Header image edited from a pegboard cabinet made by ShopNotes.
Your dad has enough ties. He has two “WORLD’S BEST DAD” mugs and a grill apron. His walls are coated in framed crayon artwork, but even if they weren’t he has enough cards with a bikini-clad babe on the front to wallpaper the kitchen. This Father’s Day, get your dad something that the whole family wants: an organized garage. In this blog, we’ll go through steps for any budget and skill level for killing your clutter and making your garage into the workspace that your dad always wanted. If you want a visual aid for any of the projects we mention or you want to keep exploring similar ideas, check out our Organizing your Garage board on Pintrest!
- Know Thyself
Okay, so maybe you’re no Tim Taylor, but you have some skills. You have a label printer leftover from a birthday party. You have some lumber that was supposed to become a bench a decade ago. You have thirty feet of PVC pipe, cut into half-inch increments. Whatever it is, you have something. Before you do anything, consider your abilities, supplies, and budget. If you only have a couple hours to spend and want this to be a free project, you’ll need to focus on big-ticket items to make a dent. If you can devote a weekend and a hundred bucks, you can afford to be picky with the little stuff.
You may have more than you think. Many simple ways to organize come from intelligent reuse of everyday bits and bobs. Look around your garage and home for any sorts of containers, hardware, hooks, wood, pipe, paints, pegboard, etc. Making note of these little additions now will help you plan your renovation.
- Best-Laid Plans
Look at your garage. Really, really, really look at it. Somewhere beneath all the mess is the room that you want it to be. If at all possible, clear the major obstructions out of the garage (cars, rolling furniture, bikes, etc). There are some things you likely won’t be able to change, like the floorplan of the room, but those shelves sitting in the corner behind the shop-vac are movable. Your garbage bins could fit in the other corner just as well. Critically analyze the space you’re working with and make sure that all your floor space is being used as well as possible.
For a small project, focus on neatening the things that are already there. For longer projects, throw out items you have no use for and make sure that everything is earning its place. Once you actually look around your garage, you might find that you have fewer things than you originally thought, or potentially more. This is valuable information.
- Loose Screws
Odds are that some of the tools or toys in your garage are not currently in their “correct” home. The screws sitting on the bench next to their box. The catcher’s mitt that has been laying on your stoop for weeks. Unless you are totally sure these things will be moved eventually, start by returning them to their right place. You might find that what appeared to be a cluttered garage was actually just a messy garage.
If you have spare hardware with no home, consider upgrading to some simple storage. Mason jars, plastic storage tubs or muffin tins can all provide a simple solution to stowing screws and washers. If you only have a few of such items, shower hooks let you organize bolts or washers and either drop the hook in a drawer or hang it on your pegboard.
- Are we there yet?
How are things looking? If you have limited time, you might have to stop here. Stack things as neatly as you can and try to stage the room into a welcoming sight for dad. If you have more time, the next step is to find the best spot for larger items. Odds are that you use your garage as a sort of storage room for more than the cars, and those boxes of Christmas tree ornaments blocking the stepladder could fit much better elsewhere.
First, clear shelf space. If you don’t have any shelves in your garage, either build some or invest in wood or metal pre-built options. You want something dependable and strong, with shelves deep enough to hold your largest bins but no deeper. If you already have shelves, make sure that you’re filling them as efficiently as possible. Short boxes can be stacked. Loose tools can be moved. Shelving is best used for large, blocky items, while smaller things fit better on a workbench or specialized storage. In the space this process creates, stow any and all boxes, with the least-used boxes on top and the valuable middle shelves devoted to common use. The bottom shelves can even hold toys or balls.
Items like ladders and shovels take up unusually sized spaces, so make sure you have a plan for each. If your ceiling allows it, storing bins, ladders or poles overhead may be an option. Make sure that any hardware you install doesn’t interfere with the arc of your garage door. If the height of your space makes this a non-option, you still have several budget options. Convert an old palate or file cabinet into vertical storage for your shovels, hoes and rakes. Short lengths of PVC pipe can be screwed to the wall vertically to make sheathes for tools, and you can write the names of each tool on its matching pipe. Segments of leftover lattice can be attached perpendicular to your walls, giving you several slots to slide assorted poles into.
- Odds and Ends
If you’ve still got the organization bug, you should be able to put some finishing touches on your space. With most of the clutter corralled, consider painting the walls or floor. Organize your paint cans along one wall and hang your spray paint cans in a shoe holder on the wall. Build or install simple cubbies near your home access door, with coat hooks screwed into the wall above them and a welcome mat on the floor to create an impromptu mud room.
Hanging some pegboard provides a great way to store all those spare tools, but if you’ve got some carpentry skill, adding in a workbench with shelving below the countertop gives you tons of tools storage and a large, flat space to work on projects. Keeping this table clean will be difficult since it presents such inviting space for clutter, but make an effort to only use workspaces for work and you’ll be amazed how much more consistently your garage stays clean.
- Celebrate Good Times!
Once you’re done with your project and big day comes around, remember that presentation will help your hard work shine. Show dad around the new garage, detailing where everything is stored. This has the double benefits of letting him know where things have been rearranged, and showing him how much work you’ve done. Make sure that this tour is just about your gift to him, and not about all the To-Do projects he’ll now be able to do!
At the end of the day, organizing your garage is a gift for the entire household, and one that will considerably improve your family’s outdoor experience through the summer months. Follow our Organizing your Garage board on Pintrest to get a constant stream of ideas and project inspirations. With a little bit of work, you can make your garage less of an eyesore and more of a valued, useful room in your house. We hope that these tips could help, and of course, Happy Fathers Day to all the garage dads out there!