garage organizer
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Garages tend to become dumps for just about everything. Because they are big open spaces, they’re easy targets for that suitcase that won’t fit in the closet, the rollerblades your daughter doesn’t want to throw away yet, the sewing machine you need to give back to your neighbor, and anything else that doesn’t have a set place.National Clean Out Your Garage Day, the Saturday after Labor Day, is a perfect time to roll up your sleeves and dive head first into the clutter. Follow these 6 tips from Houzz users and home professionals to clean your way to a neat and organized garage.

1. Use as much vertical and ceiling space as possible

This rule is particularly important if you’re planning to actually park your car here. Make sure that you’ll have room for your car without running into or onto anything. For Houzz user Janet Henry in Illinois, getting everything up and off of the floor was a priority, so getting rid of as much junk as possible was a must. “The biggest challenge was just getting started,” she says. After a yard sale, it took her three days to paint the walls, scour the floor, and paint the cabinetry to get the garage spic and span. “I make it a point to sweep it out and wipe things up every week. I want it to stay nice for a long time,” she says.

The main goal for Janet was to create a space that was clean, organized, and presentable when the garage door was open. Luckily, she has a shed and a basement where any extra-large equipment can go. This is a great solution for anyone who has a smaller garage; small storage sheds can be built and installed relatively inexpensively. “Just driving into a nice, clean space is great,” she says.

Getting as much off of floor as possible was also a big priority for Sarah of the blog Thrifty Decor Chick. Her garage had become like so many others: a place to store every possible bit of clutter. She picked up some holders from the hardware store for brooms, rakes, mops — anything with a handle. Heavy-duty hooks took care of the rest.

Originally, Sarah had bought some simple open-wire shelving for the back of her garage — but the open shelves actually ended up discouraging organization. Everyone would shove things onto the shelves, until they became a mishmash of random belongings. This time around, she decided to invest in a few storage pieces from Target. The simple, closed cabinetry made all the difference.

2. Before reorganizing, try taking everything out of your garage

Looking at the space you have as a blank canvas can give you a better idea of what you’re working with. Houzz user Ivan Prefer of Hillsdale, New Jersey has a vertical storage setup similar to the previous two garages, but has also incorporated a neat and tidy workshop area towards the back. Working with a clean slate can help you decide which areas are best to designate for certain activities.

3. Decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw away

When you find yourself questioning a particular item, ask yourself :
Do I love it?
Do I need it?
When was the last time I used this?
If I donated it, could it be safely used by another person?
Clearing out clutter is incredibly satisfying, and odds are you won’t really miss that fifth spare tennis racket. When in doubt, donate or toss it. Recycle as much as possible, and be sure to dispose of paint and other hazardous waste safely.

4. Group like items together so they’re easy to find

For Chris Carey from Just a Girl, the garage in her Michigan home was a tricky space because it’s also the primary way that most people use to enter the home. She decided that even though it was a garage, it didn’t necessarily have to look like one.

A few coats of paint, metal shelving and some cute decals for the door completely transformed the space without spending a lot of money. Chris decided to put the items that they’d mostly need for in-house use on the larger wire shelf, including drinks, paper towels and toilet paper, and other cleaning materials.

Like Chris, Erin of Sunny Side Up tends to use her garage door as the main entrance for her home — so it often becomes a gathering place for shoes and coats.

A neat and tidy shoe and coat rack encourages her children to place their own clothes in the right place and makes it easy when searching for that much-loved pair of pink Velcro sneakers. Storage on the ceiling and walls saves room for larger items, and things that are used on a daily basis.

5. Decide which area of the garage is going to be used for what purpose

Think carefully about what you want your garage to be used for, and the best possible way that this space can be divided up.

For Houzz user Mikki Lesowitz-Soliday of Sherman Oaks, Calif., the priority was to clean out her garage and transform it into a studio where her craft group and classes could meet. However, space still had to be allotted for storage and workout equipment. By dividing up the room into zones, she was able to create a setup that made sense and was still neat and organized.

Mikki’s biggest challenge was trying to figure out what to do with the extra-large items, which included four bicycles, lawn equipment and lots of luggage. Instead of attempting to cram every little thing in her space, they built a long, narrow shed for those items along the side of the garage. That left space for two large tables, a sewing station, and plenty of art and craft supplies.

“I have loads of storage, which I recognize is a real luxury,” she says. “But I’m always purging. Everything from art supplies to my kids’ clothes. I think it’s the key to staying organized!”

6. Label absolutely everything

Another shot from Erin’s garage shows how taking the time to label each and every drawer and shelf can make a world of difference. Tired of drawers and bins full of a hodgepodge of nails, screws, and bolts, Erin took the time to organize each individual piece by type and label accordingly. Tedious? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

Since sewing involves so many bits and pieces, it’s easy for a sewing station to become a tangled mess of thread, pins and needles. Instead of letting the chaos pile up, Mikki decided to prevent it by creating a space for everything. Scissors, pins, fabric, thread spools, and every other sewing necessity has its own labeled and special spot.

What’s sitting in your garage right now? Do you have plans to tackle the mess? Or have you already sifted through the clutter to create a new space? Share your before and after photos below!

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