Home Leisure & Lifestyle UK Homes Tackle Spring Decluttering with Garage Makeovers for Better Living

UK Homes Tackle Spring Decluttering with Garage Makeovers for Better Living

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Each year, most British households participate in spring cleaning activities. Focusing on purging, cleaning, and organising, people commit anywhere from a few hours to more than a week on these tasks, typically starting around spring half-term school holidays.

With extreme decluttering trends – such as Swedish death cleaning, the “move out” method, and the 20/20 rule – also on the rise, garage door specialists Garolla collaborated with various experts to discuss the topic of decluttering, focusing on garage spaces in particular.

Expert decluttering tips: supplies and process advice

Alastair Mayne, chief operating officer at Garolla, said: “Your garage can so easily become a black hole – a place to hide (or hoard!) your clutter. They’re often a space to store the Christmas tree, chuck the recycling into, stack up the kids’ bikes, or cram in gardening tools. It’s all too easy to throw something in the garage and forget about it – out of sight, out of mind. However, it’s easy to forget that your garage can be a functional and versatile extension of your living space. All it takes is some decent storage solutions and a bit of de-cluttering”.

Henry Paterson, a cleaning expert at Housekeep suggests gathering the following supplies: “You will need: cardboard boxes, postage bags, and tape – for packing anything you’re looking to donate or sell online; bin bags – for anything going straight into the bin; cleaning supplies – for the post-decluttering. If it’s a really major decluttering job, you might even want to consider hiring a skip, although it’ll be extreme for most people.”.

Hester Van Hien, home decluttering & organising consultant at Tidylicious, suggests starting in one corner and then working your way around your garage clockwise until you’ve tackled every single item: “For any immediately unwanted items, split these into three categories – ‘donate/gift/sell’, ‘recycle’, and ‘bin’ – as you go. For any undecided items, create a space for a fourth category, but try to organise these into sub-sections (tools, hobby equipment, sentimental items, and so on) that you can then review. Once you have finished the first stage, go through each subsection one by one, and decide for each item if you’d like to keep it. Focus on what you’d like to keep, because this is usually easier than focusing on what to discard. In true Marie-Kondo style, you could ask yourself for each item, ‘Does this spark joy?’. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, let it go.

“When you’re finished deciding what to keep and what to let go, there are two more things to do: 1) Organise effective storage for everything that you’re keeping; and 2) Get all your unwanted items out of your house/garage as soon as possible. The latter is your exit strategy. Only when your unwanted items have left your house will you fully reap the benefits of having decluttered.”

Expert cleaning tips after decluttering

Paterson added that: “damp and mould are certainly more of a risk in a cluttered garage. Garages can also become dangerous when not decluttered, with trip hazards and heavy items stacked up. Keeping spaces cluttered will cost you in the long run too. Not being able to find things when you need them often means you’re back at the shop rebuying supplies/parts/tools you already own.”

If you have found damp or mould in your garage during the decluttering process, Paterson advises that: “shop-bought mould removal sprays work well. Double-check the label for step-by-step instructions, but it usually involves spraying the product onto the mould, leaving it to sit for a little while, and then rinsing the wall with a damp, clean cloth and drying the area. You can also clear mould using white vinegar. Simply apply this to the affected area as you would with a product. Once you’ve treated damp and mould, you can repaint using anti-mould paint. Consider investing in a dehumidifier for the garage if mould or dampness is persistent. You can also invest in dehumidifier moisture-absorbing pots as a less expensive alternative.”

Alternative uses for (clutter-free) garage space

Mayne noted that: “Decluttering allows easier access to your stored items, eliminates the visual jumble, and even frees up potential financial gains from selling unwanted possessions. We recently commissioned research via a national survey, which found that the average Brit stored around £10,000 worth of contents in their garage – these garage ‘gold mines’ included an array of items, such as DIY tools, gardening tools, cars, bicycles, and more – and selling off some of this could pay for your garage transformation project.”

Spring is the time to throw the doors open and sift through all the clutter that has built up, but it often helps to have a use for your garage in mind.

Garolla suggests five alternative uses for garage space, which could all add value and usability to your property, including:

  1. Fitness enthusiasts can create a home gym with workout equipment and yoga mats.
  2. DIYers can establish a dedicated workshop for tackling projects.
  3. Embrace your inner artist by setting up an art studio or a music room for creative pursuits.
  4. Need a quiet space to focus? Create a home office or a study space away from the usual household hustle and bustle.
  5. Seasonal items or hobby equipment can finally find a designated storage area without cluttering up other rooms.

“If you have an up-and-over or sectional door, then the framework will prevent you from hanging items from roof rafters (like bicycles or punch bags) or stop you from building in shelving or storage from floor to ceiling. Garolla electric roller garage doors roll up into a compact top box, meaning that they don’t require the bulky framework and internal storage that up-and-over doors require (which often eats into the storage space available to you). Our doors can provide you with 25% more space versus a traditional up-and-over door and free up more options for your storage solutions.”

Health impact of clutter (mental and physical)

Van Hien shared that: “According to research, being surrounded by too many things can increase cortisol levels. High levels of this stress hormone can have a negative impact on people’s mental and physical health. When surrounded by clutter, we feel distracted, stressed, and anxious, and our decision-making ability is impaired.”

Georgina Sturmer, counsellor, MBACP, shared insight into the role of our clutter: “We naturally accumulate belongings as we go through life. The practical items that help us live our life.  And the sentimental and decorative items that adorn our lives, that express our personalities, and that help our house feel like a home. The presence of these items can help us feel relaxed, comfortable, safe, and secure. But sometimes this accumulation of belongings becomes overwhelming. It can make our space feel restricted, as if we have fewer opportunities to breathe and relax. The physical clutter can add to the mental load that we are carrying, leaving us feeling stressed or anxious”.

Van Hien added: “There are usually two reasons why people hold onto clutter: an attachment to the past or uncertainty about the future. Some people say that physical clutter represents emotional clutter. And you could take it one step further and say that physical clutter in different areas of the home represents different emotional clutter. A cluttered bedroom could mean that you’re having issues with romantic relationships. A cluttered kitchen could mean that you’re having issues around eating and drinking.”

Clutter vs hoarding

Sturmer also shared some insight into when clutter turns into hoarding: “Hoarding is a compulsion to keep things, rather than to declutter or throw things away, and it’s this drive to hang onto these items and the fear of throwing things away that marks it out as hoarding. Hoarding can have an enormous impact on our everyday life and may, in some instances, threaten the hygiene or integrity of our housing. Hoarding also marks an emotional struggle, as the idea of throwing our items away can lead to distress”. Sturmer added that decluttering can help by regaining control, tackling overwhelm, and creating space.

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