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Give Your Garage An Overhaul

Jan 16, 2008
Do ventures into your garage turn into scavenger hunts, where you find yourself rifling through bins of sports equipment, toys and tools searching for that one soccer cleat or a garden tool that has gone missing? And how many times on those scavenger hunts have you promised yourself that one day soon, "This place is getting a good cleaning."

Well, that day is upon us so it's time to make good on that promise.

For some home owners, the garage is simply a storage space for cars and tools. For others, however, the garage often acts as a storage space, a workshop, bike shed, toy room, sports center, and general dumping ground. Before you begin your garage spruce up, make sure you are clear about exactly how you want to use your space. Doing so will enable you to ensure its design fits its function.

Regardless of how you use the space, however, every garage can benefit from the following:

Empty out: Start by removing everything from the garage (yes everything!) and don't put anything back without giving it a thorough inspection and asking yourself if it will realistically ever be used again. Saving a pair of size three children's cleats is foolish if your soccer player is now a high school student with size 16 shoes.

Get things off the floor: Use strong ceiling hooks, peg boards and overhead storage to hang bikes, yard tools, strollers, and other items so they are accessible, but not occupying valuable floor space. You will quickly see the amount of useable space in your garage increase tremendously as a result.

Finish and seal the floors: Even if you use your garage for storage only, finishing and sealing the floor will make the space cleaner, easier to maintain and help eliminate the amount of dust and dirt that comes into your home.

Address water problems: If you have leaking walls or lingering dampness in your garage, it may be necessary to invest in some exterior excavating and French drain installation to effectively correct the problem.

Depending on how you use your garage, you may also want to invest in:

Cabinetry: There are several companies that specialize in garage organizational systems. Installing a system can be a costly affair, but if you do it right it can be worth the expense. First, decide what type of use your garage should be able to handle. If your son (or daughter) is into mechanics, a strong steel system with a work bench and shallow drawers for tools is the best thing - at least in part of the garage . But if you aren't the handyman type and mainly need to put things away and really want someone to design it for you, a closet-style garage system will work best. Check out premiergarage.com, garagetek.com , and housewall.com for information on systems that can accommodate all your storage needs.

Depending on your handiness, you may be able to install simple shelving and cabinets yourself for a fraction of what custom-designed garage systems cost. If you need to get an idea of what is available to you, visit garagesafari.com. This site shows many systems you can install yourself, as well as some of the components professional garage system installers use. And if you are planning or have recently completed a kitchen renovation, consider re-using some of your old cabinets in the garage for additional cost savings. One word of caution, however: if you have a damp or water-prone garage, wood or wood particle board cabinets are not going to last.

Temperature Control: If you want to use your garage as a year-round craft studio or workshop, you might want to consider heating system options. Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters work fine for occasional uses, but if you plan to use your garage throughout the cold winter months, you may want to invest in a professionally-installed heating system.

Mud Room: Many homes have mudrooms right off the garage. If your home doesn't have a mud room, however, you may be able to incorporate one into your garage if you use creative space planning. Equip the new space with shelves, hooks, cabinets and benches so that coats, boots, shoes, umbrellas etc., can be organized and within easy reach. If you can, add a washer and dryer and a basin for total mud clean-up.

Recycling uses: Take advantage of your garage reorganization to make recycling a part of your daily routine. Consider installing permanent recycling storage space in the garage so that bins can be kept tidy and easily accessible and help make this dreaded chore a bit easier.
About the Author
Kaja Gam offers interior design in New York. Recently featured on HGTV.com, Kaja is famous for designing rooms that are comfortable, functional and make a distinct statement about your personality. Sign up for Kaja's free e-zine today at http://www.kajagamdesign.com.
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