How to Organize a Garage

Is your car banished to the driveway because you have so much clutter in your garage? These 5 tips from the Domestic CEO will help you clean out the clutter and get your car back into its home!

Amanda Thomas,
August 29, 2013
Episode #075

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  • automotive
  • gardening and landscaping
  • tools
  • sports

Ideally, you will have a specific place for all these categories of items. When you need a screwdriver, you don’t want to dig through a bunch of gardening tools to find it. And likewise, when you want to go play tennis, you shouldn’t have to search through a cabinet of tools to get your tennis balls.

Just like you keep your closet organized by putting like items with like items, you want to do that with the stuff in your garage as well. When you are starting to organize your garage, move the cars out and begin sorting all the items into piles by category. Once you have everything sorted, you can start to determine how much space each category needs in your garage.

Tip #3: Box Up Small Stuff

Once you have everything sorted, you will probably notice that you have a lot of small pieces, like tools and equipment. It’s very easy to lose small pieces that are just laying around, so you want to have some small boxes to keep the items together. A tool box is an obvious choice for hand-held tools, but simple plastic storage totes are a great, inexpensive way to wrangle other smaller category-specific items. In my garage, we use small plastic storage boxes for all our painting supplies, another for gardening tools, and more for car care items. We use larger plastic storage bins to keep all our camping gear together, and even more for our holiday decorations.

While it may be tempting to try and save a few bucks by storing these items in cardboard boxes, I would highly advise against it. Of all areas of a home, the garage is the most susceptible to water leaks. The water heater could leak and flood the entire floor. Or, as I had happen to me once, a water line in the ceiling or wall could burst and start spraying water all over the garage. If a large leak happens in your garage, the last thing you want to deal with is a bunch of soggy, collapsing storage boxes, so invest in a few watertight plastic storage bins and protect your stuff.

Tip #4: Use Vertical Space

Once everything is sorted and boxed up, it’s time to start putting it away. Instead of starting from the ground and working your way up with piles, consider starting from the ceiling and working your way down. This will help keep as much as possible off your floors, which will make them easier to keep clean. Plus, it will decrease the possibility of small critters and creepy crawlies taking shelter in your boxes.

Overhead storage racks are a great way to get your storage boxes off the floor. These racks are mounted to the beams in your garage’s ceiling, and can be adjusted higher and lower to give you more or less storage room, or head room if you have a low garage ceiling. Since these racks are usually installed above the cars, you want to make sure that you aren’t storing everyday items up there. These are great storage spots for holiday decorations, coolers, and other items that are used seasonally or a few times a year. Keep in mind that these racks need to be installed in a very specific way, so if you aren’t comfortable doing the install yourself, hire a trusted handyman to put them up safely.

If you are even slightly handy, you can also install some hanging racks on the walls of your garage. There are modular racks that can be installed, and pieces specific to what you want to store can be added. You can hang anything from brooms and yard tools, to bikes and ladders on these racks. The more you can get onto the rack, the less you have sitting on your floor.

Tip #5: Hide Small Stuff Behind Doors

Once you have a plan to put the large stuff up in overhead and wall-mounted racks, you still probably have to figure out something to do with those small boxes of stuff. At the very least, purchase a plastic or wire shelving unit to store the boxes on. This will get them up and off the floor in case the water heater decides to explode and spew water everywhere. If you want to make your garage look fancier, avoid the cheap shelves and consider purchasing garage cabinets. These cabinets can be hung on the wall or built on the floor, and can give you a great space to hide the boxes of smaller stuff out of sight. These cabinets come in a variety of sizes, so whether you want to hide shoebox-size containers, or your golf bag full of clubs, you can find a cabinet to fit your needs.

Now that you have your garage storage planned out, the only thing left to do is take action. Depending on how much stuff you currently have in your garage, this process could take a weekend, or a week. Bribe your spouse, family, or friends to help you, and it will go a whole lot quicker. And just remember, the sooner you get your garage organized, the sooner your car can get back in there!

Did this episode motivate you? I would love to see your Before and After pictures! Tweet me a picture of your garage before and after you used these tips and I will post my favorites in a future article. You can find me on Twitter @thedomesticceo.

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

Cluttered garage and container images from Shutterstock.


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