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The Garage and Tool Shed
Have you been unable to park in your own garage for years? Garages and storerooms are often "stuff cemeteries." Just because you have the space doesn't mean you have to fill it. But genuine storage can take place if you're smart about it. In fact, you've already mastered some of these rules if you've already worked on your closets and basement!

Quick Tips
Start slow. It has taken months or years for it to become cluttered. Organize one section at a time.

Streamline. If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it.

Get stuff off the floor. Once items start spreading across the floor, it's almost impossible to keep them under control. Use vertical space and shelving units to increase your storage space.

Jump in at the deep end! Once a year, drag everything out of your garage. Get the whole family involved. Commit to getting rid of 50 percent of what is in the garage. Go through all boxes, bins, storage cupboards. Be brutal! 

Divide your garage into zones. Organize items into like groups—garden supplies, tools, camping supplies, sporting goods, seasonal items and so on. Use appropriate containers and labeling to identify specific items. Color-coding each zone also helps!

Tools. Empty your toolbox and get rid of duplicates. Then, throw away those loose nails and screws and old hardware you'll never use. Get rid of tools and materials you acquired for specific projects that are finished or will never get done.   

Paint. Check all paint cans to see if the paint is still usable. As you open each can, label it with a number and paint a small piece of paper next to it. Then, match the paints to the rooms in your home and create a paint guide. Get rid of any paints that no longer match your home. Check with your local city hall to find the best way to discard old paint.

Seasonal items. Every year, reassess whether you need to keep certain items. If you didn't use that glow-in-the-dark skeleton for Halloween this year, will you use it next year? Find out when to start sorting through your seasonal items.      

Be aware of what you're storing. Do not store highly flammable items like kerosene, paint thinner or gasoline unless they are in a tightly sealed container in a closed—and preferably locked—cupboard. Ensure that your garage, like the rest of your home, is fitted with smoke detectors and keep a fire extinguisher handy.   

Look to the stars. Consider using the ceiling of your garage for storage. Any hardware store carries a wide variety of hooks that can be used to hang bikes, sporting gear or even gardening tools. Items like storm windows or summer window screens can easily be stored on ceiling rafters.


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