Garages aren’t typically known for more than a place to store your car and any extra stuff that won’t fit in the house, or didn’t make it past being unloaded from your car.
Would you believe that, when it comes to preparing your house for sale, that an organized and sparkling clean garage just might be its best selling point? Garages are among the most hardworking spaces in your home, so taking a weekend and investing a few hundred dollars in garage organization tools will pay off in savings of both time and money.
A clean and organized garage saves you time by keeping essentials in clear view, so you can find what you need and go, without tripping over items or causing a minor avalanche whenever you pull something from the bottom of a pile.
And you’ll save money because your investments, from sporting goods to tools, will last longer when they’re stored safe from moisture, heavy weights, rodents and dust. (Your car, of course, will be protected from falling tennis racquets and mountain bikes.)
In the past four or five years, the concept of the multi-functional garage has gained favor. Since most garages adjoining a home are already insulated and heated, homeowners are now asking how they can optimize that space, which often spans between 400-600 sq. ft. or more.
While preserving its primary use as a garage and storage space, it can also serve as a workshop, a games-and-fitness room, a laundry room and storage space for extra food.
The word from professionals is that the catch-all storage garage will soon be a thing of the past. Today, in some cases, garage design practically falls more aptly under decoration. Many people are asking for the same type of storage cabinets they have in their bedrooms or kitchens.
But there’s a hitch: While making the garage habitable, you still need to have a practical and usable space that is also well ordered and attractive. Chances are that within a few years, the finished garage will be spoken of in the same breath as the walk-in closet.
With the explosion of the garage-design market, the availability of products specifically intended for the residential garage has expanded by leaps and bounds. Today’s modules come in an assortment of forms and dimensions, making it possible to choose a wide variety of configurations.
Stable, resistant, compact and customized to meet personal requirements, the modules feature adjustable shelves and drawers capable of handling heavy loads. The good news for decorators is that these new models are practical and attractive. Between a mechanic’s workshop look and a high-tech kitchen one with integrated lighting and washtub, these modules are available in hardwood or steel and in a large range of colors and finishes. Prices vary accordingly.
And a wall in bright red or with stainless steel cabinets will lend your garage a certain stylish edge.
On the issue of look and convenience, specialists recommend that objects and materials be grouped by category – leisure activities, doit-yourself, car maintenance and gardening – with the messiest items (garbage bins, lawn mower, snow blower) closest to the garage door and the cleanest areas (laundry, food supplies) located beside the door leading into the house.
Bulky objects and seasonal items can be hung from the ceiling, though wall mounted U-rails may be sufficient. Those who dream of having a garage where guests can be entertained may prefer to invest in industrial storage cabinets, which combine performance with practicality.
Though the sturdiest models must be installed by a professional, they can easily handle up to 270 kilograms of, for example,plastic storage containers for those thousands of items that would otherwise clutter up the floor. But don’t forget to identify their contents with stickers to avoid complete confusion.
Weekend project = sparkling garage
Ready to get your garage in order? Here’s a one-weekend, three-step guide to finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place.
Step 1: Purge
Garages have a way of collecting clutter. Start by purging yours. If you haven’t used something for over a year, move it to where space is less of a premium, like the attic or basement. Or, better yet, donate, sell it at a yard sale (see a previous Solutions blog on this topic) or gift it.
The more floor space you can free up the better able you will be able to see the endless possibilities for this space for other uses – including a gathering space for teens or, if you open the garage door, a shaded spot for a family cookout.
Go through piles, boxes and shelves and move anything that’s not in the correct spot. Use baskets or storage bags to tote things where they need to go, one for the basement, one for the attic, one for Goodwill and so on.
Step 2: Sort belongings and choose storage tools
Take a look at what’s left and decide what storage materials would work best for you. The essentials include:
Closed storage: Make sure to include at least one closed-door, lockable unit. You can go online at any home goods store and see what products would work best in your space. It’s essential for keeping poisons like antifreeze, plant food or pest control products, and sharp tools behind lock and key.
Open shelving: Shelves keep frequently used items readily available and in plain sight. Vented metal styles, wood slats, (or, for light duty, vented plastic) minimize the volume of dust that can collect.
Hooks, clamps and holders: These allow you to make use of vertical space, getting big items like bikes, trikes, oars and paddles, rakes, hoes and brooms off the ground and out of your way.
Bags: Most wall-mounted garage organization systems include clamp-on mesh bags that make it easy to store soccer balls, basketballs, tennis balls etc.
Boxes & bins: Group irregular items and stash them in big bins on casters so you can roll them under a shelving unit or work table. Group them so items are easy to find: bags of soil, grass seed and pea gravel together, for instance. Boxes and baskets can also hold smaller items neatly on shelves.
Garage storage systems can be bought as starter kits that you can add on to, or else, you can customize your space with elements purchased à la carte.
Design tip: Remember to accommodate your car(s) before you buy. Mark the footprint(s) of your vehicle(s) with painter’s tape, then mark the footprint of the to-be-installed storage elements (find the dimensions of each item online). Do you have enough space for everything, and to accommodate foot traffic?
Step 3: Design and install a system
Once you’ve determined what tools will help you store your goods, spend an afternoon installing your system with some help to ensure things are installed securely and level.
Make sure to clean items before you store them.
OPTIONAL PRE-INSTALLATION STEPS:
• LIGHTING MAKEOVER: Replace a dim single overhead bulb with track lighting for an instant lift.
• DRYWALL: If your garage has unfinished walls, consider installing drywall before painting
• PAINT: Consider painting it a nice, expansive white or grey. Crazy shades of color may be a bit overwhelming in this space, but bright hues on a feature wall can add life to this space.