Mini-celebration + A Garage Makeover Miracle

May 15, 2012   //  Posted in: Casual Celebrations, DIY, Garage, Organized, Scooter Fun   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

Today’s my third home-a-versary.

Three years ago this morning I still didn’t know what I’d owe at closing that same day (poor girl, bank-panic, high blood pressure). Three years ago by noon I was scared that the old homeowners would take it back (there were issues all around, and luckily they didn’t). Three years ago at 2PM they told me they lost the house keys (and then found them moments before I went into hysterics). And three years ago by nightfall, I had already removed every last piece of carpet in the living room, on the stairs, and in all three bedrooms (and I love those hardwoods every day). Take a moment to speed through the before + afters page today in celebration.

Not intentionally aligned with the 3rd home-a-versary festivities, Pete and I spent all day Sunday doing something that I’ve been talking about doing since I moved in: Getting the garage seriously organized.

For the first year I lived here, I didn’t have much and only opened the garage door in order to move the garbage can in and out. One year later, Pete and I were dating and became the proud owners of a pair of scooters which lived in the garage for most of the year. We also rebuilt the deck, a task which left us with a garage full of tools and materials. Last spring, he moved in and the garage became home to more stuff. Car stuff. Motorcycle stuff. Heavy-duty home repair stuff.

And as recently as Saturday, it looked like this:

What a messy, mess-mess. Time for a garage clean-out.

Our first order of business was to clear the entire space out and sweep it clean. I can’t even explain how it ends up getting so dirty when it’s closed 99% of the time and trafficked mostly by foot, it’s like a magical forcefield for dirt and pinecones.

Quickly cleaned out and swept, it looked good. We need to keep it looking this good. I was downright close to repainting the walls while we had it emptied, but I left it for another time.

Insta-improvement. I like being able to see the floor in the garage. Can I maintain this?

The contents, on the other hand, filled the driveway. And part of the neighbor’s driveway. And the backyard.

Huh? Oh, yeah. The contents of the garage while we swept.

Oh. The backyard was filled too. Right.

Pete’s big goal was to install shelving into the cinder block frame, a task I hadn’t bothered tackling myself because it seemed more intimidating than installing shelves into common wall studs.

We had a set of three white shelves with brackets still attached the day three years ago when I moved in and removed them from the inset cove in the dining room that’s now home to my built-in shelves. Living in the basement ever since, it was nice to have decent shelving on hand that we could reinstall in a pinch. Fo’ free. Well, almost free.

Our only splurge for this endeavor was a set of heavy-duty wall anchors. This kit at Home Depot only cost $11 yet gave us more than 10x the amount that we actually needed for the job. Always nice to have some extra anchors on hand, right? And these are “for all materials” cinder block included, so it’ll be nice to have for the basement whenever we get around to reorganizing that space.

Good ol' anchors. Right on the box it advises that they're good for cinderblock, so I think we're in luck.

Installing anything securely into something as robust as cinder block is something I’ve been curious about, but it went really smoothly. We predrilled each hole with a masonry bit, and then easily tapped the anchor into position. (the $25 set that Pete has actually has a whole selection of these heavy-duty-toothy bits, score, and our set of anchors came with one too, double-score).

Pre-drilling holes with the masonry bit.

Tap-tap. The hinges attach cleanly to the wall with the screws that fit into the anchors.

It’s times like this when we’re cement-drilling and pounding and shop-vac’ing that I wonder why the dog can be so calm and sleepy, when anytime he’s in the same room as the Dyson, even when it’s not running, he’s looks like he’s about to pass out cold from fear.

We worked, the dog napped. Whatever.

This particular bracket that he was installing above has to do with a little wood storage area we built in the back of the garage. By anchoring two brackets opposite each other, we were able to run a 9’4″ 2×4 across them to create a little barrier. Just before the barrier was installed, we hauled a bunch of flat cement blocks from the back storage shed built onto the garage and lined the floor with them, partially to help keep the scrap wood from sitting directly on the sometimes-wet cement floor, but also to get them out of the back room and let them serve some purpose until we actually need them. We’re wood hoarders and cement block hoarders over here. (Side note: The latter, I have to attribute to always having to buy cinder blocks to hoist my dorm bed during college, which was a total waste of money and a pain in the you-know-what. Are you with me?)

Lining the back wall of the garage with flat cement blocks.

While Pete worked on installing the white shelves on the left wall of the garage, I reloaded and organized our scrap lumber into the back 18″ of the garage. The scraps consist of reclaimed barnwood and trim pieces, a bit of common lumber (some pressure-treated, some not), a bin of short-pieces that still big enough to be considered useful for something, and plywood pieces. And the dog still slept.

So clean-clean. Good lumber organization, yo.

The shelves that Pete hung on the left side of the garage are the ones I mentioned being repurposed from the dining room. In solid condition, they’re deep, and since the anchors can allegedly each support 51-lbs. and six are supporting the horizontal weight of each shelf, they should be able to hold quite a bit once we get them loaded.

For now, it’s just a nice place to hold our bike helmets and riding gloves.

Scoot-scoot. Love my scooter, and love my old-new garage shelves.

We did purposefully hang them at our own eye-level (about 5’5″ off the ground) so that it would be:
1) easy to see so you don’t whack your eyeball into them,
2) high enough to not disrupt the average car that’s pulling into the driveway (we don’t use it for our cars, but you know, someday maybe),
3) we could still see on top of them without a step stool

The third shelf was added in the back beyond the window and is already packed with “stuff we need but don’t need often” like Pete’s bike cover and back support for the Harley, and an extra couple of chargers. We also saved Julia’s 3-wheeler and all of our yard sale signs for future play. The wine bottles on the floor in the corner? Don’t point fingers at me, I pulled them from the curb of a restaurant (odd, I know) and have been planning to do something with them. You know, someday.

More stuff in our organized garage.

Stepping back, the room as a whole looks pretty charming.

What do I like most of all? How Pete lined our bikes up in a very showroom-esque way. It’ll be so easy to get them in and out of there now if we keep the other half of the garage cleared.

Is there anything better than organized scooters?

On the other wall, Pete hung two brackets to support the extension ladder (it was previously just on the floor, so it’s nice to get it up and out of the way since it isn’t used all that often). He also screwed some cement screws into the wall on which we could hang the sawhorses. The plywood along the wall is something we’re about to take away, Pete has big plans for it in his parent’s kitchen. More to come on that at

Serious garage progress. Needs some paint still, but how great is it to be organized for once?

And if you’re wondering, celebrated with my Mom on Saturday, which is why our whole Sunday was free to tackle crazy things like this. There was no Mom-neglect. And Mom thought the garage was damn messy anyways. How was your weekend?

  • John@ Our Home from Scratch
    6 years ago - Reply

    That cleaned up nicely! I like the sheet goods/random wood retainment bar. Smart idea.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Thanks John!

  • Patrick Huber
    6 years ago - Reply

    This reminds me that I wanted to ask – Springtime, biking season…have you had a chance to polish up the bikes…?

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Not yet, but it’s on my to-do list!

  • Andres
    6 years ago - Reply

    Great post!

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