Although you likely spend less time in the garage than in any other place in your home, it may well offer the most potential for positive change.
With careful planning and a few targeted purchases, you can implement systems in your garage that will help you maximize its multiple functions -- now, and as your storage needs evolve.
First, evaluate the contents of your garage. Start with your cars: Ensure there’s enough clearance to park and get in and out. Then remove items you probably should have purged years ago. Donate items in good condition -- organizations such as Goodwill can often arrange to pick up your donations curbside -- or plan a garage sale to turn them into cash.
Next, plan a thorough cleaning. Consider hiring a cleaning service, or enlist family members to help. Walk through other rooms in your house to see if they contain any underutilized furniture that can be repurposed in the garage.
Homeowners often rely on whatever storage components -- panels of pegboard or metal shelves, for example -- previous owners left. While these may help you corral a few items, there are well-priced products that will help solve your storage needs based on your pastimes and hobbies.
Choose components like ball caddies or shoe racks that can be hung at different heights as children grow -- making it easier for them to retrieve toys or put away boots unassisted. As your family’s activities change, storage accessories can be designated for new uses.
Function and practicality win out over aesthetics, but the storage systems you pick can make the space more visually appealing than if everything were stored out in the open. And orderly systems make it easier for people to develop orderly habits.
After you’ve identified the items you want to keep and cleared away the ones you don’t, determine where your things will go. Take the opportunity to reclaim areas.
For seasonal clothing storage, for example, consider using a pair of J-shaped hooks to hold a dowel from which you can suspend garment bags on hangers.
Before you buy: Check the number of pounds for which different-sized hooks are rated, and use an electronic stud finder to ensure you are driving the hook into a stud or joist capable of safely supporting the weight of the items you intend to suspend.
Jewelry making, scrapbooking, and other craft projects can find room in your garage. Create a crafts center with storage devices such as Deflect-o’s Tilt Bins. The drawers stay open to give you access to supplies and tools, and the graduated sizes help crafters keep all items related to projects close at hand.
The Gladiator Claw Advanced Bike Storage grasps and releases a bike’s tire when a user depresses a plunger; there’s no need to hoist the bike up and over a conventional hook.
Condense your recyclables. Consider installing a trash compactor in the garage. By condensing the amount of recycled material you have, you’ll make fewer trips to the curb with filled bins of heavy paper, plastic, and other items.
Corral small items. The clear drawers of Akro Mills’s Hardware Storage Cabinet tell you at a glance whether you’re reaching for a rubber band or a picture anchor. Storage cabinets like these can be wall-mounted or placed on a shelf.
Hide infrequently used items. Cabinets from companies like Rubbermaid start at $1,500 and provide ample storage space with open shelving and closed cabinets.