On my street, every home has a two-car garage. Yet hardly any of the garages are used to park two cars. Even fitting one car in the garage is a stretch for many of my neighbours. Because let’s be honest: it’s pretty common for the garage to turn into a home’s dumping ground.
Often, people stash something in the garage because they can’t decide what else to do with it. Frequently, these stashed items are rarely used. In some cases, they’re never used. Many of us simply own too much stuff and tend to use our garages as storage units, which works as long as you have adequate driveway or street parking. But if you are downsizing to an apartment, you may no longer have the luxury of expansive garage space. Here’s how to seriously downsize the belongings in your garage in anticipation of a smaller home.
What to Do Before You Start
Schedule time on your calendar
If you’re moving, youmay already have a long to-do list. Think about adding the garage to your list, and even putting a specific time on your calendar to attack this assignment. In my experience with clients, getting rid of belongings in the garage is a time-consuming job, so I recommend you think in terms of days rather than hours. Also, if you already know where you will be moving to, it’s a good idea to measure the dimensions of the new storage space so you have a feeling for how much you need to discard.
Assess your resources
What resources do you need accomplish this task? For your first step, you might look into ordering a skip from your local waste management company to dispose of unwanted items and rubbish. Also, consider researching charitable organisations that can pick up belongings you decide to donate. A list of secondhand stores to sell household items to is another great option. If you have more time and are comfortable doing so, you might consider selling more expensive items on Gumtree or eBay. Finally, you might research a local resource where you can dispose of old paint, pesticides, motor oil and other toxic substances, as well as electronic waste. These items cannot be placed in a rubbish or recycling container.
Collect boxes, packing supplies and large rubbish bags
A local grocery store or Bunnings are good places to find free cardboard boxes, and many stores are happy to part with them. Gumtree can be another source for used boxes; people often give boxes away for free after they’ve moved. If you prefer new moving boxes, you can buy them at a local home improvement store or order them online.
Clear some space and mark off zones
To keep your job organised, you might want to create as much empty space as possible in the middle of the garage floor. Consider moving the car and other large, bulky items, such as the lawn mower and bicycles, out of the garage. I suggest dividing the garage into six sections: donate, sell, toss, keep, return to someone else, and undecided. You can mark off each section with blue painter’s tape or coloured chalk. It is helpful to save room on the floor for a staging area where you can place all items from one category before you make any decisions.
Work on one category at a time
I recommend picking a category, perhaps Christmas decorations, and then pulling every item from that category out of hiding and placing it in the staging area. Don’t forget about belongings stored in the rafters. Try to make a decision on each item in your category before moving on to the next one. If you really can’t decide, place the item in the ‘undecided’ pile. However, try not to put too much in this pile, because it will only delay the decluttering process.
Expect sorting of family members’ items to go slower
Children who are grown and have permanently moved out of the house often think of their parents’ home as a storage unit. This also can be true for an ex-spouse who has moved out of the family home. You are unlikely to have room to store other people’s belongings in your smaller space. Unfortunately, dealing with other family members can sometimes be emotionally taxing. Because of that, I recommend you tackle these items last. That way, you can plow full steam ahead on culling your own belongings and not let any potentially difficult conversations slow you down.
Keep your goals in mind
If you have trouble making decisions to let go of some items, it can sometimes be helpful to envision your new uncluttered space. To quote Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, only keep items that “spark joy.” If you don’t truly love something or actually need it then, it is time to bid it goodbye.
Below are some common categories you might be tackling, as well as suggestions on what to keep and what to let go.
If you will not have a garden or if someone else will be doing your gardening for you, feel free to donate your gardening supplies and lawn mower. If you will have a small balcony or patio where you can have containers, consider keeping a few small items such as a trowel, weeder and gardening gloves.