For most of us, our garages are a place where things we don’t want in our houses go. Off-season holiday decorations, scrap lumber, bags of clothes we keep meaning to take to the consignment store, all find their way into our garages despite our best efforts. It can feel like your garage is destined to be a storage black hole where items disappear into the otherworldly morass, but friends, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Many of our garages are just boxes inside. Flat, empty walls, with a car parked inside or a washer and dryer against one wall. Not a space conducive to organization! Therefore, the first thing we have to do is consider how to improve the organization capacity of your garage. There are three major components to garage organization, each of which has a unique role to play in getting and keeping your garage organized: Shelves, cabinets, and slat walls.
Shelves are perfect for items which need to be accessed regularly and don’t off-gas. Sports equipment, car parts, tarpaulins, and anything which can be stacked easily work great on shelves. Shelves can either be discrete and secured to the wall, or installed in units, resting on the floor. Your desired usage should determine which type you select, and mixing both in your garage is a good way to make sure you always have the right shelf space.
Cabinets are good for hiding items, whether to keep them safe from the environment, or to keep the environment safe from them. Cabinets are particularly good if you have younger children in the house who might otherwise accidentally (or intentionally) gain access to dangerous chemicals or tools. Speaking of chemicals, if you need to store a large quantity of inflammables or explosives, such as spray paint, kerosene, propane, etc., then a secured metal cabinet is a must. If you have just a few cans of spray paint or a container of acetone, keeping them away from other flammable objects may be sufficient, but in general it is best to invest in a fire-proof metal cabinet.
Sealable cabinets are important if you need to store a significant quantity of chemicals that are prone to off-gassing: paint thinners, pool cleaners, and other potent chemicals should be stored in a relatively airtight location.
Cabinets are also great for items which are vulnerable to sunlight, such as brightly painted items, and those which shouldn’t be left lying around, like sharp garden tools or items susceptible to humidity. Cabinets provide a unique organizational benefit, as they provide a clean surface on which to label the contents without the visual noise of a shelf loaded with items. Therefore, if you plan on keeping a written inventory, a cabinet door can host the list of the entire contents, allowing you to know what’s inside without having to go digging through it.
Slat walls are the best option for long items. With the freedom to attach hooks and grips wherever you need them, they’re the ideal choice for hanging everything garden tools like rakes and shovels to bicycles and skis. Any item which would take up significant room when lain horizontal can be more effectively stored vertically on a slat wall, while items which otherwise would need to sit directly on the floor can hang on walls. Sports equipment, especially winter sports equipment, are perfect for hanging on a slat wall. No more fumbling for skis on a shelf when you can simply lift them right off a slat wall!
Positioning your storage within your garage is more important than you think. Especially if you use your garage for work or hobbies, appropriate placement is critical. If you want to use your garage for working on vehicles, your storage should reflect that: tools should be placed near the parking space and work bench, hardware should be within reach when needed, and other items like sports equipment can be put in less accessible areas. If you primarily plan on using your garage for storage, take some time to identify what objects you’re going to be accessing most frequently. Place the storage for those objects close to the most appropriate door in your garage. For example, garden tools go near the exterior door, car equipment goes near the garage door, overflow storage from your pantry and bathrooms goes near the interior door.
By organizing your garage based on what you use where, you’ll make using those objects so much easier and more enjoyable. If you find that you’re reticent to engage with a hobby of yours, consider that it might be due to poor organization!
The last and possibly most important element of transforming your garage from dumping ground to perfect storage is to get rid of stuff you don’t need or use. This can be anything from redundant tools to worn-out sports equipment, and getting rid of these items should be your first task.
While getting your garage organized is well within your personal capacity, DIY solutions are often time consuming to set up and are likely to only approximate your ideal solution without ever fully meeting your requirements. Therefore, we highly recommend choosing a custom garage storage solution. With a fully custom solution, your designer will work closely with you to ensure that whatever your needs and wants, they will be met. Your accessories, material, and look will all be tailored to your style and budget, turning your garage from dumping ground into perfect storage!