Garages aren’t the sexiest spot of the house. Hearing the phrase, “Honey, let’s organize the garage” doesn’t set pulses racing the way “Baby, let’s make over the kitchen” does. Nonetheless, garages are among the most hardworking spaces in your home, so taking a weekend and investing a few hundred dollars in garage organization tools will pay off in savings of both time and money.

A clean and organized garage saves you time by keeping essentials in clear view, so you can find what you need and go, without tripping over items or causing a minor avalanche whenever you pull something from the bottom of a pile.

And you’ll save money because your investments, from sporting goods to tools, will last longer when they’re stored safe from moisture, heavy weights, rodents and dust. (Your car, of course, will be protected from falling skis and wayward bicycles.)

Ready to get your garage in order? Here’s our one-weekend, three-step guide to finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place.

Step 1: Purge and repatriate
Garages have a way of collecting clutter. Start by purging yours. If you haven’t used something for over a year, move it to a space where space is less of a premium, like the attic or basement. Or, better yet, donate, sell or gift it.

Go through piles, boxes and shelves and move anything that’s not in the correct spot. Use baskets or storage bags to tote things where they need to go, one for the basement, one for the attic, one for Goodwill and so on.

Step 2: Sort belongings and choose storage tools
Take a look at what’s left and decide what storage elements would work best for you. The essentials include:

• Closed storage: Make sure to include at least one closed-door, lockable unit like Rubbermaid’s resin cabinet or Husky’s metal-front cabinet. It’s essential for keeping poisons like antifreeze, plant food or pest control products, and sharp tools behind lock and key.
• Open shelving: Shelves keep frequently used items readily available and in plain sight. Vented metal styles, wood slats, (or, for light duty, vented plastic) minimize the volume of dust that can collect.
• Hooks, clamps and holders: These allow you to make use of vertical space, getting big items like bikes, trikes, oars and paddles, rakes, hoes and brooms off the ground and out of your way.
• Bags: Most wall-mounted garage organization systems include clamp-on mesh bags that make it easy to store soccer balls, basketballs, tennis balls etc.
• Boxes & bins: Group irregular items and stash them in big bins on casters so you can roll them under a shelving unit or work table. Group them intuitively so items are easy to find: bags of soil, grass seed and pea gravel together, for instance. Boxes and baskets can also hold smaller items neatly on shelves.

Garage storage systems can be bought as starter kits that get your started and which you can add on to, or else, you can customize your space with elements purchased à la carte.
Try out the online storage-design tools at IKEA and Closetmaid.

Image courtesy of Canadian Tire.

Design tip: Remember to accommodate your car(s) before you buy! Mark the footprint(s) of your vehicle(s) with painter’s tape, then mark the footprint of the to-be-installed storage elements (find the dimensions of each item online). Do you have enough space for everything, and to accommodate foot traffic? Okay, now you can buy.

Step 3: Design and install a system
Once you’ve determined what tools will help you store your goods, spend an afternoon installing your system with a partner to ensure things are installed securely and level.

Use this opportunity to clean items before you store them.

• LIGHTING MAKEOVER: Replace a dim single overhead bulb with track lighting for an instant lift.
• DRYWALL: For a more polished look if your garage has unfinished walls, install drywall before painting.
• PAINT: If your garage is uninspiring, consider painting it a nice, expansive white. Allover colour may be a bit overwhelming in this space, but bright hits of juicy hue on a feature wall can add life to this space.

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