For many, the garage has become a wasted space, a dumping ground for paint cans, bicycles, empty boxes, outdoor appliances, extension cords, and other rarely used odds and ends.

Sometimes it’s so full that fitting a car in between the bags of dog food and the rarely used skis is about as easy as solving a Rubik’s cube with your eyes closed.

If you’re tired of having to climb over cardboard clubhouses and tiptoe over tools just to get to the door of your own home, it might be time to reorganize. Follow this outline, and you’ll be on your way to turning that mass of chaos you call a garage into a clean, orderly storage area.

Dump, Divide, and Organize

pile of sports equipment

Before you begin reorganizing, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with. Sure, it’s your stuff, but that doesn’t mean you have any recollection of ever owning it.

Take inventory. Make a list. Choose a few designated areas, and put like with like.

If your garage is overflowing, you might want to divide things up into general piles of keep, donate, and throw away (or recycle!). After that, you’ll want to get more specific.

Some examples of pile types include:

  • Tools
  • Sports apparel
  • Pet items
  • Lawncare equipment
  • Holiday/seasonal decorations
  • Knickknacks
  • Kids’ toys

Once you have everything sorted out, it’s time to do it all over again.

Split the piles you have into even smaller subgroupings. For example, sports apparel can be divided even further based on the sport (e.g., soccer stuff and football stuff) or by type (e.g., shoes, uniforms, and actual equipment).

When you’re finished, take a step back and close your eyes. It’s time to visualize.

Dream the Dream of a Superior Storage System

Like any other daunting project, it’s best to have a plan. Without a plan, the project will become a lot harder than it needs to be, and you’ll likely end up right back where you started.

Take the time to think about the space.

Some questions to consider:

  • How long are the walls?
  • What is the depth of the space between the walls and where the cars will be parked?
  • Is there room overhead to hang items from the ceiling?
  • Is there room for a workbench?
  • Where will the walking paths be located?
  • Are there shelves and storage units already installed? Are they secure? Will they be enough to store all your stuff?

Make some measurements, think through the logistics, and then divide the areas into zones for designated items and activities. After you’ve done that, it’s time to consider the types of garage storage systems worth implementing.

Overhead Garage Organization

interior of organized garage

The most commonly found overhead storage solution is for bike storage. With little more than a ladder, some measuring tape, and a drill, you can install a few hooks into your ceiling to create some much-needed space on the floor.

Similar installations can also be used for kayaks, ladders, baby strollers, and other bulky equipment.

Mounted racks, platforms, and motorized pulley systems work well for heavier items or those that need a bit more surface space.

Sliding bins, hanging baskets, and high-mounted shelves are also a great way to store once-a-year items like Christmas lights, plastic pumpkins, and other seasonal decorations.

Pro Tip: Before storing your items, consider their use. While wooden scarecrows and light-up Santas are perfect for overhead storage bins, items used more frequently should be placed in a more accessible area.

Wall-Based Storage Systems

pegboard with tools

When it comes to wall storage, there are a lot of options, so it’s best to consider the types of items you have, how big they are, and how often they will be used in the future.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the more common wall storage solutions and their uses:

  • Shelves: Great for storing items you want to display or have readily available.
  • Cabinets: Great for uglier items, hazardous materials, and items you want locked away.
  • Pegboards and hooks: Great for tools, gardening equipment, and cleaning supplies.
  • Bins: Ideal for smaller items that are difficult to hang or that require extra organization.
  • Workstation: Must-have for wannabe gardeners, crafters, carpenters, and handy people.

Consider add-ons such as a sink, drawers, corkboard, vice, and fluorescent lights for extra functionality.

Sauce and spice jars, plastic takeout containers, and empty coffee tins also make for great DIY options when storing smaller items like nails, screws, washers, pencils, pens, scissors, and other crafty objects.

Buy It, Build It, and Be Done with It

Once you have your zones mapped out and a storage system in mind for the various areas, it’s time to make a list of all the items you’ll need from the store. Run out and retrieve them, but don’t waste time. The longer you leave it be, the less likely you are to finish the project.

And then get to work. (Or hire a reputable organizing professional to do it for you.)

The Bottom Line

Just remember, your garage is technically still your home, so give it the time and dedication it requires. Creative thinking and careful planning will go a long way toward implementing the kind of storage systems and designs worthy of you and your stuff.