It's the Bermuda Triangle of organization, the place household clutter goes to die: The garage.
If your garage is anything like ours, it's jammed with plastic storage bins that you purchased with great enthusiasm. Sadly, stuffing junk into boxes only gets us so far, according to organizational experts. "Moving into a larger house isn't as easy as it used to be," says Steve Artinian, of Los Angeles-based Garage Envy, which specializes in garage storage solutions, "so people are maximizing their space and garages are being used to do that."
First step, of course, is weeding out the stuff we no longer want, need, or use and organizing the rest. (No easy task.) Then, the experts say, we need to go beyond the bins. We need solutions that allow us to reclaim precious square footage, create functional systems and maximize our space.
And one easy way to do that is to use the walls and even the ceilings.
So if you really want some extra room for that home gym/craft studio/game room/shoe closet/man cave you've been dreaming about, here is some inspiration for taming the clutter in your garage once and for all:
UP, UP AND AWAY
"The greatest value in the garage is overhead storage," says Gus Gougas, president of Los Angeles-based OrganizIt, which offers industrial racks that hang from ceiling joints and add loads of extra storage space that can be utilized for specialized storage such as seasonal items, camping gear and luggage, or the "things you touch two or three times a year … it's not for stuff you want to access every day." Here are some ideas for doing just that, so shop around and find the products that work for your particular needs:
Surfboards are lifted out of the way with rack from Los Angeles-based AAA Garage Storage Solutions, $70 for a set.
CLIMBING THE WALLS
Vertical wall space is key for organization, and Gougas says cabinetry is the answer for those who don't want a visual reminder of the stuff they are storing. When selecting cabinetry, make sure it will withstand the weight of the stored items. Heavy stuff (paint cans, cases of soda, power tools, canned goods, equipment) should be stored on sturdy shelving (at least 1 inch to 1.5 inch thickness) with a strong backing. Cabinets raised off the ground allow for easy cleaning underneath. And remember to take necessary steps to make sure your shelving and cabinetry installation meet earthquake preparedness guidelines.
Slatted wall systems with hanging hooks, baskets and shelves make the most of vertical storage and provide easy access. The PVC slats, which are installed directly onto exposed studs or drywall, feature tongue-and-groove connections and are fire-retardant, waterproof, mildew-resistant and termite-proof. "The beauty of it is you've got all these accessories that snap right in and you can go up or down … whatever you want, whenever you want," Gougas said. A case of 8 foot by 12 inch panels from OrganizIt start at $239.99.
CREATING A WORKSPACE
One of the many benefits of whipping the garage into shape? A clutter-free workspace for woodworking, gardening, crafting and beyond. Traditional workbenches are always popular. Another option: Collapsible shelving. The Monkey Bars line from AAA Garage Storage Solutions folds flat to the wall when not in use, $70 per running foot with a minimum installation of 4 feet.
FINALLY, THE FLOOR SHOW
Once all clutter is gone and you can see the concrete floor again, you might even have some energy left over to polish that up as well.
Gougas suggests that you choose carefully: Applying regular "paint on concrete will fail within months." You want something that will bond to the concrete, he said. OrganizIt's most popular floor treatment is Liquid Granite epoxy, which is applied with a topcoat after diamond-headed grinders strip the floor. "It's like sanding a piece of wood before you paint it," he said. Prices vary.