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Spruce up your garage

Maris Callahan is the author of "In Good Taste," and, as an avid self-taught home cook, is widely knowledgeable about all things culinary. She is especially passionate about helping women on-the-go cook healthy, delicious meals and snack...

5 Simple steps to help cut clutter

According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy, a quarter of all Americans with two-car garages can only manage to fit just one car inside. Why? They use their garage for storage. It comes as little surprise that the garage often goes neglected in a home. After all, it is a utilitarian space and not used for relaxing or entertaining guests. However, if organized and designed correctly, the garage can be one of the most functional portions of the home. Having a useful garage is also a safety measure, as it creates room for the cars that are otherwise parked on driveways or streets, vulnerable to burglary, theft and harsh weather conditions.

Spruce Up Your GarageReclaim the garage floor

Use the space on the garage walls to your advantage. Equipment such as golf clubs, tennis rackets and skates can be stored along the walls, while bikes can be hung on hooks from the ceiling. Rakes, shovels and other yard items can also be easily organized on an interior wall. Using this space wisely will not only help you increase your storage space but make items easily accessible.

Cut the clutter

Finding a place for every item currently in your garage is not always possible -- or necessary. It's important to discard items you no longer want or need. Sort through all of your tools and home maintenance supplies, and separate items into those you can sell, donate, throw away or recycle. If you haven't used it in a year, you can probably get rid of it.

Sort and label

It's not enough to simply get organized The real test is to stay organized. Labeling boxes and containers eliminates the frustration of rummaging through all of your belongings to find one specific item. Put similar items into categories (e.g., tools, holiday decorations, etc.) so you can maintain an efficient organizational system.

Safety first

Since you're already sorting items, be sure to keep potentially hazardous chemicals together and locked. It's best to use a lockable tool chest or cabinet for as a precaution. Also make sure that any power tools with an on/off switch are stored securely out of children's reach.

Increase storage with sturdy cabinets and shelving

Because paint cans, tools and other bulky items will be stored in the garage, it's important that cabinets and shelving are sturdy enough to support the extra weight. Not all cabinets are built the same, and it's important that you understand the construction of your cabinet and its weight limitations. A proper storage solution can organize your items and keep them out of sight. An important note when purchasing garage cabinets – make sure the doors will open when your car is parked in the garage.

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