If you’re wondering where to store everything in your home, trust us: buyers are thinking the same thing.
Americans are known to spend $1.2 trillion each year on items we don’t need, while the average home size is 4.2% smaller in 2018 than it was in 2015. Understandably, 85% of buyers list garage storage space as a must have on the NAHB’s latest report of what buyers want, especially because a garage is more accessible than a backyard shed or even an attic.
We’ve combed through various storage ideas and DIY garage updates from other handy homeowners, so you can show off your garage in style when the time comes to sell your home, especially. Who knows? That extra storage space could be the icing on the cake a buyer needs to make an offer.
1. Add shelving, then put it to work
The quickest way to organize your garage is with some type of shelving system. Builder and designer Mike Montgomery at the blog Modern Builds used only 2×4-foot wooden beams and ½-inch particle board to craft these custom garage shelves, a closet, and a workbench.
His blog has a free download of his original plans, plus modifications that include sliding barn doors that hide clutter and a garage fridge, as well as a detailed list of parts and video.
Don’t forget storage space in the ceiling and above the garage door. DIYer Jay Bates at the blog Jay’s Custom Creations has a detailed tutorial for building a shelving unit out of 2×4’s and a sheet of ¾-inch Adventech flooring.
You also can purchase something premade that just requires you to measure your space and assemble, such as:
- The Husky 77x78x24-inch Welded Steel Garage Storage Shelving Unit with Wire Deck in Black ($199) at Home Depot. The Husky line also has closed storage options, such as this six-piece welded steel cabinet set that’s preassembled for easy installation.
- BROR storage system at IKEA features shelving units in several sizes, cabinets, and wheeled carts. This combination ($371) covers a 100x21x74-inch space and is durable enough to withstand dirt, moisture, and heavy loads. Add a SKÅDIS pegboard ($9.99) and hooks above the utility cart for a simple workbench.
- Want something more mobile? Try the Seville Classics UltraDurable Commercial Grade 5-Tier Steel Wire Shelving with Wheels, where each shelf supports up to 800 pounds ($165).
- The 45×45-inch HyLoft White Steel Overhead Garage Storage ($69.98) at Lowe’s suspends more than 30 cubic feet of storage space from the ceiling and holds up to 250 pounds.
Any shelving system looks better with coordinated bins. Try translucent plastic Sterlite Garage Totes ($6.99 to $9.99), so you can see at a glance what’s inside, or stash items out of sight in these HDX Tough Polypropylene 27-gallon Storage Totes in black ($73.92 for five at Amazon.com). Just add labels.
Speaking of shelves, bins, and labels, author and organizer Toni Hammersley, creator of the blog A Bowl Full of Lemons, walks readers through her garage organizing project using The Container Store’s Platinum Elfa Ventilated Wire Shelves, Elfa Hanging Drawers, and Elfa Drawer Label Holders.
To hide everything inside the sliding drawers, Hammersley cut black gingham fabric from JoAnn’s to size and attached the fabric to the drawer fronts with spray adhesive.
2. Arrange tools and miscellaneous items so that everything has a place
A key part of any organizational project is arranging items in an accessible way. This 15-piece Flow Wall Modular Garage Wall Panel Storage Set with Accessories ($383) provides 48 square feet through wall-mounted panels, plus hooks for a rake, shovel, ladder, and other gear.
Don’t need the wall panels? The Gladiator GearTrack 14-piece Light Gray Multipurpose Storage Rail System ($59.99) stashes garden tools, a ladder and other items on two 4-foot pieces of track using 8 assorted hooks.
But what about sporting goods, tools, and other odd-shaped items that wind up in the garage?
- To arrange small tools, Nick Pontarelli, a top-selling Chicago area real estate agent, likes a magnetic board or magnetic strip that screws into the studs and holds often-grabbed helpers like a hammer, screwdrivers, and crescent wrench. “They really present well, and it shows the potential buyer that you’re organized,” he said. Try the Sunix Magnetic Tool Holder ($10.99) or the U.S. General Magnetic Tool Holder ($3.99).
- Large garden tools present more of a challenge, but DIYers have answers. This woodworker at Instructables made a simple and affordable garden tool rack for the wall with offcuts of standard studwork timber. Or wheel your shovel, rake, broom, and other odd-size tools where you need them with this cart made from leftover plywood.
- Why not mix storage with decorating in a shabby-chic style? Nafeuse Magazine painted several pallets and mounted them to the wall to hold various lawn and garden items. (The site is in French, but your browser can translate—and it’s worth a visit for the photos.) A clever bonus: The site used the base of an old rake as a hanging rack for small tools.
- PVC pipe came to the rescue of the family at the blog Newly Woodwards, who built this sturdy solution for storing tools vertically along the garage wall.
- Corral pool floats with this CozyDays wall rack that mounts to brick, wood, or plasterboard ($124); this Crosley Palm Harbor Outdoor Wicker Float Caddy ($211) that can wheel out to the pool and back; or this Swimline Hydrotools Swimming Pool Mesh Bag Poolside Organizer ($40.79) with a hamper that can hold balls and other odd-shaped items in the off-season.
- Incidentally, an inexpensive pool noodle makes a great way to store fishing rods and other slim tools snugly along the wall, Pontarelli said. Add a piece of PVC pipe below the pool noodle to secure the handles, if you like.
- Hung against the wall, bicycles can be a work of art. Try the Monkey Bars 51-inch Four-Bike Storage Rack ($79.99), made from powder-coated steel, or the Proslat 28x4x28 ProRack Steel Shelf that holds heavy-duty items above and can hang a bicycle below ($140). Save yourself the headache of wondering which bike fits best in which spot by tagging the hooks with numbers for each bicycle, as the blogger at I Heart Organizing did.
3. Make it sparkle with adequate lighting and clean flooring
Replace those old fluorescent bulbs or single fixtures with LED lighting, which the U.S. Department of Energy says uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. It also shows better, Pontarelli said. “It’s cleaner, it’s brighter, and it’s much more efficient.”
You don’t have to replace the entire fixture, either. The online store ELEDlights.com, which has served customers since 2012, has a detailed guide on how to replace fluorescent tubes with LED retrofit tubes (from $8.25 and up per tube, depending on size) or ballast-compatible “plug and play” LED tubes, neither of which require rewiring.
Then get rid of those mystery stains and tread marks on the floor by painting it with a water-based epoxy finish such as Rust-Oleum Epoxyshield 2-Part Gray Gloss Garage Floor Epoxy Kit (about $117 to cover a 2.5-car garage).
This low-VOC, low-odor formula adds a durable coating that resists peeling, cracking, oil, salt, gas, and other harsh chemicals, so cleanup before a showing is a snap. Just rinse it off or sweep.
Lastly, if you’re already packing to move and need to stow what you’ve done in the garage, just keep it orderly.
Pontarelli recommends using latching storage boxes or heavy-duty storage totes but notes that potential buyers also tend to be forgiving of moving boxes, as long as they’re of similar size and stacked and labeled neatly.
“People do realize that a garage is for storage,” he said.
When in doubt, don’t store it. Toss it.
We’ve covered some great ideas for a more organized garage setup. But you can spotlight how well-ordered your garage is for much less work, starting by paring down what you already have.
“Whether it’s a garden tool, a decoration, a ladder, anything—if you haven’t used it in six to eight months, get rid of it,” Pontarelli said.
“That in itself will declutter the garage to the point where it will look much bigger than it is.”
By seeing fewer items, potential buyers will perceive that the garage can hold more. “It truly is a matter of getting rid of anything that you don’t use—and garages are infamous for housing everything that you don’t use,” he said.
Don’t fret about what to do with what’s left. Establishing a place for everything in your garage is a surefire way to highlight what an asset this space will be—and set you on your way to making your new garage tidy as well.
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