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Here’s a riddle for you: What contains everything from painting cans to cars, from toys to tools, and from treasured memories to trash bins? Give up? It’s your garage. Having a space to store all of your excess junk is extremely helpful, but you also have a whole room of your house that is completely going to waste. It could become that woodworking space or workout room that you’ve always wanted–but how? What if we told you that it’s possible to make your garage a fully functional space without sacrificing your storage abilities? Here are the top ten ways to get the most out of your garage:

Organized Garage

1) Conquer Clutter

If you’re considering re-organizing your garage space, it’s likely somewhere between a hodge podge of miscellaneous items and a borderline hazardous waste dump. Before you figure out how best to divide your space, you have to sort through what you have. Figure out what’s needed and what goes straight in the trash. Start by creating three piles for your things: keep, donate/sell, and trash. A good rule of thumb is that you should only be keeping items that you’ve used within the past two years. The only exception to the rule would be any items that have sentimental value (within reason).

As you’re starting to figure out what you’re keeping, begin to sort those into piles too. So, for example, hockey equipment in one area, workshop tools in one area, workout equipment in another, etc. The categories may become more specific or broad when you get into sorting, but this will help you see what you have and the potential for various storage options.

2) Organize into zones

Now that the clutter is removed, think about the specific different functions you’d like for your garage to have. Would you like a part gym/part workshop garage? A part parking spot/part band rehearsal space? Write down all of the various functions you’d like the garage to serve. Next, draw up a small diagram of your garage space. Think about which corners or spaces would be good for storing the equipment needed for each activity or function. Use your diagram to sketch out various sections of the space for the storage of the various items. This will also help you figure out what equipment you’ll need to create the adequate storing space.

3) Clear the Air

One of the main reasons you haven’t used your garage as a functional space in the past? The air. It’s either too hot, too cold, or too stuffy down there- it’s hardly a space that you could spend hours of your time. Well, even if you remodel the space, you’re not going to use it if you don’t feel comfortable. Purchasing a heater or air conditioner (or both) for the garage will easily transform it into a much cozier and more habitable area.

garage shelves

4) Use the walls and ceilings for storage

When it comes to getting the most out of your garage, guess what is your worst enemy? The floor. Yes, the floor is there for a reason, but cluttering up the floor space with items leaves you much less room for the functions and activities you’d like your garage to hold. You have many options in this regard, from purchasing some shelving units to building your own shelves along your wall. And, if you’re someone who’s constantly changing your mind about spacing, you can create pegboard walls and use hooks to add or remove your shelving. Don’t waste any space in your garage- that includes your ceiling. You can either purchase or build your own ceiling shelving units as well. Ceiling storage can be used for anything from storing small tools to a sturdy bike rack. After utilizing these techniques, you’ll be shocked by how much bigger your garage looks.

5) Fold-away furniture

Another important technique to utilize for a multi-functional garage is to purchase fold-away supplies. For example, if you’d like for your garage to be a part workshop/part gym, purchase or build yourself a fold-away workbench. And buy workout tools like adjustable weights, which can easily be rolled up and stored away efficiently. If you’re currently storing equipment like a ladder, look into purchasing one that folds up and is easier to store than your current ladder. You’ll create so much more space simply by modifying the items that you build or buy.

6) Outlets and Wiring

In all likelihood, if your garage is multifunctional then you’re going to have more plugs and, by deductive reasoning, more outlets. If there are open studs in your garage, you can run wire and add outlets as long as your garage stays up to code. This means making sure you’re doing things like using the right circuit breaker, using a neutral wire, etc. In addition, when you’re using large amounts of wiring the garage can very quickly begin to look cluttered. Try to strategically place items that need to be plugged in near any outlets available. And, if there aren’t many, run the wiring necessary around the perimeter of the room or over the ceiling and make sure it’s secured. This way it won’t interfere with the floor space and you’ll be able to use all of your devices.

Wall storage

7) Protective covers

In order to make sure every function of your garage space doesn’t interfere with one another, you’ll need to make sure they’re each sectioned off in the best way possible. For example, if your garage is doubling as a wood-working space, things can get pretty messy very quickly. That isn’t an easily contained activity so, even if you section off your other items, it’s likely they’ll be buried in wood dust within a fortnight. Use shelf coverings to make sure your items stay clean and undisturbed by the various goings on in your garage.

8) Add Outdoor Storage

If you’ve added all of your wall and ceiling shelving and you’re still not getting the space you’d like out of your garage, perhaps consider adding some outdoor storage. A small shed for outdoor equipment like gardening gear can go a long way to getting out that unnecessary clutter.

9) Epoxy the Floor

If your dingy garage floor is another thing keeping you from enjoying your time there, we recommend adding an antiskid floor coating. It will resist oil stains and wipe away dirt in a much easier way. The key to accomplishing this well is doing it when you’ll have a few days of 50 to 80-degree weather for accurate drying time.

10) Magnetic Board for Small Items

If there are some smaller items or tools lying around that you’re afraid will go missing, we recommend getting a magnet board or two. It’s perfect for tacking up some tools in a workspace and smaller ones can be used for bobby pins or pins in case your garage is doubling as a sewing studio. This way, the space’s next user doesn’t get an unpleasant surprise in the form of a pin in their foot.