If there is one thing you should not put off, it’s garage organization. Summer brings out the worst in a garage. When there’s no system in place to manage all of the extra sports equipment, swim gear, lawn maintenance tools, vacation items, camping gear, etc., you will waste so much time finding what you need.
This is definitely one of those gifts you can give your future self. You know, that parent in mid-July trying to survive a sweltering summer with “bored” kids looking for something to do. NOW is the time to make homes for everything so your kids can find what they want on their own (and put it away, too)! While you’re at it, you may as well give the whole space a good zhuzh.
Below are my five must-haves for making it happen. Within each category, there are options. Find what works for you, your space, and your budget. (You can click on the product photos to shop.)
The Top Five
1.SHELVING AND RACKS
The number one rule of garages is GET IT OFF THE FLOOR. Everything. All of it.
Use the vertical space in your garage for storage by adding shelving units and or tracks along the wall (or both)!
Use the dimensions of your space to help you determine the best placement for shelving units (these need depth). For example, if you have a wide garage, you may want shelving on the side walls. If your space is deeper, you may need to use shelves along the back wall.
For areas where you need more clearance, use a system like the Rubbermaid Fast Track. It is excellent for storing yard tools, hoses, strollers, and even bikes in areas with more space.
If you have a really tight space, overhead racks may be options for long-term storage.
2. TOOL STORAGE
Depending on your level of handy-ness, you may need more or less tool storage. Your set up could be as simple as a tool box on a shelf, or as elaborate as a tool chest, workbench, and pegboard system.
Tools are kind of like crafts, in that there can be a lot of small pieces and specialized equipment involved. They key to both spaces is to give everything a home. So, while you think about the larger storage pieces you will need, also think about smaller things like drawer organizers and labels. With these two additions, you won’t ever having a problem finding exactly what you need.
3. BINS FOR SPORTS EQUIPMENT AND TOYS
Speaking of DIY, “do it yourself” should be the motto for your kids in the garage.
As you set things up and purchase storage bins, keep your kids, their ages and abilities in the back of your mind. Just like in the playroom, open bins at a lower level are best.
Keep their toys, chalk, bubbles, etc. on the bottom of shelving units. Keep bikes and helmets down low. Instead of hanging them on the wall (which you can totally do during the winter) make a “parking spot” with painter’s tape on the floor.
Here are a couple of favorites for storing sports equipment:
4. HOUSEHOLD AND LONG-TERM STORAGE SOLUTIONS
Let’s talk bins. You want the bins you use in your garage to be sturdy (they have to stand up to the elements a little bit more) and you will probably need a lot of them, so you want your options to be cost-effective.
AIR TIGHT BINS – These bins fit well on most shelving units, look nice and come in different sizes so you can get just the right amount of space for what you need for each category. Their major advantage is they are air tight, which is perfect for garages. The only negative to these bins is the higher price point and there are 6 latches on each one, which makes it tedious to open and close. We suggest storing things in them that you don’t need to access frequently.
PERFECT FIT BINS – These storage bins are at a lower price point and fit perfectly 3 across on a typical 48″ wide storage shelf (that is harder to find than you would think!). They are at a great price point and look good too!
SOLID BINS – If you don’t want clear bins, we love the look of all white or black bins from The Container Store.
For more every-day items that you need access to, we LOVE a multipurpose bin. They come in clear and smoke, both of which look great in a garage! Same thing applies when it comes to sizing. Get different widths to fit each category of item and you’ll maximize the space on each shelf.
Chancellor bins are a nice compliment to both the clear or smoke versions of the multipurpose bins. You can see in the example below how we used them in a recent garage project.
On top of shelving units, where you should store things you don’t want little hands getting a hold of (like chemicals and pesticides), try a lazy susan. The garage may seem like an odd spot for these kitchen staples, but they are handy for keeping everything you need accessible.
5. BUILT-INS/WHOLE-GARAGE SYSTEMS
In most of the garages we do, we piece together systems using a combination of fast tracks and shelving. However, there are options for whole-garage built-ins that can really take your space to the next level.
You’ve probably heard me talk a lot about Elfa (from The Container Store) for closets, but they also work really well in garages! In fact, they have a whole line dedicated to garage solutions with custom options for gardening, tool storage, bike racks, etc. The design and install are more labor-intensive, obviously, but the pay off is having a custom, dedicated home for all of your items in a super-streamlined look.
If you want to go this route, reach out. As the in-home organizers for the local Annapolis Container Store, we can help you design a system that fits your space perfectly.
More Tips for Garage Organization
- When thinking through the design of your garage, default to zones. Have a zone for kids, a zone for bikes, a zone for tools, a zone for auto care, gardening, outdoor activities, a zone for household items. You get the idea. Once you’ve sorted through all that you have and edited it down to the essentials, divide it up into these zones. The amount of stuff you have in each category will help you determine what containment products to purchase and the space you’ll need. From there, draw up a rough sketch of your garage and decide where each zone will live.
- Now is the time to swap out your seasonal equipment. Just like in a closet, when the seasons change, your zones should change too. Winter items can be moved to upper shelves, and summer items should be front and center, in the “prime real estate” at eye level.
- While you’re moving your ice melt to the top shelf and giving your gardening essentials a new home, also think through any maintenance that needs to be done to larger equipment. Does your lawn mower need to be serviced? Do you need to winterize your snow blower or get your shovel sharpened?
- Since your car is an essential part of your garage (hopefully!), add it to the maintenance list. Take it in for a service if it needs one. Swap out your winter car kit items for summer staples like bug spray and sunscreen. (Have a bin dedicated to these swaps in your garage for easy access.)
Believe me, even if you don’t have the time or resources for a full garage makeover with fancy built-ins and an epoxy-coated floor, the right bins and cost-effective shelving units can go a long way to getting a space that will serve your family well. Maybe even allow you to park your car inside!
We can help you decide what will work best. Systems by Susie’s Garage Organization Season runs from 15 March to 15 June, so get on the calendar now. (We’ll have another season in the fall.) My team can get a system in place for you, so you won’t have to spend hours looking for things in your sweltering garage this summer. It’s so worth it!
Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…