THE WASHINGTON POST – People with garages often feel overwhelmed by how easily they become the default space to store absolutely everything but their car. People without garages often long to have one – a place they envision could store items such as tools, garden equipment or a bag of soccer balls. Although there are pros and cons to having a large open space for items that don’t have a designated spot within the house, the absence of a garage doesn’t necessarily prevent you from owning and keeping those items organised, too. It just takes a little creativity and discipline to store those “garage” belongings.
Basic tools that are used regularly, such as a hammer, screwdriver and tape measure, should be kept in a central location. You may consider a basement or garage the “right” place to store those items, but it’s more convenient for them to live in a kitchen drawer or in a small toolbox in the hall closet.
Little projects are more likely to be completed if you can easily find the tools required for them.
Items such as hooks, miscellaneous hardware, less-used tools and random tubes of adhesives can be kept somewhere less accessible, but they still need a designated spot.
Labelled shoe boxes or sturdy gift boxes are perfect for miscellaneous tools and hardware.
Clear plastic boxes or stackable utility bins are also great solutions. And a basic pegboard with hooks for hanging tools is a good way to use vertical wall space. It also makes it easy to see everything.
Try not to overbuy, so you’re not stuck storing more than you’ll use, and make sure everyone in your household knows where these items are located, so they can easily be found and put away. If an item can’t be found, someone will probably go out and buy another one.
And unless you’re really committed to a new hobby, don’t buy everything you might ever need immediately. Instead, buy the basics – or better yet, borrow them from someone – and then, if your interest continues, accumulate items as needed. The same goes for large power tools and other equipment. When possible, rent or borrow from someone instead of investing in a large item you’ll probably use infrequently and have no place to store.
The size and irregular shapes of sports equipment make finding attractive and effective storage solutions difficult. And even though I typically recommend storing items in an easily accessible spot, sports gear is not something you want piled up around a main entryway to your home.
The most important thing is to designate a specific spot for balls, rackets, bats and uniforms. Doing this will mean gear isn’t strewn around the house. It should also make it easy for family members to find what they need.
If you have kids who play sports, large wipeable bins for each child are the way to go.
Baskets may look nice, but they are hard to clean, and small canvas bins won’t hold everything. Balls can be stored in tall wire or mesh laundry bins.
Use available wall space for hooks to hold helmets, bags and lacrosse or hockey sticks. The locations of the bins and hooks will depend on the layout of your home. A mudroom is an obvious place to keep sports equipment – if you have one. A first-floor laundry room could also potentially accommodate some gear. But many people just carve out a spot in the family room or in a closet, or even steal space in a home office. Back-of-the-door organisers can be useful for small items; hooks on the inside of doors are also effective.
Be sure to go through equipment regularly, and donate or pass along anything that doesn’t fit or is no longer used. And again: Don’t overbuy. It is much easier to keep track of fewer items.
For less frequently used items, such as camping gear, shelving in a basement or even a guest room closet is the best alternative. If you live in an apartment, consider using the space under your bed to store sleeping bags, pads and tents. Smaller accessories, such as headlamps, lanterns and day packs, can be put in long, flat bins and stowed there, too. Risers can be placed under your bed frame if you need extra height to accommodate bulkier items. An armoire also works well for storing camping gear.
Although it’s true that a garage can provide space for items that are not easily stored inside the home, it can also be the reason some people buy too much or never get rid of anything.
It becomes a place to stick items you want to get rid of or donate. Not having a garage requires more careful consideration when making purchases or when deciding how and where to store your belongings, and it also forces you to streamline your possessions – which is always a positive.