Organizing Chaos

Experts offer advice on maximizing the toughest room in your house—the garage.

If there’s an “island of forgotten treasures” anywhere in your home, it’s the garage. All your trinkets and tchotchkes from years gone by end up there, including some stuff you always thought you’d get around to using, but never did. The garage is the place you never want to deal with—especially on the weekend—just to have it fall into disarray again six months later.

The teams behind the nationwide garage-organizing service travel throughout more than 300 cities, including Orlando, nudging their clients to purge things they don’t use and regroup items for a cleaner, more user-friendly garage. Owner Solomon Petersen oversees operations throughout the U.S. “We don’t have an emotional attachment to our clients’ items,” he says, “so we’re able to  help them look at things objectively to decide what stays and what goes.”

Petersen utilizes the same strategy when organizing a space, including setting limits on how long it’s been since a client has used something. Grouping similar belongings also helps. It’s easier to make decisions on items once they are grouped together rather than trying to decide as you pick it up.

If you encounter roaches or evidence of rodents while going through your things, Petersen advises: Throw out the box. “Keep your warranties in a folder in the house, but throw out your appliance boxes. In Florida, it rains, and things get wet, and pests love wet cardboard. Just get rid of it, and you won’t have those problems.”

To keep your garage clean and in good working order, consider installing a garage-organizing system that incorporates cabinetry, slat walls, overhead storage or all three.

“Everybody’s goal is to get their car back in the garage,” says Leonard Shaw, owner of Garage Floors and More in Apopka. “Homeowners just want to be able to utilize that space again.”

Many of his clients start with overhead storage for its convenience and cost: $359 for one 8’ x 4’ unit, which holds up to 600 pounds. A cabinet starter, which measures 12’ x 6’, starts at $2,200. And if you’re looking for the best option to hang bicycles and large yard tools, consider a slat wall organizer.

A complete garage overhaul with cabinets, overhead storage and new flooring can average $5,000, says Shaw. The flooring, a line of polyurethane coatings and epoxies, can be applied and completed in one day and is almost maintenance-free. Typically, he adds, homeowners want the floor covering because they want the garage to feel like a finished room.

And at the end of the day, you’ll be able to park your car where it belongs—in the garage.  

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