Apart from its original function of sheltering a car or maybe more, your garage usually takes on a lot — such as tools, equipment and outdoor items, and the list can go on. Keeping it organized and functional is not necessarily unrealistic, even though you will need to dedicate some time to this project. You can even enlist the help of friends and family to help you organize it.

Here are some ideas to get your garage organized and back in shape:

1. Declutter and sort first

Know what you need to organize in your garage before you give it a makeover. To do that, go through everything in the garage and decide which items you want to keep, donate or even dispose of. Place them on tarps or simply mark your driveway with chalk to create dedicated zones. Look for broken items, expired chemicals, outgrown toys and items that haven’t seen use in more than two years and throw them out. Sort what you keep into categories that make sense to you and put them in the garage for now. For your surplus items, either have a yard sale or donate them to Goodwill. If your garage needs some repair, this is the time to do light renovations before organizing and putting everything back in its place.

garage sale sign

2. Mark your garage into storage areas

If needed, you can even draw a plan of your garage to determine how everything can fit. Consider the space your car will take when parked in the garage. As a general rule, decide which items can go together and which spot in the garage will serve them best. For instance, gardening supplies and too should sit by the door, and so should trash and recycling. Seasonal items can be stored out of the way, while household tools and hardware should be easy to reach. Items relegated to outdoor activities and toys should also be easily accessible.

3. Check for air leaks between garage and house

Before installing a garage organizer, make sure there are no gaps in the wall between your garage and your home and in the ceiling if your home extends above the garage. Cold or hot air can nestle in these spots, allowing moisture to seep into the walls of the home. Use caulk to seal for small gaps or spray foam for the larger ones.

4. Install wall-mounted shelves

There can never be too much room to store your garage items, so wall space is your best friend. There are many garage shelving ideas, but a wall-mounted shelf system will allow you to max out the vertical storage. For a sturdier option, install shelf brackets, which aren’t for closets only. They come with a rod-holding hook that’s practical — long tools and cords can comfortably sit here.

wal-mounted shelves with tools in a garage

5. Turn to metal shelves

For garages with concrete block walls, wall-mounted shelves are not a viable option. In this case, metal shelves are a great option, especially if you’re a renter — you can take them with you when you move out. They can hold heavier items like tools, so you never have to worry about anything falling off or shelves getting damaged from too much weight.

6. Add sliding shelves

Sliding shelves are another efficient use of your garage space as they help you store more and keep things organized at the same time. Long-handled tools and other sorts of items are the perfect candidates for this organization system that would have otherwise taken more wall space. Besides, they also keep everything nicely tucked away while keeping the garage neat looking.

7. Make the most of a wall organizer

A wall organizer is a great addition for your garage. You can hang small tools and other bits and pieces that need a home and also need to be easily reachable. Hang one above your workstation to help you when you do your projects.

garage wall organizer

8. Make use of a pegboard

It’s easy to find one, and you can cut it to match the desired size to fit your designated part of the wall. They can even be personalized in material (think wood panel or metal), color and even compatible hooks and small shelves. Make sure to use it for lightweight hand tools and other smaller items only, as hanging heavy objects are not suitable for it.

9. Welcome garage corner shelves

Besides the regular vertical storage that shelves or cabinets offer, you can also take advantage of the space your garage corners provide to add another storage corner. You can buy them or make your own shelves. All you need is scrap plywood, corner studs and 1×1 cleats for support. This new storage solution is ideal for glues, oil and other small items.

10. Find a spot for hanging baskets

Your reusable shopping bags, your umbrella and other frequently used items also need a temporary home in your garage. Install an organizer with baskets where everything you need on a daily basis can sit close to your reach. Make sure to place it close to the door so you can grab what you need on your way out.

11. Think of toy storage too

Dedicate an area of your garage to outdoor toys. Place an organizer with large bins where even balls and other large toys can fit. To encourage your kids to clean up, keep the bins, bike helmets and other outdoor gadgets at eye level.

12. Create a laundry corner

If your home doesn’t come with a laundry room and you happen to have an empty nook in the garage, you might easily turn it into a laundry space.

13. Keep the garage floor as clear as possible

Keeping most things off the floor will avoid mold formation and there will be fewer things to attract pests. Get a wall-mounted system to store odd-shaped objects such as gardening tools and hooks for sports equipment. Additionally, the wheelbarrow can be kept out of the way with a cleat. Shoes and boots should also be off the floor — a shoe rack works perfectly for this purpose!

garage with a clear floor

14. Befriend overhead storage

The ceiling is another excellent section of your garage that can accommodate a lot of items, whether it’s a ladder, a bike or seasonal clothing and sports equipment — just a few ceiling storage ideas, but you can definitely store other items too if you have the room. If you’re storing your seasonal clothing in bins, either pick clear ones to see their content or label them if you don’t prefer the see-through option. Despite all the practical ways to store belongings in a garage, you might find it hard to fit everything you don’t use there. For everything else that you wish to temporarily keep away from your home, you can turn to self storage. If you’re renting a storage unit in a cold Midwestern city like the Windy City, make sure to consider a climate-control storage unit in Chicago as cold winters might be harsh on household appliances or furniture unless they’re kept in a temperature-controlled environment. Most people rent a 10×10 unit, but you could look into a larger unit such as a 10×15 if you have big tools and furniture that needs to be temporarily stored.

15. Add outdoor storage

Your garage can hold a lot of the items you routinely use, but not everything can fit in this space. If your yard doesn’t come with a shed, you can always add an outdoor cabinet to store gardening tools and other outdoor items. You still need room for your car in the garage, right?

Did we help organize your closet? Let us know in the comments section below.


Mirela is a real estate writer and lifestyle editor for Yardi. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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