The concept of the garage was initially invented as a means to keep expensive vehicles safe and auto-related tools stowed. These two functions have largely remained the same, as many residential floorplans include at least a single car garage (often with tool storage), and professional automobile maintenance services are all performed out of a “garage.” It’s easy to get excited about our first, as individual garage space, especially in areas with adverse weather conditions, has a high degree of utility. Yet, we still often end up cluttering these coveted spaces, sometimes to the point of being incapable of even fitting our car inside anymore.
With the advent of yard and property care accessories like lawnmowers, snowblowers, weed whackers, hedge trimmers, pressure washers, and so on, the car is no longer the only thing competing for garage space. Beyond home maintenance items, the garage often also becomes home to toys (from children’s scooters to jet skis), bicycles, exercise equipment, and old or seasonal storage items. A garage, having these items out of sight, is an excellent space to toss and squeeze and hide away all kinds of items we might not have room or a great place for elsewhere, making it a dangerous trap for clutter.
Whether you are a self-proclaimed packrat trying to avoid a future messy garage or a distressed citizen needing a serious organizational overhaul, using some tested, genius ways to organize your garage will help ensure you’re making the most of your extra square footage, year-round.
Examine your garage’s structure and make a note of the shape. Many garages have relatively tall ceilings, allowing for lots of vertical storage solutions. Squatter shapes with more horizontal wall space will, of course, favor storage options that take advantage of that layout. Don’t forget to take your ceiling into account, as well. For some, this may not be an option, but if you have the surface area, you may be able to make great use of some ceiling-hanging apparatus for hanging bikes, storing boxes, and holstering ladders. Just be sure that this will not interfere with your garage door track.
Since we have access to our ladders and step stools in the garage, storing items vertically becomes an incredible, easy space-saver. Remember to label boxes and other indistinct items before shelving or housing them. Store your least-frequented items towards the top, leaving common items in easier reach. Keeping items out of sight, closed-face cabinet units can contribute to a cleaner look, but open racks often provide more versatility, so consider what you are storing before investing in any storage solutions. If you are looking to save a buck, also consider thrifting and repurposing indoor cabinets, desks, and vanities from second-hand stores. These can often be heavily customized and offer lots of tidy storage.
Hang bicycles from an overhead rack, or use a wall-mounting system, depending on your space availability. Clear as much of the floor as you can for easy parking and vehicle access by overutilizing wall space. This may include adding something like a pegboard to hang various tools. Towel bars and scrap wood can often also be used to help secure tools and accessories to the wall, and magnetic strips are excellent for a variety of quick-grab items.
Upcycle old containers from inside your home to create neat compartments for similar objects. Use old coffee cans to hold loose nails, twine and rope bundles, or paint-brushes. Sort fishing supplies in old shoe boxes, and affix poles to the wall, to avoid tangled wire and broken tip tops. Old spice jars can be used for smaller supplies, and larger package delivery boxes can be re-used to more neatly store other odds and ends, like the endless amount of seasonal and holiday decorations we all seem to accumulate over time.
Remember that some items may need more thorough storage, such as waterproof bins. Stackable storage is always ideal, as well, so utilizing bins with lids is helpful, when possible. Garages are usually a bit more prone to the elements than other interior areas of a property and working to proactively prevent potential damage to items while organizing is another great achievement to be proud of—one that you will thank yourself for later!
Another thing to take into account when you are working on your revamp or setting up shop is the logistics behind making your garage’s workflow easiest for yourself. Make a space for heavier items closest to the way they will exit the garage. If you store your mower to where only the handle is sticking out (the body parked beneath a desk, let’s say), be sure that you have created a clear path that is big enough to pull that item out and get it to the yard without scratching your vehicle or having to move 6 other objects. For children, put items that they can safely use within their reach, in an isolated area away from any sharp or dangerous machinery or tools.
If your garage doubles as a mudroom, consider adding a built-in coat rack and shoe station. Hangers can be beautifully constructed to cozy up your garage space or left with a more industrial feel. A shoe drop-off area can help keep from tracking dirt, snow, sand, and other elements into the house and a sports equipment center can also be designated to keep smelly equipment and uniforms outside.
For furry family members, save space swallowed by bags of food by pouring them into larger, sanitary plastic bins, which can then be stacked or more neatly stored. Use wall pegs or command strips to hang leashes, brushes, and a toy bag.
Keep similar items grouped and remember that it’s totally cool and fun to get creative with your storage in the garage. Use old paint drums to keep spare wood together, use the car washing bucket to hold all the car washing supplies together, gather related objects, and use the biggest one to hold the smaller ones. Just be sure that you are not inadvertently making it difficult to utilize what you are storing when the time comes. The most genius solutions are the most practical ones!