Triumph of the garage: Piece of My Mind

My mother told me about my great-great-grandfather’s workshop, where every nut, bolt and screw had its own special compartment, each tool its own particular hook.

This awoke a hunger in me. Unlike many of my neighbors, we have always been able to park two cars in our two-car garage, but negotiating the way from the car to the hall door was hazardous – successive layers of cleaning out the trunk in order to go to the car wash, unloading from a camping trip, shifting material from an old office to a new one and miscellaneous craft supplies had gradually encroached on the shelving and floor and sink to the point where we could barely exit the cars once parked.

Once I started to work at home, “organize the garage” made it on my weekly to-do list. And there it sat, week after week.

Finally something snapped. I went out and measured the space. Then I drew a plan, with height and depth and width of shelves needed. (Turned out not to be completely accurate, but that’s another story.)

Having a diagram in hand seemed to trigger a switch in my husband’s brain: “Aha! A reason to cruise all the home-improvement sites on the Internet! Awesome!” Before I knew it, he had checked out wire, wood, aluminum, PVC and pre-formed plastic shelving at Orchard Supply Hardware, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc., and presented me with options: “Do you want any cupboards? Do you really need a 22-inch-wide counter?”

Wow! What had I unleashed? Next, I was swept into the car for a trip to Lowe’s, where the most-recommended shelving was in stock.

The chosen shelving was the prefabricated plastic kind where you tap the pieces in place with a rubber mallet and a block of wood – my husband set to work with gusto. There must be something atavistically thrilling about pounding things into submission. The shelving was assembled in no time.

Now the hard part – emptying out the existing storage, purging what was not needed and reloading.

The existing storage consisted of two rough units knocked together from planks and covered with peeling contact shelf liner – I had salvaged it from a neighboring curbside when we first moved into the house. I optimistically put it out on the curb again for free-cycling along with an extra soldering iron, outmoded hot-glue gun, macramé flower pot holder with ceiling hook, totally unused paint roller and pan, furniture gliders, wall shelving hardware and support (with shelves), and other redundant or useless items. All disappeared within hours except for the storage units, which my husband eventually had to whack apart and deliver to the local landfill.

After a weekend of merging and purging, we’re finished. The garage is still not up to my great-great-grandfather’s standards. We don’t have a container for every nut and bolt or a hook for every tool, but at least we have dedicated shelves.

And finally – a floor! We can drive into our garage and get to the hall door without danger of tripping over anything. Could the attic be next?

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