We interior designers like to focus on the beauty of things, devoting our careers to sourcing elegant wallpapers for client dining rooms, scouring antique stores and auction houses for one-of-a-kind pieces, and creating a cozy space for all to enjoy. But, there is one room of the house we often shut the door to — the garage. Garages are the dirty little secret of the interior design world. They’re typically not very exciting and end up collecting a menagerie of exercise equipment, holiday decor, and mislabeled boxes of who knows what. However, organizing your garage correctly can provide an opportunity to improve your home’s function, maintain your interior presentation, and clear your mind. I share my 8 steps to organizing your garage to help you get started. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. I also reveal my biggest organizational hack to skip every step and still get a beautiful and functional result.
Why Organizing Your Garage is Important
So, why is organizing your garage necessary in the first place? Not many of us hang out in this space on the day-to-day. While we might not spend much time there, an organized garage is crucial for stowing away the not-so-pretty but oh-so-necessary items and keeping our main living areas clear and functional. Organizing your garage is the first step to a better home life, whether you want a clear space to park your car or more room to fuel your vintage furniture shopping habit (like me). Think how wonderful it would be to park your vehicle without worrying about a tower of holiday decor boxes tumbling over or actually finding the tools you need when you need them. We need to take the time now to organize our garages to save time in the future. Clearing the garage shelves is like clearing the mind. Our spaces affect our moods, and I think better knowing my storage spaces are well labeled and working!
8 Steps to Organize Your Garage
Here are the 8 steps I take when I need to organize my storage spaces.
1. Take Everything Out
To accurately assess what you have (and not trip on it while reorganizing it), you need to take everything out of your garage. I mean everything! Start with larger items and line everything up in your driveway or lawn. Set yourself up for success and reserve this task for a cool sunny day with no chance of rain. Spring cleaning is a great choice. It’s also a good idea to clean your garage while it’s empty and make any necessary repairs to the shelves or walls.
Categorize your lawn and driveway into four main loading zones: discard, donate, sell, and keep. The keep pile should contain sentimental and frequently used items broken down into more distinct categories such as holiday decor, exercise equipment, tax records, etc. Sell should be items of decent value that you can list online or sell at a garage sale, and the donate pile should include additional items in good condition that are not worth the trouble of selling. Finally, the discard pile should consist of all trash and broken things.
Categorizing helps you decide what items to purge — the things you will be selling, donating, or trashing. A good rule of thumb to keep when purging your garage is to part with any item you haven’t used in more than a year (excluding sentimental things). The more you purge, the easier the next steps will be.
Devise an organizational plan before loading your keep pile back into your garage. Determine what you need to store and the best ways to do so. The planning stage is where you will make decisions on cabinets, shelving, and storage boxes. When planning your storage layout, keep your categories grouped for streamlined access.
Once you have your plan, you can begin reassembling your garage. While you may want to get the job done quickly, it pays to take your time. Keep things organized and tidy from the start to set yourself up for success.
When it comes to organizing, a label maker is your best friend! Labeling your boxes and shelves will make it easier to find your items and keep everyone accountable for putting things back where they go. No more arguments on who used what last!
Systematize — this is just a fancy way of creating a method that works for you. What is your system moving forward in your garage? Will you create a loading zone for new items entering the space? Will you make a promise to put things back where they go after use? Work together with your entire household to establish your system moving forward.
Creating a system will help you maintain everything you worked so hard to achieve! Once you have the basics established, maintenance should be a simple and easy ongoing process. This final step will keep you organized for years to come.
Skip the Steps With This Organizational Hack
Now, some of you are probably on the edge of your seat, eager to get to work in your garages. However, others are less thrilled about the task ahead. Here is my best piece of advice and ultimate organizational hack for those who want to skip the steps and get to the finished product. Hire a professional organizer!
Deciding to hire a professional organizer is a great investment, especially if you don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed just thinking about your garage. There are different types of organizers who can help — from professionals who stand by your side and work with you through the process to those who do all the work and surprise you with the grand reveal. Do not be shy about hiring a professional organizer or investing in fancy storage supplies. These excellent investments will buy you peace of mind and drastically improve your life.
If you need me, I will be in my garage with my professional organizer making more room for the antiques I bought.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.