It's spring! And with spring comes the itch to clean out and clean up (get our FREE Spring Cleaning Checklist HERE).
The garage is one of the most requested spaces we are hired for at Reset Your Nest. Garages can be super intense physically, dirty, take a lot of man-hours, and are tricky to figure out. However, an organized garage can also make a huge difference in your daily life. Whether you are trying to fit another car in your garage, make a system so kid toys don’t reign supreme, or find a way to accommodate an ever-growing tool collection, take some time before you dive into the how-tos of this process and really think about what you want out of your garage.
If you could have the garage of your dreams, what would that look like? Would it have matching bins? Would it have no shelving and perfectly parked bikes? Would it have an entire area dedicated to tools and DIY/home projects? Would it be a place for family members to drop their shoes off before coming into the home? Your garage is likely the last view you have of your home when you leave in the morning and the first view you have when you get home. It certainly doesn’t need to be the most beautiful place, but it shouldn't be a place that causes you stress and overwhelm every time you see it either.
Garage Organization 101
Step 1: Get the Best Garage Organization Products
If you are looking to uplevel your garage, purchasing consistent containers is key. Here are the containers I recommend in garages:
OUR boxes: These are my go-to for storage rooms and garages. I usually tend to organize with a combination of OUR boxes and Multipurpose bins and the two products look very nice together. There are many different sizes, they are clear and acid-free.
Room Essentials Clear Totes: This is a budget-friendly option that Target carries. Much more affordable than the OUR boxes and there are still a few sizes to work with.
Clear Weathertight Totes: These are very sturdy, come in 7 modular sizes, and are great for both garages and storage rooms.
Sterilite black stacker totes: These are heavy-duty, come in multiple sizes and are great in garages. If you prefer opaque bins that are more rugged, this is a great option.
White plastic stacking bins with lids: These do not come in very large sizes, but are great for storage rooms with narrow shelves. I have coupled this product with White Sterilite Bins which have larger options. The lids of the white plastic stacking bins with lids do not secure to the container but are a nice option depending on the space.
Multipurpose bins: I love using these to store items that need to be accessed easily: car washing supplies, ratchet straps, lawn care items, pest prevention, cleaning supplies, bike tools, etc.
White bins with handles: These serve the same function as multipurpose bins but with different dimensions. If this size works better on your shelves (or cabinets) or you prefer the opaque look, this is a great option for you.
See the difference bins make in this before + after?
Tip: Just like your storage room, if your garage is in need of shelving, measure your shelves before ordering your products. Make sure that the bins you are going to be using the most fit the direction you would like on the shelf. I love using wire shelves for multipurpose bins and big gorilla shelves for storage totes when possible.
Specialty Garage Products
These products are not used or needed in every job, but ones I get asked about a lot when sharing transformations.
Rail with hooks: If you can find the wall space, a rail with hooks is always a good idea. You can buy them almost anywhere, they are easy to install, and you can typically find many different attachments for each system out there so you can hold anything from a rake or shovel to a leaf blower and weed trimmer.
Slat wall. We have a slat wall and I love it because it is so versatile. It is super easy for kids to maintain a system where they can see everything. I can mix things up and no one is holding me to my original system not working. Here is a slat wall option on Amazon.
Floating shelves. I love having floating shelves above our workbench. We store multipurpose bins with extra tools, car washing stuff, bike repair items, and straps on those shelves.
Scooter stands: These are awesome and every time I share about them, people go crazy for them
Ski rack: Having a place to put your skis safely and neatly is so nice and easily accomplished with this ski rack.
Ball storage: ball rack- I love this ball rack because it secures to the wall and doesn’t take up much space, but also holds 7 balls that are easy to get to.
Ladder hooks: I love getting ladders off the floor and giving them a home. This is one of my favorite ladder hooks for small to medium-sized ladders.
Bike stand: Here are two options I like if you want your family to have the ability to park their bike without much effort. This is supposed to be able to park 6 bikes and this one is for 5 bikes. This is a wall rack bike system that provides some flexibility but bikes can be a little more challenging to put away. I also love this bike hook option that allows you to store your bike on the wall horizontally.
Drawer organizers for top, more shallow drawers:
The Everything Organizer. These are my favorites! They have rubber feet on the bottom (so they don’t slide), sharp corners at the top (giving them a tight connection), and come in a lot of different modular sizes (in increments of 3”). They are also clear and easy to contain spills and wipe clean. They can add up quickly in cost but are my first choice.
This is a great budget-friendly option from Target, but they are only sold in stores and only come in 4 sizes. They usually have a few color options as well.
Deep drawer organizers:
The idesign deep drawer organizers are my favorite option for the same reasons as the everything organizer. They come in increments of 4”.
Step 2: Empty the Garage and Sort Through Items
Organizing your garage can be a huge project. Have you ever organized your garage before…only to have it back to chaos a few weeks later? I am not promising you that your kids will magically park their bikes in the designated spot or that your spouse will put his/her tools away…but if you really view this project as a complete reset of your space and empty the entire thing out first, it WILL make all the difference. It makes the job feel a lot more daunting in the beginning, but it also allows you to have complete control about what goes back in and where it goes.
Here are some categories we see the most in garages and our top tips for editing and how to best sort and organize them.
Paint, tile, hardware, house maintenance supplies: Think hard about what you are keeping and if it is something you need. Is your paint labeled in a way you can find the colors for specific rooms? Do you have boxes of leftover tile or flooring? A few pieces are a good idea to keep after a remodeling…but you probably don’t need to keep much more than that.
Camping gear: All the same organizing principles apply here. Organizing camping gear never feels like fun after a camping trip, but if you have bins that are neatly labeled, it will be easier. Sleeping bags, mats, cooking gear, lanterns, and other camping essentials are just some ideas for categories.
Hobbies: Shooting, fishing, boating, motorcycling…whatever it is, putting your supplies in bins that are labeled and easy to grab makes packing up for any activity so much easier.
Gardening and lawn care: Sort through all the miracle grow, fertilizer, seed, and anything else that might be lurking from years past. If you use it, great. If it is old, almost gone, or never used, get rid of it. S
Outside seasonal decor: Christmas lights, big blow-up characters, and other fun things can be awkward to store and take up a lot of space. Use large bins to contain as much as possible. Use a large garbage sack to cover whatever can’t be contained. If you have a ceiling rack, these are the types of things that are best stored here because they are only accessed once a year.
Big awkward things: snowblower, lawnmower, spreader. These can be the bane of anyone’s existence. Be strategic about how you layout your garage. When everything is out of the garage, plan where cars will be parked, where bikes and scooters will ideally be parked, and where you will have wall space to hang items as well as park big items. Some things (like spreaders) can be easily dismantled or even hung on a wall fully assembled. Think of options available besides just parking those items with everything else.
Sporting equipment: If it doesn’t get played with, consider only putting in your garage what your family actually uses. Hooks are a great way to store tennis and pickleball bags, helmets
Shoes: I personally love keeping the majority of shoes in the garage. If you are like me and don’t have a mudroom, create a makeshift one! You can use cube storage to give each family member a spot with a bin for their shoes and add hooks as well. You can also make lockers of your own. I have loved getting all the sporting backpacks, teenage boy shoes, and winter clothes out of my house.
Kid bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, electric toys, etc: Rollerblades can go on a shelf or actually fit quite nicely in an XL multipurpose bin. The other things are best with a specific home created with them in mind. Skateboards are awesome hung on a wall and bike and scooter storage products were shared earlier.
Tip: label each charger if you have a lot of electric hobby or play cars. We had one client where we created a garage of sorts for all their electric toys. We labeled all the cords, wrapped the cords tight enough that they could be plugged in but in a way they weren’t getting tangled with others. Then we mounted a surge protector to the wall and labeled where each plug should go in order of where we wanted each toy to be lined up on the floor. It was a system that helped that particular family create expectations out of a situation that felt out of control.
Step 3: Garage Clean Out Day!
You have the vision, you bought the product, you emptied, edited, and sorted…now make it come to life. Hang your new systems or hooks on the wall, park what you need to, put your sorted piles in the right sized bins, and finish with labels.
I love good garage transformations and have literally seen grown men get weepy seeing their garages completely change in one day. It is one of my favorite transformations I get to witness on the job and I hope everything I’ve shared will give you the ability to create a similar transformation in your own space.
Jen is the founder of Reset Your Nest, a Professional Home Organizing business in Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves creating order and systems out of chaos. Her specialty is finding a way to continue the aesthetic of any home to every cupboard and drawer. She shares her tips and tricks on Instagram @reset_your_nest.