The Garage

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WM pink and gray Rev3

A while back I wrote about our garage, lamenting that for every step forward I made with our home’s interior, I took 5 steps back in the garage.

Last year I saved everything I purged from the house. I put it in bags and bins so I could later sell it at an enormous garage sale in the spring. I kept everything on the 6′ table in the garage my husband uses for work, but only just a corner. Then a little bit more than a corner. Then, when I continued on with the project weekly, I used all of the table. After a couple of months, I used all of the table and started piling things on top.

In the spring time, around the time we were supposed to have the garage sale that would make us millionaires, we had a mild earthquake. The house was fine; a few pictures moved around on the wall. The garage, on the other hand, didn’t fair as well. Okay, it was my precariously stacked table of home goods didn’t fair as well. It all went down faster than a house of cards, which I quickly realized that week when I opened the garage to unload my latest pile of rejects. I did what anyone else would have done in my position. I tossed the new pile of rejects on top of the old pile of rejects now heaped on the floor.

And the next week, I added another pile.

And so on.

I thought you might like to see proof I wasn’t exaggerating.

Garage, 1

Garage, 2

No one, and I mean no one was allowed to see the interior of our garage. It was such a source of embarrassment. One, we have never had a messy garage until this house. We can’t explain it. Two, the mess was especially offensive since I was making such progress on the inside. I felt like it completed negated my 15 months of hard work. When we finally admitted we were never going to have a garage sale, we quickly donated everything to a friend’s annual charity fundraiser. This helped us chip away at the piles.

Garage, 3

Our long term goal is to have a wall of cabinetry and shelves. It the minimum we need to effectively store everything inside our 2-car garage, but there are more pressing repairs and updates we need to do on the inside of the house. For now, we are happy with a temporary solution that has already made a world of difference.

Garage, 4

A simple PVC shelving grid helps us keep storage bins within reach and out of the rafters, which is where they were before. My husband made it for a handful of dollars. It was so inexpensive to make, as you can imagine with it being made from PVC! We’ll add to it until it stretches along the back wall or fits all our storage bins, whichever comes first. There will be bins for holiday items, sporting equipment, painting supplies, and other miscellaneous categories. We’ll also switch out all the bins to match the new brown ones. Not because they will all match (though that will be nice!) but because we can store more if each bin is as large as possible. Some of our older bins are too small to store much. When we get the cabinetry put in–we’re thinking years from now–we’ll have it built to fit the bins already in place if they are still the size that works best.

Garage, 6

Garage, 7

The garage is not done, obviously. I need to go through those craft bins and purge what I no longer need. I hope to drop off the beds at Goodwill this month. They were my brothers when they were Mikey and Nico’s age.

Garage, 8

We also need to do the other half of the garage, dispose of 300 paint cans and samples, and put in a ceiling (the Mister did drywall growing up). But all that is gravy. We’re just thrilled we can park my car in the garage and almost don’t look like hoarders! Almost.

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This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.

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Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:

  • Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
  • Your post must relate to your efforts to create an intentional home. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it.
  • No links to giveaways, please.
  • Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.
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Comments
32 Responses to “The Garage”
  1. Oh my word. I got a tiny panic attack when I saw that first picture!
    Before you know it, you could actually put cars in there! ;)
    Nice job, Jules!!

    BTW, the linky seems to be on the fritz :)

    • Jules says:

      I fixed the link! Thanks. :)

      I can park my car in there, and have been for two weeks! :D Even if we clean out the other side, though, we won’t be able to park two cars in there at once. Our cars are too wide. We’re still cleaning out the other side.

  2. Ditto Tiffany – the before was heart attack inducing! :) Great job on the clean up! I think so many people get stuck on a project (myself included) because it can’t be finished the way that they want, so they don’t do anything at all. But your garage is proof that getting started is worth it – it might not be the finish product, but you no longer have to be ashamed to open the door, and it’s usable! It 10 years, perhaps it will be beautiful as well. :)

    Since the linky isn’t working at the moment, I’m leaving my link in the comment. I’ll check back later today to see if it’s up and running. :)

    http://www.carriesbusynothings.com/2013/01/gifts-of-christmas-past.html

  3. I know just where you are coming from with this project. Last weekend my husband and I spent the better part of Sunday doing what my grandmother would call an “un-seen job”, you know, the jobs that only you will know you have done because no one else would look in your kitchen drawers to see that they are organized or in your bathroom cabinet. We took on a major undertaking, we cleaned our attic. For two people there was a lot of stuff up there. More than anything else it was boxes from things we have purchased.

    7 trips to the recycling center (we have to walk to ours) and 3 trips to the trash cans later, we were done. Even though no one will see this but us, it is the nicest feeling knowing that when you walk into our attic now, everything has a place. The bench that is built into the wall now houses all of the Christmas boxes instead of the mess of other boxes that we no longer needed. It is a joy to know that everything is organized and easy to walk around. As Martha Stewart says, “Its a good thing!”

    http://jennywrendesigns.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/our-weekend.html

    • Jules says:

      That Butter Roasted Cinnamon Chicken looks great! Mikey loves cinnamon, so I’m always on the look out for recipes that feature the spice.

      Great job on the attic!

  4. No heart attacks here! Been there and done that and know how good you must feel now. I love being able to park both of our cars in our garage.

    And I’m so with you on the no garage sale thing. For me, I net more money by donating to a charity and writing it off on my taxes. And, I get rid of stuff right away and know I’m supporting causes I believe in. Triple win.

    • Jules says:

      What is bizarre is that in our previous home, our garage was immaculate. Sleeping With The Enemy clean. Even the new buyers commented on it. This house was so different from our old one (a new build) that none of our furniture fit. That was something we weren’t anticipating. We turned the garage into a furniture graveyard. This garage also wasn’t finished, so we didn’t have attic space, which we had in our other garage (with a pull down ladder that my husband installed). So many little things added up to create a disaster. I’m glad we are rounding the bend on this portion of our lives, that’s for sure.

  5. Ris says:

    You think that’s bad? You should see my parents’ garage. I get squinky just thinking about it. Congrats on the progress though! A garage for cars–what a novel concept!

    • Jules says:

      We used to be those people who couldn’t understand why people kept their garages so messy. Our garage at our old house was a smug source of pride. Never again! That’s what happens when you judge, huh?

  6. Susan G says:

    It looks great! It gives me motivation to tackle our attic room – which was my older daughter’s bedroom. Each time she has moved out of one place and into another (5 times in the last 6 years) more stuff gets left behind. I add my stuff (so it’s out of sight) Now she’s moved to DC and “her” room is worse than ever. I keep the door closed and try not to think about it. But this long weekend is the time – I’m downloading all the Downton Abbey episodes (I’ve never watched it) and going to town. Thanks!

    • Jules says:

      Did you ever watch Friends? I think most people have a “Monica’s Closet.” :) The garage was ours!

      • Susan G says:

        I didn’t watch it when it was new, but I watch now when I can’t fall asleep (which is every night). It’s on after 11 on Nick at Nite and I just saw the one with Monica’s Closet a few weeks ago!

  7. cyndee says:

    Your hard work really shows. Congratulations! Now hold your breath and come visit my basement. I am in the midst of purging and disposing of years of acquisitions. You know, things I just had to have at one point in my life.
    What I have been doing is several times a week, I put in a load of wash which takes 58 minutes. While the washer is running I work continuously. In the last two weeks I have taken 4 carloads to Goodwill. I find if I time myself this way, I do not overdo, spending one whole day in the basement, get overwhelmed, injured and then quit.

    • Jules says:

      What a fantastic idea to time your work to something concrete, like a load of laundry! I have been doing something similar with my walks. A reader said I should listen to a podcast while I walk and stop when it’s done. It has worked so well!

  8. Deb says:

    Great job and so inspiring as usual! No heart attacks from me either. Just glad to see that other people have areas that aren’t organized also. Gotta go-I’m feeling the need to organize something!

  9. It looks great! You were brave to show us your before pics but I know we all can relate.

  10. Jasi says:

    We moved and although the sqft is larger, the layout is entirely different. More living space and a lot less storage. We threw everything in bins in the garage until the cold mornings came. We wanted warm cars in the am. So with frosty fingers we went through and put bins on the walls, on the ceiling and still had plenty of junk to spare. I’ve prided myself on being pretty minimalist but somewhere I became a picture frame hoarder. I have 3 bins of empty picture frames and 2 giant boxes of kid-art. Your garage clean-up has inspired me. Time to get moving!

    • Jules says:

      Same here. We moved to a bigger home by almost 700 SF, but because we moved from a new build to an older home, none of our furniture fit. It was something we were not expecting. In our case, it wasn’t bins that went into the garage but furniture. We were able to get rid of most of it, and by then we were accustomed to parking outside. That was no good. Being in CA, we had no real motivation to tackle the mess the garage had become.

    • Melissa says:

      It’s cold here, too, and we really should be putting our second car in the garage, but that half of it is filled with all the bikes and outdoor toys that we didn’t put away properly in the fall. Now it’s so cold that we don’t want to go out and work in the garage at all. But neither do I want to scrape ice off the car in the morning. So my approach this week has been to 1) be deliberate in not adding anything to the mess (no more tossing empty boxes into a pile–take them out to the recycling bin!), and 2) try to put away one or two things a day as I’m going about my normal routines. This weekend I vow to get my husband to help me hang the bikes (it’s a 2 person job but should only take 10 minutes) and put all the rest of the stuff in the shed where it belongs. It’s not a big job, just so easy to ignore.

  11. Sarah A. says:

    Oh, the bins. Make that, The Bins. We have a lot of them in our basement. My husband and I are going through the new year’s purge cycle (which never actually gets completed, or else we wouldn’t feel like we have to tackle it every year!), and one of our goals is to drastically reduce what we store. I wonder if having so many of The Bins is another convenient way to not deal with stuff? I am so so guilty of sorting, boxing (or Binning!) and forgetting. Even though The Bins create a “place” for things, isn’t the point to pare down to a point where you don’t need so many “places”? We had a consultant visit our downtown businesses, and in our shop, I asked her about putting artwork or shelving or something up high where the walls are blank (we’re in an old Victorian storefront and have almost 20′ ceilings) – she said “don’t be afraid of some empty space! Give your eyes somewhere to rest!”. Anyway, that is in my mind as I’m sorting through all of our Bins!

  12. Lisa says:

    Yay, you!! It is so hard to get rid of stuff once it hits the almost-gone-pile in the garage. We are on the same wavelength. I’ve linked up so many times at your linky party on cleaning our garage. As a part of my New Years Resolutions I decided that I am no longer saving anything “for the next house.” This house I am in now is the next house compared to the last house, and I am DONE with having a garage plus a storage unit full of unused furniture and various decorating items. Over the past three weeks I have donated and donated and purged and donated some more, and it is almost done. I still have two pieces of furniture I am trying to unload on craigslist, and a pile of boxes of my old teaching materials that I need to go through and then shred. And then, for the first time in nearly ten years, I will not have a giant pile of hoarded stuff that doesn’t fit in my house. It feels fabulous, or it will as soon as I get the shredding service to my house and get rid of those two pieces of furniture.

    Can I say that only in California have I been offered marijuana as a form of payment for furniture I’m selling on craisglist?

    Where did you get the pvc storage unit, and was it expensive? I would like something similar, since I still have Christmas ornaments and hand-me-down kids clothes to store, but currently I just have the bins all sitting on top of each other.

    • Jules says:

      Only in California. O_O

      We didn’t buy that grid–my husband made it for next to nothing! I updated the post because I didn’t make that clear. He bought some bins, took measurements, and went to town with his pipe cutters. Easy!! It took him minutes. Measuring the bins and wall space took the longest.

  13. Amy says:

    PVC pipe . . . I can’t believe I didn’t think of that . . . I am, after all, an electrician’s daughter. Anything can be fixed with a little PVC and/or duct tape! :)

    Needless to say, it’s looking fabulous!

  14. Val says:

    So crazy…I literally JUST saw this “PVC + bins = garage storage” concept yesterday while Googling for DIY built-in ideas. It blew my mind — such a cheap and easy solution. I’m glad somebody else took the plunge first! And once all the bins match, it will look really good, especially for such a simple project.

    Y’all just shoved the pipes into the connectors, right? No adhesive? Also, does that tall pipe in the middle serve some purpose? Does it provide extra stability or something? And did you attach it to the wall in any way or just put the heavier stuff on the bottom and hope for the best? (Sorry for giving you the third degree…just totally stoked about this project!)

    • Jules says:

      I’ll have my husband tell me how he made it and we’ll do a post on it. The tall piece is just extra. We’ll be building it out more, and he didn’t want to toss a piece that could be later used.

  15. Leilani says:

    Yowzer! What an undertaking. I bet you are so relieved to see that clean garage every day. Haha–Monica’s closet.:)

  16. Kat in Canada says:

    This idea is GENIUS. OH. MY. STARS.

    These are going in my basement. And my crawl space. And in the garage.

  17. Bekki says:

    Genius! I so need that storage system. I have a “wall” of matching clear bins in my basement and I get so tired of moving them all just to access one of the. This would solve the problem. I hope you post how he made them although they do look simple to figure out. Your garage looks so good, I love seeking before and afters of real working garages!

  18. Megan says:

    I just found your blog from Young House Love and thought I’d check it out. Hello! I love a good organizational post and this hits home as we took our basement, which looked very similar to your before photo, and bought some shelves at Sam’s to organize. We thought about going the built in route but the shelves are metal and plastic and were super easy to put together. It was nice to get it done in a fraction of the time it’d take to cut and screw all the wood for built ins. Now I’m off to check out more of your blog! Have a great day!

    Megan
    thebrickbungalow.blogspot.com

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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.