Solutions for reclaiming the space in your garage

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Garage organization is easy with the right storage solutions.

Do you have an impressive front entry door but you prefer to enter and leave your home through the garage?

If so, youíre not alone. A recent survey of 1,000 adults living in homes with remote-controlled garage doors found that more than 80 percent use their garage as the main entrance.

But the garage is usually ignored when it comes to making it an appealing spot you want to come home to.

"You donít want the main entryway to be the worst-looking room in the house," said Jim Melchert, owner of Garage Store in East Dundee, Ill.

Clear the room. Itís time to restore order by stowing away all those toys, garden supplies and stacks of holiday bins. Thereís no need to sell your car to make space, though. Modular systems and other storage products that suit your budget make organizing garage space a snap.

For example, with Gladiator GarageWorks storage solutions, you can spend $10,000 or more for a complete makeover or you can start with a simple component, such as the GearTrack Pack, strips that run horizontally on a wall and hold various tools. It costs less than $25 for 8 linear feet.

That flexibility is a plus: You donít have to do an entire wall, just what you need. Put one or two strips on a garage wall, add any of the various hooks available, and garden tools, shovels, hoses and other bits of paraphernalia can hang neatly organized and within easy reach. Another advantage: The hooks are adjustable, so the positioning of items is flexible as you add to your rake collection.

In addition to the hooks, Gladiator GarageWorks offers metal or mesh baskets that hang on the wall for frequently used items. If you want a cleaner look, consider lockers and cabinets that keep clutter out of sight and, more importantly, out of your home closets. The cabinets come in silver or red with a tread plate door design ó thatís a real garage look ó or in white for a more modern, clean appearance. They also mount on walls or can be free-standing, with rollers to ease mobility.

Although garages were designed for storage, some homeowners have taken this concept to the extreme. The spaces have become convenient dumping grounds for boxes of clothing or toys. You can only stack boxes so high before they tip over; a damp floor can damage their contents. A solution is a quality shelving unit that gets the items off the floor and out of the way.

Brackets can be attached to the rafters, and shelving units can be installed to accommodate plastic totes of seldom-used items.

Express your personality. Lest you think a garage storage system might look too generic or industrial, there is room for individuality. PrimeTime lockers are available in various team logos and big enough to accommodate hockey sticks.

Give an ordinary concrete floor a polished finish with stylish materials.

For a flashy industrial look that blends in with other components, diamond metallic flooring is an option. Itís available in a peel-and-stick tile version from Raceday or can be purchased in large sizes, such as 10 feet by 22 feet, from various manufacturers. Other floor options include a durable epoxy coating or rubberized vinyl floor mats by Better Life Technology in several colors and designs.

Then there are the small touches that make a garage homey. Every garage needs a fridge, but standard kitchen refrigerators arenít engineered to withstand the temperature fluctuations in garages. A solution is Whirlpoolís Chillerator stainless-steel refrigerator. Itís made to run at peak performance in extreme temperatures, and it uses less energy than a 40-watt light bulb.

Throw in a sound system and a comfy chair, and you might be spending less time in the house.

"You can do anything with a garage," Melchert said. "If youíre into automotive, camping, sporting events, thereís flexibility with the wall system and wall accessories that let you build a garage to fit your lifestyle."