Angie's List: Garage Organizing

The garage is often one of the most disorganized places in your home. It can become a dumping ground for toys, sports equipment, and tools. But that garage clutter may be costing you more than just space.

"The kids have a lot of toys, bikes and shoes and all kinds of stuff so it was very unorganized, difficult to get things,” says homeowner Jeff Fredericksen. “Had to climb certain areas to get certain things and made my life quite difficult."

Professional organizers can help sort, purge, categorize and put items back in a way that makes the most sense to the homeowner.

Some organizers also sell and install storage products such as overhead storage bins, wall racks and cabinets.

"Here we have some slat wall which is another popular item in the garage these days,” says Tom Fleming a professional organizer. “You can do it in small sections like this, or panel your whole walls, but there are lots of accessories including shelves. In this situation we used a slat wall and some shelves to solve the shoe issue which is always a big thing in garages. People ask 'where can I kick off my shoes before I go in so they are not piled in front of the door?"

Some homeowners complete the look of an organized garage with epoxy flooring. The hardened, high-gloss polish resists scuffing and abrasions.

"If you don't have time to get your garage organized yourself it might be worth investing in a professional organizer,” says the founder of Angie’s List Angie Hicks. “You need to talk to the organizer to determine what they can bring to the table and make sure the outcome is going to be something you're going to be able to live with."

So your garage will not drive you crazy. Before hiring, find out how much an organizer charges. Is it by the hour or by the project and are there additional charges for products?

Garage clutter may be costing you more space. It can also include wear and tear on your vehicles, limited storage space for what you really need, money spent on buying duplicate items because you couldn't find them, and time wasted looking for things you know you have, but can't find.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated organizers how to keep the clutter from crowding out the family car.

Angie's List Tips: Reclaiming your garage space
• Ceiling Storage: Overhead storage is a great way to instantly gain space in your garage. These storage devices consist of a wire rack that hangs from your garage ceiling. Different sizes are available based on your needs, and most are rated to hold hundreds of pounds.
• Wall Storage: Wall storage is great to store tools and loose items that would be lost on the garage floor. You can find kits that are specifically designed for tool storage, or you could even invest in wall-bolted cabinets or wire basket storage. When organizing, group like items together. If using boxes, be sure to label the outside so you won't have to dig through all of them while looking for one specific item.
• Epoxy flooring: Provides a clean, finished look to your floor. The hardened, high-gloss polish resists scuffing and abrasions. Epoxy flooring comes in a variety of colors.

Professional organizers help homeowners sort, purge, categorize and put items back in a way that makes the most sense to the individual. They will often discard unwanted items, either by donating them to a charity or consignment shop or posting items for sale online. Some organizers sell storage products and install them, while others handle the de-cluttering and bring in help to install cabinets and perform other tasks.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring an organizer
• Do your research: Typically a license is not required for a professional organizer so essentially anyone can say they can organize your home. Do your research to be sure you're hiring someone with experience and a good local reputation. Angie's List and professional organizations like the National Association of Professional Organizers can help guide you to the right local person. Ask if they specialize in garages.
• Meet up: Many professional organizers offer a no-charge, no-obligations consultation, which allows you to meet the person who will be in your home going through your space. Ask questions about their experience and their ideas for how best to organize your home. If you don't feel comfortable with them, hire someone else.
• Payment: Find out how they charge if it's by the hour or by the project and if there are additional charges for things like storage products, epoxy floors, custom workplaces or disposal/donation fees. Is there anything you should buy before the job begins?
• What tools do they use? Some organizers used 3D design software that can give you an idea of what your space will look like.
• What happens to your stuff? If your organizer will dispose of your unwanted items and it's important to you that they're donated or recycled rather than trashed, make sure your organizer knows that and will do what you want. Also ask about any hazardous waste, which much be disposed of properly.

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