Do you have an area in your home that is an absolute mess and out of control? For us, it has long been our garage. Last winter did us in, and our garage was out of hand. We finally had enough and teamed up with The Home Depot not only to get our garage organization skills in gear, but also to set up the perfect DIY workshop.
If you have been thinking about doing this for a long time, do it! Don’t wait any longer. I cannot believe how good it feels to have the space in order and so usable. We can find everything we need and we are excited to start tackling some new DIY projects now that we have the perfect space to work on them.
When we started, I had four goals for how we organized our garage:
- All similar items had to be grouped together.
- Everything had to be easily visible.
- Everything had to be easy to get at.
- Everything had to be easy to put away.
Step 1 – Sort and Keep Sorting
Starting from the beginning is not pretty. It was a mess in there. Truth time – it was much worse! There was so much we didn’t need and so many boxes in here you would not have even been able to see the space fully. Our first step was to sort every single little piece. The key here is to really sort everything and make hard choices. The more you keep of what you really don’t need, the less space you have for what you do need and want. Our goal was to throw away as little as possible, but we still did have to make a couple trips to the dump. We then focused on donation piles and garage sale piles.
We had a large garage sale and this is what we were left with.
And this is what that same space looks like now.
Step 2: Organize What’s Left
When we started with the space we knew we still needed to use it as a garage for one vehicle and our tractor. It became obvious that we just were not using the space that we had well.
Now, we have designated areas for each category and function. At the front of the garage, we added steel shelves with plastic bins. Everything was grouped by similar items and I used a chalk pen to label the bins. With a little spray cleaner and a paper towel, the labels can easily be changed.
One of our biggest challenges we faced was small tools and hardware. We had a lot of everything, but could find none of it. So, the tools were all sorted and choices were made on what we would keep (and what we needed to get rid of).
We installed two wall hung hardware sorters and used the drawers of two unfinished cabinets for all of our additional hardware storage. We also attached some off-the-shelf plywood to the top of the cabinet with a Kreg Jig and a few screws from the top. This not only kept everything neater, but provided us another work surface.
Step 3 – Design Your Space
When the drawers on the center unit we had broke, we replaced it with a Husky cabinet with metal drawers that will withstand the weight of some of our sturdier tools. All of the hand tools were hung on the existing pegboard, but with everything having a thought out place. The cabinets and drawers hold some additional tools as well as the cases for our hand power tools.
We addressed the work surface issue with this amazing work table. One of the main reasons we selected this one was the higher height option that was adjustable to meet the same height as our table saw. We had a very old table saw that was so old, it was no longer safe, so this was our one big purchase to get our DIY workshop set up.
Step 4 – Store Your Stuff
While my sporting skill set is limited to running, my husband and daughters are active in a lot of sports, which leads to a lot of equipment. After the yard sale, we had one big pile of “keep” stuff and one big empty wall.
We got everything off the floor and used the Gladiator GearTrack system to get it all organized and easily accessible. This system meets all four of my goals– it is all together; it is all visible; it is easy to get to and easy to put away. Even better, this system was truly incredibly easy to install. Using a level, you line up each of the wall tracks where you want to place them. Then, drill a pilot hole and attach it with screws to your studs. When you want to start a new track, just butt the edges. When all the track is hung, add the end caps and use your storage mechanism of choice.
We used a mixture of hooks, baskets and bins. In total, setting up this whole wall took about an hour. You will spend more time figuring out exactly how to best use your space than you will installing the system. Can I get a “woo-hoo” for finally having a place to hang the skateboard, scooters and pogo stick? Can you tell I love this system?
Here are ball bags that we also used for taller items like rackets. We used a mixture of hard and soft baskets to store smaller balls, helmets and bike gear. It is not visible, but we set up this bike rack for our kids to easily park our bikes. The adult bikes are hanging from hooks on the ceiling that are relatively easy to reach and use.
Step 5 – Arrange Your Tools
Next, we moved on to organizing our hand power tools. Above the cabinets, we added two sheets of pegboard. I purchased several pegboard power tool holders to store all of our different types of power tools. This system makes it super simple to just grab what you need for each project and put it back when you are done. I used the holders for all of our drills, our Dremel tools and a few saws. Now all of our hand power tools are together, easy to find, easy to get and easy to put away– check, check, check and check.
I used brackets to store extra batteries next to tools so they could easily be found. All of our clamps were attached to the top of the pegboard so that they would be easily accessible during a project. We used baskets to store safety glasses and hung a face shield and ear protection all in the same zone. Right next to this area, we also hung a first aid kit.
The feature that makes me giddy is our power charger shelf. I used two pegboard brackets to rest a piece of scrap wood on. Each of our chargers are on the shelf and the plugs are plugged into a power strip set behind the cabinet, but still reachable. I used washi tape to label each cord so I could easily plug and unplug them as needed. I cannot tell you how many times I have started on a project only to have the battery die and not be able to find the charger. That will no longer be an issue.
Next to the cabinet and charging station, we have our new Ryobi sliding compound miter saw. We have it tucked against the wall on a stand, but when we want to use it, we have plenty of space to slide it out and work. I am so thankful to have it up and on a stand and to not have to use it on the ground. We have many projects planned for this area already.
We hung this pegboard in the garage years ago, but never took the time to really think through how to organize it. This was the perfect opportunity. I pulled everything out and grouped similar tools together on the floor. Then, section by section, I put everything back, keeping all like items together. This part was really about time, patience and the willingness to move something if it didn’t work.
Step 6 – Think About the Future
A key component to keeping our garage as a usable DIY workshop is having a system for clean up. We used to have our older power tools in the upstairs in the attic and we were constantly battling space and sawdust mess. Now that everything is together downstairs, we needed a solution for the sawdust. We selected a Hepa industrial vacuum because it will allow us to use it as a vacuum, or with the right attachments, hook it right up to our power tools to collect the sawdust. It is set up as a dry vac, but can easily be switched to a wet vac. It is also on casters and has several attachments and a long cord to make it easy to clean the rest of the garage.
As you can see from this angle, the sporting goods storage is not taking up a lot of space. This allows one of our vehicles to easily be parked in the garage and we will still be able to access the bins and use the workshop areas.
Step 7 – The Extras
As I mentioned before, installing the Gladiator GearTrack system was easy. We really only had a few other assembly projects, one of them being the table saw. This is about a five to six hour job and not for the light hearted. But in the end, it is worth it and we are so happy to have a safer, more flexible and more powerful table saw to work with.
Assembling the workbench was pretty simple as well. I love that if we decided to use it for another purpose in the future, we have a lot of flexibility in the height. It is really sturdy and will make a great surface. And, let’s call it as it is, it is beautiful as well. We could slide the tools out of the way and totally set up a bar or a buffet for a party on that workbench as well.
When it was all completed, our newly organized garage surpassed my expectations. A lot of time was spent to get to this point, but in the long run, it will save us time on future projects. Being able to have everything organized and accessible, paired with multiple work surfaces and areas will allow us to complete projects quicker and more efficiently. I love having a logical work zone with the workbench and all of our equipment and tools.
And as you can see, now we even have space for Bailey Rose to keep us company. I think she approves!
The final step on our list is to get an electrician in to make sure all of our power loads are correct for the equipment. We also have a pull-down extension cord plugged into the ceiling for the equipment that is in the center of the room.
Don’t be fooled by just hubby being in the picture, someone had to be behind the camera. We are both super excited to get to work in our DIY workshop.
Happy organizing and happy building!
Laura Putnam writes about DIY projects, decorating, entertaining and lifestyle on her blog Finding Home.
The Home Depot can help you with your garage organization needs. Browse our Garage Storage Department online for garage storage systems, tool storage, work benches and a lot more. You can also browse the Custom Home Organization page for more details about getting garage storage units professionally installed.