If walking into a clean house is glorious, pulling into a tidy, organized garage is akin to nirvana (or Nirvana, depending on your music proclivities). As the largest room in the home, the garage is also the largest dumping ground. The task of cleaning and organizing it is often so daunting that most homeowners would rather park outside in 10” of snow and driving rain and scorching heat than to tackle the space that would (and should) protectively house them.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are seven no-fail tips that will whip your garage into shape, and turn it into the room it was meant to be: one that you can park, store, and revel in.
Garage Organization Tip#1: Plan
The first tip is an easy one. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit down in your garage. Grab a pen and paper and sketch out your ideal garage storage ideas. Consider the following:
• What are the largest items I need to store?
• What items do I use the most?
• What do I dislike most about this garage? Can I fix it?
• How would I like the garage to be used?
• Can I better maximize wall and ceiling storage space?
• What products would help me long term? (Think about peg boards, shelves, hooks, and bins).
• How much clearance do I need around vehicles and doorways?
• How much of what is in here could be better placed somewhere else?
• How much of what’s in the garage should be sold or donated?
Set a timer and give yourself 30 minutes to assess, plan, and sketch. This is an action plan, after all. The garage of your dreams will require you to do.
Garage Organization Tip#2: Overhaul
Most garages don’t need to be just cleaned. They need to be gutted. The best garage cleaning tip is to start with a clean slate, and, to do that, you have to pull as much as you can out. Get the whole family involved (after all, they helped contribute to the catastrophe). As you go, start sorting your items into sections on your driveway, using sidewalk chalk to help you stay organized. Create sections that say things like “Keep,” “Donate,” “Sell,” “Put Somewhere Else,” and “Figure Out What This Is”.
Once your garage is as empty as it can be, give it a good sweep. If you’re extra ambitious, give the walls a fresh coat of paint.
Garage Organization Tip #3: Make the Framework
Here’s where it gets fun. Using the plan you created in Tip 1, start setting yourself up for success. Pegboards are great for hanging lightweight garden tools, hand tools, and sports equipment. Heavy duty shelving (as offered by our friends at Monkey Bar Storage solutions) can hold hundreds of pounds of decor, bowling balls, and even furniture; and there are even ways to put your ceiling to better use (perfect for those long-term storage needs).
Resist going for short-term solutions here; you aren’t going through all this work and effort just to repeat yourself in a few months. Any investment you make in your garage will pay off in the long run; even if you can’t recoup it all financially, what you save in peace of mind, wear and tear on your vehicles, and being able to find what you need is priceless.
Garage Organization Tip #4-6: Put Back Only What You Need
Now that you have your garage storage framework in place, put it to work.
• Long Term Storage: Start here. These are the items you know you want to keep, but you know you won’t use for a while. Heirlooms, once-a-year holiday decorations and once-in-a-blue-moon items should go in the hardest-to-reach areas like the ceiling, upper shelves, and nooks.
• Big Equipment Storage: Lawn mowers, bicycles, kayaks, and the like should go next. Place them in the areas that offer the greatest space to maneuver. Keep wall and ceiling space in mind for these items, too.
• Grab-and-go Item Storage: Sports equipment, tools, toys, and gardening gadgets go next. Where can you put these so that they have the greatest chance of being put back where they belong? Set up clear sections in your garage for each of these, and make them as kid-friendly as necessary. Always keep safety in mind; anything that is sharp should be secured, and any chemicals should be out of reach or out of sight.
We clumped these tips together for a reason. This part will take discipline and thoughtfulness, so take your time. Purge what you need to. Collect what you need to. Only put back what you actually want/need/use. Get input and buy-in from your family so that you can all approach your new garage with the same level of commitment.
Garage organization Tip #7: Keep It Going
At this point, being able to park your vehicles in your garage should be your crowning achievement. Remember that feeling. It will come pouring over you every time you can pull into your garage, and it feels so much better than parking in the rain on your driveway.
Want tips to help maintain your garage now that you’ve gotten it under control? We have even more garage organization tips here.