If, upon opening your garage door, a low-pitched voice inside your head proclaims, “This week on hoarders…” it may be time to tackle the burden of clutter.
You’re not alone — an estimated one in four Americans say they can’t even park a car in their garage due to the mess. While there are plenty of DIY tutorials out there promising a clean, orderly garage, we thought it best to seek professional help. Dan Petcoff is the co-owner and operator of Tailored Living of Toronto, a company that specializes in customized storage solutions for the home and garage. Here are his six tips on how to organize the garage in a way that works for you.
1. Pinpoint your needs
Whether it’s a mud room, secondary pantry or a place to hang up your power tools, it’s best to have a concrete plan (pun intended) for the function of your space. “I recently worked with a customer who is an avid gardener,” said Petcoff. “She likes to pot plants so we installed slatwall for her gardening tools and a stainless steel countertop that allows her to assemble her pots in the garage.” Two green thumbs up!
2. Focus on flooring
“Many people think treating garage floors is kind of frivolous, but just think about how brutal the [Canadian] climate is — salt drips off cars and deteriorates the concrete, and it becomes difficult to maintain,” said Petcoff. He recommends using an epoxy treatment because it “seals the floor, gives it a nice protection and comes in a million different colors.” The flooring typically costs $6.50 to $7 per square foot, with high-end products topping out around $20 per square foot.
3. Create zones
While it might seem obvious, it’s important to store items in your garage according to how often you access them. “Things like seasonal decorations could be stored in tubs on an overhead rack, while items you use more frequently, like bikes, should be closer to the door or hooked on the wall,” said Petcoff. You might also want to make zones for sporting equipment, lawn and garden supplies, car care items and recycling/trash.
4. Utilize vertical space
“Vertical space is key, because there’s so much of it that’s unused in a garage,” said Petcoff. He suggests installing slatwall to give the space a “uniform look” while keeping tools and other equipment in their place. Cabinets are another popular choice, due to their storage capacities and security locks. Others prefer open shelving because it’s easier to access. “We can also do a combination of both [with cabinets and open shelving]. This keeps everyday items within reach, while hiding away things you might not use as often.”
5. Label everything
Photo: Emily May/Flickr
Seriously, you’ll never regret it. “Labeling is a huge part of the organization process,” insists Petcoff. Memories are fleeting, and you likely won’t remember what you stored in that cardboard box six months from now. Putting labels on shelves is also important, that way everything in your garage has its own place. “Think back on how you treated your garage before the makeover. Most of the time you probably just shoved an item in the garage and forgot about it, right? It never went anywhere because there wasn’t spot for it,” said Petcoff.
6. Get creative
Man Cave? She Shed? Playroom? Office? Let your mind wander — the garage isn’t just for cars anymore. “Garages are being turned into that ‘other room’ you don’t have, and one that you can be a little more careless with because it’s not inside the house,” said Petcoff. Another trend Petcoff has picked up on is the residential car lift. The owner’s sportier vehicle is placed on top while the everyday car is parked below. Think of it as your own personal Batcave.