Is it starting to seem like there’s no storage space left in your house? Is every closet, cabinet, and drawer totally crammed? Well, the solution to your storage woes may be as close as your garage. Sure, it’s already housing your tools and gardening gear, and maybe even your car, but the average garage can fit more boxes and bins than most rooms inside the house. With planning, you can transform your garage from a messy catchall into an efficient, well-organized household annex.
Birds of a Feather
First things first: Get rid of anything you no longer use. After you’ve winnowed down the contents of your garage, sort what’s left into groups. Items used together ought to be stored together. Where possible, place like items into stackable, clear plastic containers with lids. (Opaque bins work in a pinch—just be sure to label each one.) These will keep your belongings clean, protect against insects and rodents, increase the amount of usable floor space, and cut down on visual clutter.
Location, Location, Location
Efficient use of space partly depends on positioning stored items in a thoughtful, strategic way. For instance, are there certain items in the garage that you’re likely to need on a regular basis? If so, locate these items near the door so that retrieving them only requires a quick and painless trip. Meanwhile, stash rarely used or seasonal items, such as sleds and skis, in harder-to-reach spots.
Climb the Walls
In many garages, there’s a simple key to staying organized and making the most of every inch: keep things off the floor. By capitalizing on the wall space, you can fit more into your garage without sacrificing access. What type of wall storage you choose ultimately depends on your needs, budget, and preferences. Many homeowners opt for one or a combination of the following storage standbys:
Pegboard. Inexpensive and easy to install, pegboard has been a garage storage favorite for generations. By outfitting your pegboard with a custom combination of compatible hooks, clamps, bins and shelves, you can use this utilitarian method to store and organize just about anything of modest weight.
Open shelving. Whether a wall-mounted track system or a set of stand-alone units, open shelves are affordable, versatile, and user-friendly. Plus, depending on their construction, 12- or 16-inch-deep shelves are typically capable of holding the heavier items on your storage radar (unlike pegboard).
Closed cabinetry. If you plan to park your car in the garage, cabinets with doors may be most desirable, because closed storage means not having to come face-to-face with paint cans and garbage bags every time you leave or arrive home. Keep in mind, however, that cabinets—customizable, with countless material and style options—generally cost more than other solutions. And being unable to accommodate very large items, cabinets are most effective when used in conjunction with another storage system.
Panelized systems. Here, entire walls are covered with specially designed panels that hold any number of companion add-ons (e.g., hooks and shelves). Though panelized systems can handle heavy and awkwardly sized items, that strength and utility comes at a cost, especially since some products require pro installation.
Moving On Up
For certain infrequently used belongings, the ceiling provides ideal, out-of-the-way storage space. Ladders and seasonal gear can be kept here, hung by clips or straps fastened to the joists. Or you can take advantage of hoist pulley systems, which cleverly operate like the cords on window blinds. Bear in mind, however, that ceiling storage must be oriented so that it doesn’t interfere with the operation of the garage door.
A Note on Safety
As you sort and reorganize the pieces in your garage, keep safety top of mind. It can be dangerous to store gasoline and propane in the garage; a single spark could lead to tragedy. Likewise, if you have children or pets, you should store hazardous materials and power tools far out of reach or, ideally, inside a locked cabinet.