My garage declutter

My husband and I had a garage decluttering session the weekend before last. Let me just say that the garage gets regular attention as we get more and more ruthless with our decluttering. It is also the holding area for the items decluttered from the house ~ prior to trips to the thrift store and ebay auctions and for those procrastination items awaiting decision ~ so the landscape is constantly changing out there.

There are also items that have been stored there for some time that, if we are to be honest with ourselves, are really just “I might need/want it someday” items. Some of those items didn’t make the cut this time like…

  • Ikea peanut table that gets used maybe twice a year when we have a neighbourhood get-together. I can always borrow a table for this purpose from one of my neighbours or friends.
  • The original boxes for packaging up small electronic items when we move. Small items that aren’t really that fragile don’t need to be packed in their original boxes.
  • The folding photo screen that has been in the house for several months that I put aside for my daughter. The reality is that it will probably always be harder to get it to her than it is worth.
  • Tools and other equipment that are never used. Unused items that came in sets of which only some items are helpful to us and other items that were useful to us in the past but are no longer.
  • Like the picnic rug that hasn’t been used in the five years we have lived here. We really aren’t picnic people and even if we do decide to dine on the grass we can always use a couple of old towels or other more versatile rugs in the house.
  • The clothes rack that I would have a use for on ironing day if it fitting in the house but it doesn’t so there isn’t much point it keeping it.

Many of these things are useful items that once served us well and I find these old faithful items harder to part with than most other things including sentimental items. I obviously place a lot of worth in usefulness. But what better way to honour these items but to set them free to be useful to someone else.

At first I held back on the peanut table ~ which I forgot to photograph ~ and the photo screen but my desire to decrease the quantity of stuff in my garage overtook my desire to keep these things. This is usually the case with all of my decluttering. If there is a space that I want cleared my desire to minimise will usurp my desire to keep things just about every time. Items need to have a legitimate and immediate use once they are in my radar or they will most likely be out of here.

With that said there are still a few items in the garage that won’t be there for long. There is a corner display stand that is just waiting for a friend to scrutinise and possibly claim, two organising container that I am awaiting possible first dibs by friends, a box of books that I am going to double check to see if my daughter still wants and two bags that belong to my husband that may or may not also finally succumb to our decluttering efforts. I am also still looking forward to the day my daughter can finally collect her stuff which also resides on my garage shelves. My current goal is to reduce the garage storage to one set of shelves plus the under-stair cupboard that is in the back righthand corner. I am not far from that actually.

All I can say is it is an ongoing process. I am working at it at a speed that I am content with. The progress is evident from the photos below. And taking into consideration that there may not be a garage as such in the next home we live in I had better hope I can get it down to a least my current goal and perhaps even a  little further. Actually I have no doubt that I can achieve this and more. Already as I look at the last photo in the group I can see more things that I am confident will not be there this time next year.

The progress made over that last two plus years.

Today’s Mini Mission

What is on your walls? Is there something hanging there simply out of habit that you don’t really want or even particularly like? Now is the time to declutter it.

Today’s Declutter Items

Below are the items removed from the garage last week. They were all donated to the thrift store. What is not shown in the pictures ~ because I forgot to photograph them ~ was the recycling bin full of cardboard that was eliminated from the under-stair cupboard.

The items removed from the garage last week.

Eco Tip For The Day

Buy local produce where possible as this cuts down on fuel required to transport products from further away.

 * * * * * * *

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Doesn’t it feel so good to have made that progress and also know exactly what you plan to do with what is left? I was so excited to sell several more storage containers that had been in our shed and full of stuff. All the contents were sold or given away and that’s just more space cleared. We are gradually paring down what is in the shed and it’s lovely. What used to be so full you could hardly get to the freezer to open now has a lot of space. It will have more before I am through. Grin.

  2. Colleen and Deb J, I love purging so much, it’s so addictive. When I read about all of the things that you both are getting rid of, I get almost as excited as if it were me!

    • Jennifer L, I know what you mean. Just reading what everyine is doing and seeing what they have to say give me all these ideas.

  3. The garage looks great. In the UCLA study, 75 percent of people don’t use their garage for cars. They use it for stuff. They called it the new junk drawer. Some people even pay to add on to their garage to store more stuff. I think it would be better to put it in the bank and save it for retirement some day in the future. We have all our cars in the garage. I don’t understand why anyone would want to leave them out in the winter here and have to scrape off the ice and snow every day. Think of the wear and tear on the car as well. Great post today!

  4. Wow! August 2012 is looking a lot better than Oct 2010! And as you say Colleen you may not have a garage at all in your next place.We don’t have a garage – just a double open carport so the only “storage “places were in the attic and in the garden shed .Happily – there is nothing at all in the attic and very minimal stuff in the shed . I think my decluttering probably began years ago with the attic where the children used to just open the door and toss (old school books, old toys etc) – well that’s what it looked like when I finally got to it and it wasn’t that easy to get into – so nothing at all in there now. The shed has had two serious declutterings and is almost pristine! I will never forget going to an open inspection of a lovely courtyard home – beautifully presented but when we opened the door to the under roof garage it was choc- a- block to the ceiling with boxes .They had to put their” stuff” somewhere but I wonder how much of they really needed since it was all in boxes.I think there was room for the car but only just.

  5. Colleen, your garage looks fantastic. Good job. Yesterday, I finally got rid of a sewing machine and cabinet that had been sitting in the middle of the garage for three months waiting for me to declutter them. My husband probably thought I was never going to move them.

  6. Hi Colleen – your 2010 photo is what most people aspire to!

    I have just run into a case of when ‘spreading the word’ backfires. Actually it is my hubby, who is an armchair declutterer (meaning I do the work and he praises my efforts) who has been telling friends about the results ‘we’ are starting to get around our home. He went to visit some elderly friends who are now decluttering, and he bought home their stuff. What the?!!!!!
    Turns out she is confronting items that are too good to throw out but surplus to requirement. Hubby thought it would be better for him to take them away rather than them taking them back into the house. Now I have to eliminate them. Maybe I should give him the options and get him to deal with the stuff.

    • Moni – you always make me laugh! and as for that “armchair declutterer” husband of yours …..actually he sounds rather lovely !

  7. LOL Moni your ‘What The’ seems to afflict quite a lot of husbands hahaha, at least you can decide quickly for the fate of the stuff. No emotion attached there so the jettison should be quick and painless!!!
    🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Dizzy – I’m just worried that they’ll ask me about it. I might need to come up with a good backstory.

  8. Wow,what a difference. You’ve really made progress. What’s most encouraging for me is that you show that it takes time, it really is a journey. Slow and steady. One thing a day….

    In my sunny part of the country, garages and carports aren’t common–people often store things in attics or basements. My bugbear is one of our extra bedrooms.

  9. Colleen, the eco tip of the day is a great feature!!! I must say that today at the grocery store I could not find oranges for the life of me. Finally I located some that were pre-bagged. I purchased the bag of oranges anyway (would rather pick and choose). When I got home, I red what the front of the bag had written on it: ‘AUSSIE PRIDE, Australian Sweet Naval Oranges’. I just about fell over!!! WHAT a journey those oranges have been on! Well, we shall enjoy the sweet Aussie oranges; next time, however, I’ll be more careful to buy locally (if available)!!!! All the rest of the produce (fruits/veggies) I was able to buy in an area the store had of locally grown stuff (Colorado, USA).

    Your garage is amazing. Wow. What progress, and the most important part of your progress is that it is at a speed/rate that is comfortable for you and your family. Amen to that! 🙂

  10. It’s great!
    Makes me repeat “slow and steady, slow and steady, slow and steady …” in my head as I put a small stack of magazines (my last shelter mags!) into my bag to give to a friend today to enjoy on a trip. Now all I have left is an inch-high stack of brochures, catalogues and some information to read. No comparison to the garage … but also no comparison to the stacks I used to have 😉

  11. Wow, Colleen! I am so jealous! I have been after my husband for months and months to clean out the garage, as it is all of his stuff that is messing it up. I have photos somewhere that I took probably a year ago as an incentive, but he just can’t seem to make the time (read he doesn’t WANT to make the time) and it’s his stuff, so I can’t do it for him.

    We are able to fit our cars in there, but there is such a mess in the back where there is an open space (or rather WAS an open space) which now is his “workbench” that is covered in crap. I have no idea what is useful and what is not, so I just get annoyed by it every time I pull my car into the garage and park it.

    Since we now have a handyman who does almost all of our repair work, it would seem to me that all we really need is a basic toolkit and the (organized) items he uses for detailing the cars. You can tell which is more important by the fact that the cleaning stuff for the cars is very organized and decluttered and the workbench is not.

    How do you get your hubby to address an area that looks like a hoarder’s episode? He allows me full reign in the rest of the house to keep or not keep whatever I like, but I just can’t get him to address the garage!

    I have taken two steps backward in decluttering, as my best friend and my mother are both suffering from stage IV cancer and I have been fighting a serious depression. I know I will get back to it some day soon though.


  12. Hi Chelle,

    My husband is similar, although he’s just a procrastinator (I truly believe he means to do something, but he gets side tracked, and suddenly it’s 3 weeks later and X has not yet been done). I’ve found that one of two processes will get me the help I need:

    1) “Hey, I need some help this weekend. Could you spend an hour with me on Saturday going through the workbench? I want to clear it off but also want to make sure that we keep the items you want to keep.” Then when Saturday comes, say, “Hey, you ready to come help me with the workbench?” Yes, it puts the onus back on you to drive the process, but for me, I look at it as: It’s honestly more important to me than it is to him. And – I’ve found, at least for us, if I do it this way, he’ll gladly help me out. Usually on Saturday I’ll get the response, “Yep! Been thinking about what we should do out there all week.” And we work for an hour and it’s great.

    2. “Hey, I know it’s been on your radar to work on the workbench, but I know you’ve been busy. Would it be ok for me to go through the stuff and find the duplicates and things I think we can get rid of? I won’t get rid of anything without asking you first, but I thought it might be easier if I get everything together and then we take 15 minutes for me to show you what I’m thinking”. Again, it puts the onus back on you, but in reality, it’s probably more important to you than it is to him, and if it’s driving you crazy, this may be a way to get it done.

    The other thing I remind myself, when I’m irritated by his lack of decluttering, is to remind myself of all the things he’s good at. Decluttering just isn’t one of them, and that’s ok. That’s one of the reasons we form partnerships – we can rely on people to be strong where we are weak, and they can rely on us to be strong where they are weak.

    Also: Do not stress too much about decluttering right now – sounds like you have friends and family (and you!) to take care of right now, and that’s ok. You’ll do what you can now, and when the bad times have passed, you’ll do more. It’s always an ongoing process anyways. Please take care of you!

  13. My husband complained about the books cluttering the house. I put all of his books on the sofa. He couldn’t sit down on it until he sorted his own stuff.

  14. I used to be one of those person who used their garage to store ‘stuff’.

    After one year of paring down, it is now empty and I am now renting it out to some people to store their junk in there!!!!