There’s a place in every home where stuff just goes. Not necessarily the important stuff, but the stuff that’s only used occasionally or that’s no longer needed. For most people, that the garage.
Garages are designed to house our cars, but they hold much, much more. Tools, hardware, toys, exercise equipment, boxes of old clothes, books, etc. The list could go on forever. And if you’ve been in your house for more than a couple of years and haven’t been intentional about regularly cleaning and organizing your garage space, there’s a good chance your garage is a big, messy collection of random items. Your “stuff collection” might be so big your cars are being forced to sit outside!
Would you like to reclaim that space? Sure you would, but you don’t have the time to tackle such a humongous task. Well, rest easy. Here we’ll give you some tips on how to organize a messy garage. After reading this, you can gradually take your garage back through these simple steps.
Make a list. The first step to tackling a reorganization task of this size is to bring order to it—that start by taking inventory. Next, go through your garage and simply make a list of what you want to keep and what you either want to throw away or donate. As long as you’re not overly sentimental, this can be accomplished in under an hour. If you’ve got a little more time on your hands, you can even start piles that will make it easier to organize as you go when you have moments of spare time.
Eliminate packaging. It might be tools or pieces of hardware, but you probably have a lot of stuff in your garage in its original packaging. If you really want to know how to organize a messy garage, it means getting rid of things like this that take up more space than they need to. Get rid of that packaging because you’re going to be storing things in a more organized fashion and won’t be needing it.
Invest in some containers. Here’s where you’ll need to layout a little bit of money, but not much. Go to your local home improvement store and get some containers. Now that you’ve made a list of what you’re going to keep and have got all your things out of their original containers, you know exactly what kinds and how many storage containers you’ll need. You might need something like a tackle box for pieces of hardware and even some larger totes for other items. Get what you need, come home and simply pack what you’ve organized into the containers
Optional: Installing shelving or cabinets. Depending on how many larger items you have leftover and the space you have, you might be finished. However, if you still have lawn equipment, tools, bikes and the like taking up space where your cars need to be, you might want to make an extra investment in some shelving or cabinets. This doesn’t have to cost you any time if you don’t want to. Professional garage organizing companies like Garage Designs of St. Louis can do all the work for you. Best of all, their summer sale means that you can spend a minimum amount to get the space you need to reclaim your garage space.
Sweep and/or hose out the garage and make small repairs. Our last tip about how to organize a messy garage is a simple one. Now that your garage is more organized, you might be getting your first glimpse at its floor. Take some time to clean and wash it. You can also now get to the walls, so use this opportunity to patch any holes in your drywall or do any painting that needs to be done.
Cleaning out and organizing your garage may look like a mammoth chore, but it doesn’t have to be. Now that you know more about how to organize a messy garage, you can tackle this chore strategically to save time and money. By simply breaking it into manageable chunks and gradually spending a little bit of time, you’ll have your garage back to being the space it was designed to be.
5 Steps To Solving All Of Your Garage Storage Problems
The garage often serves as a dumping ground for old paint, broken toys, and boxes of clothes awaiting a ride to the local thrift store. Luckily, with the right storage, your vehicle doesn’t have to squeeze into its dedicated space. Instead, find what meets your needs in a handful of steps.
Is it starting to seem like there’s no storage space left in your house? Is every closet, cabinet, and drawer totally crammed? Well, the solution to your storage woes may be as close as your garage. Sure, it’s already housing your tools and gardening gear, and maybe even your car, but the average garage can fit more boxes and bins than just about any other space in the home. It may be a messy catchall right now, but you can turn the garage into an efficient, well-organized household storage annex with planning.
If you get anxious even considering the prospect of dealing with the chockablock situation in your garage, take heart. This isn’t going to be a piece of cake, but with help from professional organizer Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer: A to Z Storage Solutions, we’ve broken the task into a series of discrete, manageable steps. The process begins with clearing out the clutter and ends with implementing smart garage storage ideas suited to your needs. Corralling the chaos starts right now!
STEP 1: Visualize the Possibilities
Avoid the common mistake of hastily throwing organizational products at the mess and, instead, start with some strategy. “Imagine what the space will look like when it’s cleaned out and how nice it will feel to drive into it each time you come home,” Smallin suggests. “Hold this image in your head to inspire you.”
Then list out zones you’d like to see in the space to organize items by task or interest. “Your pots, fertilizer, and garden hose should be grouped together for a gardening zone,” says Tim Keaton, Head of Brand and Product Marketing for Gladiator/GarageWorks. “And your golf clubs, soccer balls, and baseball bats should be kept together for a sporting zone.” Other logical zone groupings include holiday decorations, kids stuff, and a workshop area with space for a sturdy bench, plus pegboard or cabinets.
Once you’ve determined what zones you’ll need, work logically to map out where they’ll be easiest to access. For instance, are there certain household items in the garage that you’re likely to need regularly? If so, locate these items near the door to retrieve them only requires a quick and painless trip. Garden equipment and the lawnmower, on the other hand, make more sense placed by the door leading to the yard. Meanwhile, stash seasonal items like holiday lights in higher, harder-to-reach spots.
Thinking vertical is key. “Look up, and you’ll find a ton of wasted space,” says Keaton. “Using vertical space leads to creating more useable space. For example, in addition to hanging rakes and tools, consider hanging up your bikes and wheelbarrow.” Likewise, hoists and overhead racks maximize space near the ceiling.
STEP 2: Take Everything Out
Start by emptying out of the garage. Carefully carry everything out of the garage and lay it down in a staging area, either in an unused part of the home or on the lawn or driveway if clear skies are in the forecast. “Group things in categories,” right from the getgo, Smallin says. “All the garden tools together, for instance, or all the sporting goods.” Organization in taking out items will make it easier to create those zones when you bring your possessions back in.
Broom clean the entire space, taking care to get all the leaves that may have blown in and any cobwebs that may have gathered in forgotten places. And, while you have a good view of it, consider whether the space could benefit from a fresh coat of paint (on the walls or the floor).
STEP 3: Decide What to Keep or Toss
Cleaning day is a great time to check the condition and usefulness of the items stored in your garage. As you lift out each piece of equipment, toy, or tool, put aside anything that’s broken beyond repair or simply not needed anymore—it won’t be coming back into the garage. One rule of thumb: “Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year,” advises Erin Gentry, Associate Public Relations and Consumer Engagement Manager at Rubbermaid.
Group those items you’re eliminating into four piles: toss, recycle, donate, or sell. If parting with perfectly good items proves to be paralyzing, find motivation in a moneymaking garage sale or gain satisfaction from helping a favourite charity. In addition, people in your community may be interested in the things you no longer need.
STEP 4: Assess Your Storage Needs
Refer now to the gameplan you made in Step 1, and make lists of the type of storage you’d need to make it happen: two bins to corral sports equipment and three more for seasonal decorations, pegboard and hooks to hang gardening tools, metal shelving the height of the wall, and so on.
Then, look around. An empty garage makes it easy to inventory whether you have enough shelving, boxes, and cabinets to neatly store those items you’re keeping. The chances are that you already own enough supplies to fulfil most of the garage storage ideas you had in mind. These seven storage essentials will get you far:
- Plastic bins.
- Open shelving.
- Ceiling-mounted racks.
- Closed cabinetry.
- Panelized wall systems.
- Wall hooks and hook racks.
One of the simplest and smartest garage storage ideas is to place like items into stackable, clear plastic containers with lids (available on Amazon) and labels. (Opaque bins work, too, as long as you detail specific contents on the label of each one—this saves time searching for items later.) These will keep your belongings clean, protect against insects and rodents, and increase the amount of usable floor space. Plus, clear bins create a uniformity among very diverse collections—toys, holiday decorations, home improvement supplies, and more—which cuts down on visual clutter.
Stackable bins make great use of square footage. Even better than storing one on top of the other, though, is placing them one over the other on a set of sturdy shelves. The extra few inches of clearance above each bin provides easy access without a first lift-off three. Plus, depending on their construction and material (metal, plastic, wire, or wood), 12- or 16-inch-deep shelves are typically capable of holding heavier items (unlike pegboard).
For infrequently used belongings, ceilings provide ideal, out-of-the-way storage space. Ladders and seasonal gear can be kept here, hung by clips or straps fastened to the joists. Or you can take advantage of hoist pulley systems, which cleverly operate like the cords on window blinds. Bear in mind. However, that ceiling storage must be oriented so that it doesn’t interfere with the garage door’s operation.
Even when organized so that you can find everything, collections of half-used paint cans, garbage bags, lawn equipment, and backyard toys still appear jarring in the close quarters of your garage. Cabinets with doors are highly desirable because they can hide this chaos from view when you pass through the garage on the way to or from home. If you already have these, great! If not, keep in mind that cabinets—be they freestanding or wall-hung, with countless material and style options—tend to cost more than other solutions. Consider mixing and matching with another system from this list to lower costs and successfully store even the bulkiest items.
If you’ve got a lot of ceiling height in your garage, use those tall walls wisely. Inexpensive and easy to install, this perforated hardboard has been a garage storage favourite for generations. By hanging and outfitting pegboard with a custom combination of compatible pegs, hooks, clamps, bins, and shelves. Store paintbrushes and rollers, lawn and garden equipment, and the contents of your overstuffed toolbox out in plain sight and easy reach.
Cover entire walls with specially designed panels by companies including GarageTek, Rubbermaid, Schulte, and Gladiator/GarageWorks and coordinate with any number of companion add-ons (e.g., hooks, bins, ball holders, cabinets, and shelves). Though these ultra-flexible panelized systems can handle heavy and awkwardly sized items, that sort of strength and utility comes at a cost if you need to add new ones.
Wall hooks and hook racks.
Hooks are inexpensive, easy to use, and available in all sizes for a variety of tasks. Unlike pegboard and wall systems, though, these wall-mounted options offer slightly less flexibility for how you can use vertical space. Certainly, individual hooks can be placed anywhere you really only need to keep a couple of items accessible: keys, scissors, garden hoses, or (if heavy-duty) bikes. Moreover, with their business ends above the pegs, you can suspend even more hook rack items, from tool belts to rakes and shovels. Still, configurations are limited.
Short on bins or shelves? See one or two garage storage ideas on the list that seems a perfect addition to what you already own? Subtract your inventory from your wish list of solutions, and take the pared-down version shopping next.
STEP 5: Get and Implement What You Need
Whatever smart organizational products you don’t have on hand, you can purchase with a quick trip to a local home improvement store—and, thanks to the inventory you made, in the exact amount you need. This strategy will ensure that you do not buy so much stuff that you and your overcrowded garage are back at square one.
While there are many garage storage ideas—from hooks and chrome racks to customized, professionally installed systems priced in the thousands—organization hinges on consistency. As you pick out the last of your storage, choose cabinets and racks of the same colour and type. Look for systems made of metal, plastic, or wood specifically treated for garage use. And remember that bigger is not always better. You need a garage storage system that will allow you to find your stuff and still leave room for the car.
Benefits of Organizing Your Garage
Let’s face it – garages are often the very definition of out of sight, out of mind. If you’re like most people, organizing your garage is at the bottom of your to-do list; that is, if it’s there at all! Getting your garage in shape, though, doesn’t have to be a dreaded task.
The best way to dive into a garage reorganization is in small separate tasks. Most of the clutter that lives in your garage falls into one of four categories. So set out to tackle one category per weekend, invest in some bins and shelving, and in just one month, you’ll have a streamlined space to be proud of. Start with the two easiest areas, and the results will inspire you to finish the job.
What garage’s dark corners aren’t filled with bikes, ski equipment, golf clubs, and other sports equipment and paraphernalia? Organizing your garage by putting all your equipment together not only makes it neater but makes everything easier to find. Install some wall tracks that can hold hooks for golf bags and bike racks with shelving above to hold bins for balls, helmets, and other gear.
Over time, even the non-carpenters among us seem to accumulate a large number of tools. So keep a small collection of the most common ones in an easy-to-tote-around toolbox. For the rest, pegboard and hooks are the way to go. Finally, add a tool shelf or two for oversized saws, sanders and the like.
Now it’s time to get down to the more difficult phase of organizing your garage – purging it of clothes and memorabilia. It never fails that an item that’s been stored in a bin for five years is suddenly something you can’t live without. Start with the clothes. The pros recommend sorting clothing into three piles: keep, maybe, and donate. Since these items have probably been stored in the garage for some time, aim for having the donation pile be the largest one. Everything else should be placed in clear, labelled bins and stored on shelves. For decorations, pictures and other keepsakes, a place like items together, tuck them into plastic bins, label and store.
Yes, one man’s junk is another’s a treasure, but since this is about organizing your garage, be honest about how much of what you have qualifies as junk. Old furniture, electronics, broken or unused toys can all be picked up and hauled away by a reputable junk removal service. If you’re having trouble letting go, take the advice of expert organizer Peter Walsh and, before you get started, write down everything you remember that is in the garage. Then, when you come across something you forgot about? Junk it.
The results that come from the hard work of organizing your garage are extremely rewarding. Less clutter means less stress, and it can also mean a higher resale value for your home. Well-outfitted garages are a plus when it comes to selling your home. And once you finish, it’s just a matter of occasional maintenance to keep things in place. To get started on organizing your garage, visualize the neat and well-organized outcome and then dig in.