A Spontaneous Garage Improvement

Every now and then a strange spirit overtakes me. There’s no way to predict when this will happen. It’s a rare cosmic occurance that only happens when my energy level, my schedule, the weather, and a build up of annoyance at the clutter in my house all align at just the right moment. When this happens I suddenly become possessed with the intense desire to do some major cleaning/purging/organizing. There’s no holding it back. This week the stars aligned and the cleaning spirit descended on the garage.

Since moving in to this house almost a year ago, the garage has been the place to stick everything we don’t have the time to deal with.

“Are we going to hang up these curtains?” “Eh…not today, just stick in them in the garage for now.”
“Where do you want to put these leftover decorations from the party?” “I don’t know. Just throw them in the garage.”
“Do we need to do something special to dispose of these toxic cleaning chemicals?” “Probably, just put them in the garage until we figure it out.”

You get the idea. Despite the fact that we have only been here a year and we never had more than a closet for extra storage space at our earlier apartments, we had managed to fill an entire garage. We couldn’t move around or find anything we needed. It was a problem.

I was in too much of a cleaning frenzy to take any detailed before pictures. Here’s an older one that gives a bit of an overview of what I was dealing with though.

![before pic](http://littleplacecalledhome.com/files/garage-before.jpg)

So earlier this week I decided to do something about it. The stars had aligned. Charlie was asleep. I was feeling energetic and in the mood for some manual labor. I was more or less caught up on the little tasks that usually eat up all my time. So I went for it.

My main goal was to go through all the piles of stuff and group like with like so we could actually find things when we needed them. For example, all our tools were strewn between about 5 different buckets and baskets in various areas of the garage. So anytime I needed a hammer I’d have to look in 5 different places. Now, we aren’t handy people, but for a while there I was actually tricked into thinking that we had a *ton* of tools. But then I organized it all and discovered that this was not true.

I didn’t purchase anything new or install any hooks, shelves, or pegboards. All I did was rearrange the stuff that was already in there. I was distinctly reminded of those tile puzzles where you have to slide all the little plastic tiles around to make the picture. I would slide a bunch of stuff in front of the washer to make room for one cabinet, then have to move everything in front of that cabinet to make a space for some boxes, then slide everything back to where it came from again. But all that shifting back and forth was worth it. Now I actually kind of like my garage.

![after pic](http://littleplacecalledhome.com/files/garage-after.jpg)

![after pic](http://littleplacecalledhome.com/files/garage-cabinets.jpg)

Here’s what I did:

1. I moved some cabinets that we removed from the kitchen when we moved in from their unuseful position behind the table and facing the wall, to next to the freezer. It is being used to hold various household supplies like shelf liner and light bulbs. Those things were just in piles before.
2. I am keeping home accessories that are not currently in use in some cabinets that we didn’t have a place for in the house. On top of those cabinets are our containers for tools.
3. All the items that we plan to get rid of at some point have been moved to shelves.
4. All the boxes we have yet to unpack have been moved to the far side of the garage, rather than taking up all the space in the area we acutally use.
5. Now that things have a home, the table in the middle of the garage is clear.
6. I cleared enough room on the floor to put down an old rug in front of the laundry area.

It’s still a garage. It’s not beautiful and it’s not going to get featured in any magazines. But it feels like a vast improvement to me. Moving the nicer cabinets and the rug to the laundry area gives it a more homey and cozy feel. And while there are still areas that could stand to be much more organized, I’m crossing “organize the garage” off my list. I think I accomplished enough in this spontaneous frenzy of the cleaning spirit to warrant that.