A garage is a wonderful thing to have: It protects your car from the elements and can absorb a shocking amount of random clutter. But if you’re not careful, all that random clutter will turn even the most spacious garage into a pit of despair. If yours has taken a dark turn, here’s how to pull it back from the edge.
Get rid of stuff that doesn’t belong
Believe it or not, storing certain things in your garage can actually be dangerous. Since they’re not usually climate-controlled — or as secure as the main house — garages are a bad place for a surprisingly long list of items. Here are some of the most common ones, according to a blog post from BobVila.com:
- Temperature- and/or humidity-sensitive items: Paint, certain solvents, canned or jarred food, wooden furniture, musical instruments, records, and electronics
- Dangerous fume producers like propane and gasoline
- Vermin bait like books, papers, cardboard, bedding, clothes, firewood, pet food, birdseed, and plain old trash
- Refrigerators: They can’t keep up with temperature and humidity swings (and use a ton of electricity in the process)
- Anything particularly fragile or valuable
Clearing out all the dangerous stuff first should free up some space. If it’s not quite enough, you can move on to “regular” decluttering as needed.
Figure out a direction for the space
There are a million different ways to make garage space less hideous and more useful. Before you dive into a huge reorganization project, you should probably figure out what your ideal garage setup looks like. Do you want usable space (maybe for a gym or workshop), more storage space, or a little of both? What’s currently preventing you from making that happen?
You may not have solid answers to these questions right off the bat, and that’s OK. Garages are, by design, just empty space, so your options are almost limitless — and you may change your mind once you start moving stuff around. Keep a rough outline of your plan in the back of your head, and come back to it as needed.
Move everything off the floor and onto the walls
Now comes the fun part: Getting stuff off the floor and out of your way. This almost always requires beefing up your wall storage situation, which can get expensive if you have a specific look in mind. But if you can stomach some pure form-over-function homeliness, industrial shelves are fantastic. They’re sturdy, customisable, easy to assemble, and surprisingly inexpensive, even brand new.
This Muscle Rack unit is huge (six feet tall and four feet wide!) and just under $US120 ($164) at the Home Depot, which means you can probably find something similar for less on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
You can also add storage to the walls themselves. Wall-mounted shelves and coat or utility hooks are affordable and versatile. For more customizability, consider installing a pegboard or slatwall system with hooks; these are great for relatively lightweight items that require easy access, like handheld tools and some athletic equipment (think hockey or lacrosse sticks, bags, safety pads, and helmets).
The big stuff — bikes, kayaks, and ladders, for example — will need a specific type of wall mount. These mounting systems can be expensive and difficult to install, but if you’re dead set on hanging big, heavy items on the wall, it’s worth investing in something that won’t immediately collapse.
Use your new space right away
Reorganising a room is an ongoing process. No matter how carefully you stick to your plan, it’s impossible to know if it worked until you try. As soon as you have space to use, get in there and use it — take out your tools and fix something, squeeze in a workout, do a load of laundry, or just take a moment to savour the satisfaction of an unobstructed parking space. If your plan still needs some tweaking, you’ll figure it out soon enough.