Your garage should be the hardest working space in your home, but our garages often become the last stop for hundreds of items, and many of those items come from “decluttering” projects elsewhere in the home.

Before we organize any space in the home, we first discuss the concept of

active/reference/archive.

If you follow our blog regularly, you have probably heard these terms before. If not, here is a brief overview:

Active items are the ones you need to access quickly and frequently. Example: Your insurance bill.

Reference items are the ones you may need to access quickly, but not nearly as often as your active items. Example: Your car insurance policy.

Archive items are the ones that are important but may not be access for long periods of time. Example: Your vehicle title or the deed to your house.

When you can identify what items fit what role, organizing will be much easier.

What makes garages uniquely challenging, though, is that your active items change with the seasons. That snow shovel you don’t need now will be more important than your lawn mower when the seasons change. To really make your garage an effective space, sort into zones and use vertical space. For example, we design garage systems that maximize wall and ceiling space, zones that be reconfigured with season and life changes. You can also use a variety of work benches, shelves, hooks, and cabinets to add more storage.

In many ways, the items you hang on your garage walls should change more than any other space.

But what about those “I might need it someday” items?

Box them up and decide on an expiration date, say 12 months from now and write it on the box. Tape it shut, and when the date rolls around, don’t even open it before you either throw it away or donate it.