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Extreme Garage Makeover

How many cars can you fit into your garage? Studies show an estimated 32 percent of people who own a two-car garage can only get one car inside because of the bikes, toys, trash cans, tools, garden machines and other stored stuff. I think the percentage is higher, considering the multiple cars I see sitting outside their garage doors when I drive through the neighborhoods.


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Think about what you are paying to store all the boxes and “treasures” you have moved from inside your house to your garage. You can estimate the storage cost by multiplying the square footage of your garage by the cost of square footage in your area. You will be surprised to see the real cost of not getting your garage in order.

Your Action Plan

First, don’t look at the garage as a whole entity; you can get overwhelmed easily. Pick one specific area where you would like to start. Then work clockwise to keep yourself on track. Creating a plan of action before you start in the garage is a necessity because of the project’s size. 

The next step is to sort through all of your garage items. Throw away cracked, chipped, or broken items that simply take up space. If you haven’t repaired them yet, you probably won’t. Then, make a donation bag for items you haven’t used for at least a year. It is a great idea to help others who need what you no longer love or want. Several locations are available to take your donations. Be sure to consider what items you are donating because specific organizations have needs for such things as batteries, cell phones, blankets, towels, bicycles, and clothing.

Step three requires arranging the items by category. Put all the sports equipment, camping gear, and holiday decorations together. By categorizing items, it is easier to decide what organizing systems will be the most effective. After the sorting and purging process is complete, then you can move on to painting and cleaning the area.

Sports Equipment

Take the time to examine each sports item. Ask yourself how long it’s been since you’ve used that basketball or ping pong table. Once again, donate the items you haven’t used in the past year (do you see a pattern?). If items are broken, worn out or cannot be repaired just trash them. For the items you decide to keep, make sure they are clean and repaired before storing them. Storage of sporting equipment can be done in two different ways: current season storage; or year-round storage. Either system will allow you to easily locate the equipment when you need it. Always label your sports gear, so putting it back will be easy for the entire family.


Sort toys by either the appropriate age category or by the collection. An example is a train set: store all the accessories with the track. Or, keep age 2-3 year toys together and 4-5 year toys in separate bins to make cleanup easier and less maintenance.   Keep toys in fun, bright-colored bins that are labeled with the child’s name. This makes cleanup time a fun experience. If your child shows no interest in the toy, donate it. Teaching children simple organization techniques at an early age is always a great idea.

Gardening Supplies

If you hire a lawn service, consider getting rid of your yard equipment. Of course, keep your tools if you enjoy gardening, but if you are not using them, donate those items. If you enjoy lawn and gardening work, sort and categorize all of your items. Place them where you have easy assess to those tools you use on a regular basis.

Tool Time

Organizing your miscellaneous tools by different hobbies. If you work with wood, store hammers, screwdrivers, and drills together. Finding the appropriate containers will be easy when you have the tools sorted out. Pegboards with a shelf underneath are great for these items. Clearly label all of your containers. That is a helpful technique when you need to quickly locate an item.

Seasonal Decorations

Seasonal items should be stored together. If holiday decorations are stored in both the attic and garage, decide which location is the best for all of it. It is much easier to store like items together, so when you need them you can find them. After all, the goal is to have a place for everything!


What should you do with gasoline or charcoal lighter fluid? Store all gasoline and other flammable fluid in a dry, cool place. Never just throw away gasoline, paint, or other toxic waste substances. Contact your local toxic waste professionals to find out locations for proper disposal. If you don’t want to call to dispose of these items, donate them to someone who can use them.

Garage Organizational Systems

What type of organizational system should you consider? I suggest that you research and study at least three different types of systems. The amount of garage equipment you have plays a big factor on the system you choose. Wall-mounted systems for bikes and ladders are a great alternative, leaving the garage floor space open. Be sure to pick the system that best fits your needs and is functional for your lifestyle.

Protect Your Investments

Storing, cleaning and repairing the expensive equipment warehoused in the garage will help save you money. Shouldn’t your car have a place of honor under a covered roof? After all, it is one of your largest investments. And just think, if you containerize properly, you will save lots of money by not buying items you “thought” you needed. With good organization, you can get right to work!


Extreme Garage Makeover:  Created on April 18th, 2009.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About Tonia Tomlin

Tonia Tomlin is one of the country’s leading organization experts, and founder and president of Texas-based Sorted Out ™ organizing service, which offers a wide range of consulting and organizing services geared towards helping clients conquer disorganization. A sought-after media guest, Tomlin has been featured in numerous local, regional, and national media print and broadcast media outlets, including HGTV’s “Mission Organization” program.  Tomlin is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and is also active in the Plano Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.