Operation Organize

Turning your garage into a tidy space isn’t as impossible as it sounds

Space — the final frontier.

It wasn’t just Captain Kirk in the legendary Star Trek TV series who had a thing about space. We 21st century homeowners continually search for new areas of space in our homes. And sometimes that can be just as hard to find as Kirk’s elusive meteors or enemy starships.

Before you go renting a storage locker for your overflow, open the door to your own garage and take a good, hard look. It may be crammed with hockey sticks, yard tools and other bits and pieces, but what about the walls and even the overhead area? You can probably squeeze a lot more into that cubic yardage than you think. You just have to know how to handle it.

Overwhelmed? Call in the experts

If you don’t know where to begin, a company like Garage Living in Vaughan can help. “We consider ourselves garage experts,” says co-owner Aaron Cash. “We’ve been into thousands of garages and see how people store items. Based on that experience, we try to create a system that works for them, whether it’s a family or an older couple who are empty nesters.

“Sometimes it’s an upgrade — removing old cabinetry and shelving and putting in something a little more sturdy, a little bit cleaner and more usable. Other times it’s working on the garage from top to bottom, from concrete floor to drywall and insulation, and installing our wall organizers and cabinetry.”

A showroom to demonstrate the possibilities

Their focus isn’t junk removal or even professional organizing, Cash adds. Instead, his team helps you figure out how to make the most of your garage space, and offers top-of-the-line products to help you do it. Like a kitchen company, they even have a Vaughan showroom with sample set-ups and storage items for customers to view.

Budget-minded folks will like the fact that customers can mix and match among the company’s services — maybe overhead storage and PVC tile flooring at first, with cabinetry and heating left for later. “Every project is different,” Cash says. His team works up itemized quotes so families can choose what they want, based on their needs and priorities — and their budget.

Now’s the time to declutter

Of course, you may not want to call in the experts just yet. Maybe you already have a good idea of what needs to be done out there. If so, work out your own project plan for Operation Garage. With summer holidays over and autumn drawing near, this is the time to do it.

Like any decluttering job, you’ll have to decide what to keep and what to pitch. If your family enjoys the yard sale experience, you can get rid of some stuff that way. (Just don’t expect to make a bundle — yard sale shoppers aren’t big spenders.) It may be more practical just to give things away. Cash points out that charities can use lots of things buried in garages: building materials (leftover or discarded tiles, paints, lumber; toys and bikes your kids have outgrown).

Time to indulge

Now comes the fun part (really!) Look at what’s left and decide the kind of storage you need.

• Cash to spare? Specialty stores like Ikea, Solutions and Home Outfitters have a wonderland of brilliant things to organize tools, tarps, outdoor gear and more.
• Do-it-yourselfers? Pick up down-to-earth materials for shelving and cabinetry at building supply stores like Home Depot and Rona. Even good old Canadian Tire offers inexpensive cupboards you can assemble yourself and stash sacks, cans and jars in. (Good for stuff like fertilizer and pesticides you want to keep safely away from small children and pets).
• Like gadgets? (Heaven help me, I do!) Go crazy over the clever storage creations in the Lee Valley Tools catalogue. Think spring clips that grab onto two-by-fours, heavy-duty magnetic tool bars and any number of wrap, tie and hook components. Their five-foot-square mesh garden tool organizer that hangs on garage or shed walls is a knockout.

Finishing touches

Wherever you shop, the want-list for any space-smart garage should include plenty of bins, baskets and tubs. Choose carefully, though. A mix of big sizes for bulky items and smaller sizes for little things is best. Don’t be tempted to toss everything into a few giant containers—that just hides the mess and won’t save you any time in the long run.

A final tip: once you’ve cleared and arranged your garage space, don’t forget to label all those nice new containers and cabinets. Nothing’s worse than a place so neat and tidy that you can’t remember where you put all that stuff!

Garage Aid
Garage Living, www.garageliving.ca, 1-877-312-4188
Ikea, www.ikea.ca, 1-866-889-4532
Solutions, www.solutions-stores.ca, 1-866-599-5100
Home Outfitters, www.hbc.com/storelocator, 1-888-595-8786
Home Depot, www.homedepot.ca -800-466-3337
Rona, www.rona.ca, 1-866-283-2239
Canadian Tire, www.canadiantire.ca, 1-800-387-8803
Lee Valley Tools, www.leevalley.com, 1-800-267-8767


About this article:

By: Mary Fran McQuade
Posted: Sep 2 2010 3:03 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto
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