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Make your garage work

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Do you use your garage to house the car or store stuff? So often we treat the garage as a spare room for storing discarded toys, tins of paint, old furniture, tools and Christmas decorations, then leave the car parked outside.

While it does make for cheap and easy storage space, there's no reason why your garage shouldn't also be a fully functioning room. With organisation, planning and some clever storage solutions you should be able to fit everything in, including the car.

1. First, open the doors, take a good look at the space and think about what you really want to do with it. Could it be a workshop or home gym? Could you soundproof the walls and turn it into a teenage retreat or music studio?

2. Next, remove everything from the garage, taking inventory and deciding what you no longer want or need. Plan to be rid of any unwanted items within a week - have a garage sale or donate them to charity. Group the remaining items into categories; for example, separate the toys from the tools.

3. Decide how to effectively set out your garage area and divide the room into designated zones for each group of items. If you're already using an old cupboard for storage, consider ditching it and installing floor-to-ceiling shelving right along the wall. For a more practical space, build a workbench along one wall, with shelving below it. This also gives the kids a place to get creative on a rainy day.

4. One of the first rules of storage is that items are easy to see and reach, otherwise they are sure to be forgotten or cause difficulties when needed. Stackable boxes can be used to store items such as Christmas decorations, business files, clothes, family treasures or documents. Label them, then pile them one on top of the other in a corner or under the workbench.

For smaller items or tools you use often, consider hanging a pegboard to store them in easy reach. A simple strip of wood along the wall with hooks or nails will do the same.

Alternatively, a sheet of MDF can work as a 'shadow board' – hang tools on it using hooks, then draw around them with a marker pen so you can always see what goes where and what's missing.

A clean and organised garage that isn't cluttered with unwanted junk will be a much more pleasant place to work, visit, or even park your car. It may also be a selling point when you put the house on the market, as buyers will immediately recognise the value in the space.
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