published Monday, August 25th, 2014

No parking: Can’t cram your car in the garage because of all the junk? You’re not alone ...

Accumulated items from two households have overtaken Katie and Mike Myers' Harrison garages. They are decluttering by making donations to Habitat to Humanity, Goodwill, churches and the dump.
Accumulated items from two households have overtaken Katie and Mike Myers' Harrison garages. They are decluttering by making donations to Habitat to Humanity, Goodwill, churches and the dump.
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    Katie Myers closes a garage door at her Harrison home.
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    Objects fill Katie Myers' Harrison garage. She says many of the items have already been removed or given away.
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    Katie Myers' husband, Mike, fixes used stoves and has 20 of them stashed in the family's three garages.
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Poll
Is your garage too full to hold your car?

Realtors weigh in on garages

82 percent say a cluttered, unorganized garage can have a negative impact on a potential home buyer’s first impression.

89 percent say shoppers view garages as more than just a place to park a car and agree that home-sellers should make an effort to have an organized and attractive garage.

79 percent agree that a garage should be as well organized as any other room in the house.

74 percent agree that an organized garage is important to selling a home.

66 percent say homeowners should showcase a garage as more than just a place to store cars.

96 percent say garages are desirable storage places for home shoppers over attic and basement storage space.

Source: Gladiator GarageWorks

Before you start

• Set a date — several, if your garage is packed. Put aside four hours each day to sort through your stuff. You’ll make headway without feeling discouraged.

• Check the weather. Most of the stuff will end up in your driveway while you sort what to keep, throw away, move, donate or sell.

• Recruit a helper, especially if you have a lot of heavy items.

• Rent a skip bin — one of those long metal containers you see outside buildings being renovated — if you have a lot to throw away.

• Keep your driveway or lawn clear so you can easily go through your things.

• Don’t drop stuff near the street unless you don’t want it. Folks who drive by may take it if they think it is trash. n Buy supplies you’ll need ahead of time — garbage bags, pegboards, hooks, lidded boxes, bins in various sizes and fixed storage systems — shelves, cabinets and rails. Include labels and marker pens.

On the day

• Turn on music. Have drinks and snacks handy to keep your energy up.

• Move everything out of the garage onto the lawn or driveway.

• If your garage is really full, concentrate on one area at a time. Breaking the job into manageable chunks makes it easier.

• Throw out things as you go so there aren’t Mount Everest-sized garbage piles laying around.

• Group similar items together, such as sporting equipment, garden products and power tools.

• Once the garage is empty sweep it out and fasten any space-saving systems to the walls or ceiling. Elevate bicycles and canoes using wall-mount storage racks.

• Sort smaller items into boxes, containers and cabinets, or store them on shelves.

• Store similar items — tools, garden supplies, etc. — in boxes and bins together, then label them.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

When you’ve got six cars and three garages that accommodate eight cars, you don’t have to worry about leaving them parked out in the driveway, right?

One would think.

That’s not the case for Mike and Katie Myers of Harrison. Four of their six vehicles won’t fit in their garages. Why? The garages are where they store stuff. Lots and lots of unorganized stuff.

“I hate all the junk, but it just adds up,” says Katie Myers. “I want it gone and just keep what we use.”

Like the Myers, many of today’s homeowners use garage space for storage instead of a place to park vehicles. It’s not necessarily a bad thing unless you’re a neat freak (and if you are, why is your garage so messy?) or unless you want to sell your home.

“The cluttered garage or laundry room might not just be unsightly, it likely will affect the home’s value,” according to a recent survey from Gladiator Brand GarageWorks, a company that offers pre-assembled and ready-to-assemble lines of garage and household organization and storage systems.

The January 2014 survey of 500 Realtors and agents found that four out of five believe an unorganized garage negatively impacts a potential home buyer’s first impression. “Nearly all real estate brokers or agents surveyed said that first impression impacts whether a potential buyer ultimately purchases a home,” the survey notes.

Realtor Mike Machaskee, with Keller Williams Realty in Chattanooga, says he and his peers often tell clients it’s important to declutter your house when putting it on the market. And that includes the garage.

“As Realtors, we always stress to declutter,” Machaskee says, noting that renting storage space is an option of getting rid of the clutter. “Declutter and clean, clean, clean — even the garage.”

Another option is to get rid of the clutter by selling it via newspaper ads, he says. “I recommend that folks use the newspaper’s free classified ad program — three lines for three days.”

However, it’s not necessary to turn your garage into a glittering testament to cleanliness and orderliness. Nine out of 10 real estate brokers or agents say home shoppers view garages as more than just a place to park a car and a little storage is OK, according to the Gladiator Brand GarageWorks survey. Garages rank higher as a storage option than the attic and the basement, the survey says.

“The garage is a window to your life,” Karl Champley, a master builder whose “Wasted Spaces” show has been seen on DIY network and HGTV, says in the news release. “We put in a lot of time and money to build value into our homes — and the garage may be the single most visible preview of what a home has to offer and space that showcases your property – not simply hides it.”

At the Myers’ home, only two antiques vehicles — a Jaguar XKE from the ’60s and a 1970 Triumph — are housed in one of the Myers’ three spacious garages.

“We have a two-car garage and two four-car garages,” says Katie Myers, 57, a retired educator.

The Myers have been married four years and much of OVERSET FOLLOWS:the “stuff” is a combination of things from their previous lives. Instead of vehicles, the two garages house everything from about 20 stoves — her husband likes to buy, restore and flip things, including appliances — to indoor and outdoor furniture, toys, bikes, exercise equipment, Christmas decorations, coolers, garden tools, old doors, craft supplies, car parts, boat accessories.

And much more.

And it’s messy.

“We have so much stuff,” says Myers, who admits that the even the antique cars are covered in “stuff.”

“I hate all the junk but it just adds up. I want it gone and just keep what we use.”

Delinda Davis, 64, of Chattanooga, says her two-car garage has enough space to accommodate one car. Like the Myers, Davis and her husband, Lonnie, have lots of things to store, including many items belonging to her late brother and her husband’s late mother.

“I am always trying to get rid of things,” she says, noting that it’s her husband who likes to “keep things.”

Decluttering your garage may seem like a herculean task — and, depending on how much stuff is out there, it might very well be — but there are steps you can take to tackle the task. And there also is equipment — be it shelving, cabinets or bins — that can make the job easier.

“Today’s garage storage systems can make the garage more of an extension of the home, with customizable storage options that demonstrate everything organized in stylish ways,” says Rebecca Ross, brand manager at Gladiator Brand. “More and more homeowners are interested in upgrading their garage space to serve as a more functional area.”

Katie Myers is ready. She and her husband are making an effort to rid themselves of the excess clutter, she says. In recent weeks, the Myers have taken two carloads of items to Habitat for Humanity and have made several trips to a local dump.

“We are getting rid of stuff. We donate to Goodwill, churches, students, and send unwanted or unusable things to the dump,” she says. “I have a rule. If you take three things from our ‘treasures,’ we give you three more.”

“The garages have always been used for storage and I hate that,” she says. “I want (them) to store cars, boats, jet skis and our motor coach. We have plenty of room to store things upstairs in the attic — which is huge. It needs a total overhaul as well. Christmas and other seasonal items are stored up there, along with lots of junk.

“It drives me crazy. I want it all organized.”

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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