The garage isn’t simply where you park your car. It’s usually your tool shed, your spare storage room, and the unspoken designated space for your outdoors and sporting equipment. The garage is “stuff overflow.” Over time, these various tools, half-used cans of paint, and “I might need this again” items add up. This can lead to a real mess.  

It may seem like a daunting project, but there are several ways to optimize your garage space. The benefits make an effort worth it. Not only will your garage look nice, but you’ll once again have a functional space if you take the time to do it correctly. Best of all, your garage will be safer, giving you peace of mind. You can DIY or hire professionals.

Clean up and declutter

This is not a quick job and you should allot a few days for this step alone. Some people may prefer the solitude of a large project, but others may appreciate the help from their families. Let go of any icky feelings, such as guilt or frustration at the mess. For this job, you’re going to need temporary storage space. Consider using large plastic bins and keeping them somewhere outside the garage. Then, choose one side of the garage and start emptying it.

You’ll be doing two sorting processes at once. Decide what you’re going to keep and organize those items into sensible groups. Think sports, tools, summer yard maintenance, winter yard maintenance, and rare usage items. As you sort them, place them in your (well labeled) plastic bins. Specificity is good here, as you want similar items to be grouped together. Do soccer nets and inflatable kayaks belong together? They’re both outdoor activities, but it depends on you. You might need to separate sporting goods from water recreation if you have lots of both. Organizing them now may take time, and you may choose to separate broad categories into more specific ones as you go. Take your time in this step because it’ll make life easier later.

For everything you’re not keeping, you need to decide what to do with them. You can donate them if they work and you’ll never use them again. You can sell them if you think someone wants them and will buy them from you. Keep in mind that you may have to be willing to store it until that buyer comes along. You can also take junk that nobody wants and choose to throw it out. This is going to require hard honesty. You were probably stoked when you finally bought those kayaks, but have you actually used them in the last few years? If not, are you really going to change to justify keeping them? It may feel like a waste to get rid of stuff you don’t use, but once it’s gone, you’ll feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Remember that you can just toss things. It’s freeing.

Take a look at everything you plan to keep. Do you still have too much? You could go through it again with an even more critical eye, or you can consider your options at this point. Is this enough stuff to justify renting storage? Once an item is in storage, it’ll be out of sight, out of mind, so question this option. You can also create your own storage shed, giving you the extra space you need to not only house your things but to do it cleanly. You’re also going to use the garage for this purpose, but it’s good to keep in mind. And remember that anything you do not want you can do a garage sale! A garage sale is a great way to get rid of unwanted items and make some extra cash. But, in order to make the most money possible, it is important to display your items in an appealing way, especially clothes.

optimize space

Plan the space

Now that everything is organized and out of the garage, don’t toss the bins back inside. Take this moment to plan your space.

What do you want your garage to be?

If you don’t want your garage to continue as a storage space, it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve been dreaming of building a new bedroom, in-home spa, home office, or playroom, this is the time to really consider what that will look like. A garage is a great place for a workshop. It can also continue to be your garage as it was, only much better. You’ll want to have a plan to accomplish any of these tasks.

Start with the basics. Where will you park your car, if not the garage? How much space does the garage hold? Where will you store your stuff instead? If you choose another storage option and want to repurpose this room, you can now figure out the fun stuff. Where do you want the hot tub versus the sauna if it’s a home spa? If it’s a man cave, exactly how large of television will fit against that back wall? How much room does your car take up if it’s still a storage space?

What will you use the most?

One way or another, you still have to store all the garage stuff. To do that in the best possible way, you’ll need to know what items you use the most and what one you use the least. Just like in the kitchen, you want the items you regularly use to be the easiest to access. In the summer, you might use that kayak every couple of weeks, but your snowboard is gathering dust. The reverse could be true in the winter. If you keep your garbage and recycling bins in the garage, you’ll use those often and want to keep them in the easiest place possible.

The best storage plans involve making storage space where your organized items are stored together. Not all items are created equal, and you may use a hammer and nails far more often than your circular saw. Store what you use in quick reach. Store what you’ll use the least farther out of reach. If you live in an area that rarely receives snow, you don’t need your snow shovel stored at the ready. Leave that space for your rakes, weed wacker, and lawn mower. If your kids play soccer every day, don’t hide the ball behind the hockey sticks. Your stuff should go back into your garage in a place that makes sense for how it’ll be utilized, along with objects of similar types.

Optimize Space

Optimize the space

Now that you have the vision and layout for what you want your space-optimized garage to be, you’ll need to invest in actually optimizing the space. This can be done as your own DIY project, or you can hire a professional. Here are a few different storage options:

Go vertical

One of the best ways to create space is to do it vertically. Your walls go from floor to ceiling, and so can your garage storage spaces. Consider shelving that mounts to the wall or the ceiling. This ensures you can still park your car. When storing vertically, you can take this concept even further. Store all your loose items in bins and ensure those bins have lids on them. This gives you further space to store more goods on top of the bins. A peg board is a great space to hang tools, golf bags, and anything else you may want to hang up. This not only looks professional and inviting, but it’s practical. Don’t only think of tools and sporting goods. Recycling and garbage can be lifted off the ground as well.

Create space that is adjustable and easily customizable for maximum effectiveness. Space your shelves as far apart as is necessary so you can fit in more shelves. Bins you need easy access to can be put on wheels and tucked within the shelves to be pulled out with ease. Going upward instead of outward is the way to go.

Ceiling storage options

One of the most underutilized garage storage spaces is the ceiling. Your car sits in the middle of the garage, so all that space is wasted. It doesn’t have to be. You can hang metal storage, keep more of your items on it, and still park underneath the bins. Does your garage door require that space? Buy hanging shelves wide enough so the door can open between them.

Ceiling mounts come in a variety of forms. You can buy hanging shelves, which could be a great place for rarely used items such as Christmas decorations. You can get roof racks for kayaks and bicycles (though if you ride daily, you may want to hang your bike on the wall for easier use). Use wooden planks as tracks and slide your bins so the wood holds them by the lip, suspending them easily in the air. Your ceiling storage doesn’t have to be inaccessible, either. You can buy most of these with lifts attached, which will raise and lower at your command. Storing your stuff via the ceiling has never been easier than it is now.

Cubbies can be great for toys and sports gear

Your vertical or ceiling shelves will need the correct cubbies for all your toys and sports gear. A ball corral is the best storage for various basketballs, bouncy balls, and other sports balls. Kids can grab one from the bottom without displacing all the ones on top.

Build cubbies that conform to your needs. You can have them as tall as needed for your hockey sticks, tennis rackets, skates, and helmets. Each item has its own cubby, and the garage looks great when everything is put away in its designated home. Another version of these is garage storage lockers. You can design them with customizable shelving, and with doors if you prefer to keep things closed.

When utilizing cubby storage, organize it with the same principles mentioned above. You want what you use most within easy reach. The stuff you use less can go into the high cubbies. Cubbies are great because they’re easy to take things out of, so you can keep them loose and un-binned, ready to grab off the shelf.

Make things flexible

You’ve managed to store all your things in your garage, but maybe that’s not quite enough. If you’ve always dreamed of using your garage as a mini-workshop for projects or a sanctuary to get some work finished in peace, you may want a space that accomplishes that. You can do this with foldable workbenches or desks. They can be built into the space you already have or can fold up nicely to tuck away into your storage when not being used. Creating a flexible space allows your garage to become what you want it to be when you need it.

You’ll want to keep this same principle throughout all the storage you’ve put up. You might decide now that you’ll definitely use those paddleboards all summer but change your mind later and sell them. You’ll want the option to organize that space for whatever you’re storing there next. The easier you can rearrange your shelves, cubbies, and workspaces, the more your garage will give you the maximum space. Some people build thin shelves on wheels to move them in and out of the way or layer them behind one another. You can buy, build, or even hire a handyman for a customized job. A little flexibility goes a very long way regarding space optimization.

optimize garage space

There’s a feeling of peace and serenity that comes with a clean, organized space. Once you have it, you’ll feel like a weight has lifted off you and smile every time you see what you’ve accomplished. You’ll be able to open your car door without upending random piles of stuff. While it’s a change that takes time and effort, your garage will transform from a place where you store your junk into an organized storage facility for you and your family, or even your own mancave.!