Many of us who own or rent a house built since the 1930s will also have a garage. This was the point at which Britain’s suburban semi-detacheds began to be built with a home for the car. The design decision was as aspirational as it was practical, but by the 1960s our garages were being filled with the new brand of affordable models that were running off British production lines.
Garages kept our Minis or Ford Cortinas free of rust, tree sap and bird droppings, but as we gained more and more consumer goods we started to use the garage for storing extra chest freezers, the garden furniture, that old box of vinyl records and the Flymo. Cars moved to the street or driveway as they became something we use every day. Our garages became yet another box room, or a dumping ground for anything we had a vague notion we should hang on to. In our cities, the garage was often converted into a granny flat or even a full-blown apartment that you managed to sell for more than you paid for your house ten years previously.
Whether you want to reclaim your garage for a new car or simply want to have it act as more than a limbo between indoors and the local tip then you will need to get organised. Before you do anything to make it a better place to use you will have to deal with all the mess inside. Be prepared to remove almost everything that is currently in there, from rusted barbecue sets to those unopened boxes that follow you around with every house move.
If you are doing this in the summer holidays then you have the double advantage that you can ask your children (or maybe the neighbours) to help you out. The promise of a share of any garage treasure may be enough to motivate them, but proceeds from any subsequent sale of garage items at a car boot sale may be more welcome. Boot sales are plentiful at this time of year, so you can sell off all those old bikes, tools and spare tyres to someone who may actually need them. Anything that does not have either commercial, practical or sentimental value should go to the tip. You can even make three piles with those labels on, discarding anything that does not fit in.
Once you have cleared your garage and visited the local tip and the car boot sale then you can think about proper organisation. If you want to use the garage for your car then you will have to make enough space for it, so moving storage up on to the walls makes sense. DIY stores will sell shelving and racking designed for garages, which is usually inexpensive and hardwearing. Hooks are also great for storing anything from bicycles to sun loungers.
Make a home for every item in there or anything you plan to buy. Storage boxes on wheels and large toolboxes should be where you keep any loose items. Sports equipment in one, garden tools in another and car washing or maintenance items in yet another. If you do a lot of DIY or work on the car then you can organise your tools across the wall on a board, even drawing around each item if you wish, so you can tell if you have mislaid or not put any back. Remember to keep any highly flammable items or toxic chemicals safely locked away and out of the reach of children.
Once the garage is organised and has been cleaned then you will be ready to put your car back in. Consider having security lights, locks and alarms fitted too. You may even find that your car or home insurance will go down as a result. All in all a very nice bonus for a little tidying up.