Are you having to suck in your belly every time you squeeze between the tool bench (or that stack of boxes) and an open car door? Sounds like it’s time to buckle down and create a little more space in the garage.
Driving into a clean, organized garage is good for the soul and makes coming home from work that much more pleasurable. Plus, it can open up room for your favorite hobbies or the design of your dream man cave. Most people find that spending a weekend or two adding more efficient storage also opens up closet and storage space in the home as well.
So, let’s get started.
1. Take it all out and analyze it. Regardless of which tips you opt to implement, you need to analyze/organize what you have - distinguishing between what’s needed and what needs to move on out. Put on your favorite music and start clearing everything out. Designate “trash” and “donate” piles and get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year or more. Odds are those items won’t be used this year either, and they can always be rented or purchased if you need them down the road.
2. Utilize the rafters. Are you using all that available space between the rafters and the underside of the roof? Throwing a large piece of plywood up there - creating a horizontal platform - is a cheap means of gaining accessible “attic”. It’s an ideal space for storing the holiday tree and decorations, suitcases, childhood mementos, sleds, seasonal sporting gear and so on.
3. Make use of the high spaces. Continuing along this vein, install shelves up high on the walls so you aren’t wasting that last 12- to 24-inches between the ceiling or rafters and the highest shelf on standing storage racks. This is another place where you can store items you don’t use as often, things like serving platters and other rarely used dishware, camping gear or blow up mattresses for guests.
4. Install wire storage shelves. We love the stainless steel, wire storage racks and shelving units because they don’t collect dust and are less pest- and rodent-friendly. Maximize your mounting opportunities by first installing a layer of 3/4-inch plywood over drywall or bare studs. Now you have a continuous, reinforced surface for mounting uninterrupted shelving, and it will also come in handy for hooks to hang bikes and other tools or toys.
5. Suspend bikes, toys and ladders. The more bikes and toys that are parked on the ground, the less surface area and more cluttered your garage will be. Use designated hooks to suspend these items, the higher the better of course. Adult bikes can be suspended from the rafters. Ladder(s) can be stored out of the way there as well. Even low suspension hooks will be helpful with the kids’ bikes. While it doesn’t get the bikes very high off the ground, it does give them a designated place to be, and this goes a long way towards an organized garage.
6. Invest in a storage shed. If you have the space in your backyard, even a small storage shed can make a big difference when it comes to storing items that have filled up the corners of your garage. If you’re a gardener, make the storage shed your potting shed. If you are an avid camper or hunter, it might be a designated, weathertight location to store items related to those activities. It’s also an ideal place for kid’s toys, preventing the all-too-common occurrence of the runover bike or trike.
7. Neaten up the wires. Do areas of your garage look like a thick and colorful spiderweb, laden with criss-crosses of extension cords and other wires. Neaten those up by running them along your garage wall and/or ceilings by mounting metal or plastic wiring channels and outlet boxes right on the wall or a series of open studs.
8. Utilize unfinished walls. Use the consistent spaces between exposed studs in a garage’s unfinished walls to your advantage. You can connect bungee cords from the top of one section to the bottom, spaced a few inches apart to store balls and miscellaneous sporting equipment. Cover the back of any number of sections with plywood and then screw angled, 6-inch PVC pipe sections (between 4- and 6-inches high) to store shovels, rakes and other long-handled outdoor tools.
Now that your garage is all tidied up, you might notice it’s suffering from random debris - in the form of dirt, leaves and miscellaneous litter. That’s a sign your garage door seal needs to be replaced. Not only will this keep your newly-organized garage a little cleaner, it will also enhance its insulation and interior comfort.
Now your goal is to train the family with the idea that “there’s a space for everything, and everything in its space!” If you can do that, you’ll enjoy a spacious and organized garage for years to come.