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Organize This! – The Garage

If tools, sports equipment and other assorted junk are slowly taking over your garage, then the final installment of our series "Organize This!" is for you.

Sue Roman, editor-in-chief of Inspired House magazine, stopped by The Saturday Early Show with tips to help make these large and multi-purpose spaces more orderly.

While you may believe the garage is simply a place to park your car and dump excess junk, Roman believes the garage is a wonderful multi-purpose room. Pull out the cars and you have a large space to work on various projects without worrying about spills or other messes.

There's no right or wrong way to organize your garage, Roman says. What's most important is to think about how you really live and organize the space around your life, not around an idealized notion of what a garage should be or what your neighbor's garage looks like.

The Entrance

The door leading from your garage to your home is probably the most-used entrance to your house - or at least it's the entrance you and your family use the most. For this reason, you should make an effort to clear this area of as much junk as possible. You want the area to be gracious and welcoming. It's tempting to place your recycle bins right by the door, for example, but then you have to look at boxes of trash every day. Roman says the less clutter here, the less stressed you'll feel when entering or leaving your home.

Roman recommends the following:

  • Strive to make the entry area as clutter-free as possible.
  • Paint the door a cheery or crisp color.
  • Treat yourself to a nice doormat.
  • Light your path to the door with a light fixture that includes a motion sensor.
  • Mount a "white board" right by the door to jot down reminders to yourself and your family.
  • Consider hanging a hook for keys by the door and placing a bucket for umbrellas there as well.

Sports Equipment

Everybody has sports gear rattling around in the garage. If you have kids, you probably feel like tennis balls and soccer balls and basketballs are constantly underfoot. You should find a dedicated spot for all of this gear and make it easily accessible.

Roman suggests using the Schulte Activity Organizer, a sturdy metal grid, coated in vinyl, that hangs on the wall and comes with baskets and hooks that you can attach in any formation you choose. You then fill the baskets with balls, bats, cleats, etc.

She says the organizer not only gets everything together in one place, it gets it off the floor. Be sure to hang the grid in an area that's easy for kids and adults alike to access. (You don't want anyone scratching the car while attempting to reach a pair of ice skates.)

If you don't have a ton of accessible space in your garage, Roman suggests swapping out off-season sports equipment just as you do summer and winter clothes. During the summer, you want to make it easy to get to your tennis racket; in the winter you want to be able to easily grab your skates.

If you don't want to hang an extensive system on your wall, Roman has two other suggestions that both sit on the floor. One is a collapsible hamper where kids can dump an assortment of sports gear; you can fold it up when not in use. Or consider storing items in a multi-drawer metal unit.

Tools

Don't waste any more time looking for the tools you need to fix the sink or wash your car or take to the garden. A few simple changes can get you organized in no time.

First, some sturdy shelving can get things off the floor and help you gather all of your tools together. Plus, putting everything on shelves keeps the items a little cleaner and makes the garage easier to sweep.

You can't have too many shelves, according to Roman, and the studier the better.

The shelving Roman demonstrated on The Saturday Early Show comes from Home Depot and is made of metal and wood, which are inexpensive and can be put together fairly easily. The shelves hold up to 5,000 pounds. You can either stack the shelves on top of each other or set them side-by-side. While this setup may not utilize all of your vertical space, it does create both storage and a workspace. The top shelf becomes a workbench.

Another handy option for workspace is a portable workbench from Sears. It weighs less than 20 pounds and sets up in seconds.

Roman suggests keeping tools in labeled plastic bins. This keeps power tool cords from getting tangled and other tools that you don't often use out of the way. Also, avoid stacking items behind each other on your shelves. You want everything that's on your shelves visible.

How many times have you gone searching for that perfectly-sized nail or screw, only to be faced with a jumbled mess of washers, nails and hooks? Roman suggests nailing the lids of baby jars or mayonnaise jars to a piece of wood. Divide your small items into the appropriate jars, and then screw them into their lids. You'll be able to see exactly what you're looking for, and none of the jars is going to disappear.

Finally, when you are ready to complete a task, you want to have all of the tools you need at your fingertips. Roman says to make "themed" toolboxes -- one for gardening, one for car washing, and a general home repair kit.

The following were used on the "Organize This! - The Garage" segment:

Heavy Duty Grid (2'x4')
Available at Schultestorage.com for about $25.

Racket Rack
Available at Schultestorage.com for about $23.

Skate Rack and Basket
Available at Schultestorage.com for about $35.

Sports Rack and Basket
Available at Schultestorage.com for about $40.

Pop-up Hamper
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $14.

5 Drawer Metal Basket
Available at ContainerStore.comfor about $159.

Hom-e-quip Shelving Unit
Available at HomeDepot.com for about $16.

Folding Work Center
Available at HomeDepot.com for about $4.

Toolbox with Tool Belt
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $25.

Tool Caddy
Available at SmithandHawken.com for about $150.

Plastic Caddy
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $5.

Latch-Topper Plastic Bin
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $16.

Mystic II Rug
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $25.

Erase Board
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $10.

Umbrella Basket
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $20.

Wooden Shelf
Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $13.

Bronze Sconce
Restoration Hardware for about $100.