When I see open garage doors it never
ceases to amaze me how many people just dump their stuff on
the floor and leave the walls bare. In a lot of garages there
isn't room to park a car, yet the space above waist height is
almost empty. That is a waste of resources.
First: Use the
Volume of the available space, not just the area.
Some things aren't used very often. Some items are used all
the time. Essential tools and materials should be within close
and easy reach of the main work areas. Stuff that isn't used
very often should be relegated to second-class or third-class
status and stored farther away from the primary work areas.
You wouldn't store your everyday silverware in the attic and
place your Christmas lights in a main drawer in the kitchen,
It's a good idea to use attic space for low-priority things
(items that aren't used often, seasonal things, etc). Lots of
garages have space overhead that is poorly utilized. Roofs
framed with trusses make it difficult or impossible to
conveniently move around in the attic space, but that overhead
space can still be put to work. I recently installed folding
attic access ladders in two separate garage projects. They
work pretty slick, and at a cost of around $80 they are
Third: Be Reasonable.
Avoid spending too much time and money storing things of
little value. It doesn't make sense to spend $200 on storage
for things that might be worth $20. Get rid of the junk. I
tend to go in phases of wanting to keep things and wanting to
clean house. I see value in almost everything including
broken, worn-out and discarded stuff. That is one benefit, and
one downside, of handymanlyness... everything is useful
so nothing gets thrown away.
Squeezing The Most Stuff Into Your Limited
Shop Or Garage Space:
A couple of concepts come to mind:
1. Fjords. No not Fords, fjords,
the Norwegian word for narrow, deep bays in the coastline.
If you measured the length of the coastline in Norway,
Alaska or British Columbia, the total mileage would be much
greater than the overall distance along the coast,
because the shoreline is folded and convoluted. With shop
layout it's often the amount of wall area that provides
the real benefit, rather than the total volume of the
shop. Walls can hold shelves or hooks, and you can hang tools
on the wall. If you run out of wall space (and I've done that)
then you also run out of places to store things.
The fjord concept means that you arrange storage to create
deep "bays" whereby the amount of shelf
"frontage" can be much more than the overall length
of the walls.
The usual approach is to place a shelf unit with the long
dimension parallel to the wall.
My approach is to make the long dimension perpendicular
to the wall, such as in this example from a friend's
basement. This is just one technique to convert the volume
of the shop into something more usable.
However, in a garage it's important that the shelf unit not
interfere with vehicle storage.
The approach taken by most people is to
arrange the shelf units along the wall, such as in this
Spacing the shelf units apart creates a
small slot that can be useful for storing large flat
items like stepladders and pieces of wood.
As I've done in this example from my own
Recently I've been putting steel shelf
units back-to-back, perpendicular to the wall,
and leaving a small access area to reach the sides of
the shelf units. In a garage this can only be done if
there is a wide enough strip between the walls and the
space where the car is parked.
2. The Fishing Vest.
Fishermen, and soldiers in combat, wear some interesting
garments to store a lot of stuff. A fisherman's vest is just a
vest with pockets everywhere. The idea is to cover your body
with small items instead of carrying a big tackle box. Could
you imagine soldiers doing urban combat and having to lug
around a duffle bag, knapsack or other piece of luggage. It
would be stupid. They keep much of their ammunition and
equipment close by, but distributed around their torso and
upper leg areas.
What does this have to do with garages and storage you ask?
Consider your garage to be like a fishing vest, inside out.
Consider your car to be the body that fits inside the vest.
The idea is to use more than just the available wall and
ceiling surfaces for storage. The idea is to determine how
much volume the car needs, plus the volume people need to
access the items in the garage, and then turn all the
remaining volume into usable storage space. In the end there
is just enough room to access the car and the stuff.
Many camping trailers (except the pop-up kind) make good
use of the volume because they place cabinets all over the
place, especially up near the ceiling.
Consider these concepts when you need to make the most of
your limited garage space.