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Reclaim the garage

How to organize the storage – and still have room for the car

By Mary G. Pepitone
Universal Uclick

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  • Garage zones

    Tools: Start with a workbench and add tool storage as needed. Mount most-used tools on the wall or put into accessible, labeled drawers or cabinets.

    Automotive: Store motor oil, coolant, etc., in a cabinet that’s out of the reach of kids and pets.

    Sports center: Hang ball bats, golf bags, etc., with lockers for each child as an option.

    Lawn and garden: Rolling bins can store soil and fertilizer. A potting station can anchor the space with garden tools on the wall.

    Storage: Garage ceilings can vault up to 14 feet, which means a permanent platform, storage track system and hooks can keep items off the floor for good.



Manufacturers are rolling out new organizing options that can give your garage a complete overhaul, transforming it from a catch-all to a cleared car park as it was intended – and much more.

“The garage can become a neglected space in the house,” says Marc Shuman, president of GarageTek, a garage-organization company based in Melville, N.Y. “And it doesn’t take long to load garages with junk, to the point where it can be hard to park the car inside.”

An attached garage door – rather than a home’s front door – has evolved into the primary way families move both in and out of the house. This means that keeping the garage clean can become a safety issue, especially with children and seniors.

“You don’t want paint thinner, antifreeze and sharp tools on the floor where people or pets can get hurt,” Shuman says. “The more you can get things off the floor, the easier it is to organize the garage.”

GarageTek has been in business for more than a decade. Shuman implements strategies he learned in a previous job as a designer of department store interiors and applies those concepts to garage organization. Using a “slatwall” system – which features grooved channels like store display walls – you can slide modular shelving, hooks, bins and cabinetry into place without using nails.

Although GarageTek sells individual organizational pieces, an entire GarageTek personalized system – as deemed by a professional consultant – can be completed in days, but can come at a price of up to $12,000.

Doing it yourself

For those homeowners who know how they want their garage organized, home-improvement warehouses now have expanded garage sections, with choices of modular workbenches and cabinets on wheels. And local hardware stores can still be an excellent resource, selling pegboards and vinyl-covered utility hooks that can be used to hang bicycles, support shelving or large tools.

No matter the level of your garage upgrade, Shuman says the first step to any home organizational project is to clear away the clutter. That means donating outgrown sporting gear, properly disposing of unused hazardous chemicals ( earth911) and discarding broken items that will never be fixed.

After everything is off the garage floor, Shuman says the project needs to begin from the ground up. Badly broken concrete flooring may need to be re-poured, but creating a clean surface can be as easy as installing an epoxy floor coating or laying interlocking, reinforced polypropylene tiles, designed for heavy-duty garage usage.

“The tiles come in many colors, so you can visually place them on the garage floor in the shape of a rectangle to show where parked cars go,” he says. “You can also have stops for tires placed on the floor, so drivers know where to park when pulling vehicles into the garage.”

A multi-use space

After shedding items from the garage, Shuman encourages homeowners to think of the space in terms of a department store layout. “One reason a garage can get cluttered quickly is that it can have many uses – a gardening shed, sporting goods center, workshop with tool bench and storage unit,” he says. “Figure out how you want the space to work and divide it into zones to organize like items together.”

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