Cluttered Garage? Custom Designers Give Their Best Organization Tips

Cluttered garage

Every house has at least one of these: A junk drawer with its random collection of items, tools, papers, and supplies that just don’t seem to fit any other category; a closet whose door is best left closed so as not to remind you of the disorganization therein; or a garage that has devolved to the point where it is the biggest collection of clutter in your house. A cluttered drawer might be something you can live with and a cluttered closet might require some attention. However, a cluttered garage is no longer fulfilling its purpose and needs immediate attention. One statistic estimates that one in four garages has no space to park a car.

This weekend is the perfect time in Falls Church to bring organization back to your garage. To help you achieve this goal, we offer some of the best garage organization tips for Northern Virginia but begin with the caveat that, depending upon the state of your garage, the process may take more than a weekend.  

Best Tips for Organizing a Cluttered Garage

Tip #1: Get Rid of Things You No Longer Need

Unlike other rooms in your house which have a single purpose—sleep, bathing, cooking—the garage is a multipurpose space. Over the years you’ve put so many different things in the garage, simply because that’s where you had space. And the garage is the place where the “I might need that someday” mentality prevails. According to famed organization expert Marie Kondo, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” While we don’t want to be too philosophical about this process, be ruthless in assessing your inventory. Reclaim the space in your cluttered garage by hosting a sale, donating, taking household hazardous waste to designated locations in Fairfax County, and even storing items you can’t afford to part with off-site.

Tip #2: Some Things Are Best Stored Elsewhere

After you’ve completed your inventory and disposed of unwanted items, take another look at what remains. It’s likely there are some items that really don’t belong in the garage. In many homes, the garage is the “last resort” for storing items. This Old House magazine recommends you find alternative locations for these items to help maintain their quality:

  • Paints: If your garage is not heated or well-insulated, the extremes of the Virginia summers and winters can cause paint to deteriorate; a basement is a better long-term storage environment.

  • Paper goods: Garage dampness often renders these items useless; picnic supplies, crafts, photos are best preserved within the consistent climate of the house.   

  • Pet food: Your fur babies will appreciate that you care enough to keep some of their favorite foods fresh and dry.

garage storage system

Tip #3: Group by Function

The remaining items in your garage should be grouped according to function. This approach makes it easier to find the item, as well as access it. In a cluttered garage, many an hour is wasted looking for an item you know you have but just can’t find. Hardware and accessories are available for every conceivable category of equipment you may have.

  • Tools: The most used items should be readily accessible. Magnetic holders for wrenches, saws, screwdrivers, pliers; Slatwall systems with tongue-in-groove channels hold hooks and baskets to keep tools right-at-hand. Custom-built wall cabinets are ideal for organizing hand-held power tools and their accessories.

  • Auto supplies: Metal shelving and baskets organize car care items, fluids, cleaning supplies, and accessories for easy accessibility.

  • Two-wheeled transit: Vertical and horizontal bike racks or even the all-purpose “J” hook can elevate bicycles to improve floor space and utilize vertical space.

  • Sporting goods: Keep balls in baskets, bins, or nets that come in myriad sizes to prevent the world’s best toy from getting underfoot. Bats and lacrosse gear are also candidates for bin management.

  • Yard & Garden: Wall hooks for long-handled garden implements, baskets for hand implements, and metal storage shelves for garden supplies make yard care all the more enjoyable from spring through fall.

Tip #4: Exploit the Luxury of Overhead Space

Often ignored because it’s inaccessible (or just open and empty), overhead space can now be reclaimed with storage racks. Seldom-used items (if woodworking is your hobby, you likely have more than a few board feet of lumber), seasonal items (your ever-growing collection of Christmas lights, inflatables, and all the electric infrastructure to bring them to life), and even human-powered watercraft can rest peacefully during off-season, and be easily accessed whenever you need them. In light of these needs, architects are allocating more space for overhead garage storage in Northern Virginia. Most newer homes are designed with generous vertical space in the garage. Custom designed storage racks are the key to optimizing this space.

custom garage storage

Tip #5: A Garage is Much More than Storage Space

No less authority than Car & Driver offers guidance on garage organization and design. For many of you, a garage is much more than storage space. You spend hours tinkering, creating, and building there. The American garage has been the seed-bed for many successful companies—Amazon, Apple, Harley-Davidson, HP, Mattel to name a few. Car & Driver takes a philosophical perspective when it advises “know thyself,” observing that “A garage is a place where hobbies happen—enable them… make sure to set aside space for the particulars of the hobby. And plan the storage so you don't trip over your hobby every day.” A very good point to consider.  

You’ve Decluttered Your Garage, Now Consider the Best Design

Since much of our guidance has been focused on bringing better organization to a cluttered garage, here’s a tip about overall design. Influential author and design advocate Ralph Caplan states: “Thinking about design can be hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.” In the case of your garage, a custom design will help you avoid disaster, maintain organization, and achieve the optimum use and enjoyment.

If you view your garage as much more than storage space it will be well worth the time and investment to schedule a free consultation with our professional designers who are focused on garage organization systems in Northern Virginia. They can consult with you to understand your unique interests, storage, and accessibility needs. In most cases, a 3D interactive model of your garage can be developed during the consultation. Every garage storage system comes with our exclusive transferable warranty for double the life of your home.

Lead image source: Flikr user Les Chatfield