Garage Grief

Before I start, can I just say how ‘skip around the living room’ happy it makes me that so many people have told me this week that following my last post they are dragging out their old furniture and getting busy with a paint brush. Some of you have even emailed me before and after photos!! This is the kind of thing that makes this girl jump for joy so ‘keep ’em coming!’ I love to hear about your DIY adventures almost as much as I love having my own so thank you, wonderful people for all the enthusiasm!

So, some of you may know (because I was probably moaning quite loudly about it) that around this time last year, my husband and I spent an entire weekend clearing out our garage. It was a mess and we agreed that, being a double garage which is integral to the house, we could make really good use of all that space. Using it purely for storage seemed like such a waste. We already had a treadmill and cross trainer in there and we both wanted to be able to exercise there when the weather was too bad to go outside. We also had boxes and bags full of things we had cleared out of other areas of our home which had yet to make it to charity or the tip.

After our weekend of hard labour, we ended up with this:

All cleared out and ready to be useful

All cleared out and ready to be useful

I actually vacuumed the space after this photo was taken so by the time we had finished it was actually a clean and really useable space. I had set up a recycling station to prevent the huge pile up of recycling that had previously occurred (on the garage floor) every week and it saved us loads of time sorting through and separating everything on recycling day. Elsewhere, every box was labelled with its contents so we knew exactly what we had and where it was, we had easy access to our second freezer once again and we could get our bikes out of the garage at a moment’s notice should we want to take an impromptu ride with the kiddo’s.

The best thing for me about having cleared the space was that I didn’t have to enter the garage with great trepidation for fear that a spider would fall on my head! I don’t mind telling you that I am ridiculously afraid of those eight-legged pests and for some reason, the area above the door seemed to attract them. A complex network of webs had developed over the course of years and it had reached the point where I was almost too terrified to set foot over the threshold. To be honest, the whole clearing out process was like a traumatic endurance test for me. I was a (rather pathetic and annoying) nervous wreck leaping into the air and shrieking every time I caught something move out of the corner of my eye! I’m sorry to say, I went into the whole thing armed for battle and my vacuum cleaner has never seen so much action in a day!!

So, you may be asking, why the grief? The garage was cleared out, organised and ready to roll. What could have gone so wrong? Well, in the interests of honesty and full disclosure, I feel I must share the following pictures of how the garage looks today, one year later. It ain’t pretty folks, brace yourselves!

I did warn you

I did warn you!

Hanging my head in shame as we speak

Hanging my head in shame as we speak

I feel like the unveiling of those pictures should have been accompanied by some sort of horror-flick sound effect. Perhaps the ‘knife music’ from ‘Psycho’ when Anthony Perkins stabs Janet Leigh in the shower? Anyway, you get the idea….moving on…

I feel I should explain to you how this travesty has occurred. As I have mentioned before, last year was a tough year. My hubby lost his Dad very suddenly just 4 years after the loss of his Mum to cancer. Losing both parents was obviously a devastating blow but what I hadn’t realised before was how much time, effort and emotional hardship is involved in packing up a family home. Sifting through the belongings left behind by those you love surrounded by the memories you shared with them in your childhood home is obviously, emotionally overwhelming but the practicality of deciding what to do with it all is both time consuming and draining, to say nothing of the physical effort involved in moving everything out. To try to decide what to do with items that your loved ones treasured and held on to without always knowing why is difficult to say the least and it was this situation that led to boxfuls of knick-knacks, books, collections, photographs, crockery, glass-ware and tools and even some furniture, finding their way into our garage.

At the end of a period of almost seven months spent sifting through every possession, hubby was, understandably, burnt out. I think he felt he couldn’t spend another day looking through it. He just needed to know that those last items with which he couldn’t decide what to do were safe and waiting for him to tackle if and when he was ready.

So, our plan for the next week (or two!) is to work our way through this mess and make those final decisions. I would be delighted to be able to get the garage back to where it was a year ago but there are also a few changes we would like to make to ensure that this space is as useful to us as it possibly can be. Ideally, we would like the garage to meet several functions:

1. To be a space where we can exercise if the weather is bad.

2. To provide an area which can be used for projects (for the blog, for school and just for our home) and in which we can use things like paint and glue without worrying about the surrounding floor and walls.

3. To store all our ‘gear.’ We have camping stuff, bikes and outdoor toys, riding gear, wellies and wet weather clothes, DIY and painting materials, packing materials, tools and our recycling boxes, all of which need a permanent home out of eye-sight but still within easy reach.

Even though the garage is relatively large, I still think this is quite a lot to ask of this area. It may be that we don’t have room for everything. I think we will only know as we progress whether we can accommodate all of our requirements.

I have, of course, been searching for organised Garages on pinterest (as you do), and have been inspired. Check out this a-mazing garage update on Dixie Delights:

Dixie Delights Garage Update - oh my!

Dixie Delights Garage Update – oh my!

This is the dream! Sadly, I don’t think those cubbies are in my husband’s plan for our garage! But you never know about the blue door! I also fell for this crafting area on Girl Meets Carpenter as I love the thought that having an area like this in the garage would encourage us all to be more carefree and fearless when we are ‘creating.’

A carefree crafting area from Girl Meets Carpenter

A carefree crafting area from Girl Meets Carpenter

Again, the built-ins are probably not part of the hubby’s plans but it’s inspiring and something to aim for in the long term. So, that’s where we are. On the wrong side of a great big mess but dreaming big (as always!!)

I have to say, this spring-like weather has got me all fired up to get down to some serious cleaning, clearing out activity. Anyone else got plans for a mammoth clearing-out task this weekend? I would love to hear all about it!

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  1. Angela says:

    Sue, I can thoroughly sympathise with the garage. I have a husband who insists on a clutter free and extremely tidy house (a little hard with two children and now a puppy) yet the garage and the attic are to say the least messy!! Again it came down to my parents loosing brothers and sisters and my mums brother loosing his wife two years ago to the be told he has bone cancer. I think it sent my mum a little mad and felt she had to start sorting and clearing and giving things away in case she wasn’t around long enough to do it later in life. I will be showing David the pictures and what can be done with a little hard work and perseverance oh and that all important patience.

    • says:

      I think loss can inspire people to panic about their possessions, it has certainly made us think carefully about what we hang on to bearing in mind that our children will be left to sort it all out. The trouble is, keeping clutter from building up is such an ongoing, relentless task! I always think it’s helpful to tackle these things as a team. It’s so much easier to make those difficult decisions if you have another person to reassure you that you’re getting rid of (and holding onto) the right things. Sorry to hear about all the loss within your family, I hope you manage to get it all sorted without too much heartache xx

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