Designing a Functional Garage: Top Tips from a Professional Organizer

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been designing a functional garage for one of our amazing clients. And two other clients have the same request.

As you can imagine, it’s dirty, heavy, and tedious work. That’s probably why so many people put it off. However, parking two cars in a two-car garage (especially during Nova Scotian winters) makes it worth all the effort. If you’re ready to start a garage organizing project, read through my top tips.

Declutter First

You know the drill: Any successful organizing project starts with decluttering. This means the first step is sorting through your items and deciding what to keep, donate, or throw away. Even though it’s challenging, be ruthless about what you let go of! If you haven’t used something in a year (or more), it might be time to say goodbye to those items. Clearing the clutter will give you a clean space to work with. Additionally, it will make organizing the items you keep much easier.

Zone Your Space

Divide your garage into zones based on function. For example, you might have a zone for recycling, one for gardening supplies, another for tools, and yet another area for sports equipment. When you group similar items, it will be easier to find what you need. Once you establish the zones, spend time figuring out the best storage solution for the contents of each zone. Ideally, the storage solutions you choose should also help delineate the zones.

Use Vertical Space

Look up – way up! The walls and ceiling in your garage are valuable storage areas! Getting as much as possible up off the floor is essential. Maximizing vertical storage space is a great way to keep frequently used items within easy reach. It also frees up floor space for larger items like cars and bicycles.

slatwall system holding garage tools off the floor is helpful when designing a functional garage
Using a slat-wall system holding garage tools off the floor is helpful when designing a functional garage.

Invest in Storage Solutions

If you declutter and sort your garage items but don’t put proper storage solutions in place, it will quickly return to a state of chaos. Therefore, when designing a functional garage, you should consider storage solutions as an investment. Plenty of storage solutions are available to help you organize your garage efficiently and maximize the space. These include:

Look for durable solutions that can withstand fluctuating temperatures and humidity while staying within your budget.

Create a Functional Workstation

If you use your garage as a workshop or hobby space, dedicate an area for your tools and projects. Install a sturdy workbench with plenty of storage underneath for tools and supplies. Choose carefully and always measure your space before purchasing anything.

a sturdy workbench with storage is handy creating a functional garage
A sturdy workbench with built-in storage is essential in a functional garage.

Regular Maintenance

Designing a functional garage is the first step. The next step is to make it a habit to keep things tidy. Otherwise, all that hard work was for nothing.

The most important rule is to put things back where they belong as soon as you finish with them. Do not leave items out of place “just in case” you need them again. Return items to their designated zones after each use will ensure clutter does not accumulate. Encourage family members to return items, too. Of course, it is much easier to do when you add labels to every shelf and bin so everyone knows where each item belongs. Staying on top of regular maintenance ensures your garage remains organized and functional for years.

Decluttering and organizing a garage can be dirty and tiresome work. However, holding onto the vision of the finished space for inspiration will help you slog through the process. I promise that designing a functional garage into a well-organized and efficient space will be worth the effort.

Jane’s Decluttering Tip: Most municipalities (including Halifax) have an app that tells residents when their garbage and recycling collection days are and which items go in which waste stream. Download your city’s app so you never miss your waste collection day.

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