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Often, the first step to a more functional space is sorting through your belongings, deciding what to keep and what to donate, resell, recycle, or throw away.

That was definitely what Bree Adams’ garage needed to take it from “a clutter pit,” as she describes it, to an organized spot for storage. “The space is supposed to be typical garage storage for bulk storage, tools, paint, and off-season toys,” Bree says. “I tried to believe that I had things partly organized, but then coronavirus happened. Things went off the rails quickly, and I started just dumping things in the garage to get them out of sight.”

Although Bree had the steel shelves located in the corner of the garage before, she wasn’t using them to their full potential. “The two main goals for this project were to seriously declutter and maximize the storage space,” she says.

To rein in the mess, she waited for a cool day when the garage wouldn’t be so hot, and then she got to work. “I pulled everything out and was ruthless in what would be kept,” she explains. “Once I really got things pared down, it was easy to group into categories and put it in the bins.”

Bree says weeding out the garage was the hardest part. “It is always hard to see things that still have use go out the door, but when it is done you feel so light,” she says. But she says not to let decluttering deter you from taking on a project like this; you can work on it small chunks.

The easiest part for Bree was buying the new storage supplies. “I love that aspirational part of prepping for a project where you spend the money and dream the dream!” she says.

Bree then wrote the contents of each bin on the back of her labels and created a matching, searchable list on her phone to find what she needs quickly.

She also added two other plastic shelving units to store kitchen bulk purchases because the steel ones wouldn’t hold it all. “If the storage isn’t working, you probably have too much stuff in too small of a space,” she says. Her advice is, if you have the room, to consider spreading it out to make it more streamlined.

Her other advice is to measure before you buy. “Make sure you get all the sizes and quantities you want,” she says.

With the new shelving and bins in place and the wood pile in the middle also pared down and organized by size, Bree’s garage looks like a totally new space, and she spent about $275.

“I love how it looks and functions,” she says. The only thing she would do differently next time? “I should have done it sooner!”

Sarah Everett

Editorial Assistant

Sarah is Apartment Therapy’s editorial assistant. She recently completed her MA in journalism at the University of Missouri and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Belmont University. Past writing and editing stops include HGTV Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, and several outlets local to her hometown, Columbia, Missouri.