Take Back Your Garage With These Fast Organizing Fixes
Does your garage look like a disaster zone? Rein in the clutter with 13 quick and easy tips, hacks and DIY storage projects.
Whether used as a parking spot or hobby hub, your garage is valuable real estate. Don't let that extra square footage go to waste! Clear the clutter and take back your space with our expert garage organizing tips and a few super-handy DIY storage hacks you can knock out in a day or less.
GET STARTED: KNOW WHAT NOT TO STORE
With its high humidity level and fluctuating temperatures, the garage is a less-than-friendly storage spot for things like paint, cardboard boxes, food and more. Get the de-cluttering party started by figuring out which items you really shouldn't be storing out there, then toss, sell or relocate them.
Kick the Clutter: 12 Things You Shouldn't Store in Your Garage
MAKE IT YOURS
Organize your garage to suit your needs. Are you an avid gardener? Carve out space for a gardening station. Do you do a lot of DIY projects? Leave room for a hobby bay.
Questionnaire: Prioritize Your Garage Needs
CONSOLIDATE LIKE ITEMS
Keep your garage tidy for the long haul by grouping similar items together on shelves or in storage bins for easy accessibility. You'll thank yourself later when you aren't digging through piles of junk to find that extra bag of cat litter.
SAVE ON STORAGE SYSTEMS
Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a slat wall storage system, make your own for (almost) free by repurposing a shipping pallet into a vertical tool rack. Then take a vacation with all the money you saved.
Make This: Wood Pallet Garden Tool Rack
No Time to Waste. There's Yard Work to Be Done!
When it’s time to mow the lawn, trim the hedges, or plant a garden, don’t waste time searching for lawn equipment. Instead, design a well-organized storage spot in the garage to ensure your tools are easy to find and in good condition. Consider these savvy strategies based on your needs, budget, and available space.
Organization experts stress the importance of getting items up off the floor. "When it comes to lawn and garden equipment, I am a huge fan of using vertical space whenever possible," says Lisa Mark, certified professional organizer at The Time Butler in Los Altos, California. "These systems convert otherwise unusable wall space into great storage space." Think of your garage walls as a blank canvas for arranging useful "art": rakes and shovels, sprinklers, pruners, weed whackers, and more.
Slatwall (or Slotwall)
This versatile system features grooved panels that attach to walls and organize various types of accessories, including hooks, shelves, baskets, and brackets. A slatwall system tends to be more affordable than cabinetry and features a narrower depth, says Chris McKenry, owner of Get It Together LA and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “If you don’t want to take up the whole wall, you can also simply add small strips of slat wall with adjustable hooks,” he says.
These perforated panels affix to walls and hold various hooks and brackets that can be moved around as needed. Pegboard is affordable and easy to install, and can even be painted for a pop of color. If you’re worried you’ll forget where to return tools, draw the outline of each item on the pegboard.
Tall items work well stored in racks attached to the ceiling says Judson Crowder, CPO, owner of Restorganize, LLC and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “Sometimes you only have four to six inches of space above the garage door, and that is just enough space to store your ladders, shovels, and rakes,” he says. “This keeps your walls clear for other storage, and the long-handled tools slide in and out with ease.” HGTV Smart Home 2013 demonstrates this type of storage with surf boards instead of shovels.
If you’re an avid gardener, consider adding an inexpensive potting bench, or repurposing an old desk, hutch, or diaper change station to serve as one. Choose a piece with a work surface and storage space for bins and planters. Add hooks to organize small tools and sturdy clips for hanging hats and gardening gloves.
MARK IT AND PARK IT
Clear up bike clutter by giving little ones their own "parking spot" in the garage. Make it even more fun by hanging small signs painted with each child's name above the spaces.
On a budget? Take a quick look around the house for anything that could be repurposed as garage storage. This old file cabinet was turned on its side and put to much better use as a tool command center.
Make This: File Cabinet-Turned-Garage Storage Bin
Kelli Wilson had a creative idea for keeping outdoor toys under control, and a lightweight hand-me-down shelf was the starting point. After adding a coat of white paint and some bright yellow trim to the shelf, she organized the kids' toys using inexpensive galvanized buckets. Kelli made fun and easy-to-read labels for each bucket so that finding and putting away toys would be a breeze. Plus, the shelf carries easily in and out of the garage for handy storage.
File Under Creative
A beat-up file cabinet was headed for the landfill until Haydee Letonja rescued it and transformed it into the perfect storage bin for her larger yard tools. Using spray paint, she painted it a bold red hue with white racing stripes on the front. The ends are sporting pegboard facades for even more handy storage. Haydee also added a wood plank to the bottom in order to attach casters, making her creation completely mobile for busy outdoor days.
In small work areas, it's all about giving yourself a little elbow room. In Jamie Humphreys' garage, she accomplished that by using the space under the shelf. She fastened the lids of used salad dressing jars to the underside of the shelf with screws, filled the jars with tiny, easy-to-lose garage accessories and then screwed the jars back into place. Voila!
Chic Recycled Containers
When it's time to plant your favorite spring flowers, the best containers may be sitting right in your garage. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn used galvanized metal trash cans and added casters and drainage holes to create a modern, portable container garden right on the patio.
Storage solutions don't get any simpler than this. For Michael Helander, space in the garage is a precious commodity. So, she created this hanging basket made from discarded hubcaps. She simply spray-painted the hubcaps black, attached a chain and hung up the finished "basket." This smart upcycling idea keeps items off the bench but still within reach in a clever way.
Sure, you could lay down a few dollars for fancy storage containers or you could just look in your kitchen cabinet. Organizing enthusiast Jennifer Jones added a little flair to her workbench with ordinary soup cans covered in decorative paper. They're perfect for storing often-used tools and supplies that you would like to keep close at hand.
Michael Helander sees potential in just about everything she finds. Here, she has created a grab-and-go garden tool rack from reclaimed wood, a piece of driftwood and an old wire basket. And just for a decorative touch, she added the floret made from a glass plate decoupaged with magazine pages.
Super Seed Storage
No more searching the garage for those seeds you didn't end up planting last season. An empty tissue box is all you need to keep seed packets organized and easy to spot. After covering the empty box with floral-patterned paper, Jennifer Jones whipped up a pretty label using leftover scrapbooking materials. Now when spring rolls around, you'll know exactly where to turn for those wildflower seeds.
Just because you're having fun out in the garage, you don't want to be late for dinner. What better way to tell time at the workbench than with a license-plate wall clock? Brian Carlisle used these colorful old Illinois plates and some vintage wooden dominoes to make this quirky timepiece. The weights were made with antique doorknobs, and it's topped off with a decorative brass piece.
CORRAL KID CLUTTER
Designated toy bins stored on a kid-size shelf make playtime cleanup quick and painless.
STORE BETWEEN THE STUDS
Emily Fazio, 2016
If your garage has bare wall studs, take advantage of all that glorious storage space by installing small shelves between the studs. The customization possibilities are endless!
If your garage doesn't have bare wall studs, make the most of your vertical storage space with inexpensive pegboard. It's super customizable and easy to install!
Build This: How to Install a Pegboard Wall
INEXPENSIVE CEILING STORAGE
James Angus and Jamie Bolton, The Cavender Diary
Metal pipes installed along the ceiling joists are an easy and inexpensive way to store infrequently-used items in the garage. Simply suspend objects from the pipes by using large S-hooks.
CLEAR IT UP
Ditch the cardboard boxes and opt instead for clear plastic bins to store seasonal or surplus items. The see-through containers keep stored items dry and safe from pests and make it easier to locate your stuff.
MAKE IT MULTITASK
If you use the garage as your main entrance, consider creating a mini mudroom next to the door to curb clutter and keep dirty shoes and smelly gym bags out of the house.
Get Inspired: 15 Garages That Multitask
CREATIVE HOLIDAY STORAGE
Is holiday decor taking up a bulk of your garage space? Save room and money with a few creative and budget-friendly storage solutions for ornaments, string lights, gift wrap and more!
Get Inspired: 12 Holiday Decor Storage Hacks
New Uses for Old Stuff
James Angus and Jamie Bolton of The Cavender Diary are serial garage hackers who have created the ultimate man cave. Faced with lack of space, they made use of reused and repurposed items found around the house. Here, a red medicine cabinet rescued from a friend’s junk pile is filled with salsa jars that hold hardware.
DeMorrow believes in keeping garage storage accessible and simple. She recommends hanging a clock so you don’t lose track of time. A paper-towel holder pointing upward holds large rolls of packing tape, a large pop-up bag contains wrapping paper and a gift bag holds smaller gift bags. A wheel guide on the floor, makes for perfect parking to avoid smashing into storage.
Long for a workout space but lack a spare room? Take advantage of a garage wall to install everything you need to stay in shape. This wall-mounted gym installed by Tailored Living consists of a slat-wall storage system that makes it easy to customize.