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Do You Have a Dirty Little Secret?

Confessions of a reformed Garage Sale Junkie:

If you are like many individuals who love to garage sale on the weekends, you've probably looked over the clutter that's accumulated in your garage, closets, or basement, and that old familiar dread comes over you. "I'm going to have to get to that," you think to yourself as you close the door and walk away from the problem for the thousandth time. I used to be that person, so I can relate. I had a perfectly clean home in every way. In fact, most would consider it to be pretty darn spotless. Even my baseboards and windowsills were dust and dirt free. But, I had one dirty little secret that no one knew about but my immediate family and myself. We had, what we lovingly called, "The Abyss". It was the name we gave to the unmanageable state of our garage.

My Dirty Little Secret

I don't really remember when the clutter in our garage became large enough to name, but you know you've crossed an imaginary line when you arrive at that point. I was a garage sale and thrift store junkie and my weekend hobby turned into quite an accumulation of "stuff" over the course of a year. I knew I wasn't alone with my secret. After all, there was an entire herd of garage sale moms who would race from one location to the next, buying up everything that looked even mildly useful. It's a fun hobby, for a little while, but one can only have so much stuff and I knew my weekend interests would have to change, unless I wanted to eventually become a candidate for the next season of that Hoarders TV show.

While we're on the subject of hoarding, here's some information on the topic: Hoarding is a type of OCD, which has varying degrees of symptoms. Saving items that are seen by most people as unneeded is actually one of the symptoms. So is the act of compulsively buying or saving any items in excess. Have you ever thought to yourself, "What if I get rid of this and the day finally comes when I really need it?" Yes, that's another one. So, now that we are all painfully aware that we may indeed have a few quirky personality defects that brought us to the point of having a cluttered and unmanageable space, let's talk about the solution!

My Garage Storage Solution

My first thought was to put up garage shelving. That would solve my problem. After all, there was all that wasted air space that could hold those cool garage ceiling storage racks and garage wall shelving. The only problem with that solution was the fact that all my accumulated clutter would actually become even more unmanageable. Storing it all would just ensure that it was here to stay.

So, what did we do? You guessed it. As painful as it was, the whole family pitched in and we took a weekend to declutter. We were ruthless. Well, my husband was ruthless. I, on the other hand, had a few panic attacks.

First, we pulled everything out of the garage to the driveway. Then we used the following four step process for making piles:

  • Stuff to keep
  • Stuff to throw away
  • Stuff to recycle
  • Stuff to donate

Luckily, I have children, so it became somewhat of an interesting game, going through all the things I had purchased, some for no apparent reason. A lamp made out of a boot? A used toaster oven? What was I thinking?

By the second day, we had made several trips to our local Goodwill and had purchased plastic storage bins, which we clearly labeled. We had holiday items, cleaning supplies, gardening items, fishing gear, art supplies and a few more.

We actually did decide to go with the garage ceiling storage racks, as well as the garage shelving, which we had installed on the side wall to hold gardening and cleaning supplies. We now use hooks to keep bikes and sporting goods off the garage floor, and even our water hoses and yard tools are neatly hanging for easy access. Best of all, we now park the car inside the garage. We've come a long way since the day we named our garage "The Abyss."

If you're currently participating in the fun and addictive habit of weekend garage sale madness, use this as a cautionary tale. The Abyss may be closer than you think.

reformed garage