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How to Organize Your Garage

February 28, 2022
Man loading skis into his car in front of the garage of his Brookfield Residential home in Edmonton, AB

For many homeowners, garages tend to store a lot more than just cars, bicycles, and tools. More often than not, they become the go-to space for any and all items that you’re just not sure what to do with and don’t necessarily belong in the home – seasonal gear, remnants of past home projects, outgrown kid toys. Over time these piles seem to multiply and next thing you know, you have an elaborate labyrinth to navigate through each time you venture into the garage. Before you can begin to get organized, you have to clear out the clutter. Go through everything in your garage and decide what you want to keep, recycle, donate, or throw away.

Once you remove the unnecessary clutter, you’re ready to add garage storage solutions. There are a wide variety of storage solutions and configurations – shelving units, enclosed cabinets, tool boxes and work benches, overhead storage – so you’ll need to figure out what exactly it is you’re storing as well as your budget and space you’re working within. Be thoughtful with your plan and try to keep items that you’ll use together (gardening tools and lawn chemicals), put bulky equipment out of the way but accessible, and maintain access to items based on use. Frequently used items like bikes or gardening tools should be easy to get to while seasonal items can be a bit more tucked away.

Organized shelving system in a garage

1. Create a shelving system

Perhaps the easiest to execute is a garage shelving system. You can store almost anything including toys, painting supplies, and tools. Get some large plastic bins and labels and load up the shelves as needed. Opt for an open shelving unit over enclosed cupboards. They’re durable, easy to assemble, budget-friendly, and give you easier access to your stuff. They’ll also help you to stay organized compared to closed cabinets as doors give you an excuse to close them up and hide the mess. Adjustable shelving can be a game-changer when you need to get creative with your storage. You can raise or lower the height as needed meaning you can easily tuck away the lawnmower, snowblower, or any other equipment you may have.

2. Go vertical whenever possible

The key to having an organized garage is keeping the floor clear of clutter. You may even be able to park your cars in there if you do it properly!

  • Mount items on the wall

Install a wall-mounted bike hanger to utilize some of that dead vertical space. You’ll quickly clear up floor space and have easier access to your bikes compared to digging them out of a bulky bike pile. Give your helmets a proper home with some wall hooks hung next to your bikes. For kids, install them at a lower height so they can reach their helmet on their own. If you’re the go-to home for gatherings and have a lot of folding chairs, invest in deep hooks to hang them high and off the floor. It’s much easier to grab the number you need and you eliminate the loud ruckus that happens when they inevitably get knocked over. Take all those gardening tools like rakes and shovels that are leaning up in the corner and secure them to the wall too. You can fashion a holding system using wood and PVC pipe – simply cut the pipe and add them to wooden crosspieces. Slide the tool’s long handles down through the pipes to keep them secure and out of the way.

  • Use bungee cords

There’s a unique annoyance when you’re navigating through precarious towers of stuff, you bump into something just right, and send basketballs, soccer balls, and red rubber balls bouncing all over the place. Create a secure home for them with a DIY bungee cord ball storage system. This will work better than a bin as you won’t have to dig around to find the ball you want. Decide what size holder you need and then hook bungee cords around the wood framing. The balls are securely locked in place but right at your fingertips when you’re ready to play.

Variety of tools organized on a pegboard

  • Install a pegboard

Pegboards are one of the most often utilized storage systems and it’s easy to see why – they’re incredibly versatile, they are great for oddly shaped items, they keep everything accessible but out of the way, and are incredibly sturdy. You can find almost any size and shape hook or holder to fit on them which means there’s an endless amount of storage possibilities. You can easily rearrange your setup whenever needed in just a few minutes giving you flexibility as your storage needs change.

  • Try a rail system

A rail system is a convenient, affordable option that’s perfect for utilizing every inch of vertical space. They come with different types of hooks that can hold items up to 25 or 50 pounds meaning you can hang a variety of items without issue. These are especially great for ladders which tend to be bulky and in the way. By using a rail system to store them, they won’t accidently tip over and dent your car or knock over other items and you can get to them whenever you need.

3. Use overhead space wisely

Maximizing your ceiling space by adding overhead garage storage is a great option especially for items for which you don’t need regular access. Since it takes some effort to get things up and down, you don’t necessarily want your weekly gardening tools up there but would be a great option for holiday décor or seasonal sports gear. If your garage has exposed joists, don’t waste that space – screw wire shelving to the underside and you have even more storage options available. Just be careful when installing ceiling storage, you don’t want anything to interfere with your garage door’s operation or hang too low and risk scraping the roof of your car.

Organized workbench in a garage

4. Create a dedicated tool and workbench

It’s easier to tackle the honey-do list when you can find the tools you need to get the job done. Create a work station so you have easy access to frequently used tools (hammer, screwdrivers, level, measuring tape) as well as a place to store tools used less often. Use small drawers for loose items like nails, screws, and washers. Use clear drawers so you can see what’s in there or label the front of each drawer. If you’re not a weekend warrior who is always DIYing a project, a workbench that can fold away may be your best bet. You can tackle building one yourself or purchase one at your local hardware store.

5. Keep it clean for good

You’ve spent all this time getting organized and making your garage usable, keep it that way long term. Seal the threshold so rain, windblown leaves, and critters don’t find their way inside. Attach a rubberized strip to the floor where the garage door lands to keep it tightly closed. Spray for bugs and spiders so they don’t make a home in any of your bins or shelves. Keep a bag of kitty litter handy for absorbing grease and oil. Have a trashcan, broom, and dustpan near your workbench to help clear the space tidy after working on projects. Hose down the floor regularly so dirt and debris don’t build up. Stay on top of the clutter by going through your belongings at least once a year.

Organized garage storage with cabinets and a workbench

Just like the inside of your home, organized spaces can help bring a sense of calm. You may be more ready to tackle that next home improvement project when you have easy access to everything you need. If you’re looking for more design advice, homebuying insights, or moving tips and tricks, the Brookfield Residential blog covers it all. Be sure to follow along for more!