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Today's Garage:  Make the Most of It.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), nearly two-thirds of American homes have two-car garages, while 19 percent have three-car garages and only 15 percent have a one-car garage or no garage at all. The demand for bigger garages has increased over the past decade or so. For example, in the Midwest in 1992, only 16 percent of new homes had three-car or larger garages. In 2004, however, the percentage had doubled at 32 percent.


Anyone who keeps an eye on trends in homes will realize that Americans are increasingly seeking bigger, more usable space. For many, the garage is the perfect catch-all for all of the miscellaneous items they can’t fit in the house. Homeowners are also less likely to be disciplined about keeping this “room” organized. You don’t live in it, you don’t see it very often, so when you need a place to put something, you don’t mind tossing it on the heap. As you may have seen in your own neighborhood, some homeowners’ garages are so out of control as storage spaces that they no longer have room to park the car! One or more cars are often sitting in the driveway or along the sidewalk, being subjected to all manner of damaging conditions.


This is the primary reason that garage remodeling and organizing is a booming business. According to the NAHB, garage remodeling and organizing was an estimated $2.5 billion business in 2005! You do not necessarily need to hire professional help to transform your own garage into usable, fully functioning space. You can get started with a few simple tips.


Be ruthless.
When you sort through the rubble in your garage, make piles for items you can no longer use and can’t give away or sell, items you can sell and items you can give to charity. It doesn’t matter if you spent a mountain of money on something three years ago – that is in the past and right now, in the present, you need space, not that fancy Casio keyboard or the kayaking paddle you never used.


Organize is the name of the game.
That’s what you’re here to do, and here’s how to do it: Separate what’s left into categories of items, such as car gear, toys, holiday items, tools, etc. This will help you visualize and plan the space you’ll need for each group of items. You may even be able to take some categories back into the house.


Divide and conquer.
Divide the garage into designated zones for each category of items you have decided to keep in the garage. You will realize at this point whether you have done a good job in letting go of old or no longer useful items or if you still have some work to do before you can welcome your car back inside. Also keep in mind that you will want to have some extra space left over for any future items that need storage.


Create a system.
Consider building or buying one organized, built-in set of shelving to replace the mix of shelves, bins and buckets you had before. Make sure that the shelves are installed correctly. If you don’t have confidence in your own abilities to create something that can hold what you hoard, hire a handyman. Also make sure you don’t overload the shelves. You can also buy transparent bins to put on the shelves and to keep like items together. Label these, and you won’t have trouble unearthing your Christmas decorations. Also consider buying racks for items that can be hung up, suck as rakes, extension cords, hedge trimmers, shovels, etc.


If this process worked for you, congratulations! The last step is driving your car into the place it hasn’t seen for months, if not years. If you have been through these steps so many times that you have them memorized and are still not able to keep things organize, it’s time to get help. Hire a professional to assist you in choosing products and storage solutions that work for you.

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