What Experts Recommend To Organize Your Garage And Basement

Professional organizers reveal the best storage containers, shelving and tips so you can finally get your most neglected areas in order.
A waterproof Husky storage bin, a pack of self-adhesive label pockets and a pulley system bike rack.

At some point or another, we’ve all thrown something in our closet, basement or garage with the half-hearted intent to deal with it later. And after several opportunities in which you in fact do not deal with it later, you soon have yourself a cluttered and disorganized mess that feels past the point of no return.

Garages and basements tend to become chronically disorganized primarily because they become the default storage spaces for items without a designated home, said Gina Hartranft, an expert organizer with the professional home and life organizing service Orgnze, which services the Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston areas.

The first step is to determine how you intend to use the space. Once that’s clear, establish zones for different categories of items,” Hartranft suggested by email.

“For example, I recently organized a garage to accommodate a car by setting up a U-shaped layout, marked out on the floor, so they could park the car with all doors accessible,” she said. “Then, we installed shelves and designated zones for holiday decorations, luggage (we reduced this to essentials), tools and other items. Everything had its place.”

Cynthia Kienzle, a professional organizer and founder of The Clutter Whisper in New York City, said that within your master organization plans, it’s important to accommodate the possibility of growth, whether it be more toys, new hobby spaces or other options.

Of course, you’ll need the right storage tools to help get you to a place of streamlined and orderly heaven. To know just what these items may be, plus tips on how to implement them, keep reading to see the various shelves, storage units and other problem-solving items these organizing experts recommend.

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Home Depot
A waterproof locking bin
When it comes to storage containers, expert organizer Gina Hartranft of the professional home and life organizing service Orgnze said that she often uses bins that are resealable, waterproof and locking to safeguard belongings. She likes these Husky bins from Home Depot that come in four size options from five gallons to 30 gallons. They are easily stackable, are constructed of durable polypropylene and polycarbonate materials, and have clear lids that make it easy to view each bin's contents. Another tip from Hartranft: Label all of your bins clearly.
A 30-pack of self-adhesive label pockets
Hartranft told HuffPost that she considers sorting and cataloging to be essential steps to an organized space. She suggested accounting for stored belongings by inserting a detailed list of a bin's contents, typed and visible through the clear side of a container or lid. This pack of labels with clear pockets self-adhere to surfaces and are available in 15 size options as well as an assorted size pack.
Pulley system bike racks
Cynthia Kienzle, a professional organizer and founder of The Clutter Whisper in New York City, suggested bike racks to get bikes off the ground and to utilize wall or ceiling space. We found this popular rack option on Amazon that utilizes a pulley system to hang bikes, kayaks or ladders from ceilings and also get them down safely without any heavy lifting necessary. Available in one to four hook options, each rubber-coated hook can hold up to 100 pounds and a safety locking mechanism ensures that bikes won't come tumbling down.
An adjustable free-standing bike rack
We also found this highly rated bike rack option that follows Kienzle's guidance of getting bikes off the ground to make more room and reduce ground clutter. This vertical bike rack can hold up to two bikes and up to 80 pounds total and features fully adjustable arms to accommodate virtually any style or size of bike within the weight limit. This is also a great option for anyone who wants to avoid drilling, thanks to its free-standing design.
Auxx Lift
A professional remote control platform lift system
"The best storage infrastructure for a garage is a remote-controlled storage lift that reaches the ceiling," Kienzle said. She suggested Auxx Lift, a motorized storage system that can be customized to fit your space and storage weight needs. With the ability to be installed in any direction, and even on slanted ceilings, the platform lowers from the ceiling at the touch of a button so you can easily and safely access stored boxes and bins. Each platform can hold up to 400 or 600 pounds and claims industry-leading strength. If you have extra high ceilings, you have the option to add a cable extension to your platform.
A pair of wall-mounted steel shelves
"When using shelves, it's beneficial to attach them securely to the wall and always place heavier items on the lower shelves," Hartranft said. It may go without saying, but Kienzle added that the best storage shelves are ones that are very sturdy, so we found these well-rated floating shelves on Amazon that are constructed of heavy gauge steel and can hold up to 400 pounds each in the 4-by-6-foot size option (there's also a 2-by-4-foot option). Using the included hardware, these shelves can be attached to either wall studs or solid concrete and installation is easy enough for one person.
A very popular and non-rolling wire shelving rack
Although Hartranft's first suggestion for shelving is for those that securely mount to walls, she said that standing wire shelves can be used in a pinch. We chose this rack with five adjustable shelves and 1,750-pound total weight capacity because it has over 172,575 five-star-ratings, uses a tool-free assembly and has a plethora of promising reviews. And if this five-shelf size doesn't fit what you're looking for, you can also grab it in three- and four-shelf options as well as narrow sizing. (Kienzle recommended avoiding any type of standing shelf that rocks or won't sit solidly on the ground. This popular wire shelving rack from Amazon comes in an option with rolling casters — just be sure to secure the two locking wheels when you're not moving it.)
The Container Store
A pre-designed wall-mounted storage solution
Christel Ferguson, the professional organizer behind Space to Love in Los Angeles, said that for areas like the garage or basement, having proper and designated shelving that utilizes all the vertical space is important.

"My go-to garage and basement organization would be the Elfa system at The Container Store. They are easy to design and have all the accessories you would need for garage and basement storage to keep you organized," Ferguson said.

The Elfa System not only offers a wide selection of pre-designed storage solutions for spaces like your garage, closet or pantry, but you can also customize your own storage space based on your specific organization or design needs, or simply buy storage components to fill in where you need. This pre-designed space in particular includes a number of drawers, shelving and hanging spaces to keep even the smallest tool easy to find for next time.
A highly rated tool rack and shelving set
In line with Ferguson's recommendation of capitalizing on vertical wall space, we found this nearly perfectly rated five-star rack and shelving set that features a fully adjustable mounting bar and six hanging attachments to securely hold yard tools, extension cords and more. Constructed of steel, the hanging rack and the shelf can hold up to 300 pounds total and come with all the mounting hardware needed to install.
A latching mounted cabinet
In a recent garage organization job of Hartranft's, she selected cabinets with latches to secure items, which she said can be especially important in areas that are earthquake-prone. We found this latching wall-mounted cabinet that's constructed of alloy steel, has double locking doors and one interior shelf.
An impeccably rated external hard drive for digital storage
"I'd like to emphasize the importance of managing paperwork in [garage and basement] spaces, " Hartranft said. "Efficient digital or selective physical record-keeping can save a lot of space and hassle." She suggests reaching out to your accountant to know what physical paper records are worth keeping and which can be securely disposed of or transferred over to electronic storage.

For the latter, we found this Western Digital external hard drive that has garnered a whopping 215,885 five-star-ratings and comes in four different storage options. This portable and compact backup disc promises to transfer all your sensitive data to the drive at maximum speed and has a standard USB port to be compatible with nearly all of your electronic devices.

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