Friday, July 31, 2015

The Nuts and Bolts of a KonMari Garage Purge

Our housing history, storage-wise:
  1. 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhouse with no garage and a small storage shed
  2. 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment, with carport and a storage area
  3. 2 bedroom, 1 bath duplex with a 1 car garage
  4. 3 bedroom, 2 bath two-story house with loft, carport and a storage shed
  5. 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with 2 car garage and a large storage space
  6. 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with den, 1 car garage, large attic space and large outbuilding
  7. 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with den, 1 car garage, small attic space, garden shed and 2 outbuildings
Our issues began at house #5 with the 2 car garage - that's where I'm putting all the blame. It was there we purchased some sturdy garage shelves from Costco, which gave us the illusion of being in control. We put stuff in boxes and bins, with labels like Garage Stuff, Stuff to Sort, Icky Stuff. We stacked, we piled, we crammed, we hid, we did what people do to make it possible to park the car in the garage and feel like civilized members of society. It stayed like that through the next few moves, until I decided no more: the charade is over, we have too much stuff, and having to wear a helmet in one's own garage as a protection from falling debris is no way to live.

We already had one garage sale this spring, for all the stuff we purged by applying The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to our living quarters. It was time to use the same method in our garage full of camping stuff, car stuff, tool-type stuff, sports stuff and all the other grimy categories in that Scary Place Where the Car is Parked. 

But where to start? Nothing looked fun. Or easy. Or lightweight. It was all covered with dryer lint and/or grease. It was all heavy or bulky or ugly or all of the above, which was why it was in the garage in the first place. The garage was hot, I was discouraged, we had company and it was a really bad time to start a garage purge. But really, is there ever a good time to start a garage purge? Now I know the answer to that question is YES. And that would be when you don't have guests. When the temperature is below 70 degrees. When you're able to go for a few days not resembling a human being.

But since I was chomping at the drill bit to get started, Ernst suggested I gather all the screwdrivers together so he could sort through them and see which ones "sparked joy" for him. And this is what happened.

I ever so nicely gathered our screwdrivers and laid them out in a beautiful array on the back patio and allowed my wonderful husband of 24 years to go through them without any pressure whatsoever to get rid of any of them while I sat inside and admired my gorgeous manicure.


I found what seemed like hundreds of screwdrivers, all over the place, everywhere I looked, all types, all kinds, all sorts, shapes, sizes, colors, ends, handles and lengths and I thought I would scream if I found another screwdriver and then I would find ten more and then I said I would flip out if I found another one and then I would find 15 more. I became the Shrew Driver. I was hot and bothered and grimy and mad and overwhelmed and once I was done I slammed them all down on the poor table on the back patio and made very clear we only have four hands between us, we are not octopuses running a busy auto repair shop and WE DON'T NEED ALL THESE BLASTED SCREWDRIVERS! Ernst kept the ones that sparked joy. He decided to keep me too, which is a miracle.

After we got that category out of our system, the garage purge went well.

Flat heads that the hot head collected. The other tips were in other boxes.

Is a pair of pliers just a wrench with an attitude?

The David and Goliath of the wrench world.

We hammered out the hammer situation.

Sockets in Metric and Stupid sizes. In square and hexagonal. That's a lot of sockets.

We had a bit of bits.

And a bit more bits.

After keeping to the category method, it became clear we needed to just clear off those sturdy Costco shelves and get serious about this garage purge. It was time to pull every last grimy thing out of our garage onto the back patio and go through it all, item by item. Why the back patio? Because the driveway by this time was about 115 degrees, and we do have a shred of dignity to preserve. The back patio gave us the luxury of shade and the opportunity to do this right, once and for all time. When it was really hot, I put a painting tarp down inside, brought in the tool boxes and sorted every last screw, nut and bolt we owned. My hands were covered in grime, every joint in my body ached and I was so incredibly happy to finally get this done. 

Ugh. Ugh. Triple digit Ugh.

I believe I unearthed the microphone used by FDR in his fireside chats. 

What's s a blog post about a garage purge without some Before and After photos?

Before. The Scary Corner of Doom and Despair

After. Canning, Camping and Wine Making stuff. JOY!

Before. Boxes of stuff, that's my best guess.

After. Camping and Car Stuff. And empty space. Yipee!

Before. There may possibly be a shelf under there, but I'm not sure.

After. Painting supplies in the cupboards and I think that empty spot is called a work bench. 

We have one more category to go through, the stuff left from doing 30 years of volunteer sound installation for RBC. Then the garage is done! It is currently full of stuff for our second garage sale of the season. There will be a few screwdrivers for sale, but I can't imagine why.