Perhaps your garage is well organized, neat and uncluttered, and you can put your hands on anything you’re looking for immediately. If that’s the case, I’d venture to guess you’re in the minority. Your garage space provides a vast amount of storage, even if your vehicle is also parked within it. Making the most of this space is both smart and practical.
First Purge, Then Assess
Your very first step should be to purge and clean. If possible, remove everything from the garage and give it a good cleaning. Sweep floors, dust off shelving, and then go through everything you’ve accumulated over the years. Keep items you use, donate things in good condition but no longer needed, and throw items in disrepair away. It’s surprising how many broken items are in garages across Canada to be fixed ‘one day’. And if you’re storing boxes since the last move – and they haven’t been opened since – chances are the contents can be discarded or donated. Be ruthless; you gain space with everything you no longer keep.
Second, assess your needs. If you have an additional storage shed or outbuilding, decide what needs to be kept there versus your garage. Once you’ve determined how you’ll use your shed, you can more easily decide what goes where in the garage. Take time to create a thoughtful list of everything you’ll be storing. Doing this at the beginning of your project will eliminate frustration and chaos later.
Larger items should be considered early on. A ride-on mower, for example, should be able to be driven out of the garage, and not blocked by storage boxes. And a workshop table with saw, for example, should be located where there’s good natural light and/or sufficient outlets.
Pegboard and Shelving Basics
Many long-handled pieces of equipment can be stored up high and off the floor, keeping them orderly and convenient. You also free up precious floor space by doing so. Steel or wood pegboards are attached directly to the wall’s studs, and an assortment of various hooks, bins, and other pieces hold rakes and other tools, the bins hold smaller items and almost anything you choose to hang on them. If you’re handy, you can create your own version out of wood. You can easily find plans online for this project. Either way, pegboard storage systems do a great job of keeping your shovels, rakes, and brooms off the floor. They also keep your drills and most often used small tools handy and readily available.
In addition to pegboard, there are many garage storage kits on the market. If you’re comfortable doing so, design and build your own wall unit. On the other hand, if you’re all thumbs, have a reputable professional come in to design a unit that will suit your purposes. D4 Construction in Kamloops can complete this project for you in a timely manner and might be the best solution to organizing your garage. Contact Mike, owner of D4, at +1 250-572-4812. Easy to work with and professional, Mike will take care of your project for you.
Large industrial shelving is almost always a good idea when looking to create organized space in your garage. Determine how many plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids can fit on each shelf, and then use those to store items that need protection from dust and moisture. Be sure to clearly mark each one with the contents, and keep the contents true to its label. If you keep flower and vegetable garden supplies on open shelves, you won’t need bins. Again, design it to fit your own personal needs.
Let’s say you want to store your artificial Christmas tree, camping equipment, or other larger items that aren’t necessarily used all year long. Consider the addition of a long shelf attached to the wall up high and closer to the ceiling, but still accessible by ladder. Items to be stored on higher shelving should be boxed up in smaller pieces, making them easier and safer to bring down, instead of one single box that’s both heavy and cumbersome to move. Containers that are particularly heavy should be stored lower, rather than higher, for the same reasons.
Remember Those Miscellaneous Items…
Install long pegs, dowels, or even narrow PVC tubing high up on garage walls to hold hoses, extension cords, lengths of wire and even folding chairs up high and out of the way.
Bungee cords stretched vertically between two pieces of wood or plastic mounted on the wall is a popular way to corral balls of all shapes and sizes; do a quick online search and you’ll find many versions of the idea. It works well so it’s a popular solution to the pesky problem of keeping soccer and beach balls alike from overrunning your garage.
Hang a closet rod under some sturdy shelving to keep all those heavier clothes that take up too much space to keep in the house. Think hunting or fishing jackets, ski clothing, and the heavy jackets used in cold-weather areas. Additionally, hang up those garden flags – large or small – on a skirt hanger that snaps shut over the tops of the flags (not the kind with two hooks at the ends). Hung in the garage on your clothes rod, they not only stay together but also hang wrinkle-free between uses.
Consider storage pieces that multitask. A storage bench might make the perfect seat at a workbench, and large plastic pails can hold car washing products and other smaller items together in one place.
If you have family members take off shoes when entering your home, consider a long, shoe storage bench/shelving storage system. Not only will it provide a row or two of shoe storage, the top serves as a bench which is terrific for unloading groceries and other things.
One of my favorite organizational hacks that’s good for any part of the house, but works perfectly in the garage, too, is an inexpensive hanging shoe storage bag. Find one with about 24 clear pockets which gets mounted on the back of a door or on a wall. The clear vinyl pockets make it simple to locate smaller items that easily get misplaced.
Responsibility and Safety
To conveniently recycle, be sure to factor larger trash bins on wheels into your plan. If you need separate containers for paper, plastics and glass, consider rectangular-shaped ones that will fit well next to one another, instead of round ones. They come with lids and handles, making them easier for loading onto a hand truck when moving them into your vehicle if bringing them to a recycling facility.
Always keep pathways within the garage clear, such as one leading to a side door. When your arms are loaded with tools, you won’t be able to use them to break a fall if you trip on something along the way. If young children live in the home, be sure to keep anything containing flammable or toxic ingredients well above the height that children can reach.
Do you have an electrical box with a lot of breakers? Be sure access to it is also free and clear. If the location or room name on each breaker switch is small, take the time to use a bold marker to label each one. When it’s just you and your flashlight trying to determine what switch goes to which room, you’ll wish you had taken the time to do that.
Organizing your garage is a big job, but your hard work will be rewarded every day – when you can be one of the fortunate minority who can put your hands on anything you need immediately.
Written by: Tiiu Garrett