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clean_out_garage(TNS)—One thing that attracted me to our house when we bought it 14 years ago was the garage.

Neither of our city houses had one. And unlike those of our neighbors, our garage was brand new, raised off a concrete pad, 18 feet by 18 feet, as dry as a bone and easily converted to use as a workshop.

Job-related time constraints and other commitments have limited my use of the workshop — I already had many more tools than I needed — and we really needed storage space.

So lots of the tools, along with some furniture, were donated to the nearby Goodwill and ReStore outlets or given to neighbors and friends. After the flock was culled to what was necessary, it was time to redo the space to accommodate storage of bicycles and two kayaks.

I didn’t need a 3-by-6-foot workbench, so it became a 2-by-4-foot one with a storage cabinet.

I removed one side bench and salvaged the lumber and screws; put all the snow shovels, rakes, and other large garden implements into an old Ikea toy box on wheels; and rearranged ceiling light fixtures to make more room.

I only mention this because the Lehigh Group, which makes garage organizing systems, has set aside Sept. 12 as National Clean Out Your Garage Day for 2015.

Lehigh suggests sorting through and throwing out those rusty tools, broken toys, worn-out sports gear and other items that you haven’t used in a year or more that are taking up valuable space.

Make a commitment to discard as much as possible — recycling, donating, or selling items, if appropriate.

Then group remaining items into categories, such as holiday decorations, gardening tools and sports equipment, to begin the organizing process.

Categorizing items and storing them in dedicated areas makes it easier to locate things when you need them, and also helps designate a parking spot for the car.

Allow enough space for vehicle doors to fully open and for the driver and passengers to walk around vehicles without rubbing up against them, Lehigh says.

We can’t park our car in ours. The basketball goal is in the way.

©2015 Philadelphia Inquirer
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