How do I organize my garage on a tight budget?

Garages are a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they provide additional space and Storage options for your home, and a curse because they’re ‘inside’ yet are exposed to the elements and because they can so easily turn into dumping grounds.

Especially this time of the year (after the holidays), I like to get in and do some organizing. Things will often get “dumped” in the Garage to hide, or store etc. and I find things get a little out of control this time of the year. I like to get a handle on the mess before the Spring when we use the garage more.

So what is the answer? How can you make the best use of your garage, maximize its storage capacity and keep it functional? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Garage Smart – Top Garage Storage Solutions

When was the last time you tried to organize your Garage? You just come in, pick what you want, and go away. It must be challenging going through the stuff trying to find a small piece in all that mess. You can solve all the mess like a genius. All you should learn is how to organize a garage on a tight budget. They only significant investment you will be making is your time. 

Are you tired of rummaging through your garage trying to find a spanner? Let this post help you fix up your garage and maximize usable space. It will give you ideas and tips to organize your garage without spending so much. You are only a step away from a neat garage. Keep reading. 

Speak to us if you’re looking for premium garage storage solutions in Melbourne.

Creating Your Garage Plan

Knowing the items that you will store in the garage is important, and the best way to store them in good condition is something you must consider, too. I am not one for spending money on storage options, and I like to think about what we have and what we need and to work through this and the space available.

There are loads of ways that you can create storage, which is pretty often from items that you normally throw away. If you are looking to organize your garage on a tight budget, being creative in the solutions that you come up with is important. Thinking about these in advance means that you don’t suddenly decide to spend more money on storage because you haven’t first created a plan.

Labelling Your Items

There is nothing worse than putting things in their new home and forgetting where they go or what is in the storage containers. This means that items easily get misplaced or worse, you end up destroying what you have created because you forgot to label exactly where to find each item or category. While it is great if you can have pretty labels, you don’t have to have them if you are trying to save money. It is just as effective to write on a piece of tape or the box or shelf.

You can also take this one step further and actually create an inventory of the room with details of where each item goes. I would love the time to do this, and maybe in the future, I can do this for every room in my home! That would be an awesome project!


Because the garage is so big, to avoid burnout (where you get to the point that you are just shoving things back in places just to get them picked up), try to do it over a period of time and days. Just do a section at a time and work on it little by little.

I like to start with sections. I’ll do one side of the Garage one day, and perhaps it’s my cabinets. If I get too tired, I go cabinet by cabinet. Then, I’ll work on my shelving units where I store all my kids’ clothes. Sorting through a lot of clothes can be tiring, so I like to do just my sons clothes the first day or just my daughters’ clothes.

Breaking it up into bite-sized chunks that can be done each day will really help you not feel so overwhelmed. If you do start to get overwhelmed, just try to focus on the one area you are doing and don’t think about the whole garage.


Know that some items should never be stored in your garage. Find new homes for the following items of making arrangements to get rid of them properly; paint, propane tanks, paper products, food (unless it is sealed and in cabinets), and pet food. These items attract pests or can be extremely dangerous.

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I can’t tell you how much cabinets will do for your garage. I just think everyone who has a garage should have them. They help in the organization process so much. They store things out of the way, and you can shut the doors, so everything looks neat and tidy. Here’s a link to the littler cabinet on Amazon. I have an entire wall of cabinets. Nice big ones and smaller ones. All the same height and all white, so they look like they belong.

Organize From the First Day                  

When your garage is ready for use, do not wait to install garage cabinets so that you can organize them. Start with the little you have. You can make shelves, containers, and Storage spaces, even if you do not have anything to keep there. As you get more items, it will be easy to put them where they belong. If you are moving into a new house with a garage, declutter your items, so they don’t overwhelm your space.

Ceiling Hooks for Bikes

Is everyone in your family into bikes? Biking is a great way to be active, but you will have a nightmare of storing all those bikes. Lucky for you, there is a genius idea that will save you the trouble. Get ceiling hooks to mount your bikes. You will make use of the airy space and have your garage space neat. 

Put Your old Furniture in Good Use

Do not let old furniture lying around in your compound. You can turn them into organizing champs. You can change an old table into a working bench. An old couch can easily be transformed into shelves. Think creatively, and you will have your garage space dropping the jaws of your visitors. 

Take Advantage of Bulk Buying

Many make the mistake of buying a bunch of bins, filling them and then forgetting about them. Though fast, this method is a nightmare when you try to find something in the future. Before you rack up a bill at The Container Store, take stock of your supply.

Organize items into piles—sports equipment, garden supplies, etc.—and then create sub-piles based on size and category. For example, safety gear like helmets and knee pads can be their own sub-pile in the sports equipment category. The only items you don’t need to organize are those you’re going donate or sell at a garage sale. Toss anything that’s broken, damaged or missing pieces.

Buying a single item at a time will be costly. You do not get any discounts when you buy, for instance, a spanner. There are stores near you that offer discounts when you buy in bulk. You can get as high as 30% discounts. Get your money ready and stock up your garage for less. Make sure you organize all your items as they come in. 

Garage Cabinets are a Useful Addition

There’s no need to point it out, but for most people, a Garage can become quite the clutter zone – what, with all the different home improvement projects and seasonal gear, it’s to be expected right? Well sure, but if your situation resembles the latter one, then garage cabinets are likely to become your best friend. Before purchasing your cabinets, plan out your garage setup py taping the floor where you plan on placing your new storage units. Doing so will ensure that everything fits accordingly once you get back from the store. Best of all, an 8-foot melamine and pine storage unit will only cost you an approximate $27!

Use the Vertical Space

Most items are around the edges of a garage, leaving the centre space for projects or storing your car in the garage. This means being creative on your storage in the vertical. The best forms of Storage in your garage is off the floor. This makes it easier to keep the floors clean and organized!

It is easier to store and retrieve items if they have a home to go to; it is the same principle as organizing inside your home. Having shelves on the walls can help corral the items, but sometimes you might need to put items in other containers to protect the items from insects, or storing for longer periods of time.

However, a garage is not a dumping ground, and you have to need all the items you own. It is easy to place items in the garage with the hope of one day using it again. However, this is hoarding, and if you don’t need it or love it, then it might be time to donate, sell or trash the item.

It is very likely to forget the space on your garage walls and the ceiling. It will only serve to crowd your floor. It is time you think vertically. Put up shelves, hooks, pegboards, hooks, and anything else that can create vertical storage space. 

When you arrange your items, make sure to keep those you often use at the lower space. Those you use once or twice a year should go to the top. 

Plan a Transition Zone

The number one request I receive from families when I am helping them design their space is to find space that will function as a mudroom. Mudrooms have become a sort of Holy Grail of organization in today’s family home. Something you desire, but that the average home is not likely to have.

Even an inexpensive shelf next to the Garage door for shoes and the current season’s sports gear can be a big help. Kids know exactly where to find what they need in that mad rush out the door, and shoes don’t even have to come in the door to be tripped over. Win, win!

I have often placed a bench in this area, so younger children have a place to sit down and tie their shoes. And you can even get fancy with some built-in hooks, for coats or hats depending on the climate where you live. I have found that winter coats are best kept inside here in the Pacific Northwest, or my kids won’t grab them because the temperature of the coat is so uncomfortable when they put them on. I do move the coats out to some wire basket/drawers during the warmer months for storage though.

Put it in a Bag

One of my favourite ideas is to use IKEA’s large bedding storage bags to keep bulky items clean and visible in the garage. I used just to keep things in large garbage bags, but often I couldn’t remember what I put into them – problem number 1 – and the kids ripped into them instead of untying them, so I always had to get a new bag to put things away – problem number 2.

The IKEA bags are not only see-through so you can find what you have stored away, but they also have a heavy-duty zipper and handles that make transporting your items so much easier. I keep sleeping bags, already packed with pillows and an extra blanket in mine. I wash everything when the kids return with them and put them back on the shelf, so the next time someone is headed out to a sleepover, they just grab a bag, and they are set to go.

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Lift It Up

Garage lofts have become popular for adding storage space, but I find they are expensive to build and difficult to access. I love these simple wire shelves running along the entire garage wall up near the ceiling. My shoe shelves and even extra refrigerator (5 kids equals a lot of milk) fit underneath them; they are 7 and 8 feet off the ground. These shelves run the entire length of the wall which means you can access them at every point and are 18″ deep, enough to hold larger items but not deep enough that you will push items to the back and forget they are there. I keep lighter weight bulky items up high, like IKEA sleeping bags cases and the blow-up mattresses; I have a whole guest bedroom on that top shelf! You can also put items up out of reach that you don’t want kids or dogs to be able to reach.

This is a much simpler and less expensive alternative to garage lofts, and I think it is also much more practical.

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Repurpose Your Hampers

One of my favourite ways to contain bulky or ungainly items in the garage is to use tall laundry hampers to hold them. Clean garbage cans work too, despite being round and taking up more floor space. However, if you have a lot of balls or folding chairs for sports, etc., garbage cans are a great solution.

I often use hampers for things like wood pieces, umbrellas, garden tools, etc. They are rectangular so you can fit several of them in a row. This bin fits perfectly between the tool bench and the wire drawers where I store bulky winter jackets and other outdoor gear. This way, I know exactly where to go when I need a little piece of something to finish a DIY project or make a repair.

Building a Personalized Storage Unit

Are you rather jealous of the Storage walls with rearrangeable vertical slats as well as various sized hooks and bins found in most all sport good stores? Well, guess what, you can easily incorporate this innovative retail system into your own home garage! This can be considered a pretty simple Do-it-Yourself weekend project – with quick and easy installation, and your storage system will be up and running in no time. Better yet, your new storage can be reorganized and adapted to your needs as they change.

Sports Gear Rack

You can get dual use out of your ball storage rack by building it slightly bigger. Try 12 in. wide x 25 in. high x 16 in. deep. Once you’ve got your elastic cord threaded through the holes in the wood in order to create a netting, you can start thinking about optimizing the outside of your storage rack. By adding a few hooks or short gutter troughs, storing smaller balls or other outside toys or sports gear becomes much easier.

Ball Storage Rack

We can all agree that bouncy balls are great fun – but can be quite the hassle to put away when the fun and games have come to an end. However, thanks to the ball storage rack for your garage, you can mount and store several balls where ever you are please. This is another Do-It-Yourself project if you feel crafty enough and the materials are quite simple: Plywood, dowels and elastic cord are pretty much all your need to rowdy up all those play balls and keep them from rolling around on your floor (or underneath your car!)

Use Transportable Buckets

I keep smaller items that often have to be transported for use in buckets. They add function and a lot of charm. Cleaning items with rags, garden gloves and small utensils are perfect for this kind of storage. They are also a great way to sort out your tools. A drill and all of its bits and extension cords etc. can be kept in one bucket, so you are not hunting for what you need each time.

I have also used these types of buckets for gloves and hats for the kids. Baseballs, leashes, and clean up bags with small bags of treats. They are a very versatile piece to help tailor your garage to your exact needs.

Create Wire Shelves

A Garage loft is an excellent way of increasing the storage space, but it can be a little too expensive for someone on a budget. As an alternative, you can run wire shelves along the walls, high up near the ceiling. The wire shelves can be pretty useful for storing lighter items like your storage bags and small DIY products. You could even keep your blow-up mattresses up there.

Got things that you don’t want your kids or pets to reach like poisonous solutions? The wire shelves are a great place to keep them. You can place your shoe shelves and extra refrigerators underneath the wire shelves.

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Thinking Storage

Storage doesn’t have to cost extra money, how many jars do you throw out each week? The same with boxes of all shapes and sizes.

It is possible to reuse these and to create storage solutions for all your needs.

I have kept the plastic toy boxes my kids used, and these are ideal for storing items for longer periods and for protecting them from the elements.

With the weather beginning to turn, open those garage doors one sunny day, sweep out the cobwebs and tackle the clutter. Purge what you don’t need and rethink how you can make the storage that you do have work best for your family. Happy Spring cleaning!

How to organize a garage on a tight budget should not give you any headaches. You can organize a small space as long as you create time. Remember to take advantage of bulk buying discounts as well as using the vertical space. Always keep the things you use near for easy and quick access. 

In 2005, GarageSmart® pioneered the garage storage category in Australia. Since we’ve built a reputation of providing a premium product along with a friendly and professional service. GarageSmart has the best home storage solutions. GarageSmart is the nation’s leader in complete garage fit-outs. We are a privately owned company and we are very proud of that. GarageSmart is a complete “do-it for you” premium garage fit out company.

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