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If you’re like many homeowners, your garage has become an unorganized, cluttered storage space for broken toys, old tools and paint, seasonal decorations, and boxes of clothes that haven’t quite found their way to your local thrift store yet. With the cold, winter weather on its way, however, you’re going to need some space to protect and park your car. Fall is the perfect time to clean out your garage and turn it into a spacious home for your car and an organized space for your possessions.

Step 1 – Declutter and Clean

The most time-consuming part of changing your garage from catch-all to car house is cleaning it out. Start by splitting your driveway into five areas – trash, recycle, donate, and keep. As you take items out of your garage, be brutal about which category you’re going to put them in. If you haven’t used something in a year or longer, get rid of it by trashing it, recycling it, or donating it. If you have difficulty letting go of perfectly good clothes, toys, or tools that you don’t need or have never used, have a garage sale to try to make back some of the money you spent on them. Otherwise, donate them to your local thrift store so those in need can use them. If you do plan on donating some items, put them in boxes and put the boxes in the back of your car. You’ll be more likely to actually get to the thrift shop if the boxes are taking up room in your car rather than collecting dust in your garage.

Step 2 – Design Your New Garage

Before you start putting all of the items from your “keep” pile back in, take the time to determine what you need your garage to do, and whether it needs any new paint or repairs. If you’re going to be keeping your car or cars in the garage during the winter, figure out how much room you’ll have once you park your car in there. Designate areas of your garage for different groupings of items. Put hoses, gardening tools, and buckets together in a gardening area. Put seasonal decorations together in another area. If you want to have a workshop of some kind in your garage, figure out how much space you’ll need for any equipment. Peg boards work well for any hobby that requires a multitude of tools. Don’t forget to think vertically when it comes to storing your things. Industrial shelves are great for storing regularly-used items, but what about rakes, bikes, and other tools? Hang them from the ceiling or higher up on walls. If you look up, you’ll notice wasted space that you can easily use.

Step 3 – Set It Up

You’ve sorted out all of your things, made any necessary repairs, and have a map of where everything needs to go. Now all you need to do is get the necessary organizational products and set everything up in its proper place. Opt for hooks, shelves, and other storage products that fit with your budget and your style. If you have anything dangerous like weapons or toxic chemicals, make sure to get a locked cabinet to store them in safely. Once you’re finished putting everything back together and the proper places, you’ll feel much better about parking your car in the garage this winter. You won’t be worrying if a hammer will fall on your windshield or if you’re going to hit something pulling in.

Article written by Kelly Mahan, also a writer for interias, a company that connects homeowners to reliable, affordable and professional contractors for their home improvement projects. Check more on Twitter and our Interias site.