Whether you have a garage that is so packed you can’t pull your car in or you’re just looking to get everything organized so that you know where your stuff is located, a garage renovation might be just the solution you need. At the moment, getting your garage in order seems like an overwhelming task. But call in the experts and you just may find that a garage the entire neighborhood envies is closer than you realize.
There’s nothing quite like walking into an organized garage, says Nadine Holtz, co-owner of Closets by Design of Northern New Jersey. Not only is it nice to be able to pull your car in, but Holtz points out that getting your garage in order gives you peace of mind. When everything is organized and has a space where you can easily find it, it’s just a more pleasant experience walking through your garage. And keep in mind that most people these days do enter their homes through the garage.
“If you ever think of selling your home, a beautiful and organized garage makes a great first impression on potential buyers,” Holtz says. “But even if you aren’t planning to sell, it’s a nice first impression of your home when guests come to visit. The first thing people will say is, ‘What a beautiful garage.’”
Steve Chaloult, owner of Floorguard, agrees. He says that a garage that has been transformed sets a tone when you first enter. “There’s a positive mentality about coming home from work and entering your home through an organized garage,” Chaloult says. “It just starts your evening off with a better mindset when the space is beautiful and clean versus something that is oil-stained and cluttered. After a long day, wouldn’t you rather walk in through a beautiful space?”
As you get started with the process of transforming your garage, try not to get overwhelmed by the task at hand, says Paul Greskovich, owner of Garage Craft Interiors. Many people actually end up finding that the process is “cathartic,” Greskovich adds. Getting rid of things you haven’t touched in a decade or more can feel really good.
“You ultimately have two chances to throw stuff away— first when you take everything out of the garage to get the work done and second when you start to put everything back into the garage,” Greskovich says. “As you begin the process of putting things back, be selective and be honest with yourself. If you haven’t touched it in five or 10 years, do you really still need it?”
Les Hutton, owner and chief designer at GarageTek of North and Central New Jersey says that part of his job is helping homeowners through the process of what they really want to keep—and what they can let go. He says that’s not always easy for people but that it’s an important part of the process. After all, just sticking a whole bunch of stuff back into a beautiful organization system doesn’t actually solve your problem.
“We take a professional organizer approach to garages,” Hutton explains. “We help people ask: ‘What do I need to get rid of and what should I keep?’ People keep a lot of things around that they don’t truly need. Take paint, for instance. If you have cans of old paint stored in an unheated garage, it’s not going to be good after a year or two.
“As an associate member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), if the homeowner is overwhelmed by, or needs extra assistance with the de-cluttering process, we refer them to an independent professional organizer who can guide and help them, not only with the messy garage, but also with their entire home as well as their personal and business life if desired.”
If you’re tackling the initial organization process on your own, you might want to use the “pile method” to at least help you get started. Doing it this way makes the task feel less overwhelming.
“The first thing you should do is separate all your items into three piles—things to throw away, things to donate and things that you really need,” says Lenny Kelman, owner of Dream Garage Remodeling, a dealer of the Monkey Bars Storage system. “After you’ve done that, then you can get started with an organization solution.”
But regardless of whether you tackle the mess on your own or with the help of a professional, it’s something that must be done.
“Every design we do is custom, so we spend time learning about what is important for each customer’s unique needs,” says Shiva Nili, vice president at California Closets. “For many people, having a messy, disorganized garage is very stressful. By building a beautiful, practical and custom-tailored garage unit, we help the customer get rid of the mess. It’s such a rewarding feeling when clients rave about how our system has made their life easier every day.”
Organization professional will need to look at the space and the stuff that is remaining to determine the design solutions.
“We work with homeowners to determine optimal solutions needed for items to be stored and the available space,” Hutton says. “That means, for instance, thought will be given to where the cabinets go. If they go next to where the car is going to be parked, cabinet doors won’t be able to be opened when the car is there, so open shelves may be a better solution.”
If there is room for cabinetry, homeowners should know the material is durable and longlasting. “All of the material we use is top of the line,” says Nili. “Although garages use the same high-end material as our closet [systems] do, they are designed differently. For example, garage cabinets are generally taller and deeper, allowing for more storage.”
Other solutions for getting everything up and off the ground exist as well, giving you room to walk around in—and park your car. Don Unger, sales manager at Closet City, says that a lot of people park their bikes in the middle of the garage but that’s taking up useable space. “We can install baskets for different sports gear, hooks for baseball bats and gloves or shelving for seasonal storage, such as Christmas decorations which can be stored a little higher since they don’t come down as often,” Unger explains. “The end goal is to be able to give you a lot more space—and to make everything easier to find.”
Nili says a slat wall is always a good recommendation, too. “The most important item we recommend for every garage is slat wall,” she says. “You can put a variety of different items on slat wall to store bicycles, gardening tools, sports equipment, brooms, and much more. Furthermore, slat wall doesn’t take up a lot of space so it leaves plenty of room to park the car in the garage.”
The flooring is also important. Floorguard’s Chaloult says that the most popular product request he gets is a seamless epoxy floor covering that comes in a range of colors and finishes and is also resistant to stains. It makes spills easy to clean up and also helps reduce the amount of dirt, dust and pollen being tracked into the home. That can even help reduce problems with allergies and asthma.
Making these kinds of changes and getting organized will make life easier and ultimately decrease your stress level. There’s nothing quite like coming home to a clean garage. You’ll feel like you’re getting things under control and with that will come some wonderful peace of mind.
Cranbury, Mount Laurel, and Northfield, N.J.
Closets by Design
(Pennsylvania and Delaware)
(888) 500-9215 (New Jersey)
Closet City, Ltd.
Dream Garage Remodeling, Co.
Garage Craft Interiors
GarageTek of North and Central New Jersey
Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 17, Issue 12 (June, 2017).
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