|Garage Remodel, Scotts Valley, CA (Photo credit: Judi Oyama)
Only in America......do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.
So far we've visited just about every storage place that a house can have, but I've neglected the one that has probably become the most important for most home owning Americans--the garage. This space that was intended for our vehicles often becomes that catchall for everything that doesn't fit it the house. If your accumulations are like mine I'm sure your garage is filling up. And I know many folks have far fuller garages than mine.
The quote the opens this page is intended for humor, but it's kind of funny because of the truth in the words. Neighborhoods across the United States are dealing with the perplexing problem of having enough parking space for multi-car families who no longer can fit their cars in the garage or driveways that were intended for that purpose. In neighborhoods like mine street parking is highly coveted and sometimes even fought over. I know this to be the case throughout the Los Angeles area and I would not be surprised to learn that all countries of the world where people are getting more stuff to fill their homes have this same problem.
When I was growing up I recall three houses where we lived that had actual garages. One only had just a driveway and the house where my mother still lives has a sizeable carport. I don't remember my parents ever using our garages for parking cars. I guess garage storaging goes back at least 60 years then. Maybe even from the time garages started appearing as a part of the family home.
The garage in our house in Cleveland doesn't play into my memories for the most part. There was one magical Christmas experience that stands out. My sister and I had been blessed with another abundant blessing of many presents such as my parents were always prone to shower us with each Christmas morning. On one particular Christmas day when I was probably about six years old, in the lull of the aftermath of being dazzled by all of my new toys, for some reason I looked in the garage to a sight that amazed me. Santa Claus had left all of the boxes that the toys had originally been packed in and I found them in the garage. At that moment the toys were forgotten and the cache of boxes became the focus of my attention. What a find that was! Any kid loves boxes to play in.
The garage in our San Diego house is where the washer and dryer were hooked up. Keeping a car in there seemed somewhat impractical. There were many things stored around the walls of that garage with the center a clear expanse that I sometimes used as a play area. One corner of this makeshift play/utility/storage room was piled with boxes, suitcases, and assorted loose items. I would sometimes build tunnels and rooms using the piled items as building materials. For a while my sister and I constructed a makeshift clubhouse in that corner. Thankfully we were never crushed or smothered by all of that stuff collapsing upon us. I guess I was a pretty good builder.
In the house where my wife and I currently dwell, we have a garage that threatens storage disaster. I actually keep my van parked in there but it is surrounded by a tower of stored goods. There are boxes that haven't been opened since we moved there sixteen years ago. Sure I know the standard rule of discarding items you haven't accessed in x number of years, but I assure you that some of it is worth keeping. I'm sure I'll use it one day. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
Then there are the Christmas decorations. We're never home during the 2 or 3 weeks around the holidays, but my wife still likes to decorate at Thanksgiving and we'll usually keep the decorations up until February. I could do without the decorating, but I suppose there could come that day when we are home for the holidays.
In the months after I lost my job in early 2009 I did get rid of a lot of the garage collection by selling it off on Craig's List. That went pretty well and kept me in cash for a while. Now my Craig's List ads are largely ignored as I get to the less desirable items. Maybe a curbside pick-up will be in order soon since many of the items would probably be unwanted by Goodwill. But I've got the time. And I've still got the space.
Garages make a great place for storage. You can't see what you've got in there unless you go in there. It's that old out of sight, out of mind thing. I think about it, but then again I don't fret over it. I'll get rid of the stuff eventually.
Do you have a garage in your home? Can you park a car in there? What do you store in your garage?