Together with the basement and the loft, the garage is often one of the messiest ‘rooms’ in the house. However, by tidying up a bit you can save time, space and yourself from a headache… Not to mention that organising your garage offers you the chance to release your creativity, as no one’s going to hold you to task here. A dream for all would-be interior designers.
A welcoming garage
A decent spring clean
Much more than just a place to park the car, the garage is also where we store our clutter, useless items, anything that there’s no space for in the house: DIY bits and bobs, sports equipment (roller skates, skis, the ping pong table), garden furniture, great grandmother’s furniture, bins, the extra freezer and sometimes a stockpile of food in case there’s a siege (true). You can still keep the garage as a ‘dump’, but it needs some clever rethinking so that things can be found easily.
Remember too that to tidy and keep a place clean, it needs to first be welcoming. Nothing is worse than a dark, dusty garage, covered in engine oil stains on the ground. First things first—you have to gut it, clean it up, dust, and envisage feeling good in this space, which is usually next to the house. The part not occupied by the car can be carpeted, the walls whitewashed or even painted/ papered. And nothing is more depressing than a dark, dingy garage so make sure it’s well lit, both in terms of the colour scheme and lighting. Only then should you start to consider the layout.
Once the garage is clean, organise it into themed spaces: a ‘hobby corner’, a ‘DIY’ area, a section for suitcases stuffed with old clothes, garden furniture ideally kept outside, etc. These different areas can be screened off, marked by different colours (of furnishing or rugs); the number of separate spaces will depend on the size of your room. Don’t overdo it, a garage should be usable, suitable for the car to go in and out of regularly, or for bikes.
Several types of storage
Without furniture there is no storage. Plan ahead well, including in the garage: shelves, a side table, a workbench, metallic shelves, stools…. In any case, this furniture needs to be heavy duty, to withstand less maintenance than other parts of the house: canvas storage cupboards, or wardrobes with wheels for clothes, storage totes or boxes suitable for storing shoes, all of these will prove useful for these purposes. Also splurge on a modular piece of furniture: wall storage units are great for hobby equipment, which will evolve and change over time: gardening, model collections, woodwork, arts and crafts.
On the wall and ceiling
There are many items that can simply be hung on peg racks or simple hooks, well-organised on the wall in such a way as to optimise space: hoses, bikes, backpacks…Balls and beach gear can also be housed in the baskets you hang up. Ideal for small objects, metal shelves, which are solid and practical, can easily be installed anywhere, and optimise your space.
Harness the ceiling space too, which is less important in a room that isn’t lived in. To do so, there are myriad tips and tricks on the internet on how to build solid shelves, made of wooden planks and rafters. Use these to store your cases and boxes…phew! Finally all that clutter is out of sight.
Recycle, DIY, get creative…
The garage, even when organised in a practical and welcoming way, is not a place of elegance. Use the chance to exploit furniture and storage solutions used in other parts of the house: magnetic rails designed for kitchen knives are perfect for tools; garden trellises are great for hanging up the hose, piping, and construction rods; a towel rack for bin bags; old jam jars for paint brushes; palettes for garden tools…In the same vein, there is a long list of simple but ingenious ideas: it’s over to you to see what you can find at the DIY shop, around the house, or in interior design stores—keep an open mind!
Well protected belongings
Old, emergency or extra bedding is often kept in the garage. Arm yourself with vacuum storage bags of different sizes, which you can then store in cupboards or closed cabinets to protect them from dust and damp.
Even if you’ve scrubbed the garage from top to bottom, and got it gleaming, it’s an impossible task: dust will accumulate more quickly here than in any other room, thanks to the car, the garage’s location, or its proximity to the garden…Never mind, in this case, just cover the most delicate items and cases of seasonal clothing with tarpaulins. In shops you can find the classic rectangular ones, or more practical ones designed specifically to fit garden furniture, parasols, deckchairs…
If you don’t have an attic or loft, the garage quickly becomes your go-to storage space for files and documents. To keep these safe and in good condition, collect several boxes of the same size, in a range of colours, and label them before stacking them on the shelves or in a storage cabinet. This lets you easily identify the contents when you need to find paperwork, photos, study materials, etc. Transparent boxes are also great for sorting small objects that need to be easy to find: nails, screws, dowels, etc.
Flexibility, creativity, courage!
Remember that your layout won’t be set in stone for centuries. On the contrary, your garage storage should be able to evolve over time, according to the needs of the house and its occupants. Hence a focus on modular furniture, light storage solutions and upcycled items, and more broadly, solutions that foster creativity and innovation. Nobody will find fault with the calibre and decor of your garage, so enjoy yourself, break the mould and have fun!