In many homes, the garage is the one room that has a lot of potential but somehow ends up becoming a dumping ground for many (many) things we don’t need or ‘might’ need later on.
Although mainly for vehicles, whenever we buy something bulky and not sure where to put it, it usually ends up in the garage first; then decision time comes later. Or, on occasions when we decide to declutter, many of the storage bins end up in the garage too.
It’s also quite common to see a lot of old stuff and memorabilia get stored in the garage.
All in all, the garage becomes this space filled with things for the future, some used in the present and mementos from the past. Faced with this mountain, many dread cleaning their garages. So unfortunately, a lot of these memories and objects are simply forgotten.
Cleaning your garage will be like organizing and decluttering any other room in the house. Albeit the amount of stuff may be more, but the method is quite similar. Best yet, when you dig deep enough, there’s always something new to discover whenever you clean your garage.
To assist you in this process, we’ve compiled some quick, easy and cheap tips that will have your garage sorted out and organized in no time. You won’t feel bad or avoid entering that space anymore. Maybe even have a chance to give it a whole makeover! Now, are you ready to do this? Let’s go.
Photo source: HomeServe USA
Draft a floor plan of your garage
When the task ahead requires digging through every corner of a space in order to make room for a lot of things, the first step is to know the floor plan of your garage. Sketch this out, a rough one will do.
While drafting the floor plan, you can simultaneously visualize your storage area and how you wish to categorize your things. This will set the stage where you can be realistic on how much you can keep and what you need to let go. Take note of where the windows, doors, switches, locks are. Only keep the things that serve you and can fit quite nicely in the space you have.
Plus, having this draft plan allows you to go area by area and not get overwhelmed when you are faced with an increasing pile of things to arrange. It will serve as a map that you’ll need throughout this process.
Photo source: freepik
Categorize your garage items
A cluttered space means things are piled up with no way of distinguishing where they belong. Therefore, the second imperative step is to start categorizing your garage items.
First, you have to look at it from a macro perspective, so to say. The initial categories will hold bigger titles – keep, donate (or garage sale!), throw away, recycle. While you’re doing this, keep Marie Kondo in mind and her world-changing Konmari concept of only keeping things that spark joy for you. Be strict and tough, okay? This is the steepest part of the climb but the reward over that mountain will be utterly satisfying.
Next, when you’re left with only the things that truly matter for you, you’ll be in a better position for the next categorizing step. This time, segregate your things in different piles based on their uses and purpose. For example, baby memorabilia, gardening tools, house cleaning products, car stuff, sports equipment, Christmas decorations, etc.
Photo source: Insider
Open-shelves work best in the garage
Lately, you’ll see more open shelves in different parts of homes – kitchen, living room, even the bedroom. It’s a great way of showing off pretty decor, displays and unique, quirky items.
Similarly, there are many reasons why open-shelves work better in garages compared to closed cabinetry.
- Cheaper option compared to built-in cabinetry
- Quicker installation process of shelf panels especially since it’ll be best to minimize the design of your garage
- Easier access to things you’ll need at that moment
- Quick, easy scan of the room and you’ll find what you need
- Keep the items properly ventilated since most are stored for a long time
- Helps you better keep track of the items you have
- No excuse to hide your mess behind closed doors
Photo source: Simply Organized
Option for closed cabinets
While open shelves should dominate your storage space, you should leave one area for closed cabinets. This is solely for safety reasons. Garages have a ton of equipment and products – namely chemicals, or large dangerous tools. You’ll want to keep those away from the rest of the stuff, and definitely keep them locked up if you have children.
Another use for closed cabinets is for the mementos of decades past or more delicate items and decor. And naturally, for the things you don’t see yourself using much.
But one big P.S.: do not use these closed cabinets as an excuse to hide your mess or clutter or else you’ll slip right back to the beginning with a disorganized garage.
Photo source: The DIY Plan
Use a lot of storage bins
One step you should not miss out on – storage bins.
Remember all the items you’ve categorized before? Yes, now’s the time to put them into proper boxes. Every organized garage you go to will have storage bins in it. It’s the best, easiest and cheapest option you can use to properly store all the items you have and follow the categorical flow of the things you decided to keep.
Quick tip: make sure you use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes to properly seal each container and keep moisture and pests away.
Plus, there are other advantages to having storage bins:
- Creates a bit of uniformity to your garage’s image. No need for decorative or expensive containers since no one really hangs out there and those might just get damaged
- Choose your favorite color for the bins; or color code them for better organization and search later on
- Play around with different sizes and even open-type containers for bulky, random-shaped items
- Easier to store random items because you can fit in a lot more in one and even put smaller boxes inside to subcategorize for tiny knick-knacks
Photo source: Organized Living
Keep things off the garage floor
The main reason why a messy garage happened was because all new and old items were just left on the ground that was meant to be cleaned up later, but never happened. So, this time, remember to keep things off the garage floor.
You’ll see how big your garage actually is when you keep to this one point. There’s more space for your car or, you might even get ideas to repurpose the space into something else – like an extended game room or a hang out spot.
Photo source: Getty Images | Don Mason
Make use of vertical space
There’s no other way to organize a garage than to make use of vertical space. You arrange from the ground up when it comes to this particular space (like decorating tiny spaces), to ensure you keep things off the floor and be organized at the same time.
You’ve got this with the open shelves and cabinets. Now, try other ways to do this – use peg boards, or slatwall – these are sturdy, they look good and also add some versatility in the storage boxes or baskets you can use.
- Peg boards are perfect for hanging and organizing the frequently used items and tools – these will probably be some gardening tools, hardware or hand tools. Depending on how much equipment you want to put up, you can install as many pegboards as you want to cover your garage wall.
- Slatwall gives you a series of grooved panels that are affordable and adaptable. They have a uniform look but allows versatility because you can hook any type of basket, brackets, and bins to the grooves. Many use this system for frequently used items of which you have more of like sports equipment, some home decor, household stock, etc.
Both these options are really handy wall storage because you can easily reorganize and rearrange your things.
Photo source: Garage Living
Baskets by the door for miscellaneous items
In many instances, garage doors are also used as entrances. To facilitate a smoother entry and exit to and from home, you can transform that small area by the door into a mudroom. Opt for simplicity by having hooks installed to hang baskets for small miscellaneous items such as car keys, mail, or for coats and scarves.
This will serve like an initial ‘drop zone’ for all smaller items that might be left lying around, easily forgotten and ignored. There are also many different design options for these to slightly spruce up your garage entryway.
But make sure that these baskets are kept at a minimum and are small so they don’t overflow, and not taken advantage of when unsure where an item should be placed. Remember, garages are not often visited so let’s minimize any chance of clutter forming in that space.
Label each storage bin and basket
Once you’ve had all the bins and shelves fixed, you’ll be more energized to make sure they are kept that way. One way to do that is through labels.
While color coded storage bins and shelves will make it easier to see all your things at one go, labeling them will ensure you don’t get it wrong or misplace anything. A sure fire way to guarantee that your hard work against that mess and clutter will remain clean and organized for a long time.
Quick tip: you can decorate those labels but it’ll be best if they are easily visible first and foremost.
Photo source: MyDomaine
Have stations for specific tools
The best part about combining open-shelves, pegboards or slatwall and storage bins is categorizing different sections in your garage. Once you have everything stored in proper containers and your walls are up, it’s time to specify which area each category will occupy.
Some examples of garage stations could be the gardening station, general hardware station, sports equipment, cleaning products and chemicals, household items, festival decorations, etc.
This step goes further than simply cleaning up a space. Allocating different stations for different types of tools injects a level of discipline to organization that will work long-term. When you get used to the system you put in place, you’ll automatically move towards specific stations whenever you have new items to store.
And bonus, you’ll be able to utilize and optimize your garage space. You might even discover a little empty space in a corner that you can turn into a workstation – just slide in a work bench and a table.
Photo source: This Old House
Designated spaces for each family member
In addition to setting those stations for all your things and supplies, why not go a step further and designate areas for each member of the family? There are all these shared equipment and tools but also individual things and stuff.
A great way of getting help organizing and keeping it organized is if each family member has a responsibility to keep their own area clean. With ownership of that tiny space, it helps build and develop a sense of discipline in maintaining the orderliness that was afforded them.
If not a whole area, probably just some bins primarily for small things will do. Plus, there’s always pressure to keep it tidy especially when other family member’s spaces are clean too.