I’ve discovered that people with garages and people without them usually have the same complaint:

“I don’t have anywhere to put all my stuff,” cries the homeowner without a garage.

“I still don’t have anywhere to put all my stuff,” says the homeowner with the garage.

It’s a common problem: The garage you thought would provide ample space for projects and storage somehow filled up with junk. It’s equivalent to having a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear.

Put Your Garage to Work

More often than not, families resort to using a countertop or dining room table as a project workspace. But as soon as all the materials for the project are out and organized, they inevitably need to be scooped up and shoved into boxes so the room can be used for its intended purpose.From school projects to hobbies to work-from-home scenarios, this clutter-inducing practice happens over and over again.

An organized garage can be the perfect place for in-home projects, including home-based businesses or packing and shipping endeavors. The garage is also a suitable environment for messy projects best done outside of the house, such as those involving paint, wood finishing, mechanics or gardening work.

Here’s how to convert your garage into a workable space that will improve your home life and overall efficiency:

Garage Clutter

Conquer Clutter First

My first rule of organizing is to not waste valuable space with useless clutter. Don’t store anything you don’t have to keep. Unless it’s sentimental, donate or sell items you haven’t used in over a year. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “but I might need it someday”—because what you need today is the space it has stolen from you!

If you’re truly just storing things that you can’t get rid of but don’t ever use, consider relocating them to an offsite storage facility.

Clear the Air

Don’t write off the garage because you think it is too hot, too cold, too humid or too buggy. There are practical solutions for all of these issues.

Ductless air-conditioners and space heaters can make a garage comfortable without having to connect to an existing unit. Window units or ceiling fans are great options for cooling, and dehumidifiers can take care of any excess moisture.

Project Space

Create a Project Space

Designate a corner or side of the garage as your project area. You can even visibly mark this territory with painter’s tape on the floor so that bikes and other items don’t encroach into it.

Begin by installing a work surface suitable for your particular type of project, as well as your preferred seating. Use some of the wall space in your project area for tools and materials that you’ll need by hanging hooks and shelves to hold them. You can even use shelving as a room divider that delineates your workspace from the rest of the garage.

Once you’ve moved things out of the way and set up your project space, you’ll be ready to efficiently stack and store the rest of the garage items separately.

Go Vertical

Make the most of your available square feet by capitalizing on empty wall space. The more you can store on the walls, the more room you’ll have on the floor for larger objects and your workspace. Wall-mounted shelving, pegboards with hooks and rail-type mounted organizers all offer great vertical storage options.

Veritcal

Rethink Shelving

I find that most homeowners think garage shelving has to hug the walls. But there isn’t any reason you can’t choose sturdy, free-standing shelving, as long as you are sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions. If you do not park a car in your garage, maximize storage space by adding shelves in an aisle design with walkways in between. With the proper shelving system in place, you can transform your sloppy garage into the work and storage space of your dreams.

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Lea Schneider