Smart Design With Suzette: Garages

The organized garage. Courtesy photo
Smart Design With Suzette

If you can’t find room to park your car, it’s time to clear out the clutter and reclaim your garage.

It’s the one part of the house that my family tends to let go. It holds our garbage and recycling, bikes, sports equipment, yard sale items, paint, tools, potting bench and gardening equipment, lawn mower, and of course one car in our two-car garage.

We toss our dirty shoes in there, pile our yard tools on top of each other, randomly stack shelves with odds and ends, and have about a dozen junk drawers. And, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to go in there!

Is there a perfect time to clean out, design and organize the garage? Well, no. Honestly, it’s really hard to get motivated when you’re garage looks like a dump. The last thing I want to do is spend 20 minutes looking for the rake. Tackling this area can be a daunting task, yet the most rewarding.

Home garage design has evolved far beyond securing automobiles from weather and crime. Today’s garage designs have enhanced both form and function made to accommodate a wide variety of needs and lifestyles.

Before and after. Courtesy photo

Here is a before and after photo of a client’s garage in Santa Fe that I designed. She is an artist and wanted her garage to function as a gallery for her artwork and a place to bring appetizers and beverages out for showings when not used to park her car. What a difference the right design can make. (Sorry the photos not the best- but you get the idea)

Fortunately, with a few simple storage ideas and clever tips, you can keep your garage clean and organized. I’ve rounded up a few cheap, easy and downright brilliant garage organization ideas that will make your visit to the garage, well, not so overwhelming.

Making the most of wall space. Courtesy photo.

Maximize Surfaces

Although the garage has an abundance of space, once you add a vehicle or two, that space is quickly limited. Make the most of the walls by installing shelving and rails of pegs or hooks. The hooks are great for hanging yard tools while shelving is ideal for containers and bins. Don’t forget about the ceiling! You can maximize your available surface area by installing ceiling storage kits or hooks for bicycles and gear.

Create Zones

A garage is typically a very large space to fill. Make the most of the perimeter by breaking the walls into specific zones. A few zoning ideas include a spot for gardening tools, sporting goods equipment, home improvement tools and auto maintenance products. This way, the entire family knows exactly where to find specific items based on activity.

Smart storage. Courtesy photo

Smart Storage

Be selective about the storage solutions used within the garage as the area quickly accumulates dust and even draws in the occasional critter. Avoid canvas and woven materials and opt for plastic or metal finishes, which are easy to wipe down and will last through variable climates and temperatures. Storing outdoor toys and beach gear in lightweight handled baskets is an easy solution when paired with shelving. Choose covered drawers or lidded bins for items you wish to remain dust-free.

Get Creative

You may find you have many miscellaneous and oddly shaped items to store in the garage. Clear shoes boxes are ideal for storing smaller items such as extension cords, garbage bags, hardware and various parts. Food jars are a fitting choice for screws, nuts, bolts and nails while soup cans work well for taller tools and utensils. And don’t forget to label!

I came across this quote and it made me laugh, “Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.”

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to suggest specific design topics or for help with your home. For more information, find her on Facebook at and on her website

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