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How to Make Your Garage a Storage Powerhouse

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Garages often turn into repositories for everything from sports equipment to holiday decorations. But with planning you can turn your garage into a harmonious space with room to actually — wait for it — park the car. 

Why: “The garage is definitely the most underutilized space in the house,” says Amanda Le Blanc, a professional organizer (she owns The Amandas in Birmingham, Alabama) and spokesperson for Organized Living. “I prefer the garage to the attic for storage, because a garage actually has less temperature fluctuation.” 

How: Ginny Scott, chief design officer at California Closets, says to start by determining what you need to store. “You need to think of your goal first. Do you want to store overflow from the pantry? Do you want to make a Costco closet? Do you need a workspace like a potting or tool bench? Maybe you need a place to stash sports equipment. Once you have determined what you want to do, that will inform the kinds of shelving, cabinets or lockers you need,” she says. 

Le Blanc says knowing yourself will help you figure out what kind of storage you need. “It’s all about how you function in a space,” she says. “An organization system won’t change the type of person you are.” 

She says that although a garage lined with storage lockers and cabinets has a clean look — an important factor for garages that open at the front of the house and are visible to the neighbors — if you are of the “out of sight, out of mind” school, closed storage is not for you. “If you are that type of person, then go for open shelves and labeled bins,” she says. 

Le Blanc says for kids’ items and sports equipment, open shelving is almost always the answer. “I tell parents to forget about lids with kids,” she says. “If there’s a barrier, it seems to keep them from putting things away.”

Whether you are installing shelves that are open or in cabinets, Scott suggests choosing adjustable units for the garage. “It’s more important here than elsewhere,” she says. “We may not change the way we use our pantry much, but what we use in the garage varies from year to year and season to season.”

 

Scott adds that it’s also important to choose storage units that are made from durable materials; items stored in the garage are often heavy, so you want shelves that won’t buckle or bend. She also says in the tighter confines of the garage, you are more likely to bump, brush or spill things on your storage system, so an easy-clean material such as a high-grade laminate is often best. 

Cost: It depends on material selection. “The good news is that garage storage is often less expensive than regular closets, because we usually use simple materials and hardware, and we usually don’t use glass inserts,” says Scott.

She says an 8-foot run of open shelving in a garage could cost $1,000 to $2,000 (rough estimate). A row of storage lockers of the same length might cost $2,000 to $3,000. 

Project length: From consultation to installation, this kind of project could take three to five weeks, Scott says.

Permit: “Unless we are doing something structural or adding electricity, no permit is generally needed,” says Scott.

The Latest Looks You’ll Love for 2013

Which design trends are interior decorators seeing as the “next big thing” for 2013? Chevron patterns, glass backsplashes and retractable towel rings are just a few making their way into the latest remodels. Keep in mind that as much as you may want to incorporate the latest design trends in your home, it’s important to choose ideas that are practical and will stand the test of time. Here are some suggestions on the freshest finds out there.


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Photo: Chevron Pattern | MoenThe time for bold, yet neutral Chevron has come! This pattern is showing up everywhere: on kitchen walls, backsplashes, floors, throw rugs, pillows and shower curtains. Most Chevron patterns alternate black then white then black, but by playing around with alternative colors, you can lessen the impact of the design and achieve a more serene look. 

Another surprising look involved the resurgence of wallpaper and the introduction of wall decals. Since the 60s, people have been using wallpaper to add an accent and some personality to a room. Both wallpaper and wall decals are now removable and a popular option to spice up your home. 

When it comes to spicing up your kitchen, you’ll find that creative and beautiful backsplashes are a great way to go. Large, back-painted glass panels require no grout and are one of the hottest looks right now. In the past, backsplashes were a purely functional surface that protected a kitchen or bathroom’s walls from sprays and splatters: but today, they’re an easy and attractive upgrade.

Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring | Designer Clay Bernard

Photo: Moen MotionSense FaucetIf you’re looking for a convenient and eco-friendly upgrade, consider Moen’s MotionSense faucet. With just a wave of your hand, you’ll trigger the flow of water. Wave your hand again, and you’ll turn it off. Its state-of-the-art technology helps to maximize performance, minimize waste and make everyday routines faster and easier.

For another green option in the kitchen, check out the many advantages of bamboo flooring. It’s easy to clean, ideal for allergy sufferers and long-lasting. Environmentally friendly (a quick renewable crop). It has extremely low formaldehyde emissions and makes an excellent floor for a healthy home.


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Photo: Moen Retractable Towel RingHead to the bathroom for a smart innovation that’s quickly growing in popularity: Moen’s Retractable Towel Ring. If you’re tired of hand towels cluttering countertops, doorknobs and floors, this is your solution. The ring secures your hand towels in place, expands out to 11″ and effortlessly retracts back to its original position. It works well in every room with a faucet, including bathroom, kitchen, utility room and garage.

Rounding out our list of updates is the new nature-inspired bathroom. Think rustic tiles. A rock wall in the shower. Wicker baskets. A range of earthy patterns and colors. They’re all designed to achieve the feeling of a relaxing, private spa. It’s easy to create a beautiful room that feels like you’re entering an enchanted grotto or canyon.

These ideas represent just a few of the trends tat are destined to become traditions. You can feel confident knowing that as current as they are, these improvements will easily stay in vogue for years to come. 

Reclaim Your Car’s Home

The Garage Ranks as one of the most disorganized rooms in the house, according to several highly rated professional organizers across the country. Worthless junk often crowds out the family car. “They’re one of the most neglected areas and can get out of hand quickly,” says Alexis Rubin, owner of A-rated Funktional Home professional organization service in Littleton, CO. 

She estimates garages make up one quarter of her business, and she charges an average of $500 to $800 to clean and organize them. “Considering that cars are often a family’s second most expensive investment, professional help in desiging a garage that can maximize and maintain its function is a good use of money,” Rubin says. “Beyond that, a well-designed garage can expand storage for a wide variety of household items.”

Professional organizers help homeowners sort, purge, categorize and put items back in a way that makes the most sense to the individual. They will often discard unwanted items, either by donating them to a charity or consignment shop or posting items for sale online. 

Some organizers sell storage products and install them, while others handle the decluttering and bring in help to install cabinets and perform other tasks. “I consider myself project manager of other community experts, such as handymen or women who can assist with hanging,” says Melanie Raelin, owner of A-rated Wits End Organizing in Somerville, MA. “I personally set up donation pickups and yard or estate sales to help the person offset the cost.”


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Photo: Your Great Garage

Highly rated Your Great Garage in St. Petersburg, FL., sells and installs garage-specific solutions. Owner Tony Braswell says costs start at $99 for simple shelving and go up to $5,000 for multiple solutions in a large garage, such as overhead rack systems, epoxy floors and custom workspaces. 

Angie’s List member Carol Pressman of New Port Richey, FL., hired Baswell in July to clear out junk, organize her hobby paraphernalia and corral her grandchildren’s toys. The job, which took just over two days and cost $2,800, included an epoxy floor coating, overhead racks, wall storage and a customized gardening workbench. “It will make everything I do much more pleasant,” she says. “And they took away everything I didn’t want – that was a huge selling feature.”

Rubin and other organizers stress the importance of developing a system that’s easy to maintain. “Clearing out a space and making it look nice is just the beginning,” she says. “Organization is about maintenance. We can help change habits and build structures that work for you.”

Angie’s List member Cathy Flanders of Littleton, CO recently hired Funktional Home for the third time. After tackling the home office and kid’s playroom, Flanders wanted to maximize storage space for toys and bicycles and add a mudroom area in her garage. For less than $500, Rubin cleared out unwanted items and added shelving, hooks and bins to store outside toys, garden tools and other supplies. “It doesn’t just look pretty – she put in new systems that are easy to keep up,” Flanders says. “Our garage was a disaster,” Flanders says. “We could only maybe fit one care, if everyone held their breath. Now, we have a workable garage that should last.”

Flanders says her favorite part is a brightly painted accent all that Rubin suggested. “It feels like a finished space that’s an extension of the house,” Flanders says. “It makes me smile”.