Friday, May 8, 2015

Making sense of our garage mess

As much as I like to pretend that our house is perfectly organized and everything has a's not.  Most part of our house are in pretty good shape most of the day (anytime Luke is awake there is bound to be a little bit of a mess).  Then there are the parts that are just never that cleaned or organized.  I'm talking about our basement, the garage, and maybe Matt's office.  I got the organizing type of brain, he has the creative type.  Which is good but I'm not sure he always appreciates my need for order and cleanliness.  

When we first looked at our house 9 years ago we were surprised by how big the garage was.  There were no cars in it (but the space was obviously open for them) along with a golf cart, trailer, boat, and various garage things.  This extra large garage came in very handy when we had to store 2 jet skis, and then 3 jet skis, and now, thankfully, just one.  As well as 2 cars and all that garage stuff. 

Having a big garage is nice for storing jet skis and cars.  It's not nice that it's so large that it becomes a holding place for other stuff.  A lot of other stuff.  While I feel like we (I) have a pretty good handle on the main living spaces in our house, the garage and basement are totally different.  Very different. 

It's been probably since we moved in that our garage has really been cleaned well.  We've straightened up and small clean-ups in the years since but no major clean-up and toss, no real evaluation of what we actually have in there.

Among the treasures:
-our last Christmas tree (lake bound soon)
-a motorized wheelchair which Matt swears he's going to use for a project (after 5+ years, if he doesn't get to it by the end of the summer it's gone)
-a small welding thingy of sorts which I don't think has ever been used (despite having it for 5 years)
-over 20 flower pots (most empty)
-left over drywall, green board, and cement board from our stair and bathroom projects
-over 5 gallons of blue house paint from when we repainted our whole house 7 years ago
-a wrestling plaque Matt got more than 10 years ago
-3 ladders
-more bottles of weed spray, insect spray, and various other outside sprays than I can remember
-a horendous piece of art Matt brought home from work in order to recycle the frame
-enough scrap metal to fill the Jeep
-the bottom half of our old back door (original to the house, we think)

Something needed to be done.  It was one of those areas of the house (like the basement) that just made me stressed.  I knew there was a lot we could get rid of.  I knew we could organize it better.  We have a lot of space in there and it wasn't being used to it's full potential.  A few weeks ago, looking at busy April, May, and summer weekends, we decided May 2nd was the day.  We were going to empty it out and start all over. (Obviously more my idea than Matt's but he agreed!)

Thanks to an extra early rising baby, Luke and I were headed to the garage by 8:30am on Saturday with Matt close behind.  This was shortly after starting:

Luke was helping sweep.  Obviously.

Just a cluttered mess.  We decided to start with emptying the garage (me) and sorting through scrap metal (Matt).  I've done enough other organizing projects to know that a blank slate is the best place to start.  And getting all that metal out and cashed in meant less than would have to be put back.

Matt was able to make a run before the metal recycle place closed at noon.  They also accept old electronics so some old VHS & cassette tapes, some computer pieces, and our original thermostat went with him, as well as a full Jeep full of scraps.  We forgot the most obvious scraps (aluminum cans) but did have various things Matt's brought home from work, parts of broken rakes and shovels, beer bottle lids, old hangers, screws, and I don't even know what else.  It was a lot of stuff we've been accumulating which got us.....$12.  Yep.  BUT it kept all that stuff out of the dump and it can be reused.  I honestly probably would have done the same for no money but that little bit made it extra worth it.

By lunch time it was emptied and Matt was back home.  As I emptied I was sorting, Luke friendly things went in the main back yard, not so child-friendly things went towards the alley, things to get rid of on the left, things to keep on the right.  (The very very unsafe things likes a hatchet and ax were left on high shelves where Luke couldn't get to them.)
Luke friendly things in the backyard
Our back pad filling up

Sometime mid-day, Luke's riding the jet ski with his bike helmet on, naturally.
Everything in the garage moved at some point besides the jet ski.  While emptying, everything also got a good sweep and broom wipe on the walls.  Matt does a lot of woodworking in the garage which makes a sawdust mess and there were a lot of leaves that had blown in.  Just getting things swept out really well made a big difference. 

I had told Matt I thought we could get rid of half the stuff in the garage.  I don't think we made that but between metal recycle, giving some things to Matt's niece's boyfriend (who just bought a house and is redoing a bathroom, therefore he got all our leftovers from that), filling our trash and recycle bins, and pulling out a decent pile for the garage sale, things are looking better. 

The afters aren't that impressive.  We have a lot of firewood to burn and still more to put in trash and recycle once our bins are picked up.  We have a chair for my brother-in-law and a sprinkler for my sister.  There is a garage sale pile in one corner and a pile of wood for Matt's current projects.

But the big difference is that everything now has a place.  The things we use least are in the back corners behind the jet ski while the things we use often (like Luke's toys and gardening tools) are near the door.  The bike things are near where we store the bikes and all the lesser used gardening things are in one spot.  Our 4 containers of snow salt are together (why do we have 4???).  For now we have boxes to separate jet ski things, car things, garden/yard sprays, and cleaning supplies.  I've been on the lookout for matching plastic crates but haven't found the right ones yet. 

tarp is down for Matt to put his project wood down

Matt added a new shelf to store all of his woodworking things together, hopefully making it easier to pull out when he needs it.

It might not look it but these shelves are in much better shape! 

Probably the most well organized part of the garage: various yard tools & snow shovels (which we greatly reduced), Luke's toys, aluminum recycle, Luke's picnic table, and all our scrap wood to burn.  The sledge hammer is our door stop. 

One important thing we added was designated spots for all the random scrap metal we come across.  We have a small ice cream tub for little things (likes screws) and an old recycle bin for larger things (like old formula cans).  That's part of what was making our mess before, all this random metal piling up in different corners.  I like everything having a spot and it makes it easier to take in when it's all together. I'm a big believer in "a place for everything and everything in it's place".  Before there were a lot of things without a place.  Now everything has one. 

This was an all day project.  We started around 8:30 and finished about 6:30, with a break to eat lunch and put Luke down for a nap.  It was a lot of work and we were exhausted.  I have a nice scrape on my leg from our Christmas tree trunk, which I guess is what we get for still having a Christmas tree in our garage in May (#classy). 

It's not perfect but it's a garage.  It's not supposed to be.

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