Solutions: Organize garage for a head start on summer

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

As the weather gets warmer, we often feel the urge to purge our homes. When paring down, don’t forget the garage.

“People say, ‘OK, it’s springtime. This is the time to organize the garage, so we can park the vehicles, if not all summer, at least in the winter,” says Betty Huotari, a professional organizer with Logical Placement in Fenton.

“It’s exciting. People know it’s finally getting warmer,” she says. “They want to get their garden tools together. They know they’re there, but not sure where.”

To get your garage in order, Huotari suggests checking the weather forecast and picking a nice day to pull things out into the driveway and sort them into categories. “You can have a garden section and a section for tools, toys, camping and sports equipment, and seasonal decor,” she says.

Make room for garbage, recycling, and returnable bottles and cans, as well as shoes if possible. “Storing shoes in the garage helps keep your home clean inside,” says Huotari.

For those with limited space, she suggests overhead racks that can be mounted to the ceiling and are ideal for seasonal items.

Rubber mats can go under each car. “They catch a lot of stuff that you can sweep out and they protect the floor from snow and sand,” she says.

Think about how you want to use your garage. Is it for storage and parking or is it a designated workspace? It’s important to know your budget too.

Check Pinterest for ideas. Just do a Google search for “garage organizing” to get started.

Get creative with storage. “A lot of people need work space and a workbench in the garage. If you have a lot of tools, you can hook them on a pegboard. This lets you see them visually and everything gets returned to the right place,” says Huotari.

“You can even take a marker and trace the tool and label it. It all depends on your level of perfection.”

Some metal shelves can hold magnets that display labels. “As soon as you label things, it just makes it easier for the eye to catch,” says Huotari, who also recommends clear containers.

Take advantage of vertical space and select deep shelves whenever possible.

Think about where you use things and how often you use them. Seasonal items like lawn chairs can be stored at a higher level. Frequently used belongings associated with the inside of your home (like shoes) should be close to the house, while outdoor supplies should be kept closer to the garage door.

Get your organization project on the calendar and discuss it with family members beforehand. “Get everyone to help out and make sure you have water and snacks and something that’s quick to heat up for lunch,” says Huotari.

“Remember that it’s usually an all-day project. If it took four hours to move things out of the garage, it will take at least that long to put things back in categories.”

For information, contact Betty Huotari at (810) 348-1772 or go to

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her