Organize Your Garage

by Tawra Kellam


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It seems like organizing your garage can be a never-ending task. Lots of companies make millions of dollars selling all kinds of storage systems to try to make your garage just a little bit more organized. OK, I'm about to confess. We've had this problem, too! I know, it's hard to believe, isn't it? The cool thing is we found a great organization tool that cost us nothing.

We have a dresser that was given to us by a relative. It's an old 1970's style dresser with nine drawers. It is about three feet tall, eight feet wide and two feet deep. It was one of those pieces of furniture that makes one wonder, "Why would anyone ever have bought that?" It had the faux wood countertop on top and the drawer faces were covered with those really tacky twirly relief patterns people really liked in the 70s. Still, much to my husband's surprise, I could see the value in it!

I painted it black (except for the wood top) and then put in the garage to store stuff. Even my husband has been surprised to see how well it has worked out for us. Here's what I did:

First, I designated each drawer as a place for one category of supplies, and I marked each drawer with a little index card that I stapled to the front of the drawer with a staple gun.

One drawer is for electrical items. This includes outlets, outlet covers, electrical testing equipment, wire crimpers, lamp pieces and any other electrical thing we are likely to use. (Just as with any organizing, don't save stuff you'll never use just because you can.)

We have a drawer for paint supplies: roller handles, paint brushes, sand paper and such. (We don't keep paint there. We have a small plastic shelf unit with our stash of paint.)

The top left drawer is our nail and screw drawer. We have two plastic embroidery floss organizers, each with twenty or so slots. We use one organizer for nails and the other for screws. When both of these containers are in the drawer, there is still room for a few whole boxes of the nails and screws we use most often.

We seem to have problems with cords, so one drawer is just for cords. It includes a few lamp cords, cable wire, phone wire and other cords. I make each one into a coil and slide it into a toilet paper roll to keep it separate from the others. My husband likes to just wind each one up and wrap it like a noose.

There is a drawer that includes nothing but batteries, one for glues and adhesives and another dedicated exclusively to light bulbs.

Another drawer is for miscellaneous hardware. This is the drawer for felt chair legs, baby locks, doorstops and all kinds of other items that don't have homes in any of the other drawers.

We also have one drawer set aside for miscellaneous tools. This drawer is for those tools that we don't use every day, but that come in handy every now and then. We use it for things like pipe wrenches, channel locks, a wire brush and extra socket sets.

On top of the dresser, I placed several small rectangular plastic containers the size of shoeboxes. One has hammers and such, one has screwdrivers, one has pliers and crescent wrenches. I have four or five of these all together. Essentially, they contain the tools we use most often. This arrangement also leaves us a little counter space on the dresser.

Using an old dresser for this purpose has made life so easy! I see them all the time at garage sales for $10. This is well worth the price for the amount of storage you can get, and if you like to find new uses for things that otherwise might hit the landfill, an old dresser might just do the trick! Think outside the box!


Tawra Kellam is the editor of LivingOnADime.com. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.

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