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By Janet Leonardi - New Jersey Star-LedgerMarch 3rd 2011
If raising your garage door triggers a panic attack, you’re not alone. Many harried area homeowners have made springtime promises to clean up their acts once winter ends. But that will include the trauma of soon having to dig through mounds of boxes, cast-off sports equipment, last summer’s beach gear, the snow shovel and your new snowplow.
A Harris Interactive Research study conducted a little more than a year ago found 40 percent of Americans rated their garage as the messiest room in the home. But Barry Izsak, a certified professional organizer in Austin, Texas says that number could easily be 60 percent or higher. "In many cases, the average American two-car garage has become a no-car garage because of all the excess clutter," Izsak says, past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers in Mount Laurel.
"It’s ironic the one room of our house where the door is open daily for the whole world to see is the most unsightly, poorly utilized and neglected space," says Izsak. "And the biggest reason people struggle with garage organization is not because they can’t do it, but because they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start."
"It’s not realistic to think you can tackle 20 years of clutter in a day. Make the easy decisions first and begin discarding the obvious items you want to get rid of. Then, divide your garage into zones to store your tools, sporting goods and home and garden supplies," Izsak says. He should know. He has organized over 200 garages in central Texas.
He advises storing things off the floor as it will keep them dry and make it easier to keep your garage clean. And if you haven’t used items in two years, Izsak says sell, donate or give them away.
Les Hutton, owner of GarageTek North and Central New Jersey, an international garage organization network with a local office in Stirling, says his firm and others like it typically offer an array of storage solutions.
"Every garage is different and every homeowner has different needs," Hutton says. To that end, professionals design space components that include cabinets, shelves, bins and baskets; workbenches; and specialized activity racks, lighting and floor coverings, tailoring the design to fit the budget.
Of course, you can still find plenty of storage products at both big-box and local hardware stores. Crawford Products, a DIY line of storage products with headquarters in Macungie, Pa., offers a selection of flexible peg hooks, wire baskets and tool holders to install yourself and most retail for under $20.
"Cluttered garages have become combat zones as homeowners maneuver around assorted items, hunt for objects and steer their vehicle through tight quarters," said Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs for the Lehigh Group, parent company of Crawford.
And safety is a very important consideration when it comes to our garages. The Home Safety Council, a national nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., solely dedicated to preventing home-related injuries, says your garage can be a magnet for junk, which makes it a place where falls, poisonings and fires can occur. The council encourages families to view their garage as an extension of their home and, as such, take the appropriate steps to keep it both safe and organized. And there’s no better time than now to get started.
The Arranging it AllSM team is mentored and trained by a Certified Professional Organizer.
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