10 December 2010

The Ugly Truth About The Prettiest House on the Street*

The garage is a MESS.

Not one of those messy garages that results from stuff building up after years and years in a house. Quite the opposite. We moved in at the end of June, over two half-days of sticky summer heat. (Tip for in-town DIY moves -- if you are planning to rent a U-Haul for 24 hours, start the rental in the early afternoon. You can spend the morning of the first day getting packed and organized, use the truck all afternoon, spend the evening packing more at the old place or starting to unpack at the new one, and finish up the heaving lifting after a good night's sleep.) With limited friends and family volunteer time, our first priority was getting everything moved into the garage, with only the larger furniture pieces going to their final destinations right away. Once everything was in the garage, it took us a couple of days to move enough of the boxes into the exercise room for us to get our cars into the garage, but stuff lingered on the periphery. And that's pretty much how the garage has stayed since the end of June:

There's always been something more pressing to unpack, organize, etc. Plus, despite the insulated overhead door, the garage was stiflingly hot all summer (not that that has provided any kind of excuse since mid-October).

But we're kind of caught in a rut where the garage is too cluttered to organize anything in it (even though we have a number of organizational items -- shelves and hooks and such -- that will really help, once we can get them set up), and the logical places to put the clutter are also too cluttered with their own clutter, some of which probably belongs in the garage, but.... Well, ultimately, it's starting to interfere with our ability to make any more progress toward settling in.

Today, I came to the realization that I have to BREAK THE CYCLE.

Fortunately, the garage has its own attic (uninsulated and separate from the attic over the main house), and that attic is sort of an untapped resource in this quest for organization:

Or, it will be...once we get it...organized. All of the plumbing and lighting fixture boxes are stashed up there (we had asked the builder to keep all of the plumbing and lighting manuals and spare parts in them, not knowing that he would organize everything into one big bin for us), and there are some leftover building materials as well, but the space has huge potential (particularly in light of our goal to have nothing -- or as close to it as possible -- in the garage itself).

I'm no fan of temporary storage solutions that ultimately mean double work (especially when stairs are involved...and even more so when the stairs are a steep attic ladder), but in this case most of the effort is good, productive organizational work that will serve us in the long term. It's been long enough that I can consolidate and recycle most of the boxes, which will free up space to stash some of the things that are currently cluttering up the garage (including those boxes stacked to the ceiling in the second picture above, which arrived yesterday with some new furniture that I'll write about soon).

So when I got home from work today, I headed up to the garage attic. It was a beautiful evening, and keeping the garage door open the whole time enabled me to wave at and chat with neighbors from the garage as if I were out working in the yard. In an hour, I broke down as many boxes as would fit in the recycling bin, moved some leftover tile from the garage up to a shelf in the attic with the rest of the spare tiles (the one thing up there that was already semi-organized), and took up the piano bench that we bought from the estate sale at the old house (which I have dreams of stripping and refinishing like this).

So where are the "after" pictures? I just took this one:

There was no point taking any more. Apart from replacing the piano bench with a plastic cabinet that I retrieved from the back yard to hold miscellaneous gardening supplies that were strewn about the garage (and borrowing a garbage can from a neighbor to start to gather fallen leaves for the city to compost on garbage day), nothing else changed much. It's still a mess.

It was a start, but the garage is still a long way from organized. But I have the beginning of a plan and am starting to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel...which is actually the window at the end of the garage attic (more daylighting!):

* If I do say so myself.

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