“The other day,” a friend said, “My wife spoke five of the most frightening words a man can hear – especially on a warm, autumn day when he’s headed out to the golf course.”

“Let me guess,” I replied, “Did she say, ‘Did you clean the garage?’”

OK, those may not be the five most frightening words a man could ever hear, but if you’ve left your garage to accumulate clutter, the thought of cleaning it can certainly be intimidating. Let’s be honest, if you have a double car garage, is there room in it right now for two vehicles? Is there room enough for one vehicle? Is there sufficient room in your garage to walk from the garage door to the man door inside without tripping over half a dozen items on the way?

Every fall, as winter nears, a wife’s thoughts turn to cleaning the garage. All right, maybe she just wants to park her car there and can’t because of the mess you’ve created. If your garage has become a catch-all space, here are some practical tips to reclaim lost square footage.

Ready, set – Sort!

On a warm day – preferably before the snow flies – begin to sort your garage into specific categories. Be ruthless; it’ll pay off in the end. Start by looking for items that you can just throw away. Broken, old, worn-out, used up – send them packing. Next, look for useful things that you’d like to recycle. There are plenty of second-hand stores that would appreciate the donation. You could also donate items to your favourite charity. If you’re feeling entrepreneurial, arrange a garage sale and turn those questionable items into cash. There may be items that could be stored elsewhere, like in the basement or perhaps in a backyard storage shed. Lastly, seriously consider the items that you would like to keep in the garage. Don’t get discouraged. Remember, even the longest journey begins with one step. Decluttering is no different.

Ready, set – Design!

You’re going to need a floorplan – an idea of where to strategically place each item. Start by finding your tape measure –easier now that some of the clutter has been cleared – and start taking some measurement.  If you’re techy, use design software on your computer – there are plenty of great programs out there. If not, do it old school by grabbing a pencil and a piece of graph paper. Sketch the interior dimensions and mark off doors, windows, electrical outlets and such. Remember to keep things to scale. Look for spots where you might install additional shelving. Consider items that “must” fit into the room such a vehicle, sporting goods, yard and garden equipment, a workbench, deep freeze or second refrigerator (for cold beverages.)

Finally, think about the need for additional electrical outlets or lighting. If you’re planning to add a workbench, remember to consider height. To brighten the look of your garage, you might also consider painting the floor. This will protect the concrete make clean-ups easier. If you have the extra cash and want to make your garage floor pop, there are companies out there that specialize in stylish, durable and attractive garage floor finishes.

Ready, set – Prioritize!

With your new design layout in hand, you’re ready to take action. Start by making a list of what needs to get done first, estimate the cost and create a workable budget. Some items can be done right away while others may need to wait. If you love DIY, you’ll likely be able to do many of the tasks yourself. Other tasks, such as electrical, need to be performed by a professional. A variety of storage solutions are available, many of which you’ll find at your local hardware store. Some items can be re-purposed like old desks, cupboards and file cabinets. Durable plastic bins are great for safely storing seasonal items and are reasonably priced. Look at the revamp as an exercise in creativity – you may be surprised by what springs to mind.

Ready, set – Insulate?

Now that you have a well-considered plan in place for your garage, you might want to think about the advantages of insulation and drywall. An insulated garage can make the space even more user-friendly for other activities and further enhanced storage. Again, if you’re handy, you and a few friends (remember those cold beverages) can tackle the project, but if not, you’ll need to approach a professional contractor. Again, this comes down to how extensive your plans for the declutter and subsequent plans for better utilization of available space.

Whether your idea is simply to make room or to revamp the space entirely, a little planning and forethought will go a long way to keep your garage usable and decluttered all year ‘round. Once you have the space cleared, create a declutter routine to prevent a reoccurrence.

And while you’re out in the garage – reclaiming and decluttering – take a close look at your garage door and opener. Perhaps it’s time to consider a new garage door, a new opener, or both. At Doors on Demand, we’re here to help. We have an excellent variety of doors for every style of home with a door that will match your home’s architecture perfectly. Great selection, great service, and great prices, too. Plenty of free advice for the asking. There’s a Doors on Demand location near you! We can provide you with a free, no-obligation quote and the fast, affordable, professional service you need and expect.