Your garage can be a great space to park your car, store your bikes, do some woodworking or set up a home gym. That is, of course, if it has ample clear space to easily move around — and isn’t just full of boxes, rakes and other haunted items you haven’t touched in seven years.
So to help you make the most of your storage space, we asked some of our favorite interior designers for tips and tricks for organizing your garage. Haleema M. Burton, a professional organizer and owner of the organization company Jillian & Leigh, said the first step is deciding what you want to do with your garage. Do you envision this space simply for storage or do you want to use it as a workshop or a weight-lifting station? From there, you can decide how to best set it up.
“Having a fundamental understanding of how you want your garage to function is the first step to maintaining an organized garage,” Burton told HuffPost. “Once you’ve created a plan, then implementing a zone system will identify areas for organization such as tools, outdoor/gardening, home improvement, and out-of-season clothing.”
To ensure these “zones” stay in place, Catherine Kelly, founder and lead organizer of Sistamatic Organizing, recommends giving your garage a frequent once-over. “Garages tend to get out of hand very easily,” Kelly told HuffPost. “Set aside time at least once a month to do a reset if needed. It’s easier to stay organized when you know exactly where something is and where it should go when you’re done using it.”
To help you implement some order into your garage, the experts shared their favorite storage items for long-term outdoor organization.
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A pre-set garage and gardening shelving unit
The building block of any organized garage? A good shelving system. While it's not a budget item, professional organizer Haleema M. Burton
suggested investing in installed shelving, recommending this unit from the Container Store to "allow for increased storage space and keep items off the floor."
This unit includes a peg board, shelves and pull-out drawers, giving everything a set space.
A 72-inch metal shelving unit
If you're not able (or willing) to install a whole shelving unit, Kira Coopersmith
, founder of Sensible Sort, likes stand-alone shelves, but she urged people to opt for metal or wood. "The older plastic ones have limited capacity, and tend to droop at the center over time," Coopersmith told HuffPost.
Professional organizer Catherine Kelly
agreed, calling this metal freestanding shelf "a great choice."
Durable, stacking open storage bins
While some items like watering cans may go directly on your shelves, you'll likely need some bins or containers to keep smaller items managed and like items together.
"It can be easy to forget what you have in your garage, especially when it comes to items that you don’t use all the time like beach toys or holiday decorations," Kelly said. "That's why I recommend using clear containers."
Burton agreed and recommended using clear, open bins that are stackable but also great as single units.
Stackable black and yellow five gallon storage containers with lids
If it makes more sense for some items to be in closed bins with lids, Coopersmith recommends "the heavy-duty black ones with yellow lids," but encourages labeling everything and being mindful about what you put in each bin. Organizing as you're packing up and storing things sets the groundwork for a long-term system.
A heavy-duty triple storage bin
With carpools, kids and changing seasons, it's natural for the garage to get out of order. If you're running late and don't have the time to put something in its designated space, Burton presents the vertical catch-all bin, calling it "her little secret." But she insisted the trick is to empty these frequently, or else they'll just become deep piles of clutter.
"Placing the bin near the most highly traffic area in the garage (typically the entry door) will help to corral loose items that tend to end up on the floor or on a cluttered shelf," she said. "Once a week, make it a habit to go through the bin and put items where they belong."
An adjustable railroad wall mount system
"For large items like yard tools, I like to use wall-mounted storage rail systems," Kelly said. "You can customize them with different hooks and even shelves to hold all kinds of things."
We love this adjustable wall mount that can hold up to 265 pounds and has six moveable hooks.
A pack of bungee cords
Another genius tip for vertical storage? Take advantage of exposed studs.
"If your garage has exposed studs with 12-16 inch gaps in between, my favorite budget storage item is bungee," Coopersmith said. "Strapping bungee across these spaces makes them ideal for rakes, shovels, garden stakes and skis."
A customizable metal pegboard
Vertical storage is the name of the game. Nothing sums that up better than a pegboard, which can give a designated space for tools, extension cords, flashlights or other outdoor needs.
Burton recommended this metal one, saying, "A pegboard is often overlooked but it’s a handy organizational accessory that will keep your most used tools visible."
Overhead storage shelves
The most vertical storage you can get is over your head. And Kelly said you consider adding overhead shelves to your garage to keep things off the ground and out of sight. But she noted that this is ideal storage for out-of-season items or things you don't need that often, so you're not grabbing the ladder once a week.