Since I’m currently on holiday in France, I thought it would be fun to do a blog on how a typical French person organizes their space. We’ve been staying with my husband’s family here in beautiful Brittany, and I’ve been casting about for a good area of their home to focus on. With my gracious father-in-law Loic’s permission, I finally decided on the organized tool area in their garage.
This area of their home is organized simply and beautifully, without lots of expensive storage bins or shelving, and it’s obvious that this suits him perfectly. Throughout our conversation, one word prevailed: simple. Everything is organized to suit his needs, and nothing more.
Many items in this area were recycled or reused things, and some of his tools dated back to the 50’s. Since he has taken such great care in creating this personalized space for himself, it totally works. And not only that, but there is a kind of old-world charm about the place that you could never find in a store. In short, he made me want to fly home to Portland and begin setting some of his methods into action in my own garage.
Here are Loic’s tips for organizing your tools.
- Do it DIY Style. Forget pre-made tool organizers. While a pegboard is great, you can also simply use a slab of wood affixed to the wall to hang tools vertically. He then used two pitons fermes (screw eyes) to hold long skinny tools like screwdrivers, and a piton ouvert (screw hook) for most other tools like hammers, pliers and so on.
- Don’t get too focused on beauty. The small containers inside the hanging organizer are chocolate milk containers, sawed off at the bottom and labeled. As you can see, he didn’t use a fancy labeler – just handwritten labels looked great! And they are super easy to change out. These containers house screws, nails and other hardware of various sizes. There has never been a better excuse for drinking chocolate milk!
- Keep often-used items close by. He created a wooden hanging rod to hold wood files, which he uses often. You could also use this area to hold tools that you are working on during a specific project, since it’s so close to the working surface, and close at hand.
- Multipurpose as much as possible. You can’t hang everything vertically, so he also had storage for excess tools. Rather than a traditional “handyman” box, he used a simple wooden box that belonged to his grandfather.
He told me that this box also triples as a stool, a prop or a cutting surface. He told me that he likes the nostalgia of using the tools that others in his family used generations before.
Anything that can be used for multiple purposes is good in his book.
My father-in-law’s final advice was this: your workspace should reflect your personality and needs. It’s a special area in the home that should be all about you. It doesn’t make sense to keep tools that you don’t use or serve a purpose. He hung a few keepsakes in the area to personalize the space and to give him pleasure when he is working there.