Get in gear! It’s time to tune up the most cluttered and neglected room in the house.
By Courtney Austin - photography by Courtland Richards
Take one look at most garages on the Gulf Coast. What words come to mind? Clutter, confusion, chaos! Garages have become a messy storeroom, filled with tangled Christmas lights, boxes of toys the kids quit playing with long ago, and tools used to fix who knows what. A garage can serve as more than just a place to park, but before it serves any purpose, most garages are long overdue for a much-needed makeover.
Before you can start the makeover, you have to decide what the space is going to be used for. Make a plan depending on the needs and interests of you and your family. The garage may simply provide the perfect place to keep cars out of the weather and store equipment used for yard work and gardening. Others may utilize the space as a workplace, such as a home office or hobby station. The garage may also provide an ideal play area for little ones, safe from traffic and weather, and an area that won’t be ruined by messy art projects. Whatever the space is to be used for, a plan must be made before a makeover can begin.
Just as artists begin their masterpiece with a blank canvas, the best garage makeover starts with a clean slate. Do you open the garage door and become overwhelmed with what you see? Oftentimes, years of clutter has developed in the garage, leaving homeowners wondering where to start with their cleanup.
Begin by creating four main categories: keep, trash, donate, and relocate. These four categories may then be broken down further, but you have enough to handle for now. Sticking to these categories ensures productivity for the time being.
Lea Schneider, owner of Pensacola-based Organize Right Now, is a professional organizer who has tackled many garages among her organizational projects. Lea and her staff will completely arrange your garage (or other area of your home in dire need of organization) so that you don’t even have to lift a finger, or assist those needing support. For those of you wishing to brave this task on your own, Lea offers some tips.
“Keep only what you love, what you use, and what you need for if you don’t love it, use it, or need it, why would you have it in your home?” Lea recommends. “If you find yourself being defensive and stating ‘But, I might need it someday’ then out it goes. If you don’t use it today, then it is yesterday’s clutter.”
Lea also suggests that you focus on one area at a time, rather than becoming a human pinball, bouncing from here to there and back again. Really accomplish something by picking one place to start, then moving from left to right until the entire garage has been cleaned.
Now that everything is out of the way, it’s time to focus on the aesthetics of the garage. Although organization may be enough of a garage makeover for some, others want to keep this room looking as good, if not better, than the rest of the house. A fresh coat of paint may do the trick, or a complete makeover may be in order.
Garage design companies are popping up along the Gulf Coast, converting these shabby spaces into automobile showrooms. Mark Secord, owner of PremierGarage of the Gulf Coast, located in Daphne, Alabama, specializes in garage floor coatings, custom garage cabinetry, and specialty storage systems. PremierGarage takes pride in creating a space you, too, will be proud of.
“The garage is the largest room in most homes, and it is the last stand out to a ‘truly finished residence,’” Mark says. “Very little has been done to the garage space until recently, and the products that were offered in the past were sub-standard in quality and performance.”
Garage enhancement companies have since upped the ante with top-of-the-line products used to create a fantastic looking, functional space.
PremierGarage begins with quality floor coating systems made from hybrid polymer composites that won’t crack, blister, or fade. And the flooring process only takes 24 hours, allowing normal activity to resume quickly.
Stylish and practical, garage enhancement companies also provide storage systems that look great while providing a place for almost anything housed in the garage. Blending rich beauty with durable strength, PremierGarage offers cabinetry (which comes with a lifetime guarantee) designed to withstand the elements of the outdoors, protecting belongings from pests, water damage, and ranging temperatures. In addition, specialty organizers enhance the cabinets, providing organization for miscellaneous items such as tools, bikes, gardening equipment, and more. These companies can do any size project, from a complete makeover, which includes new dry wall, painting, floor coating, and storage cabinetry to a small enhancement with hanging organizers and shelving.
“The PremierGarage product line will beautify and add value to the home, and if the space is needed as a garage, our products still allow that beautiful space to function as a car park,” Mark says.
It’s time to fill your new storage, but keep in mind that there are certainly additional storage areas other than your garage. Decide which place best suits your belongings and take advantage of that space.
When deciding where to put items, think easy-access. If it is something you will be using often, put it somewhere you can easily get to. Put children’s belongings in a place they can easily reach and keep dangerous things stored in places they can’t.
Lea suggests continuing the organization with clear plastic tubs. Items are easily identified, the containers can be wiped clean, and they also provide protection from many Southern bugs that love cardboard.
She also notes that a must in organization is labeling. Label everything! Label the areas of the garage so all family members are clear. Some label ideas include: Garden Center, Beach Fun, Kid’s Central, Holidays, Tools and Repair, and Camping. Also, label tubs and boxes for easy recognition. Even label shelves, hooks, and storage units so items can be easily put back in their proper places.
You’ll want to show off your new and improved space once your garage makeover is complete. To ensure that the garage continues looking like a million bucks and to keep from having to perform a makeover again, keep it clean. Cleaning the garage should happen with the same frequency as cleaning the house. When you tidy the house and put things away, open the garage door and tidy it too.
“It isn’t that it stays clean; it is that YOU keep it clean,” Lea says.
Courtesy of Lea Schneider
Will this item ruin if it is too hot? Then it doesn’t belong in the attic. (Examples: holiday candles or Grandpa's war uniform)
Will this item ruin if it is too damp? Don’t store it in the basement. (Examples: newspapers, magazines, books)
Do I need to get it frequently?
Keep it in the garage or a closet. (Examples: lawn equipment, grilling gadgets)
Do I get it infrequently?
Then it should be stored in the attic or basement. (Examples: holiday decorations, boxes of tax documents)
Is it extremely cumbersome to move about?
Store it in an easy-access location. (Example; Carpet shampooer, table saw)
Greening your home
Courtesy of Catherine Hall-Pate and Rebecca Bryant of Walcott Adams Verneille Architects
Simple suggestions to help improve your green IQ.
1 - Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
2 - Use trees or trellises to shade southern and western windows.
3 - Seal air leaks around doors and windows.
4 - Adjust your thermostat and use ceiling fans to circulate air.
5 - Open windows when humidity and temperature are pleasant.
6 - Install flow-restricting aerators on faucets and water-conserving showerheads
7 - Use low or no-VOC paints, sealants, caulks, and adhesives.
8 - Reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost.
9 - Use native landscaping, rather than thirsty lawns.
10 - Buy EnergyStar and Weather Wise appliances.