Tools for a Harder-Working Garage

While Webster defines the garage as “a shelter for automotive vehicles,” most of us use our garages for much more than that. Dad stores his tools, tires, and to-dos; mom pulls in with the minivan and piles up potential craft projects; and the kids create chaos with endless amounts of sports equipment and toys. In the end, we often don’t even have room for the cars.

Short of shuffling all your gear to the trash, how can a garage fulfill its storage responsibilities when so many users are demanding space? Well, with a handful of creative solutions and clever organizational strategies, you can transform your space into a multipurpose marvel that holds a three-car garage’s worth of stuff in a two-car garage’s amount of space, no garage sale needed.

Use Your Walls to Double Your Space

Clearing clutter from the floor is the first step to getting the garage in working order, and that means utilizing every inch of the walls and ceiling. Here are a few tricks for getting the most out of your available space:

    • For items that don’t get accessed often (such as holiday decorations and luggage), either install a cable-lifted storage rack or create a sliding storage system for rimmed plastic bins along the ceiling. This makes use of previously dead space and gets larger containers off the ground. Pulley systems for raising bikes are also available.
    • Install a two-foot-deep shelf around the upper perimeter of the garage to provide additional storage space for bulk paper items and dry goods, small plastic bins, paint supplies, etc. With the typical two-car garage boasting three 24-foot long walls, mounting shelves like these roughly gains an extra 150 feet of usable space.

  • Pegboards have long been a go-to for garage gurus, but have you ever thought about them three-dimensionally? By hanging several separate framed pegboards perpendicular to the wall on vertical hinges (sort of like leaves in a book), you gain plenty of surface area for hanging tools without taking up much wall space. Plus, the divided pegboards make categorizing items a breeze. Consider painting outlines of the tools in their appropriate spot on the pegboard so everyone knows what goes where.
  • If your garage walls are unfinished, screw small hooks on the ends of neighboring studs, then stretch a few short bungee cords between them to create a makeshift crate for tall garden tools, sports equipment, or balls.

Give Storage Spaces a Dual Purpose

Once you’ve established a place for all of your items, find ways that you can make your garage goods do double duty. With many users vying for usable space, your storage solutions have to do more than just contain things in order to hold their own:

  • Whether you have repurposed kitchen cabinets, plastic bins, or a large metal storage locker, paint the outer doors or lids with a coat of inexpensive chalkboard paint then affix a cup nearby to hold chalk. Kids will love being able to “color” on the garage furniture, Type-A moms can quickly scrawl labels describing what’s inside, and your resident handyman will appreciate being able to jot down measurements for whatever project’s in progress.
  • Enrich your shelf’s life by utilizing the space underneath as much as you do that on top. Screw small hooks to the underside of a shelf to hold hanging tools and toys, or glue the lids to several jars to the bottom surface and twist the containers into them for stowing small items like nuts and bolts, sidewalk chalk, and nails.
  • Save yourself some drawer space and add magnetic strips along the back of your cabinet doors to hold lightweight metal tools and paintbrushes in easy reach.

Give Yourself Room to Grow

On a clear day, punching the garage door opener quickly doubles or even triples your workspace, depending on the size of your driveway, so make expanding to the outside simple and easy:

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  • Include one or two mobile workbenches (essentially carts on casters) that can be rolled out into the driveway when needed. Whether you create your own or purchase one ready-made, you can also set larger tools like chop saws and drill presses onto wheeled stands.
  • With little more than a piece of plywood and a couple of hinges, you can build a flip-down workspace that folds out of the way when not in use. Such a desk is ideal for walkways that must be kept clear when you’re not working.

What other ways have you found to stretch the boundaries of your garage as a multi-purpose room?

Jessica Johnson works for www.extraspace.com and contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions. Extra Space Storage has locations across the U.S., including a Lakewood self storage location.

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