by Lou Anne Dunn

With cooler fall temperatures marking the changing season, now is a good time to re-visit the to-do list that was put on hold during the scorching summer heat. Projects such as garage, attic, and storage shed clean outs are more manageable during cooler months. Soon, the summer heat will be a distant memory as cold weather arrives; if your home has a garage, wouldn’t it be great to park your car inside this winter? 

When your garage is accessible, scraping ice from your windshield and waiting for the car to warm up become a thing of the past. Even if you don’t plan to park your car inside, there are advantages to cleaning up the garage—namely, being able to easily find things which are stored there. Garages also make for great workshops, providing space to comfortably pass the time when being outside is unpleasant.

For many households, the garage becomes the default holding-area for seasonal items, items intended for donation or disposal, and anything that hasn’t found a permanent storage location. Making progress on a long large-scale clean-up project can be daunting if you aren’t sure how to get started. When it comes to taking back the garage, you can easily learn to master the space by making it functional and attractive. 

The first step in any organizing project is to group like items together. Start by sorting out lawn and garden items, sports equipment, toys, home décor, holiday supplies, car maintenance and repair items, tools and all other items into appropriate categories. The concept is not hard, but it is a process that takes some time. Don’t over-think things—just pick a spot and get started. If something is broken beyond repair, put it in a separate pile for disposal.

Once you have sorted, decide if you still need (or want) all the items in each category. Plan to get rid of the unnecessary duplicates and damaged items so you only store the items you will use. 

Decide how you want to store things so that everything has a place. Having a system in place makes it easy to find things and provides a way to establish homes for newly acquired items.

You can find many options for garage storage, including shelving, wall units and ceiling mounted storage, available at local home improvement stores and on line. Clear storage bins, bins with labels, and open shelving make it easy to see where things belong for both easy access and re-homing purposes. Pegboards and wall-hooks are easy to install and make good use of vertical space. 

Consider selling or donating unwanted items, as long as they aren’t broken and still have some usefulness left. If you opt to sell, put the earnings in a holiday fund or buy yourself something nice as a reward for your hard work. It’s a win either way.  

If you store holiday supplies in the garage, fall is a chance to revisit last year’s seasonal décor to assess what needs to be repaired, replaced, or upgraded.  It is always best to make these decisions before the holiday, so that you can sell or donate unwanted items. If donating seasonal décor to a charity, it is most useful before the holiday when items can be immediately resold in charity’s retail space without needing to be stored until next year.

Use these beautiful fall days to start your garage project and get a jump-start on your holiday preparations. You’ll find that an organized garage is a great place to park your car out of the elements and store items in a practical way.

If trying to figure it all out by yourself is overwhelming Neatly Dunn can help you develop a plan of action and assist in finding the right storage options. If DIY is not your style, Neatly Dunn can arrange for custom designed storage built with your specific needs and items in mind. 

Lou Anne Dunn is the owner of Neatly Dunn. Neatly Dunn specializes in finding organizational solutions and storage options that work for the needs of the clients.  Lou Anne offers in-home organizational consultations, workshops for learning practical organizing skills, and custom designed storage to match your needs and décor. For more information, call Neatly Dunn at (252) 341-2437 or visit

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