Garage Storage Ideas — something for everyone!

Below you will find a step-by-step guide that’s chock-full of garage storage ideas. We hope you will simply take what works for you from the list and leave the rest for someone else. There’s truly something for everyone!

Basically, we are going to look at the SPACE you have for storage and the STUFF you need to store.  Then we’ll look at the different storage systems and solutions you can use.

First, start at the beginning – and think broadly about your STUFF:

garage storage idea - sort your stuff

image credit: flickr’s rynosoft

  • What can you throw away or sell and not store?  (One “solution” or “good idea” is to avoid the problem, right?)  Seriously, do you really need everything?  Is it time for a garage sale?
  • What’s in your garage now that you need to store?  Would it make more sense to store some of those items elsewhere in the house – in a laundry room, a hall, a bedroom or the kitchen, perhaps?
  • Conversely, what’s presently stored somewhere else in your house that should probably be stored in the garage instead?
  • Now, move the car outside for the rest of this exercise.  That way you can use the space where the car will sit as a “holding pen” for the items you need to organize as you decide where and how best to store them.

Second, inventory all the SPACE that’s realistically available for storage.  How about the back wall?  The side wall(s)?  Overhead areas? For each such space you identify, determine:

  • How deep and tall is the space?  Take measurements and try to envision the “volume” of stuff you can store there. Think about how often you might need to access specific groups of items. For example, holiday decorations are usually great candidates for utilizing your overhead garage storage space, whereas tools that are heavy that you may want to access frequently and in a hurry probably shouldn’t be stored in that area.
  • What amount of space do you need to reserve for passage ways –- to get in and out of the car, for example, or to get to some of the storage areas directly?
Sterilite half-cabinet from Amazon

~clickable image goes to Amazon~

Third, remember that ultimate garage organization “success” is being able to FIND what you want after you store it.  By definition, the items being stored are not used every day, so it’s possible you’ll forget where they were put.  The more logical your plan, the more likely you’ll know where to find them.  Beyond grouping items logically, a useful garage storage idea is to store each category of items in a separate box or bin that visually reveals and/or is labeled to reveal the contents.  (How to choose the best container for your garage storage needs is discussed in more detail below.)

Take a moment to think about how you might logically group things together so they are easy to find – for example, painting supplies should be all in one place (the half cabinet to the right might work well), all tools and hardware should be in another and you might need separate spaces for sports or camping equipment, gardening supplies or holiday decorations. This step is really important!

Next, consider the size, weight and other characteristics of each GROUP of items to be stored.  Generally, open shelves and cabinets with shelves should house heavier items LOW in the space, preferably contained in boxes or bins that hold several items and can be labeled.  Lighter, smaller items, on the other hand, should be stored higher, closer to eye level, and not piled deep. Again, use boxes or bins or, perhaps, drawers or trays or other “organizer” storage systems designed to corral smaller items to aid your future access.

Then, start evaluating different garage storage ideas and manufacturers’ solutions in light of the space you have and the stuff you need to store.  Consider each of the following and then sketch out how each solution might fit in your available space and best store your stuff:

    • Freestanding garage cabinets – either full-size cabinets (6’ or taller) or half cabinets (30 – 36” tall).  The Sterilite half cabinet shown above is from Amazon, and they offer matching full-size garage cabinets (as shown on our home page).  You might also want to check out our Popular Brands of Garage Cabinets article for additional examples of freestanding garage cabinets.
Stanley Tools wall-mounted garage cabinet from Amazon

~clickable image goes to Amazon~

  • Wall-mounted storage cabinets typically hang on the wall at or above eye level, like the Stanley Tools wall-mounted cabinet shown on the right (available from Amazon). There are matching freestanding garage cabinets in the Stanley Tools line, as well, which you can view by clicking on the preceding link.
  • Workbench – a handy addition if you frequently need a flat surface to work on. (Don’t forget the storage space under the workbench!)
  • Garage shelving, with the following alternatives:
    • open sides and back, floor mounted
    • closed sides and back, floor mounted (like a bookshelf)
    • fixed shelves
    • adjustable height shelves
    • shelves on wall-mounted brackets
  • Rail-systems where the rails hang on the wall and everything else hangs on the rails.  See Garage Cabinets on Rails for more information.
  • Hooks, pegboards and other wall-mounted systems to hold and display smaller items or to utilize wall space for bike or other sports equipment storage.
  • Ceiling-mounted storage systems. See our Overhead Garage Storage article for more information.

Last, on a piece of paper, act like you’re an architect or interior designer: Sketch the SPACE you have (whether or not you already have garage storage cabinets, shelves or other solutions already in place) and then sketch the volumes of STUFF you have to store.  From there, just mix and match and play with the alternatives (e.g., bikes on the floor?  on the wall?  hanging from the ceiling?) Think about how you want your garage storage to serve you and other members of your family (e.g., do you really need a workbench or simply a “lower” cabinet with a flat top?) and focus on garage storage ideas that will be easy to maintain.

If you’re reading this, you probably have some empty space in your garage (or space you plan to make empty soon!), and you have items you want to store and keep organized there. Work on different arrangements on paper, utilizing storage cabinets or shelves you may already have and supplementing them with additional storage units you need and/or those handy bins and boxes. Remember, too: this doesn’t all need to be accomplished in a single weekend! When all the pieces for your perfect plan arrive, then physically move the items into the space where they will be stored, pat yourself on the back for adding value to your home should you ever wish to put it on the market and then just enjoy your new-found sense of organization. It truly does feel good!

Choosing Garage Storage Containers – Cardboard, Plastic or Metal?

While buying special containers to use for your garage storage may seem like an unnecessary expense – especially when you have an ample supply of cardboard boxes at the ready – all you need is one instance of animals damaging an item you’ve stored to convince you it’s wise to invest in an alternative. If you’re storing items of value, then you’re going to be better off with a plastic or metal bin or tote. (And, if you don’t deem what you’re storing as valuable, then why are you hanging on to it?)

For my money, plastic storage bins are the best choice for use in the garage. Not only are they less expensive than their metal counterparts, they are not as sensitive to the climatic changes which should always be a part of garage storage considerations. As to whether to choose clear or opaque plastic containers, that really comes down to your personal balance between utility and aesthetics. That is, while clear plastic allows you to more easily view a bin’s contents, the opaque option may be preferable if your main goal is to achieve a tidy and organized environment.

The ability to know what’s inside and to be able to easily retrieve stored items is really as simple as labeling opaque containers. Further, a “clean” way to accomplish this is to unobtrusively number the containers and then create and keep a written document that corresponds to the numbered containers and details their contents.

That should give you a good idea of which garage storage solutions will work best for you, but if you have items that might require specialty storage considerations (e.g., tool storage), you might want to scroll up and check out some of the articles on offer in our Advice Center. We’re here to help, and we aim to please!

Important Note: Except where noted, the images above are from Amazon.com, and clicking them will present pricing information and customer comments about the individual products for your perusal. The products featured on GarageCabinetSense.com are some of our favorite garage storage ideas and, as you’ll see in the customer reviews, they’re typically well-liked by others, too.

If you prefer, you can also click this link >>>– garage storage cabinets and organization –<<< for a more inclusive list of Amazon’s garage organization offerings.

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