As more Americans are living in their houses longer due to the uncertain economy, many of us are outgrowing existing homes. One innovative solution to expand your living space may be right under your nose: your neglected garage. • Moving cars out of the garage and adding shelving, cabinetry and overhead storage can quickly turn a cluttered dumping ground into additional living space. You even can complete this project over a weekend. • Once everything is put away, you can add a television, card and game tables or even a pool table as you find ways to use your newly found space. • To tackle this project, follow these three easy steps:
1Use it or lose it. The beginning of any organization project is to get rid of items that you may not have used in the last six months or year. If you haven't needed the item in that long, or have forgotten you have it, you probably don't need it. Have a garage sale, give items to charity or simply throw things away. Keeping something for years in your garage when you aren't using it isn't saving you money; it's costing you valuable living space.
2Store it. Hanging items on walls with hooks and storing items on shelving is a great start. Be sure to get hooks and storage systems that make your life easier. For example, one set of innovate hooks from Tornado (www.tornadohooks.com) lets you install hooks right into drywall using only a screwdriver. It's easy to hang up lawn and garden tools, ladders, extension cords and power tools to get them out of the way. There are several garage organization products available that enable you to store bulky items overhead. A bike hoist that allows you to lift bikes safely to the ceiling is a great start. Another clever item is a Ceiling Storage Lift, which has a 4-foot by 4-foot platform that attaches to the garage ceiling. Get one you can raise and lower, so you can load it up and lift it to the ceiling with a hand crank or power drill. Such hoists and lifts are available from Racor (www.racorinc.com). Just be sure to get ones you will use.
3Keep it up. After getting organized, don't forget the third step: staying organized. Don't let messes get out of hand, so enlist your whole family in keeping things straight. Put lawn furniture and toys where they belong after each season. Don't let bikes, roller skates and sporting equipment lie around your newly cleaned garage. And be sure to repeat this entire process every year.
This easy weekend project can expand your living space, is inexpensive and adds to your home's value. More importantly, it lets you make the most of your home for living and for things you actually use.