October 22, 2013

If the Shoe Fits: Organizing the Garage

You know that expression: Physician, heal thyself?  Or, the cobbler’s children have no shoes?  Well, this organizer’s garage needed a professional and it needed it quickly!

I bought a new car to replace my aging Passat wagon.  Most women my age are celebrating empty nests and trading in the van or SUV for something small and sporty.  Not me.  I went bigger — I got a minivan! I compete with my dog in agility and obedience.  The more I train and compete, the more equipment I need.

Everything fit in the new van (Organizing the Minivan), the problem was that the new van didn’t fit in the garage. It was too long.

If anything breaks the electric eye line, the garage door won't close. The van is too long.

I did what any organizer would do – I drew a floor plan with the garage dimensions and the van’s specifications.  I played around with it until I found a way to angle the van so it would fit.

On paper, the van would fit if I angled it into the garage

The problem was that my stuff was jammed up parallel to the walls. I hadn’t gone through it for years and didn’t really know what I had. Sound familiar? Not only did I have to re-arrange everything into the corners, I needed to do a wholesale purge and re-organization.  Complicating the issue is that the garage floor slopes down from the wall before it levels out, making it hard to store things flush to the wall.

I went back to the floor plan, figured out where the limit lines were, then drew them on the garage floor with contractor’s paint.  I bought a sheet of ¾” plywood cut to my specifications and a couple of 2x4s to use as supports so I could level out the floor next to the walls.

Stuff reorganized into the corners using simple plywood platforms and 2x4s. (You can see the slope of the floor under the water bottle and the carton behind it.)

Then the hard work of purging what I no longer needed began.  Going through most of the accumulated junk was easy and actually liberating. The difficulty was the memorabilia.  I got bogged down in memories, and stymied by emotion.  I understand why my clients need dispassionate guidance. I had to put on my objective professional hat in order to wade through sentimentality and make decisions.

The whole job took about two days – one day for thinking and planning and a second day for execution.  Job complete!

Epilog:  While the van fits in the garage on paper, it was too difficult to jockey it into the exact spot every time.  About 3 inches of the back fender corner never cleared the electric eye line of sight. But I did get a newly re-organized garage in the process!

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