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EVERYTHING BUT THE CAR

Few household activities inspire more dread than reorganizing the garage. Americans' garages are filled with the requirements and detritus of daily life - paint cans, golf bags, bicycles, dusty trophies, power tools, old clothes, boxes of moldy magazines. - If garage organization is on the agenda, there are several approaches to take, whether you tackle it yourself, or need some help disposing of and organizing your belongings.

Purge first

Decide what should be removed from the garage. Obvious things, like rusted lawn mowers or old carpets, are easier to get rid of than things with emotional value, like awards and books.

"Break the job down into small manageable pieces," said Barry Izsak, author of Organize Your Garage in No Time.

After deciding what stays, separate the room into zones - lawn and garden, sports, cleaning and maintenance, a work area with a workbench, memorabilia.

Do-it-yourself storage

Storage options can get tricky. Homeowners should ponder how they want to store things - either in cabinets or on hooks, in see-through or nontransparent drawers - before buying anything.

Homeowners can easily find affordable storage products on the Internet or in hardware stores. Those include plastic containers that sell for less than $30 or basic wall shelving that's adjustable and costs less than $60.

If people are looking to spend less than $500, things such as peg boards and adjustable chrome racks are useful, Izsak said. Also, "redeploy" unwanted cabinets or furniture for use in garage storage, he said.

Storage 'systems'

Several companies sell individual storage products, starting at $300, or complete systems, which can cost at least $3,500, that are designed specifically for the garage but still require self-installation. These are sold at retailers or Web sites.

High-end storage

Several companies, including GarageTek, California Closets and PremierGarage, not only sell and design high-end organization systems, but also install and even assist in reorganizing the garage.

Both Syosset, N.Y.-based GarageTek and HouseWall in Fort Lauderdale offer specially designed wall paneling that holds hooks to hang bikes and ladders, and elevated cabinets, bins and baskets. The average cost of a garage remodel for GarageTek was $8,500.

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