In the "8 things" post, I mentioned that I love organization. There is, perhaps, no greater test of that love than that great suburban rite of passage: cleaning out the garage. But I think J and I passed with flying colors. (Well, if you count "white" as a color.) We went from this...
And didn't sustain any major injuries in the process!
The house we live in was my parents' house for 24 years. When my mom moved to North Carolina, she took only the stuff she wanted to keep and left the rest. Then, when J moved in about a year ago, he naturally brought his own stuff. And last month, he gave me a bike with a spare set of tires. All of that added up to a crapload of stuff in the garage, most of which had been there for at least a decade.
See? It was the kind of room we dreaded going into. You just knew that no matter what you were in there for, it would take you a while to find things and something would probably fall on you in the process. We also had crickets, which meant plenty of fun for the cats, but some messy clean-up for us after the inevitable reflux.
There was some attempt at organization there. I had tried to organize it in 2005, and had gotten as far as labeling the assorted drawers. But nobody had really gone through the contents of said drawers since long before my dad's death in 2003, and that man (God rest his soul) saved everything. During my '05 attempt, I labeled one drawer "Every nail ever made" and didn't feel that it was too much of an exaggeration.
The first step was to clean the bastard out. First, we moved the surface stuff: the bikes, the shop vac, the cooler. Then we started taking stuff off the shelves, including the dozens of cardboard boxes that my mom had saved and the dozens more I'd added to the pile. We moved the food, wine and entertaining stuff to the dining room and relocated a couple of items upstairs. But mostly, we threw shit out.
We threw out the leftover bits of wood that my dad had compiled over 20-plus years; we threw out used building supplies that we could neither identify nor determine a use for; we threw out paint that had solidified in cans; we threw out everything we possibly could. We didn't actually throw it all out; a lot of stuff went to the local thrift store and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. But it got the hell out of our garage, and that's all that matters.
We decided to ditch the full-size freezer, since we barely used it but still had to pay for it to stay on 24/7. I tried calling a couple of charities to see if they wanted it, but nobody returned my calls. We eventually just wheeled it out to the curb with a sign on it saying "Free! (Works)". It disappeared by the end of the day.
I also debated keeping the hazardous-chemicals cabinet, but when we went to paint the room last Saturday, we emptied and lifted the cabinet and realized two things: 1, it's dented and rusty and mildewy in spots; 2, it was sitting on old wood blocks that were infested with rather large beetles, and that just can't be good. Out it went.
Here we see the garage in mid-transition. Somebody had tried to paint it a couple decades ago. I think that somebody might have been my mom; she's mentioned more than once that how she always wanted to paint the garage. She's written books, taught in Kenya and traveled the world, but painting the garage was the impossible dream?
Last Saturday, in an all-day marathon of paint fumes and massive fluid loss, we realized my mom's hopes and painted the sumbitch. It took 3 gallons of KILZ to cover the bare drywall. J, being the better painter, did the ceiling and the tops of the walls while I did the bottoms and made a supply-and-lunch run. I assembled a new plastic cabinet for the hazardous chemicals and spray-painted the workbench legs and the tops of the washer and dryer.
On Sunday, we installed the racks and standards of the shelves and cursed them soundly for being so hard to install. (Memo to ClosetMaid: try posting flyers with illustrated instructions instead of just pretty pictures of already-installed shelving at the dang Home Depot.) And on Tuesday, I did the finishing touches and sorted our remaining hardware and supplies. The result...
Is pretty damn sweet.
There's a lot less wood and cardboard, which hopefully means fewer arthropods chomping on it. There's even almost a color scheme, with all the white and gray punched up by bits of construction-site orange.
I often think it might be fun to do professional organizing for the next phase of my career. But only if I can convince people to let me throw out a lot of their stuff. And something tells me that might be the hard part.