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How to Free Up Your Garage So It’s Actually Usable

When was the last time you actually used your garage for, well, parking cars? A garage is a wonderful luxury to have, especially if you live in regions of the country that get frigid in the winter, but it’s useless if you simply use it as an extension of your attic.

If you want to put your garage to better use, it’s time that you make storage and organization a priority.

Six Garage Organization Tips

According to one survey, 53 percent of American households have a garage, but only 24 percent use them for parking cars. That means three out of four garages are used for purposes other than storing and protecting vehicles, which indicates a larger problem.

“People take great pride in their homes – organizing, decorating and showing off various rooms of their house, especially on social media,” home improvement expert Karl Champley says. “But the garage is the forgotten room of the home and those same people who are proud of their home are embarrassed by how the garage looks.”

The vast majority of people – 92 percent, to be exact – describe their home as being somewhat or very organized. However, 25 percent are embarrassed by their garage, and nearly one-third keep their garage door shut so neighbors can’t see the mess. One out of five homeowners have even gotten into a fight with their spouse over garage cleanliness and organization.

These statistics may or may not surprise you, but it’s pretty clear that something needs to change. If you want to free up your garage so that it’s actually usable, you need a game plan.

1. Get Rid of What You Don’t Need

The very first step to reclaiming your garage is getting rid of things you don’t need. If you haven’t taken inventory of what’s in your garage in a while, then you probably don’t realize how much useless stuff is taking up space.

The best way to approach a situation like this is to make four piles. The first pile is for things that can immediately be thrown away or taken to the dump. The second pile is for items that you definitely want to keep – lawn equipment, tools, auto parts, etc.

The third pile is for things that you no longer want, but that are too valuable to throw away. These items can be donated to charity. You can even have a service conveniently come pick them up for you. The fourth pile is for things you want, but don’t have room for in your garage. These large items – like appliances – can be cost-effectively stored in a self-storage unit. Storage units can be as cheap as $30 a month – so, they’re definitely worth the investment.

2. Utilize Wall and Overhead Storage

Once you’ve cleared out the junk and taken inventory of what you really need to store in your garage, it’s time to focus on organization. The great thing about a garage is that you have all sorts of wall and overhead storage that can be used to keep things off the ground. Some strategically placed cabinets – as well as shelving above the garage door – can do wonders for even the smallest garages.

3. Invest in an Outdoor Shed

A lot of homeowners store lawn equipment in their garages, which tends to result in oil leaks, accumulation of yard debris, and a variety of unwanted stenches. If you have room in your back or side yard, it may be a worthwhile investment to build an outdoor shed to store these items. It’ll cost you a little bit of money, but the payoff will be well worth it.

4. Organize Into Zones

If you’re unable to build an outdoor shed and need to use your garage as room for storing a variety of items (including your car), you’ll have to get creative. One strategy that organization experts suggest is dividing the garage into zones with specific areas for things like lawn equipment, tools, sporting goods, hobbies, etc. This ensures you aren’t just throwing everything into the same corner.

5. Build Outdoor Storage for Trash

A lot of neighborhoods have language in their homeowner’s association bylaws that prohibit storing trashcans outside. As a result, you may be required to keep yours in the garage. Unfortunately, trashcans and recycling bins can take up valuable space.

While there’s no perfect solution, you may be able to get away with building your own outdoor storage container for your trash bins. You can find a variety of DIY plans on Pinterest, so see if this may be something you’re interested in.

6. Hire a Professional

If all else fails and you can’t figure out how to get your garage organized in an efficient manner, try hiring a professional. There are actually companies that specialize in garage organization and can help you find the right storage solutions and strategies that work for your situation. If you’re a busy person – or don’t have a knack for organization – this will be money well spent.

Reclaim Your Garage

It’s time that you start treating your garage like any other room in your house. It should be clean, organized, and useful for the purpose it’s designed to serve. Hint: that means parking vehicles. Instead of keeping your door shut and constantly feuding with your spouse, let this be the year that you take a proactive step towards creating an organized garage.

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