How to Declutter a Garage for the Ultimate Garage Organization

Today I’m talking about how to declutter a garage, so you can make it functional for your family. My garage was an embarrassment! But the garage declutter before and after pics make it worth it! I have learned that if you don’t have an organization system, no matter how times a year you clean your garage, the garage quickly goes back to chaos. This is because nothing had a “home”.

Cluttered garage with bikes,, shovels, kids toys and more piled on the concrete floor

Why I Needed to Declutter my Garage

  • First of all, a family of five living in both cold winters and warm summers has so much stuff to store! So many bulky items, from seasonal clothing, gardening tools, sleds, and sports equipment to outgrown toys and clothes waiting for the next child to grow into.
  • As an avid DIYer, I have a lot of tools, scrap wood, and a workstation. Every time I worked on a project, the garage became a bigger mess. Plus, my workbench was massive and took up a lot of space, so I had to take it apart. I needed something smaller and more nimble.
  • We are an active family who loves to bike, and play sports. We didn’t have a way to store our bikes. Instead, they were tossed haphazardly into the garage, and we were always tripping on them. I tried hanging the bikes sideways on the garage wall, but they were so heavy and high-up that only my husband could get them up or down.
  • We have a 1 car garage. It’s small! My little one-car garage space was out of control. There was basically no available garage floor space and it was cluttered and messy.
Before organizing for DIY garage makeover. Work bench with tools, scrap wood, platers, and more.

How to Declutter Your Garage – What to Keep vs. Toss?

I really wished I  could have rented a pod where I could empty every single thing from my garage and start my garage decluttering. But, I was too cheap. Instead, I worked on different zones in my garage. I knew I would be using the vertical space in my garage. Here are the steps I took:

Take inventory – The first step was to to take inventory of all the items. I literally wrote them all down. I noted how frequently they are used, and if they could be grouped together (ie snow blower to be used with snow shovels)

Purge, purge, purge! – I got rid of items that I was hanging on to “just in case”. This included a lot of items that my parents gave me over the years as they organized their garage. I also had duplicates, lots of random plant pots, etc. Getting rid of items felt so good! I also purged a lot of holiday decorations that weren’t my style anymore. My golden rule: If it hasn’t been used for 1 year, time to donate it.

Measure and draw your space – I measured my walls. I drew them in a sketch book. I researched different ways that I could use the vertical space. I asked myself, “What kind of wall slat systems and hooks were available?”

Research garage storage solutions- After A LOT of research on garage storage solutions, I finally selected the Gladiator Garage System. It seemed like the most flexible because they have a lot of different types of hooks and shelves. All of them can be repositioned. I used this system for my under the stairs storage closet, and it did not disappoint!

Visualize/ draw your garage organization – I drew them items that I thought would work well on each wall. I wasn’t too worried about this as I could move around the hooks if they didn’t work well.    

Typical Garage Items to Dispose of

I got rid of a lot of small things that were around for years. Here’s a few examples:

  • Old batteries
  • Things that were supposed to be donated
  • I had a lot of random screws (from furniture, stripped screws, one off screws, etc)
  • Unfinished DIY projects
  • Broken sports equipment (I found both broken knee pads and training wheels)
  • Leftover or ripped bedsheets and rags that I could use as a drop cloth for painting
  • Hazardous waste
  • Leftover paint
  • Scrap wood that is too small to be repurposed. I tossed anything that was smaller than 8″ since it can’t be cut safely with a mitre saw

Step by Step Garage Organizing

I am going to admit that I really tried to DIY my garage on a shoe string budget. But it never gave me long term organization that I was proud to keep tidy. I read so many reviews for the Gladiator System. They also have a garage planning tool that helped me figure out how many wall panels, shelves and hooks I needed.

About the Gladiator System

Let’s talk a little bit about the Gladiator system itself. The foundation of the whole thing is the GearWall panels. They come in two colours: Hammered White and Charcoal. I used both for my project, but what colour you choose will depend on what kind of garage look you are going for.

These panels are so easy to install. You can cut them with a circular saw to make them any length you need. You can then use the end caps on the cut ends for a finished look.

Screwing in Gladiator Canada GearWall Panel
Cutting Gladiator Canada GearWall Panel Trim to size with scissors

To install, start at the bottom of your space and work your way up, each panel snapping into the one below it. We found there was no point starting exactly at the floor, because you won’t be hanging anything 4″off the floor! When you’re done, you need to put screws through each panel (each colour comes with matching screws) and into the studs of your garage walls, at a maximum of 24” apart. First, drill pilot holes, then drive the screws in with an impact driver. I just want to reiterate that it is VERY important to screw the panels into the wall studs. You are going to be hanging and storing heavy items on these panels, and so you want them to hold and not fall down! 

Once you get your panels up, then you get to do the fun part: setting up your shelves, hooks, and whatever else you choose for this fully customizable storage system! 

Think About Your Storage Needs

I had three walls to organize, and I did something different on each one. When I was choosing what products I wanted, I tried to think about my goals for the space. We want to stay in this home as long as possible, so maximizing every inch of room for our growing family was the determining factor. There is a lot of wall space in our garage, so we really wanted to maximize it. But you can choose the storage solutions that best support your lifestyle!

Cluttered garage with peg board installed on wall

The first wall I started on was the one that has the door leading into and out of the house. We started by putting up the GearWall panels in Charcoal. This wall included an outlet, and so we had to cut out a piece of one panel to go around it. I used my toothpaste trick for this one. First, I outlined the outlet in gel toothpaste to make an impression on the back of the panel where the outlet needed to be. I outlined it in white pencil after I got the toothpaste impression, and then cut it out with my jigsaw. Easy peasy! 

outlet in the middle of the wall where the Gladiator GearWall panel is being installed
outlet in the middle of a Gladiator GearWall panel

I decided to make this a dark and moody feature wall, so I painted it Urban Bronze SW 7048 once I had the GearWall system installed.  I love the contrast with the door that is painted in Rosaline Pearl SW 9077. With the new GearWall panels and a fresh coat of paint, the wall already felt like it had a new life.

Installing Gladiator GearWall Panel in Charcoal

Once we got the panels up, we got to do the fun part! I chose a mix of shelves and hooks for this space. Everything just pops into the slots anywhere on the GearWall, so you can do whatever you want and change it as often as you need to suit your current needs.

We can hang shovels, yard tools, electrical cords, and toys from the functional hooks, and the shelves work perfectly for bike helmets, paint cans, picnic blankets, more toys, garden supplies, or whatever else we need to set on a shelf! I think my FAVOURITE thing on this wall is the Gladiator Ball Caddy that I hung at kid-height. We have about a thousand balls, so seeing them contained so neatly at a height where the kids can take them out and put them away themselves was very exciting. 

Gladiator Canada GearWall panel in Charcoal with black shelves for storage and hooks for shovels and extension cords.

Customizing My DIY Workbench

The next wall is where I put my bench! Guys, this is so exciting. As I took the old station down I reminisced about how I’ve been doing DIY for four years now. I am so grateful for this community and I cannot wait to see where this new workbench will take us!

before garage makeover - peg board installed on garage wall for tool storage
Before cleaning and organizing the garage. Lot's of clutter to deal with!

We set up my new wood-topped workbench, eight feet long and adjustable in height. Isn’t it gorgeous? I put up two GearWall panels in Hammered White to hang my tools on. Everything else will live in garage cabinets. Upper cabinets of course, because this project is all about utilizing vertical space! The cabinets are from the Gray Slate Premier Pre-Assembled 30” Gearbox line. They are metal and super strong and will hold lots of small tools.

Installing Gladiator Wall Cabinets to the GearWall system

For under the workbench, I used 2 lower cabinets, and added heavy duty wheels. These fit underneath perfectly, but can roll out when in use for easy access. They have their own wood top too, so they can be used during a project for extra workbench space. After what I was using before, this all feels so heavy duty and professional. I love this whole space so much and it changes the look of the entire garage. 

Installing GladiatorCanada workbench

I can’t even describe how amazing and inspired I feel looking at my new workbench!

Gladiator Canada Workbench

DIY Bike Storage

Let’s talk about bikes now, shall we? Storing bikes has been a huge pain up until this point. We have three kids, which means a lot of bikes in the first place. But when you add in storing bikes until the next kid is big enough to use them, it’s really a LOT of bikes! 

Installing Gladiator Canada Bike GearTrack

Beside the workstation on the same wall, I set up a bike area. This can hold the kids bikes (with training wheels), adult bikes, and even my bike with a baby seat on it! I used the Gladiator Claw Advanced Bike Storage system. This system is so cool. You hang bikes vertically (right on theme!) on the mounted GearRack, and just push the button on each holder to release the bike wheel. So much easier to use than the rack we had before. This eight foot space can hold six bikes, which is so much more efficient than what we were doing before.

Several bikes hanging on Gladiator Canada Bike GearTrack

Declutter and Organize your Garage with Bins

On the back wall of the garage, I was all about the shelving. I’m so excited for these shelves! Some of them are HUGE, and they are the perfect place for big storage bins of seasonal items and clothing with extra room left over. These are 30” deep (45″ long) and very sturdy and secure because they are made of steel. I even labelled the bins so I knew exactly what was inside each bin. I added some smaller shelves that will be great for holding scrap wood too! There are some mesh baskets within easy reach, so I can see everything inside, and of course some 11′ deep hooks to get my strollers off the floor!. Everything of all sizes hooks onto the wall panels securely and easily, and they lock in two places (top and bottom) so you don’t have to worry about anything falling off. 

DIY garage makeover using Gladiator Gearloft Shelving
Gladiator Gearloft Shelving with storage bins

Featured: Premier Series 30 in. x 45 in. Steel Garage Wall Shelving in Hammered White

Installing Gladiator Gearloft Shelving
DIY garage makeover reveal showing Gladiator Canada GearWall Panels and Gearloft Shelving

One of my favorite parts is the charging station cabinet on the right side of this wall.

Results After Decluttering the Garage – Photos!

When you declutter your garage, you can feel like you can breath again! It’s like a brand new garage. I didn’t even need to get rid of much since I had so much more garage storage space than I thought! And the entire process was so easy, from start to finish. From now on, you can find me hanging out in my dream garage. SO tidy, SO neat, SO organized. Every square foot being utilized. You can actually see the concrete floor! I can’t wait to start turning out amazing DIY projects in this incredible home workshop! I hope you got some garage organizing tips to help turn your space into your own dream workspace.

You’ll find the reveal photos and links for all the products too!

DIY garage makeover reveal showing Gladiator Canada GearWall Panels, hooks, ball caddy and Gearloft Shelving

Items used for the Sports Equipment wall

DIY garage makeover reveal showing Gladiator Canada GearWall Panels and Gearloft Shelving

Items used for my miscellaneous wall

Vertical hanging bike station
Gladiator bike station with bikes for kids and adults.

Items used for the bike station:

DIY garage makeover reveal showing Gladiator Canada GearWall Panels, bike hooks and Gearloft Shelving

Items used for the back wall

DIY garage makeover reveal showing Gladiator Canada GearWall Panels, wall cabinets and workbench

Items Used for my workstation:

Have you decluttered your garage? Tag me @hanashappyhome, I would love to see your pics! 

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