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By Roxanne Washington - Cleveland Plain DealerAugust 29th 2012
Barry Izsak wants you to ask yourself this:
"Do I really need three lawnmowers, one of which doesn't work; two edge trimmers; five brooms; 46 flowerpots; nine hammers; 27 screwdrivers; and two sets of socket wrenches with a few attachments I'm not even sure how to use?"
If you answer yes, you probably need professional help. On the other hand, if you're tired of hanging on to useless junk but dread the decisions and the work involved with getting all of that unnecessary stuff out of your life, there's help.
Izsak wrote "Organize Your Garage . . . In No Time" (Que Publishing, $18.99). The paperback is a step-by-step guide to organization and storage solutions. Izsak is past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and owns Arranging It All in Austin, Texas. One of his company's specialties is garage organization.
Suzy Perry, who owns Cluttered Solutions in Parma, has seen similar scenarios to the one mentioned above.
Disposing of toxic materials
If you're cleaning out your garage, moving, or just tossing things out, there are certain materials that shouldn't be disposed of in garbage cans or left on your tree lawn. "I just finished a garage where they still had their boys' toys from 15 years ago," Perry says. "They had 300 soccer balls."
But for some people who still have every stereo and television they've ever owned, working or not, stored in the garage, disintegrating lawn furniture, and items that were in the garage when they purchased the house and never tossed just in case, the question is, "Where do I begin?"
"The first thing about uncluttering is that you have to set your mind to do it," says Perry. "If you don't unclutter your mind, you won't unclutter anything else."
There's no one-size-fits-all solution for streamlining and arranging the contents of a garage. Some folks might want to tackle the job in one fell swoop: pulling everything out; putting what you no longer need on the curb (except hazardous materials), donating it or having a garage sale; and putting everything back clumped together by category. In other words, small gardening tools neatly tucked in a storage bin, sports equipment arranged in one corner, bottles and cans on a shelf, and so on.
But some might find done-in-a-day garage organizing daunting, says JoEllen Salkin, owner of Organizing 4 U in Solon."The garage might be so cluttered that emptying out everything at once would be overwhelming," she says. "If you pull everything out and then run out of steam, you'll have a worse mess."
Whichever way you decide, the main goal is to have a garage arranged so that you know where everything is and you can get to it easily, and lots of floor space for, you guessed it, your cars.
Here, Perry and Salkin offer some ideas for getting a garage together. So does Sharon Kreighbaum of Staged Makeovers in Hudson.
Divide and conquer. Whether you pull everything out or clear one corner to get started, separate your belongings into different categories such as sports equipment, electric, lawn tools, etc. Pitch, donate or sell what you don't need. Consider donating unneeded tools, toys and clothing to charity.
While the whole garage or just a space is clear, give it a good sweep and knock down cobwebs. This is also the time to power wash or paint the floor if you've been considering that, as well as patching up any cracked spots.
Location, location. Plan where you want things to go before putting anything back.
Smart storage. Think big cabinets with adjustable drawers, plastic storage bins of varying sizes, shelves, pegboards, equipment for storing items overhead, such as lumber, and so on.
Kreighbaum likes the cabinets you can find at office-supply stores because they have adjustable shelves. You can buy plastic storage bins just about anywhere, including dollar stores."You can buy organizing systems, but cabinets and bins can be a lot less expensive," she says.
Shelving units for garages can be inexpensive and simple to install. On the shelves, you can store car supplies, bottles of weed killer, fertilizer, etc.
Store smaller items, such as nails, which might get lost in a large bin, in smaller bins. Don't forget to label them. You can even stack the bins from least- to most-used to allow easier access.
Bicycle solutions. Overhead storage, whether it's a hanging rack, lift or hoist, is an option that frees up floor space. Young children may not be able to lift and hoist their bikes, so floor rackers are another option.
Hang time. You can get relatively inexpensive wall hangers for such items as rakes, shovels and garden tools.
If you're not a do-it-yourselfer, it's probably worth your while to hire a professional. The National Association of Professional Organizers' website, www.napo.net, allows you to find a professional near you by typing in your zip code.
The Arranging it AllSM team is mentored and trained by a Certified Professional Organizer.
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