Garage organization ideas – 6 smart ways to store, arrange and sort this hardworking space

With the right garage organization ideas, you can be sure that this room reaches its maximum potential

A large garage with rails on the walls to hang cycles
(Image credit: IKEA)

Garage organization ideas give some love to the unsung hero of your home. This is the space that has to make room for a bit of everything, from gardening and sports equipment to holiday decorations. Plus, don't forget your cars. Packed with plenty of things, it’s no wonder that the garage can get a little (or a lot) disorganized. 

'Although a garage is a transitional space, the storage it provides can be foundational to your house,' says Jennifer Morris, principal designer of JMorris Design. 'Additionally, for most, this space is the first and last place you see when you leave or come home, so technically, it creates the home's first impression. Keeping it tidy and thoughtfully organized can make a big impact on how you present your home.' 

If you're looking for stylish storage ideas for the garage, then take a look at some recommendations by our experts. Depending on the state of your garage, you might want to clear your weekend to make a start. 

6 garage organization ideas to get this space in shape

Transforming the garage may feel like an uphill task in the beginning. After all, it can feel chaotic to transform this dumping ground into a well-organized space. But the best way to tackle the monster is by breaking it down into manageable tasks. With smart shelving ideas, containers, pegboards, rafters, and more, you can clean up and organize this space like a dream. 

'I would advise homeowners to invest in an overall organizational system,' says Jennifer. 'I would chart out things you need regularly, occasionally, seasonally, and rarely and then rank the access to those items in that order. This doesn’t have to break the bank but it is worth the time to lay this out.'

1. Install pegboards to keep the small things in place

A garage with pegboards used to store small things

(Image credit: IKEA)

Pegboards have been around for a long time and there's a reason why they haven't gone out of style. They are simple, affordable, incredibly effective, and can be used across the home, whether in the bedrooms or for pantry storage ideas. Inside the garage, a pegboard can hold just about any tool or material.

'Pegboards are great for using the wall space as you can choose from different materials and reorganize it over and over again using hooks and shelving,' says Rachel-Elizabeth Mitchell, founder of Please Organise Me. 'You can also install a monkey bar wall unit; this offers solutions to get tools off the garage floor along with materials that can sit on the shelf itself.'

Before you roll up your sleeves and start the organization work, take a moment to think about what actually should be stored here. Purge the place of unnecessary items and create a donation box for things you don't need.

'It's important to be careful storing things in a space that is outside the home,' says Charlotte Sitton, founder of Organised by Charlotte. 'I wouldn't store food in there, but depending on the space it could be good for storing excess drinks and cleaning products. Categorize things and give preference to items that are not needed all year round.'

2. Use a mix of open and closed storage 

A garage with an open storage unit

(Image credit: IKEA)

Keep the clutter off the floor with cabinets and shelves on walls. Choose both open and closed units so the more unsightly things can be whisked out of sight and the more frequently-used things can be handy. Plus, the open shelving trend is popular for those looking to create a Pinterest-worthy space. 

'Use a balance of open vs closed storage so you're not looking at everything all in one go,' says Laura Cattano, founder of Organizational Design. 'It will also help your place feel well-edited and organized. Categorize what you are storing and keep them together: tools, car maintenance, and cleaning, gardening tools and supplies, sports equipment and outdoor activity, etc.'

3. Add cabinets to make your garage multi-functional 

A small garage with a laundry room

(Image credit: HAM Interiors. Photo credit Alexander James)

If you have a utility or laundry room located inside your garage, consider installing a closet. These spaces are solely dedicated to the area and are great for keeping laundry, detergents, soaps, and more out of the house and away in the garage. Typically, you can even encourage kids to run straight to this place to stow all their dirty clothes, shoes, and coats here.

'To have a clean and tidy home all the time is completely unrealistic. However, if you try and do a quick tidy at the end of every day, it will make things stay in shape,' says Charlotte. 'For things like utility rooms or laundry rooms in the garage, its good to go for crates as these are wipeable and durable.' 

4. Put up shelves on all available walls

A garage with a open shelves used against the wall

(Image credit: IKEA)

Choose a floor-to-ceiling, stylish storage to maximize space. By using every inch of surface, you can lighten the load in your home, and have an organized garage where everything easily goes. 

'The key to preventing the mess from piling up in a garage is to free up floor space, and use all vertical space, i.e. walls,' says Caroline Caron Dhaouadi, founder of Homefulness. 'Adding shelves on all available walls that go all the way up to the ceiling, is the best way to create storage space in a garage.'

5. Utilize rafters, tracks or pulleys to store bicycles and other heavy items

A large garage with rails on the walls to hang cycles

(Image credit: IKEA)

Often, the space in most dire need of organization is the garage because it not only holds small items that clutter the home but even large vehicles and devices. For bulky items like a ski, snowboard, bike, or more, choose tracks to keep the clutter down in the garage. This also allows for a dedicated location to keep them off the floor and out of the way of tipping over.

'Use track systems side walls to hang things like brooms, bikes, etc keeping as much as possible off the floor,' says Laura. 'Use pulley storage systems to store less often used items high up above everything. This is good for things used once a year like holiday decorations.'

6. Categorize items and store them together

A garage with tools categorized on a board

(Image credit: Pexels)

Whether you're trying to organize your kitchen, the pantry, or your garage, labeling absolutely everything can make a world of difference. Cabinets and shelves tend to hold a hodgepodge of nails, screws, and bolts that can be difficult to find when you need them. Take the time to organize each shelf by type and use. Tedious? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

'Once you have shelving units in place, you need to create zones and group similar items together, for instance, BBQ tools, gardening, car accessories, sports equipment, household stock,' says Caroline. 

How do I organize my garage by category?

Start by purging first. Get rid of all items that you feel are unnecessary and are turning you into a hoarder. 

Now take into account the items you do have and need. Categorize them into gardening, automobile parts, cleaning products, decorations, and more. Once you have your items categorized, place them inside boxed, cabinets or shelves that have individual labels on them. This will keep you from having to sort through all the containers every time you need something.

A garage with items organized by category

(Image credit: Pexels)

How do I organize my garage on a budget?

If your budget is tight, look for creative ways to organize the garage. Canvas storage bags can be amply useful to store bulky decorations and even gardening elements such as manure, seeds, etc. Go for wall hooks, pegboards, baskets, and toolboxes to manage all the clutter.

A good way to a super neat space is drawer organizers, which will help segregate the smaller items well. Bring in corner shelves that take advantage of existing studs, and are fast, easy, and cheap to install. 

To maximize the overhead space, go for garage rafters, or attic decking panels to create a useable and accessible surface for storage. 

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.