The Ultimate Parking Space
Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.