Organizing the garage…on the cheap

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My husband and I were stoked to live in our first home that actually had an attached garage. And as many will attest, it wasn’t because we wanted a place to put the car, hahaha… We have been blessed with a home that has both an attached garage, a hothouse/garden shed, and a barn and with that, my obsessive organizing has been able to go into high gear these past nearly two years since moving out to the country.

So with the “May showers” definitely cramping our gardening style this past weekend, I took organizing our garage to the next level this past week and thought I’d share some of the things that have made a big difference in finding, organizing, storing, and protecting all the “stuff”…and how we did it for next to nothing $$ !

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  • Pegboards. It took everything in my power not to have these in my kitchen, Julia Childs style. They’re great not just for small tools, but for all kinds of things, and insanely cheap at the big box home improvement stores. Fortunately, these ones were here when we arrived, sad and dusty and minimally used. So I got crackin’ on it and went to town on adding hooks, little hook-on baskets for things that don’t hang nicely, and heavy duty straight hangers for all of the portable power tools.

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  • Moving shelves around then using old boards to make more shelving. Seems basic but if you don’t like where the shelves are in a garage, move them! Makes all the difference in the world. Originally they were randomly scattered along the walls in here and so husband and I just took them all down and made three long shelves for the basics.

  • Organize by type. Yep, seems obvious as well but many who have garages/sheds treat them (like we have) like giant ‘junk drawers’ with stuff left wherever there happened to be an open space. So for our bottom shelf it became 100% paints and stains, the first quarter of the middle shelf being wood/floor treatments (fillers, hardeners, etc.) and the rest of it being all about screws, nails and related hardware. Because we both like to visually see everything, every time we have a leftover small glass jar, I snag it for organizing screws, then use a sharpie to label the glass. Love love LOVE it compared to crazy amounts of boxes of stuff. We only have a few left to move into jars and I’ll be able to exhale 🙂 The top shelf is for tall things and items less regularly accessed, like caulk, light bulbs, extra flashlights, and extra fire extinguishers (there were like 9 of them found on the property that we still have to check out to see if they’re any good…). Additionally, I’ve reused old plastic storage boxes a thousand times it seems over the years, ones that I’d originally bought to store shoes in my walk-in closet back in the city (until I realized no boots would fit in them, which were at least half my collection at the time). All that weird miscellaneous electrical stuff? Box and label it. All those weird bits and pieces of ‘just in case we need it someday’ plumbing goodies? Box and label it, baby.

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  • Hanging the power tool battery chargers. Many of us have these sloppy all over the place, on the floor, not remembering which one goes with which until desperation kicks in, and silly me just figured out they are all able to be mounted if you look at the back of them!

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  • Use every single bit of wall space and any old hook you can find. The last neighbor had gnarly old brass hooks in the house and red plastic thingamajig type hooks and we definitely took advantage.  Don’t have any hooks? Use nails! Two nails spaced fairly closely together will hold up a broom or a mop upside down (or just one nail if your item has a hole in the handle 🙂

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  • See-through crates kick serious arse! These ones in particular are my favorite because of the way they close, because I know exactly what’s in which, and because there is no darn way any type of rodent, should it dare come into our garage (so far, so good – knock on wood!), can make it’s way in there! How do I know? When we were moving out to the country and had our li’l house in the city on the market, I bought a ton of these on sale to fill up the garage with our stuff so the house would remain in perfect appearance during the open houses. Not one was infiltrated by the city vermin…and unpacking was hella easy being able to see the contents. Holiday goodies? Check! Old mementos? Check.

Want to find things more easily?

Make them visible.
Label them.
Unbox them (or box them with darn good labels).
Contain them.
Hang them.
Organize them intuitively.

And get rid of the things you don’t need! You’d be amazed at what kinds of things people will take off your hands after advertising them on Nextdoor or the Craigslist ‘free’ category. Once you get everything in ship shape…?

You might be able to fit your car in that garage as well!

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