Keeping the garage nice and neat |

Keeping the garage nice and neat

Sandy L. LeeGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, 50 percent of American homeowners surveyed say their garage is disorganized, and one-third call it the messiest space in their home.Freeing up floor space, creating the right cabinets and wall displays, and even utilizing the ceiling area can help transform a heap of clutter into a fully-functional garage.

First, determine how you wish to use the space. Do you want it to efficiently function as a workshop, a storage center, a sporting goods center or all of those? Then, get rid of things that dont work. Sort, purge and consider the floor-to-ceiling possibilities for shelving, racks, stackable drawers, hooks and wall-mounted storage.Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order and a featured expert on HGTV and, offers her suggestions.Hire an expert, or get a team of people to work on the project, or it may turn into an overwhelming task that will be abandoned part way through, Norris says.For those who prefer to consult professional organizers, plenty of choices are available.John Conti, founder of Just Closets in Frisco, offers far more than closet designs. His garage upgrades provide custom features for storing tools, sports gear, gardening equipment and more.I try to organize everything specific to the client ski and snow shoe racks, fishing rod and bike mounts, work benches, specialized drawers, he says. I have even installed the automatic doggie washers. They have become very popular.Conti recently overhauled a Breckenridge garage, where he set up a stack of six cubbies one for each member of the family.He de-cluttered the familys vacation home, taking virtually everything off the floor and attaching it to a wall grid or putting it inside custom-designed cabinets.Like Contis company, Arm & Hammer Inc., in Dillon, modifies garages that are client-specific. One thing I do often is install a nice bench with racks nearby to hang jackets, ski pants, etc., so homeowners will be able to sit down and take off their equipment and have the hanging storage within reach, says owner Brian Biebl. We even add boot warmers, so they can put their ski boots directly on the warming rack, and theyll be dry and warm by morning. Steve Conklin, owner of Garage Dekor (residential) and Rock Solid Surfacing (commercial) in Eagle, builds garage cabinetry in any dimension or combination. When I go to a location to design, I field-measure everything and lay it out for the client on an Auto-CAD, a 3-D, professional-design computer program. Having a good design and good plan to start with is essential.Proper display apparatus is also key. Conklin recommends Storewall, which he calls the pegboard of the 21st century.Literally hundreds of accessories can be integrated into the paneling and can be easily repositioned as your needs arise to change them, he says. He also offers a special line of steel cabinetry that is furniture-grade and very, very strong. And he provides wooden cabinetry alternatives, which are more economical.

Windows come into play in terms of lighting and air circulation, says Randy Wilkens, president of Summit Habitats Inc., in Edwards. Window groupings in a garage can be important. Weve suggested and installed windows with upper cabinetry so they are not interfering with possible storage space.Wilkens also points to an innovative way to add storage by utilizing the often-overlooked ceiling space. Prefabricated trusses can be added to the ceiling of the garage. Drop-down ladders are then installed into the ceiling, allowing homeowners easy access to hidden storage, which can be added to taller garages.Summit Habitats also offers a lift system. Practical for smaller cars, the system features a hoist. Once the car drives onto the hoist, it is lifted off the floor, freeing up space underneath for a second car to be parked.

Whatever the size of the area, adding a finish to the floor can transform regular concrete slabs into a showpiece. Conklin recommends a product hedescribes as liquid granite. He offers custom insulation of this easily maintained, strong garage coating.Conklin says nothing sticks to the material, and it has a very nice sheen to it. Hot tires, household chemicals and magnesium chloride or other chemicals for melting snow do not affect it. Because temperature extremes dont alter the product, it can be put down any time of year. We installed one in Edwards when it was 4 below zero, he says. The material is quick-drying after installation. You can walk on the floor by the end of the day.

When the seemingly impossible task of transforming the garage into an attractive, functional space becomes a reality, the next step is the unavoidable assignment of keeping it that way.Whatever organization strategy you adopt for a garage or anywhere takes continuing maintenance, says Carl Lindblad, commercial real estate developer in Santa Cruz, Calif. Put labels on drawers, cabinets and boxes so you can remember where to put and find things.And remember to keep ease of access to things most often used. If you find out the scheme you try initially is just too hard to maintain, revise and try again.

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