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Answering all those burning questions you didn’t know you had about home ownership.

Garage Clean Out

Picture of Jessica Dabkowski

Jessica Dabkowski

Helping you with all things homeownership!

I like to pretend that I clean out our garage twice per year – spring and fall – but it’s been a pipe dream to date. On Saturday, The Mathematician and I went out to tackle our cluttered and dirty garage clean out. (Picky man that he is, he apparently would actually like to park his car in there.)

Today, I will share some of the hacks we’ve used to maximize the space in our garage. I will do a future article once I figure out how I want to revamp the space. This project is a work-in-progress, so there’s no before and after photo today. If you have found an amazing garage storage solution, I beg you, please share. I could use the help.

Woman in garage surrounded by bins and trash bags.
I did feel like this for a moment there.

Design Challenges

We moved into our current home as the world was spiraling out of control (March 2020), and it took us awhile to work our way around to making the garage function (kinda . . . sorta).

Garage with teeth painted on like a mouth which closes when door is opened, eyes above mouth

We have a weird two car garage, and that sucker is unforgiving in it’s width. There is minimal clearance on the sides of the cars if you would like to actually be able to exit the vehicle once you pull in. The stairs into the house eat up any door clearance on one side. It’s tight.

We drive small vehicles so I don’t even want to think about fitting a truck or large SUV in there. Both our cars have dinged up doors from trying to get in or out within the confines of the space. (Let’s be honest, two members of my family aren’t known for being the most gentle on doors. One guess.)

The lack of clearance width-wise leaves us with a bit of storage in front of the cars, in an alcove behind the stairs and on the ceiling.

Current State

One of the first things we did when we moved in was have our garage floor epoxied. I’ll admit, I felt it was a little pricey, but we get a lot of water and salt here. I wanted the easy clean up and the additional protection it offered the new slab. The slab at our previous home had begun to show pitting with the continuous battering of the elements. Three years in, I’m happy we spent that money. It makes spraying out the garage a breeze, and the finish has held up really well. The only con I have is the floor becomes extremely slippery when wet. (We have to watch out in the summer for wet kids wiping out while running inside to use the bathroom or get a snack).

The Tool Bench

We had brought over a large Husky tool cabinet/workbench combination from our old house that continues to serve us well. It has an absolute ton of drawer space that houses the vast majority of our tools and makes them easy to locate. It’s heavier than an elephant, but it’s on wheels for the rare occasion when we need to move it.

Hoisting the Bikes

Next we tackled the bicycles because they utilize an incredible amount of floor space. Taking inspiration from The Mathematician’s parents, we purchased these ceiling hoists to maximize our very tall garage ceilings. The raising and lowering of the bikes still makes me nervous so I ordered some carabiners and nylon loops to complete a safety hack. This solution was a giant leap forward in freeing up that space on the floor in front of our cars.

Interior of garage with bikes hanging from ceiling hoists over a small white SUV
The hoists were a pain to install, but they really maximize the tall ceiling.

Why do we have 4 rakes?

Next, I realized I needed to tackle all those miscellaneous tools we use – the rakes, brooms, leaf blower, shovels. You know, those long skinny items that get stashed in corners and buried. At the time, I looked at this cool Fast Track Garage Storage Rail System. I priced it out and didn’t want to shell out the cash for the number of units we would need at that time.

Luckily my girl, Ana White up there in Alaska, came through with a simple DIY 2×4 setup. (I don’t actually know Ana, but she is a DIY boss.) I was able to lay out my tools and figure out exactly how I could maximize my space. Honestly, it came out pretty well and it’s served us for a few years now. If you need a quick and easy DIY to get those rakes out of the corner, her schematic could be the one for you. I have loved this piece in our garage, but I think it’s time for a rerack (see what I did there? 😂).

You have to admit there are a lot of items contained here!

Lastly, we brought up a metal shelving unit from our basement. It holds various yard/sport items (it’s about 8 half-used bags of potting soil and squirt guns) in plastic bins. It serves a basic function, but I wouldn’t call it a silver bullet.

A Fresh Functionality

After we finished rehabbing our investment property last year, it rented out way more quickly than we were prepared for (to the best tenants EVER though!). We just dumped our tools, scrap wood, cabinet parts and other items into a corner figuring we’d clean it up later. Well, later has come for us.

This was the bottom of our driveway.

As we tidied and dragged stuff to the curb marked “free” and trashed the broken rakes, I realized we weren’t optimizing the space anymore and started to think about how I could better utilize the space. Part of this motivation comes from wanting to get some items out of our basement and into the garage. The other part comes from just not wanting to look at the clutter every time I go out the door.

So, I started researching. There are a lot of ideas out there – everything from DIY projects to $1,000+ systems you could buy. I quickly realized that this planning this project was going to take me more time than originally planned – hence this cliffhanger! DUH DUN DUH!!!

Anyways, I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Please do let me know if you have a system you love! I always appreciate knowing what has worked for someone else.

As always, I’m here to help with all your homeowner questions and concerns. I don’t always have the answer, but I’m pretty good at finding the person who does!

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