Organization Ideas for a Small Garage

Organization Ideas for a Small Garage

For many families, a small garage can get messy fast. We have some great small-garage organization ideas to help you tidy up  a modest-sized garage and all of its random clutter.

The ideas listed below are recommendations for anyone looking to make optimal use of their garage’s lack of square footage and maximize the overall functionality of that space.

  1. Set a Vision and Establish Zones 
  2. Purge, Declutter, and Sort
  3. Invest in Systems
  4. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff 
  5. Contain and Label

Who wouldn't want to reclaim their garage and make room for all the things that need to call it home?  It can be done and done well.  Read on to up your game on garage organizational know-how!

Establish Zones for Your Small Garage

A small garage can serve many different functions, so it's important to set a vision for what the space will be. Is it a storage unit? A workshop? A sports locker? All of those things? The answers to those questions determine the next steps for how you should organize it.

Once you land on a vision, it’s time to establish zones. The more things that need to call your garage “home”, the more zones you will need to accommodate, if possible. For most families, designating space means thinking realistically about what items are used most often and need to be easily accessible versus items that can be stored higher up like seasonal décor or gear that sees far less use.

This Old House offers suggestions for drafting an organizational "floor plan of your garage" before you begin the process of sorting/categorizing.

Common garage zones are:

  • Wall/Vertical Space
  • Floor
  • Overhead
  • Shelving Units or Storage Cabinets

With a zone concept, you can think as small (the four basic zones listed above) or as many as is necessary. Then within those zones are placed or homed the following categories:

  • Tools
  • Yard/Gardening Equipment
  • Car Cleaning Supplies/Accessories
  • Toys/Sports Gear
  • Bikes/Scooters
  • Seasonal Gear 

Purge, Declutter, and Sort

Having zones and categories mapped out makes the process of purging, decluttering, and sorting far less of a task.  It can be overwhelming to tackle a giant pile of randomness so begin by putting like items with like items and create sorting areas. 

Putting similar things with similar things allows for you to see if you have duplicates or too many of a certain object.  Once you know how much of any one category you have, you can then choose what zone will work best for that category’s storage. 

Tools tend to work best hung up on Slatwall racks or stored in a drawer and organized by use (plumbing, electrical, woodcutting).  Toys are best placed in low-lying bins that kids can reach safely.  Cleaning products, paint, and other chemicals need to live in an area outside of your garage as that particular environment is not conducive to their storage requirements .

Throw away anything that is broken, missing parts, or doesn’t work anymore.  Things that are in good shape that your family has outgrown or no longer uses can be donated or given to a neighbor, friend, or charity.  Houzz offers additional suggestions for how to go about a serious garage purging.

Invest in Systems 

Make a wise investment and purchase wall racks , cabinets, and/or an overhead system that works with your rafters, based on the measurements of your garage.  Utilizing the full width and height of as many walls as possible as well as untapped overhead real estate can provide you with ample storage no matter how pint-sized your garage may be.  There are towers that are meant to fit into corner spaces too.

It might take some research to find the exact pieces that work for your space but the time and effort will pay off in spades.  Be sure to consider switches, windows, door hinges, garage door openers and sensors, and electrical panels and outlets so that you don’t inadvertently cover them up with your new systems.

Find sturdy, weatherproof bins or totes that stack to optimize any space you have on your storage systems.  Use rail or track systems to hang shovels, rakes, ladders, leaf blowers, step stools, hoses, fishing rods, bikes, umbrellas, brooms, extension cords, golf clubs, hockey sticks, and baseball bats.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff 

There are hundreds of little things that take up space and can clutter up the floor or any surface area of your home’s garage.  Slatwall racks, magnetic strips, cubbies, and heavy-duty hooks are great solutions for smaller items that don’t readily fit well elsewhere. 

Portable storage like a rolling cart is great for stashing garden tools, pots, planters, lawn/leaf bags, dirt/soil, and fertilizers that you can pull out into the yard as needed. All-weather mats placed on the floor just inside the door are great solutions for stashing boots or muddy/wet shoes. Family Handyman offers some terrific and creative DIY small garage storage solutions for those items that are more challenging to find a home for.  

Contain and Label

Everything miscellaneous that hasn’t found a place on a shelf, wall, drawer, cabinet, hook, or rack should be contained in a bin, basket, or bucket.  Color-coded or clear containers allow you to view their contents.  If you have kids, bins with easy to open off lids, latches, or large buckets make things a snap for them when cleaning up.

For ease of maintaining a sense of order, labeling the outsides of storage containers guides everyone in the family to keep with the system clearly knowing where everything should be returned to. There are a whole host of inexpensive labeling products that can contend with outdoor environments and can be found at home goods or craft stores. 

Be sure to clearly label as many bins/baskets/containers as possible, as with so many items living in your garage, you will want to quickly find what you need when you need it. Labeling is also a very smart practice when it comes to organizing and storing drawers or bins of screws, anchors, nails, and all the other tiny but vital home improvement bits and pieces. 

Final Thoughts

Garages are interesting, versatile spaces and really can be transformed into whatever you want or need them to be, regardless of size.  However, no one wants a garage that is an obstacle course to navigate getting in or out of or one that has become a catch-all for life’s odds and ends.

Garages are high-traffic areas that take a beating and yet have to remain highly functional. The reality is that they serve a lot of purposes and as one of your home’s primary workhorses, you have to use your garage space wisely, especially if the area is small.  With some elbow grease and great small garage organization ideas, you can absolutely get extra mileage out of yours.