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Too frequently, garage spaces serve as catchall storage units for the flotsam of domestic life. Oh, and maybe the car gets parked in there once in a while. If you're lucky enough to have one, organizing and tidying your garage can be time well spent. You'll be able to store and find things more effectively, and possibly even find room for a work area, recreation space, or a second car. And it doesn't have to cost a fortune; just some thoughtful pre-planning and ingenuity.

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Save floor space

Floor space is primo in a garage, in case you need to park your car and for ease of access and safety. So anything that can be shifted to wall shelves should be moved. Consider investing in wall to wall, floor to ceiling industrial shelving. Bikes can be rigged to hang from the ceiling with pulleys and brackets. You'll be surprised by how much space you can open up to get around without tripping over stacks of boxes.

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A place for everything

A good rule of thumb for tidying any space is to make sure that everything has a dedicated space in which to be stored. Accomplish this with cubbies, plastic bins with lids, large, open baskets. They don't need to be fancy, but shelves and bins can take care of most garage-based clutter. Opt for custom storage solutions, such as hooks, brackets, and racks, for odd-sized items, or things you want handy for regular use.

A variety of large and small bins and baskets can deal with most clutter. SeventyFour / Getty Images
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Go high

Think vertical height to maximize storage in any size garage. Shelving should go as high as possible, with heavier stuff stored on lower levels and lighter things higher up. Also, utilize the ceiling rafters and beams in your garage for storage – they're great for long, skinny objects such as ladders and yard tools. Use hooks or brackets to secure them into place. Just make sure there's a ground-level or wall-hung footstool or short ladder for access.

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Pegboard

A material that is intimately associated with the garages of our youth, pegboard is an inexpensive and useful way to store small items out of the way. It's basically masonite board covered in holes. Hooks and baskets can be arranged in innumerable combinations to store everything from nails to small tools. If you're planning a workbench in your garage, you've got to have some pegboard.

Pegboard is the classic way to store small items above a garage work bench. schlol / Getty Images
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Don't forget labels

You may think you'll remember what each box or bin in your garage contains. But you probably won't. So label everything that is tucked away as if you're sending a stranger into the space to find a specific item. Labels don't need to be fancy, though a consistent style looks nice. Post-its don't last very long but are great as a temporary fix while you work on the final arrangement.

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The magic of magnets

Metal shelving has a hidden storage secret power. It allows you to use magnets as additional devices for affixing small metal objects to the shelving framework. This may sound like a very small thing, but if you consider the many tools and important household items, keys, for example, are made from metal, this can pay exponential returns.

Metal shelving is durable and has the added bonus of being magnetic for magnets. Aneese / Getty Images
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Reuse and re-purpose

Organizing is particularly satisfying when you don't spend a fortune, but rather utilize under-used items around the house to help with storage and organization. Reusing, re-purposing, up-cycling – these are all useful activities in the battle against clutter. And because no one will be judging you on the aesthetics of your garage, feel free to create structures and systems that are purely functional.

Re-purpose scrap wood to create storage structures. MachineHeadz / Getty Images
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Sort like with like

According to tidying guru Marie Kondo, a key principle of domestic organization is to consolidate items and cluster them in congruent groupings – like with like. Arranging garage storage this way streamlines the process of finding and using items. Additionally, it's much easier to remember where things are located when similar items are in the same place.

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Leave room for the car

It may be tempting to completely turn your garage into a retreat or hobby room, but don't forget about storing your car. There may well be times – an extended vacation, extreme weather – when you want to secure your vehicle indoors. Leave enough space so you can do so without rearranging the furniture. If you're worried about dirt and stains, invest in a parking mat to contain the mess while the car is inside. It can be rolled up and tucked against a wall when not in use.

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Lighting the way

Garage lighting is typically fluorescent, but it doesn't have to be. Like interior spaces, garages should have a variety of lighting styles for different activities. If you keep a workspace in the garage, make sure there's task lighting above the bench. Illuminate storage areas with directional lights. And don't forget overhead and wraparound fluorescent or LED lighting for general illumination. Lighting at entry points is also important for safety and security.


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