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Organize Your Garage For Your Family Priorities

There’s a statistic that says one-quarter of Americans with two-car garages have so much stuff in their garage that they can’t park a car. I believe it.

My husband recently overhauled our garage and turned chaos into a space where projects can be completed, gear can be found and… a car can actually be parked.

We evaluated our priorities, the space we had to work with, and our budget for improvements. Then (being in my third trimester of pregnancy) I brought him cold beverages and made myself available for verbal processing while he did most of the actual work. Thanks, dear. 



When approaching the task of garage organization and improvement, it’s important to start with clearly addressing your family priorities. This is one of the biggest keys to making the space truly functional and easy to maintain the hard-won organization. These priorities need to be clearer than just “less crazy” or “more organized.”

If everything technically has a place, but that place doesn’t actually make sense in terms of when and by whom items are used, things will not get put back. Example: don’t hang your 4 year old’s scooter from the ceiling. He won’t be putting it away when he’s done.

These were the priorities that affected our garage organization project:

  • We wanted to easily access gear needed for an active lifestyle (camping, beach, pool, hiking, bikes, etc.).
  • We wanted space for creative projects (his wood working, my art projects) and just as important, equipment and systems in place for easy clean up.
  • We wanted the organization systems to be adaptable so that things could be restructured as our family’s needs change over the years.
  • We wanted to reduce waste by being able to temporarily store and re-use items like giftwrap and hand-me-down clothes for kids.
  • We wanted the garage to be secure to avoid theft.
  • We wanted to reduce stress and clutter so that it would be easy to find things when you need them and easy to put things back when you’re done.

garage before and after


Before we got started on the garage improvements, we had a garage sale to get rid of stuff we didn’t want or need. Next, my husband sorted everything we were keeping into the following categories.

  • Garden/Yard
  • Outdoor/Camping
  • Sports/Bikes
  • Memorabilia
  • Office Supplies/Electronics
  • Holiday
  • Extra Pantry / Paper goods
  • Baby/Kid Stuff
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Tools (further broken down into automotive, wood working, general, etc.)

Then we evaluated frequency of use and my husband made a sketch of the garage to determine how we would subdivide the rafters and walls by category. He also had to remove the 1970’s acoustic tile from the ceiling because it was crumbling, not healthy to breathe, and we needed access to the rafters for more storage space.


Here are the items we used to implement our garage improvement project:

Shelves and Bins

We chose adjustable steel shelving units because we wanted sturdy shelves that can adapt to changing needs. The shelf height can adjust and we can move them around the garage one day if needed. We used some clear bins we already owned, but we also purchased some new ones to supplement. We wanted to invest in something that will protect what’s inside from the elements and last a long time, rather than get a cheap item we have to replace in a few years.


Wall storage

My husband installed peg boards above the work stations to organize cordless tools on the wall. And he put up a hang rail & hooks on a different wall (see before and after photos above) to get sports equipment, scooters and yard work paraphernalia up off the floor and each into a specific spot. He also put some basic utility hooks up to help attach things to the rafters.


To effectively remove the debris from the acoustic tile removal, we needed a shop vac. It’s already been a worthwhile investment because the broom just wasn’t cutting it for cleaning up saw dust from wood working projects. We also got a few other basic cleaning supplies to support cleaning up after creative projects that are done in the garage.


Our garage door opener wasn’t working well and at the place we lived prior to this, we experienced a heartbreaking garage theft that left us without a bunch of special camping gear and more aware of the value of a secure garage.

For this improvement project, we installed a new Chamberlain garage door opener that we can control from our smart phones (and get notification if it’s left open). This will be extra handy after the new baby is born, because sleep deprivation won’t be an excuse for accidentally leaving the garage door open.

garage organization

Sometimes living simply means frugality, and sometimes it means buying something quality that will last for years and truly benefit your family. I’m not one for getting every new gadget on the market, but for us using the Chamberlain MyQ system makes a lot of sense because we do store valuable items in our garage… and I can be forgetful. Protecting the investment we’ve made in our camping gear especially is important to us.

Let’s be honest. The only real credit I can take for our now impressively organized garage is that I may have motivated my husband to get all this done… by contributing to the previous chaos. Once again, thanks Honey. I promise to put the hammer back in its place next time.

Organize your garage so it supports your family's priorities.
Photo source

Disclosure: I acknowledge that Chamberlain is partnering with me to participate in the Real Simple 2015 marketing program (the “Program”). As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services, for the purpose of promoting Chamberlain. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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  1. Maggie

    This is awesome! Somehow we’ve never really been able to get a hold of garage organizing (at least not to my satisfaction 🙂 Good work!!

  2. Tammy

    We have a 2-car garage with two cars parked in it! Our garage is slightly wider than a 2-car garage, so that allows us to keep tools and such in there. We don’t have storage in the garage – we have a basement to thank for plenty of junk storage. :/

  3. Mab

    We have a narrow 2 car garage that we use as a gym so we don’t park any cars in it regularly but gym equipment can be moved to allow one car for working on (our driveway is a slight hill). We have all items stored in themes- tools with the workbench, outdoor tools on wall by chest freezer, sports equipment by door, holiday decor in bins labeled on the shelving by camping and summer gear. Two of our neighbors have wood shops in their garages but only one has it set up to be easily put away to park a car in it regularly plus he uses his shop the most.

  4. Valerie

    We just did a huge spring clean with this in mind, totally! What are we actually going to use and how are we actually going to use it?! Thanks for this post!

  5. kariane

    Our one-car garage is organized similarly. I love that it holds important tools, clothes for hand-me-down storage, a chest freezer, and our car. 🙂

    I think these are good tips for deciding how to organize any space, not just a garage.

  6. Caroline Starr Rose

    Just organized! The motivation was getting a set of shelves built into my office closet. We took the rickety metal set from the closet and repurposed it for the garage.

  7. Shannon @ GrowingSlower

    We’ve been doing lots of projects lately including a DIY overhaul of our living room and refreshing a “free” sailboat, so the garage is quite a mess. Setting things up so that there’s an easy place to put things away is a great tip. My usual philosophy is that the best way to organize is to have less stuff, but my frugal side is at odds when it comes to saving hand-me-downs for kids clothes. They take up so much room, but save so much money!

  8. Jess Townes

    Well done! We are in the middle of a garage overhaul as well. We’ve been de-cluttering our home for months, and the garage has served as a last stop on the way to Goodwill for our items that we are waiting to deliver to people who requested them. It’s almost all gone, and I’m excited to repurpose the space into something that better supports our values and interests instead of being a storage shed for the discarded.

  9. Suzie

    This is so helpful!

  10. Robin Dance

    “Sometimes living simply means frugality, and sometimes it means buying something quality that will last for years and truly benefit your family.” Wise investments pay off, and it’s good to remember that sometimes saving money requires an up-front cost. Great point to include in this.

    Also, pegboards to hang things are magical :). Once you have ’em, you’re like, “Why didn’t I think of that YEARS ago?!”

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