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Top Tips for Keeping Your Garage Neat and Organized

You can’t ignore your messy garage forever; and in fact, spring is an excellent time to clean and organize it. Here are our top tips for organizing your garage so it stays neat and tidy.

The following is a guest post by the Closet Works Inc.

The garage ranks high along with the basement for spaces where families tend to dump things they don’t know what to do with.

It’s easy to store a box you never unpacked, some outdoor equipment or some unused paint in your garage and simply ignore the fact that it’s there when you pull in your car each night.

But the clutter becomes more difficult to ignore when, for example, you’re stuck clearing snow off your car or running out to your driveway during a downpour because you’ve filled your garage with too much stuff.

You can’t ignore your messy garage forever; and in fact, spring is an excellent time to clean and organize it. It’s not too hot, and you’ll probably need to get to items in your garage like lawn and garden equipment and your kids’ outdoor toys.

Here are our top tips for organizing your garage so it stays neat and tidy.

Clean and Sort Everything

Keeping your garage neat and organized

If you actually do park your car in your garage, pull it out into the driveway or, better yet, park it on the street so you’ve got plenty of room to clean out your garage.

Unload everything first, even the boxes that haven’t been emptied since you moved in eight years ago. It might be helpful to lay a few tarps on the ground to protect your goods while you do this. Arranging specific piles of your stuff on tarps is also a helpful way to force yourself to keep a smaller number of items—keep only what you can fit in a given area.

Sort your goods into a few piles—what you want to keep, what you’d like to sell or donate, and what should be thrown out. Importantly, if you’re getting rid of paint, paint thinner, used motor oil or household chemicals, be sure to dispose of them properly.

After the space is organized, you’ll have plenty of room for a garage or yard sale to get rid of those unwanted items at a later date.

Figure Out How You’ll Organize Your Stuff

Keeping your garage neat and organized

Garages typically house a unique mix of car-related items, tools, gardening equipment, bikes, kayaks, fishing gear, snow removal tools, beach items and more. It can be a challenge to figure out how exactly to store everything.

To give things their own place, you might want to consider a custom garage storage solution with options to store a wide range of items.

A design professional can create a plan that affords you enough space to add a workbench with drawers and cabinets for tool or hobby storage. For the gardener in your family, you could also add a potting area with a work surface.

During the cleaning phase, you should inventory any dangerous chemicals to see if they’re still usable. Then you can add locked cabinets to keep those dangerous chemicals and sharp tools safely away from curious kids.

The garage is a prime area for storing sports equipment like bikes and skis and gardening tools like a hose or rake, which can all be stored off the floor with wall racks. You can also add baskets for bulky things like balls, gloves, masks or pads.

Cabinets, both with swing-out and sliding doors (if space is tight when cars are parked), can house many other items you need to store like bottled water, things you buy in bulk or even outdoor furniture accessories.

Find a New Home for These Items

Consider a new home for some items which are best stored in areas other than your garage.

  • Paint should be stored inside where the temperature remains somewhat consistent. Store it out of reach of children and pets in your basement or a closet.
  • Propane tanks shouldn’t be stored in your garage; a spark could ignite the tank. Instead, store the tank upright and outside in a well-ventilated area away from any ignition source.
  • Paper towels, plates, napkins, cardboard and other paper goods are better kept in your pantry if the packages are open. Storing them in your garage could attract bugs. They could also get damaged by moisture.
  • Pet food also belongs inside; storing it in your garage could attract mice, rats, possums and other creatures you probably don’t want hanging out there.

While your initial garage organization effort may not be the most fun chore, you’ll be glad you tackled the clutter and created a better storage system later in the year. Rather than spending precious time searching for your kids’ bikes and skateboards, you’ll be able to easily find them and enjoy yourselves.

If you’re interested in learning more about organizing your garage, reach out to us for a free, in-home consultation.

 

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A Mindful Move: Home is Where the Om Is

 

A “Mindful Move” can alleviate the stress of moving by focusing on giving back and positively impacting others within your old and new community.

We are all trying to be more mindful. No reason to “try;” instead, relax and be. Easier said than done, right? We all strive to be mindful: aware of emotions, present in the moment, attentive to the needs of others, conscious of our planet and calm. But, in our mindful practice, we tend to let the stressful moments of life knock us off course. And, we all know that one of the most stressful times is moving. Even during your move, you can be mindful which will actually help you relieve the stress.

The goal is to stay present, aware and to not allow the outside turmoil of all your added to-dos for your move dictate your mood. Here’s a proven trick: Flip your mindset from reacting to the moving and packing to-dos, to how your move can impact you and others. By remaining thoughtful throughout the process and using the power of kindness, you can make your move a positive experience. After all, kindness is contagious; so spread it all around on moving day and in your new hood!

Here are simple ways to conduct a Mindful Move:

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

Moving can be a time of giving. Show your new community and your old community some love by thinking about their needs. Now, take another look at all your stuff and your clutter. Do you really want, or need, all that in your new home? Perhaps, you have clothing, furniture, kitchen items or even food you have been meaning to clear out? No time like the present to give presents to those in need.

This is not just another to-do on your moving list, it’s very simple and the rewards are immense – it’s the ultimate win-win! You assist others and at the same time you receive a clutter free home. And, a clutter free home is a more mindful space, nurturing a clearer mind and calmer life.

  1. Donate Non-Perishable Food:
    • Find your local food bank here.
    • Visit www.MoveForHunger.org, a non-profit organization that will connect you with a local moving company that will deliver your non-perishable food donations to your local food bank for you. Check out their Find a Mover tool
  2. Donate Clothing:
    • Salvation Army
    • Epilepsy Foundation
    • Veteran organizations
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
    • Red Cross
    • Check with your local fire department, churches, synagogues and schools, to see if they are hosting clothing donation drop offs
  3. Donate Toys:
    • Local children’s hospitals
    • Local Ronald McDonald House. Find a local Ronald McDonald location or care mobile here.
    • Local Boys & Girls Club
    • Many local shelters or children’s charities accept toy donations. Use this Homeless Shelter Directory to find shelters in your area.
    • Organizations like My Stuff Bags and Stuffed Animals for Emergencies offer children a familiar object in times of crisis.
    • Other places to check include a children’s social services office and even stores often have a donation bin at the front entrance where you can place donations.
  4. Donate Household Goods & Furniture:
    • Habitat for Humanity ReStore
    • Salvation Army
    • Epilepsy Foundation
    • Veteran organizations
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
    • Red Cross
  5. Donate Vehicles
    • Habitat for Humanity Cars for Homes
    • Salvation Army
    • Kars 4 Kids
    • Wheels for Wishes
    • Cars Helping Veterans.org

Be Mindful of the Environment

Time to show Mother Earth some love. Moving is the time we finally clean out those closets, junk drawers, spare rooms, attics and garages. Moving time equals major trash time. What if you were more environmentally conscious on moving day? That would be pretty mindful, wouldn’t it?

The great green news is there are simple steps you can take during a move to reduce your waste. Being eco-conscious on moving day will boost your mood and your wallet!

1. Use Eco-Friendly Moving Supplies: From boxes, packing paper to bubble, there are now green 100% recyclable materials to keep our neighborhoods cleaner and greener. Yep, there is even biodegradable eco-bubble, pop away guilt free.
ECO-BONUS: Save money by asking your moving company for used boxes made of recyclable materials. You can get used boxes at a discount and some moving companies will even give you a refund for returning your used boxes at the end of your move. Pop! Pop! Cha-ching!

2. It’s Not Just for the Movies: Instead of the foam popcorn and peanuts, use real popcorn to pack fragile items! Just pop and fill the gaps in your boxes to secure and pad fragile items. Cheap and earth friendly!

3. Be Kind to Your Electronics: Contact a domestic e-waste recycler so your old computers, microwaves, etc. are recycled domestically, under strict environmental laws, rather than being shipped off to be processed by highly toxic and polluting techniques.

4. Don’t Just Toss it out. Upcycle and recycle everything you can. Don’t just send your old stuff to the land fill. See above on how to Donate. Donate. Donate.

5. Hire an Eco-Conscious Moving Company: Use your “green” to influence and encourage green habits by hiring companies that use environmental-friendly practices. Make sure your moving company is bright green by asking: Does the staff recycle? Are the offices and warehouse designed to be energy efficient? Do they use biodiesel to run their trucks? Do they use 100% recyclable materials? Do they sell used boxes? Do they buy them back at the end of the move? Chances are if they care about the earth, they are mindful of their customers too!

By using the power of mindfulness and kindness, you will feel more relaxed and calm during your moving experience. There is no better way to start a new chapter in life than feeling good about giving back, free of clutter and present in your new home! Time to relax and say how good it is to be om.

 

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Keep Your Home Ice-Free This Winter

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Seattle saw its first seasonal ‘snow’ this week. Flakes didn’t fall or accumulate everywhere, but temperatures dipped below freezing. Welcome to the season of de-icing.

We all know the feeling: time gets away from you in the morning, you rush outside and almost slip as you finally make it to your car, and it’s coated in an invisible but ridiculously strong layer of ice. You don’t see the ice on your windshield until you get in and it starts fogging up. You grab your scraper and get to work, wait another few minutes for the car to warm up… and finally, you can begin your drive.

De-icing the car is never fun, but it’s necessary if you’re going to safely make it to your destination. But what about your home? Shouldn’t you de-ice that, too? You spend at least half your life in it, so it’s essential to protect it from the elements.

A little home maintenance can go a long way. There are countless ice melting sprays, liquids, etc. Here’s a shortlist of some of the best methods.

Think Ahead for a Clear Driveway

Stop ice before it starts, and pre-treat your walkways and driveway with de-icer before the storm. This makes it easier to place the de-icer on just the pavement. If it’s already snowed, you’ll have to shovel first; ice melt will not work on top of snow. Avoid standard rock salt, which can damage pavement, and try these environmentally friendly options instead:

  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Magnesium Chloride

Tip: mixing sand with your de-icer adds traction and may help prevent falls.

Consider Driveway Heating

Ever thought of installing a radiant heat system under your driveway? If you already have a smart home, this is just an added bonus, and if you ever sell your home, it’s a perk that buyers will appreciate.

Prevent Ice Dams on The Roof

Icicles look cool hanging from the roof, but they’re a telltale sign of an ice dam. Ice dams are extremely damaging and can lead to leaks. Keep snow off the roof as much as possible by using a roof rake. If it’s too late and lingering snow has already frozen into an ice dam, calcium chloride ice melt may do the trick. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to break an ice dam yourself! If all else fails, hire a pro.

Keep Windows Free of Moisture

It’s humid in the Pacific Northwest, and the temperature occasionally falls low enough to form ice on windows. Avoid damaging dampness and increase ventilation with these tips:

  • Use a dehumidifier
  • Turn on exhaust fans every day to expel excess moisture
  • Open curtains and blinds
  • Increase the heat
  • If at all possible, keep the windows cracked

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