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The Ultimate Parking Space

Created By: Lucas Allen




Garages were created for cars, but people park a lot of other stuff there as well. Garden shovels, sports gear, pet supplies -- you name it. The catchall can quickly turn into a dumping ground, which is why organization is essential in any garage. Fortunately, with their high ceilings and open-frame walls, these utilitarian spaces can take on many storage solutions.

We pulled out all the stops in bringing order to this overtaxed two-car garage. Its dimensions are generous, but the family requires the space to play many roles: potting station, mudroom, workshop, and all-around storage area. As you'll see, we managed to carve out those four zones in the garage by claiming every last vertical inch. And there's even room for the cars.

The Garage

1. Climb the Walls

The first step toward creating a clutter-free garage is getting as many items as possible off the floor. Wall-mounted track systems are a big asset. Home editorial director Melanio Gomez chose a horizontal channel that screws to the wall and is fitted with accessories, including plastic hooks and metal shelves.

2. Systematize Storage

We thought logically about what goes where on the track system. For example, in the summer, a beach chair will get more use than a snow shovel, so it hangs up front.

3. Revive Dead Space

Rather than ignore the narrow strip of wall between the garage doors, we turned it into a mini auto-care station. Two wall-mounted wire baskets contain assorted engine fluids, as well as a sponge, a squeegee, and other car-cleaning essentials. One of the metal receptacles is for trash from road trips, while the other will hold rock salt for icy mornings come winter.

The Potting Station

With its inspiring views of the back garden, this sunny window provided the perfect spot to set up a potting station. It will be busiest during growing season, but even when the weather turns cold, the station will offer a place to prune houseplants, plant seeds, and stow bulbs. The fact that it's right next to the entryway into the residence will make transporting heavy potted plants in and out that much easier.

A potting station should always be in close proximity to a water source. We've given these homeowners two options: Hook up the extra-long garden hose to a nearby exterior spigot or fill up the three-gallon galvanized-metal watering can on the shelf above the window. Here are some additional principles we incorporated:

1. Use the Structure

Throughout this garage, open-frame walls provide endless storage possibilities. In the potting station, we placed glass lanterns high up on a ledge, where the seldom-used wares will be safe from breakage.

2. Look Between the Studs

Here's another good example of working with the structure: By looping bungee cords around screw hooks fastened to adjacent studs, we turned a wall cavity into a storage nook for long garden stakes.

3. Adapt a Rod

A concealed-mount cafe-curtain rod slipped into the window frame allows for a handy twine dispenser. We also hung a metal bucket from the rod for scissors and plant markers.

4. Mobilize Storage Units

Matching metal bins outfitted with casters are perfect for storing potting soil, fertilizers, and other garden supplies that will occasionally need to be wheeled outside. The containers' galvanized-steel construction promises to stand up to the weather.

5. Streamline Surfaces

This might just be our favorite feature of the entire project. The potting table is supported by a hinged bracket, so when the surface is not in use, it drops down against the wall, clearing the path into the home.

6. Stay Vertical

Two hooks anchored to a horizontal support beam hold the rotary spreader. A bungee cord keeps the wheelbarrow secured upright against the wall, creating additional space for storing the lawn mower.

The Mudroom

Putting a mudroom in a garage makes perfect sense. After all, it's better to remove wet, muck-covered shoes and outerwear before you enter the house. What's more, a garage's rugged, rough-framed walls and durable concrete floor can shrug off minor spills and scuffs. So when we saw the (formerly) empty wall to the right of the doorway, we knew just what to put there.

The whole family will use the mudroom, but it's designed primarily for the kids, with plenty of room for their various activities. Mom and Dad can definitely take advantage of it too -- for example, when there's an overflow of yet-to-be planted bulbs, or when extra coat space is needed during large parties. Here are the five essential components of the mudroom:

1. Tip-Top Storage

Installing a shelf high on the mudroom wall creates space for items that won't be needed on a regular basis, including the family picnic cooler. The garage's custom shelf (like the one above the potting station) comprises a stair tread nailed to wooden brackets that are screwed to the structure.

2. Pegs Aplenty

These little wooden projections, often called Shaker pegs, are great for hanging coats, caps, knapsacks, and more. Predrilled holes for their doweled ends are not necessary, as we found ones with built-in screws that are mounted directly into the wall for easy installation.

3. Message Center

A dry-erase calendar and magnetic message board will help keep the family lines of communication open. We also installed a clock nearby for accurate memo leaving, as well as a small wicker basket for outgoing mail.

4. Dripless Drying

Boots will air out quickly and cleanly in our door-side tray, which consists of a wire-rack set inside a baking sheet. Beside it, a flower bucket doubles as an umbrella stand.

5. Sit 'n Stow

A painted pine storage chest provides a convenient perch for removing muddy boots. We added three metal bins to the inside to keep sporting equipment organized, either by season or by family member.

The Workshop

This corner of the garage had seen the least action, given its distance from the door. Now it's one of busiest and most productive spots. In planning, we thought about the essentials of a workshop. First and foremost, the space has to be large enough to allow you to move around freely. It also should be equipped with sufficient electrical outlets for power tools. Our corner satisfied both needs. What it lacked was adequate lighting, storage, and work surfaces. Here's how we made up for those shortcomings:

1. Seeing Clearly

A new overhead cage fixture illuminates the entire area, while an industrial lamp with an adjustable arm delivers targeted task lighting.

2. Multiplying the Options

A wall-mounted track system adds three tiers of shelving for paint supplies. Folding sawhorses on the two bottom hooks open easily when duty calls.

3. Hanging Up Hand Tools

Peg-Board is practically synonymous with organizing. Here, a framed piece on the wall above the bench holds often-used tools.

4. Moving Around

A portable metal toolbox can be used at the workbench or rolled over to the automobiles when mechanical repairs are needed.

Storage Extras

Let It Roll

The far wall of the garage is home to a recycling station and a spare pantry. Bins for plastic, metal, and glass containers, plus a wire basket for newspapers (with bundling twine) sit on a mobile platform. The pantry is actually a metal office cabinet. We attached a clipboard to the door with magnets for keeping inventory of pantry supplies.

Ride On

This central support post not only holds up the garage, but it also handles two bicycles, thanks to the hefty steel hooks we mounted to both sides. If there isn't a free post in your garage, you could consider ceiling-mount hooks.

Martha Stewart Living, June 2007



Reviews (22)

  • Annabel2 6 Jun, 2012

    Hey, I need pictures to visualize this...especially for the "mudroom" ideas in the garage. Trying to keep dirt out of the house is a big deal because we live on several acres out in the country.

  • grandmacummings 6 Jun, 2012

    How about pictures of all the descriptions of the garage organization? Sounds great, but pictures or videos would be wonderfull.

  • OieGirl 6 Jun, 2012

    Martha, Please take this article on the garage and break it up into smaller bits, like 20, and run one bit each day for a month with big pictures. We all have garages and need ideas to make each inch usable. You have so many suggestions within this one tip. Please expand each one.

  • jlmg54 17 Apr, 2010

    Another thanks to Alaskanandroid for the info on enlarging the works!!

  • mariekoran 17 Apr, 2010

    Thank you, Alaskanandroid, for the pic enlargement ! I had no idea it could be done.

  • emmasyaya 16 Apr, 2010

    raise your hand if you have a window in your garage....

  • vrrusa 16 Apr, 2010

    if you want larger pictures. Open a blank Word Doc . Click PRINT above then when the screen shows what it will look like, choose EDIT on your toolbar and SELECT ALL. Then hit CTRL

  • vrrusa 16 Apr, 2010

    Wel alot of it is from IKEA - the fold down shelf/table is available in several styles for under $50. The recycle bins

  • harvard44 15 Jul, 2009

    I agree with Kristin. Bigger pictures or close-ups of smaller scenes.

  • jnet212 29 Mar, 2009

    I t would be nice for the picture to be bigger AND for shelving and the track sysytems that is mentioned - If we could find out where to find it

  • KristinEddinger 22 Mar, 2009

    Please make pictures larger. I can't really see what the description is talking about.

  • lindaluka 22 Mar, 2009

    This article is the best organizing tip I've seen in awhile. Thank you!

  • granny5X 20 Mar, 2009

    I have a concern about cost that is involved in purchasing shelving, etc. I am using an old cupboard, reclaimned, to hold my paint supplies and cans. I just have to figure out how to organize my hiusband's tools so that he can find everything. Like the pegboard idea.

  • AlaskanAndroid 19 Mar, 2009

    Enlarging pictures for PC users: Just press control at the same time you use your scroll on your mouse and the picture will zoom in and out (albeit a bit blurry).

  • agentkoc 1 Mar, 2009

    I think we're all wasting our time asking for enlargeable pictures. I have sent requests previously and I have read numerous requests from others for the same thing -- no change. Contributors may read these comments, but I don't think any staff does!

  • Delphine61 25 Feb, 2009

    2nd the request for enlargeable pictures. I'd like to use some of these tips in my circa-1920 detached shed (also in the South, finlander--no cute garden hats on pegs in there!) but it's really hard to figure out without pictures.

  • finlander 25 Feb, 2009

    I've tried to organize my 2 car garage (also known as my attached craft store lol) Cars are parked outside, never have been in the garage because there is no room. Honestly I've tried and tried to organize it but we live in the South, I have mice (new house too!) and I have BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS. I have to be careful when I go in my garage whether its organized or not.

  • sfoertsch53 30 Aug, 2008

    Check out the Container Store. They have all the stuff and they will plan it all out for you!

  • Dloi 24 Jul, 2008

    Please add a feture that makes it possible to click on the illustrations in the article and go to an enlargement of it. Do it REALLY nice and copy the technique used by Saks Fifth Avenue to let the reader click on the enlarged picture to zoom in on details. That would be sooo---ooo great!!

  • espalluto 4 May, 2008

    Sears has folding sawhorses at a reasonable price--I bought them for my son-in-law and he really likes them. Garage organizing wall-mounted track system is available at Home Depot or Lowe's They are a bit pricy, but they are worth every penny. They look fantastic and work so well. Good Luck!

  • c_fracisco 10 Apr, 2008

    I am in the process of organizing the garage. I would like to find out where to buy the wall-mounted track system and the components, and the folding sawhorses. Anyone?

  • AllySanne 6 Mar, 2008

    I LOVE this article. Following the suggestions very closely, last July my husband and I created a wonderfully organized garage. We even created a potting station by using an old desk that we covered with custom-cut plexi-glass and above made a please to hang my garden hat and we even hung a pretty shelf for sunblock, insect repellent and first aid supplies. Mr. Gomez is my favorite contributed to Martha Stewart.