Garage Storage: Keep Kids' Stuff in Check

Take back the garage! Smart organization strategies and innovative storage products can tame a tangle of toys, bikes and gear.
By: Kim Hildenbrand
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What's a Parent to Do?

Vehicles, tools, lawn equipment — your garage needs to hold a lot of important items. But families with children find that toys, clothes, and other gear tend to take over the space, leaving little room for necessities. What’s a parent to do?

Baskets of Fun

For starters, carve out a dedicated zone for your children’s belongings. Barry Izsak, author of Organize Your Garage in No Time and owner of Arranging It All in Austin, Texas, recommends claiming space near the garage doors for easy access. “The last thing you want is for your kids to bang up the cars as they tote their stuff in and out of the garage,” he explains.

Wheeled Toy Parking

For a fun twist on traditional storage, paint colored lines (or adhere strips of colored tape) on the floor to serve as dedicated parking spots for wagons, bubble mowers, and strollers.

Bike Racks

While mounting bulky items on the wall — like these canoes — saves valuable floor space, kids often want easy access to their bikes. Consider adding a specially designed rack on the wall or floor that holds bicycles, scooters, and skateboards. Izsak recommends storing bike helmets on the seat or attached to the handlebars. "Not only does this keep the helmet handy and convenient," he says, "but it also reminds riders to use it."

Toy Bins

Stow small items such as sandbox toys, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles in labeled bins. Consider painting chalkboard paint on metal bins, purchasing colorful plastic bins that stack right on the floor or using wooden shelves that hold bins tilted to keep the contents visible. All three configurations make it easy for kids to put away their own toys and won’t get in the way of car doors opening.

Wall Storage

Slatwall, pegboard, or even simple hooks transform blank walls into versatile storage for toys and sports equipment. Izsak suggests hanging backpacks, hula hoops and jump ropes low enough so kids can reach them.

Beach Bags

Hang mesh bags or plastic tubs on the wall for stowing sand toys, goggles, and other swimming gear. Laundry baskets also are a portable and budget-friendly solution. “You can just throw them in the car if you’re headed to the pool or beach,” Izsak says.

Pool Noodle Holder

Judson Crowder, CPO, owner of Restorganize, LLC and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, suggests creating an across-the-garage noodle hanger using eye hooks, screw hooks, and twine. “Screw the eye hooks at the top of one wall, directly across from that screw in the screw hook, and run some twine between the two,” he says. “You can now string the noodles, and they will sit near the ceiling.”

Ball Storage

Izsak recommends repurposing rolling laundry hampers to corral balls of various sizes; you can also store them in baskets that hang on the wall or slide into open shelves.

Seasonal Items

Install a high shelf for rotating clear bins filled with out-of-season items. That way, pool toys won’t clutter the garage in the winter and snow gear won’t get strewn about during summer — and, in most cases, you need only access it once per season. Bonus: You're in the pool even faster!

Label System

To avoid mix-ups, assign each child a locker, bin or container to hold personal belongings.

Mudroom

Transform the spot near the house door into a mudroom by adding a small bench, a shelving unit with cubbies, a row of hooks, and an over-the-door shoe organizer. This smart spot can corral shoes, mittens, and hats. Tired of dirty floors? Set out an inexpensive boot tray (or repurpose an old kitchen tray) to serve as a landing spot for muddy boots.