Garage Organization – I Finally Tackled Our Space!

A couple of weeks ago, I organized our storage room in our basement and shared the entire process right here on the blog. It felt amazing to get rid of lots of stuff in there and create a functional space where I can actually find the things we need. Let’s keep the momentum going with a garage organization project!

Our Garage – Before

Our Chicago backyard one year later

Here in the city, we have a garage detached from our house. We’re lucky to have a pretty big space (2.5 car garage), especially since we only have one car! That leaves lots of space in here for our tools, kids’ stuff, lumber, and more. But, as you’ll soon see, it had become a ginormous mess over the years…

Our garage before

It has been a long time since we’ve done any work to this space. When we moved in, we laid down garage tile floors from Montezuma and I get asked about them all the time. You can read about the easy process right here.

Enjoying our new clean garage

We love them! They elevate the space, keep things less dusty, and they have stayed looking great even after four years of constant use and barely any cleaning. We just use our blower to blow anything off of them and occasionally, the hose, if needed. I would use them in any future home!

My best tips for garage organization

Then, the only other update we’ve done here is installing a new garage door opener! They typically last only 20-25 years and ours was ready to kick the bucket. I wrote all about the one we chose in this blog post from a few years ago.

Our messy garage before

Other than that, our garage has been a dumping ground for random stuff, with no rhyme or reason as to where things go. Christmas stuff next to a shop vac next to a bag of dirt. What?! I knew that we needed some garage organization – stat!

Garage Organization – My Best Tips

Our garage -before

I’m not gonna lie, a few of the items from my storage room cleanout migrated to the garage and I didn’t want one good project to make a mess of another. So, I vowed that I would go through the entire garage, declutter, clean, and organize it. We use this space a lot more in the summertime (lots of biking, water table fun, and playing in the backyard), so now was the perfect time to finally get this space functioning for our family of four.

Setting Aside The Time

Taking time to work on our garage

As with most big projects, I always recommend actually setting aside the time to get it done. And please, be realistic! I knew that I needed at least eight hours of uninterrupted work to tackle this space. That meant that I couldn’t do the work on a weekend, when the entire family was hanging around. Instead, I took a work day when the kids were outta the house to make it happen.

Oh, and weather is also a big factor. I used our backyard as a holding space for all of the items as I went through everything and cleaned the garage, so it was crucial that I had decent weather.

Take It All Out

Again, I’m not reinventing the wheel when it comes to organizing tips here. My number one piece of advice is to take everything out. Yes, it sucks to lug things back and forth. However, it’s important to get things out of their place so you have to make a conscious decision to bring them back in. Plus, I sometimes find that if I leave something in its same spot during an organizational project, I’m less likely to move it to a more suitable home. Taking everything out forces me to figure out if I actually need the item and the optimal space to store it.

Hose Things Down

When doing garage organization, be sure to hose down your shelving and organizational supplies

I ended up doing one garage side at a time because I wasn’t quite sure I could fit all of our stuff in the backyard without it becoming a tripping hazard! Once I had side one cleared out, I hosed off all of the shelving units and organizers. There were spider webs and leaves galore, let me tell ya! It felt good to give everything a hose down and let it all dry in the sun while I sorted through all of my piles.

Leaf Blower For The Win

Getting our garage organized

With everything out, I was able to sweep and then take my leaf blower to get any leftover bits and spiderwebs. This is the leaf blower we have and we really like it. We use it often to tidy up the garage and it really came in handy during this project.

Create Zones

Creating zones in our garage to make it functional

The problem with our garage, before, was that we didn’t really have a plan in place as to where stuff should go. The kids would come into the garage to grab a basketball or a scooter, and right next to that would be weed killer or a power tool. NOT GOOD! I thought through the best zones for all of our stuff and decided to keep kid-friendly items and toys near the door so the kids would have easy access.

Adding scaffolding to store all of our kids' gear

We also decided to use our scaffolding as additional storage. Remember, how I bought this big ol’ orange thing for my stairwell project? Well, I have to store it somewhere and figured it might as well work for us! We keep the kids’ bikes and cars (so many of them!) here, along with their water table, sand toys, and inflatable pool on top. It’s like a little summertime hub right here!

Vertical Storage

Hanging items on the wall to make for space

Our garage is unfinished and we’re able to utilize the wood studs on the walls for additional storage. Over the years, we’ve added random nails here and there to hang ladders, hats, and other random items. I also bought these hooks and installed them directly into the studs to keep our leaf blower and broom handy. Don’t just think about the ground space in your garage. Definitely take advantage of the walls too!

Adding this sign to our garage

While cleaning out the garage, I stumbled upon this sign. Years ago, my family bought a restaurant (It was called The Charley Horse.) in our hometown, and turned it into an Irish pub.

My best tips for garage organization

This sign was saved from the original restaurant and lived in our house growing up. When my dad sold the house, I took this with me and vowed to hang it in our basement or garage someday. Well, it’s been collecting dust ever since. Shame on me! I finally got around to hanging it and it looks pretty dang cool!

Don’t Forget The Rafters

Adding storage to a vaulted garage

Our garage is vaulted and there is so much real estate right over our heads. Over the years, we have laid down more and more plywood up there so we can have additional storage space. Up there, we keep all of our Christmas decorations and our large Christmas tree. We also store out-of-season stuff that we don’t need to access easily. Just be sure to use good boards that easily span rafter to rafter so they’re extra secure. You can also drill them down into the beams too.

Donate…Right Away!

My donation pile for habitat for humanity restore

Confession, I had a big ol’ pile of stuff for Habitat for Humanity Restore still sitting in the garage after my storage room cleanout. I was finally able to compile everything and bring it all to my local Habitat for Humanity Restore. Check your local store, but mine was able to accept a mirror, lamp, tile, random bathroom supplies, and more. It felt good to donate to a place that will actually use everything! Plus, I had fun browsing the store for good deals.

Garage Organization – Here It Is Now!

Our garage looks so much better after some decluttering

Again, remember, when it comes to spaces like the storage room and garage, I’m not about a Pinterest-worthy space. I’d rather save my money and make some stunning rooms inside our home, where it actually matters! Here, my only goal was for a functional and cleaner space than before.

My best tips for garage organization

It’s been finished for the past few weeks and I can’t stress how much better this is for my everyday life. I can find things! I can safely have my kids come into the garage without fear that they’ll pick up something dangerous. Why did it take so long to finally tackle this?

Let's get this garage organized

I was bone tired after my big day of cleaning. There were so many steps moving things around. It did take me at least another few days to complete my donation runs, add vertical storage to the walls, and really finish up this space. I’m happy I devoted the time now, right before the summer season begins! I encourage you to do the same.

Our Garage – Sources

While a lot of the stuff in here is old, here’s a little round-up of some of the organizational items that we use and love! We most recently bought these stackable bins and they’re easy to open for the kids. We keep sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and other little stuff in here so everything is easy to reach.

My best storage items for garage organization

Stackable Bins // Hooks // Clear Containers // Leaf Blower // Shelving // Lumber Storage

Taking A Break

Taking some time to be with my family

With that being said, I’m taking a break here on the blog for the next few weeks. I’ve been running on fumes since my non-sleeping episode in Italy and I’m doing everything I can to take care of my mental health. Right now, the best thing I can do for myself is slow down and be with my kids. I want to start the summer off right with a slower pace, fewer work deadlines, and more time being present.

I didn’t want you guys to be worried about me, so I wanted to tell you ahead of time. Just know that I’m doing okay and I’m with my people! I’ll be excited to come back with some summer projects soon.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.