10 Great Garage Organization Tips
A garage is both a blessing and a curse. It can be a space to store your collectibles, things you rarely (or never) use, that motorcycle you’ve being working on since last year with all its parts, and even your vehicle, if there’s room. The chore of garage cleaning and organization is seemingly endless as we acquire more and more possessions that need to be stored. To that end, and to simplify your cleaning schedule, here are ten tips to make that eternal struggle more bearable.
1. Clean It Out!
Your garage is filled with everything from old magazines, half empty paint cans, and old toys to tools, lawnmowers, and vehicles. Be honest with yourself about what you need and what you want to keep. Ask yourself why you are keeping it. For the sentimental folks, this is probably the hardest step in the whole process of organizing and is likely why the garage needs organizing in the first place.
Start with your paper goods. Don’t store items such as paper plates, cups, towels, or toilet paper in your garage. This is prime nesting area for all sorts of nasty critters. Move it inside your house. For other paper items such as magazines or comics, let’s be honest—if you wanted to store them safely, they never would have made it to your garage. So get them gone, either in the recycling or donation box. See? The de-clutter process is already beginning!
2. Draft a Floor Plan
Now that your garage is cleaned out a bit, you may be able to start visualizing how you want it to look and what layout would be most convenient for you. The more detailed and accurate this floor plan is, the easier the actual organization will be. Making a rough draft and drawing of your ideas will help you critique the plan and make necessary adjustments. The floor plan is especially useful and cost reducing if you are planning to purchase gear or hardware that is going to be part of your organizing efforts.
3. Use the Walls and the Ceiling
Now that you’re done with drafting your floor plan, you see that the floor space is still pretty tight. There is a large variety of wall and ceiling storage options that range from do-it-yourself level to professionally manufactured storage solutions. For the walls, you can purchase pegboards made from wood, plastic, or metal to store your everyday items and tools. Bike racks also range from DIY to commercial. Get your sporting gear, snowboards, bikes, and camping gear into one category on one wall. Put your tools and everyday use items in their own category on another wall. Utilize the space the ceiling provides by using self-constructed shelving solutions, or purchase one of the many space saving options that allow you to use the empty space efficiently.
4. Give Everything a Home
Everything in your garage needs to have a place. If an item doesn’t have a place in your organization, evaluate the need to store it in your garage. Small adjustments may be necessary to your categorization and organizational plan, but don’t make drastic changes for the sake of an item that may not need to be stored in the garage, if at all. When your possessions have a home, you will always know where to find them, and it makes it easier to keep the garage clean and organized.
5. Make a Garden Cabinet
Sometimes even with your best organizational vision the garage still has too many odds and ends to effectively organize them and keep the floor space in your garage free and usable. This step can be a double whammy in creating space in your garage. Take some of your construction supplies you invariably have lying around, making even more room, and purchase the extra hardware and materials necessary to build a weatherproof cabinet that you can store outside. It can house all of your yard work implements such as a weed whacker, lawnmower, rakes, shovels, bug spray, etc. A secure locking mechanism is obviously an important finishing step here.
6. Corner Usage
Corners are surprisingly useful in creating usable space in your garage. Store your bulkiest items in the corners. Psychologically, this creates a feeling of organization and structure. Large, bulky items like your water storage or exercise equipment should go into the corners, then your organization should build out from there. Clearly, you will want to keep an open path to access these items as you move them into the corners. The idea is to make space and de-clutter, not just move the mess out of the center and into the corners.
We are coming into the home stretch here! In your elation at seeing the finish line, don’t forget to maintain safety standards in your garage. Do you have chemicals and paint? Put them in a lockable cabinet. There’s not likely a lot of interest in having your kids paint your belongings in storage or your nice new clean floor. And there’s absolutely no interest in those chemicals being spilled or ingested. As you would expect, a fire extinguisher should be kept and maintained in your garage.
8. Keep the Floors Clear and the Shelves Open
When purchasing or building storage solutions, keep a few things in mind. Open shelves are better than closed cabinets because they keep you honest and responsible. You can’t hide the mess and clutter on shelves as easily as a cabinet that can just be closed and ignored. Allow yourself some space between the floor and your storage solutions so that you can sweep underneath and keep things clean.
9. Stick to Your Organizational Plan
Following the step above, your belongings have a place now; don’t put them on the floor. When you see items already on the floor, you will be more inclined to drop other items there. If you have a shovel, put it with the rest of the yard work gear, not your skis and mountain bike.
10. Park Your Car
If all has gone according to plan, you just might be able to finally park your vehicle in the garage. After all, it is only a five-figure (or more) investment; you might as well protect it now that you conveniently have the room for it.
You might also be interested in our post about maintenance items new homeowners often forget.