4. Install wall-mounted options to free up floor space
If space is too limited for freestanding shelving, wall-mounted options are the way to go. 'Wall systems are great for organizing sports gear, small tools, pet items and more,' says declutter expert Judy Granlee-Gates (opens in new tab). 'A high perimeter shelf all around the top interior walls of the garage is also a great way to store longer-term items and keeps the middle section of your wall free.'
From hooks to hang your garden tools to specially designed bike racks, there are a whole host of wall-mounted storage solutions that help to free up floor space and keep your stuff organized. Whether you use your garage to store your car or as a home gym, you can now have peace of mind that it's free from clutter.
Wall-mounted bike rack, Amazon (opens in new tab)
To fit more vehicles in your garage, try these Wallmaster mounted bike racks, available from Amazon. They attach to your wall with just four screws, allowing you to hang your bikes vertically. What's more, they can withhold up to 50lb, making them strong enough for nearly any type of bike.
Lilith Hudson is the Junior Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news articles for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration that you need in your home. She discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. Lilith now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London (a degree where she could combine both) and has previously worked at the Saturday Times Magazine, ES Magazine, DJ Mag and The Simple Things Magazine.
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