Clutter buster: How to organize your garage

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Phoenix residents Jay and Gita Kshatriya own and run a small business. They have three kids, a busy and active family life, and a garage full of stuff to prove it. 

The thought of organizing their garage seemed overwhelming.  That is why the Kshatriyas teamed up with professional organizer Bridges Conner, who says their wish list is a common one.

The Kshatriyas wanted to make room to park a car inside, an area where their kids can easily get to and put away their sporting equipment, and storage for things they don’t use every day, like party supplies or luggage.

With any organization project, Conner says the process should start with purging.  They took everything out of the garage.  Then Jay and Gita made a decision about every item -- throw out, donate or keep. 

"You know, honestly, some of these things don't even mean anything to us," Gita confessed.  "They've just been stuffed in a box and we just kind of forgot about it."

Whatever makes the "keep" pile is then sorted into categories that make sense for the Kshatriya family.  According to Connor, organization should be based on your individual lifestyle and priorities.  

"Once we have it categorized and the space emptied out, then we're going to layer them in based on the frequency of use," states Conner, the owner of  Get Organized with Bridges.

"So if it's something that needs to be at their fingertips, it will be accessible to the door or to the car, whatever the case may be. If they use it less frequently, it will go up higher and have less accessibility."

Conner likes to re-purpose containers for storage, like a sturdy garbage can for skis or foldable chairs. She also gave the Kshatriyas an over-the-door shoe organizer for the back of a cabinet door. 

She placed ribbon, balloons, streamers and other party supplies in the clear pockets, which allow the couple to see exactly what they own. This will help them avoid buying duplicates.

Another important storage rule Conner stresses: Put things away vertically, not horizontally. 
"If it's vertical, you can see what you own," she explained. "If items are stacked up on top of each other of you don't know what's at the bottom of the pile. Things get lost, and you don't use it."

As Conner helps homeowners place everything back in their garage, she keeps like items in one category together.  She says if everything has a specific home, it's easy to find and put away.

Hanging bikes on walls help to clear the floor; and separate open bins are great for individual categories of sporting equipment, like balls, bats and racquets.  Leaving the covers off make it easy to grab what you want and put it away, especially for kids.

Connor says only close bins for items you do not use often, like holiday decorations.