Small Garage Organization: Big Ideas for Compact Spaces

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If you have a small, one-car garage, keeping it organized is a big challenge. 

In this guide, we will walk you through exactly how to transform your small garage into a well-organized, efficient space, regardless of how little room you have.

We’ll cover how to effectively plan out your garage space while sorting and purging excess items. Then, I’ll show you some of the best garage storage ideas that I’ve used in my own garage to keep things organized. 

Then, we’ll cover how to make your garage more comfortable and look good while improving your lighting and ventilation.

Let’s get started.


Space-Planing in a Small Garage

Organizing a small, one-car garage can feel overwhelming. But…proper planning (and a lot of measuring) can make it much more manageable.

That revolves around three core ideas: evaluating your needs, creating garage zones, and continually reassessing as things change. 

Evaluating Your Needs

No matter how you use your garage, its primary function is to store vehicles. Any small garage organization plan needs to factor in ample space for parking. 

For the rest of this article, we’ll make some assumptions based on the dimensions of a typical one-car garage and the size of an average car in the US. 

  • A standard one-car garage is between 12′ and 16′ wide and 20′ and 24′ long. We’ll assume our garage is on the smaller side at 14′ x 20′.
  • The most popular cars (non-trucks) in the United States are the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Both are approximately 6′ wide and 15′ long. 

Let’s assume you want an additional 2′ on each side of your car so you don’t have to squeeze in and out. We’ll also leave an extra foot in front and behind your car to make parking easier. 

That leaves us with three feet of space along one side wall and two feet along the back wall. This will vary depending on the dimensions of your vehicle. 

In a later section, we’ll cover solutions to help maximize that limited amount of space in your small garage.

Zone Planning 

Next, think about how you want to use your garage. 

Is it solely for car parking, or does it also need to accommodate storage, workshop areas, or even a home gym? 

The answers will give you a clearer picture of what your garage should look like. 

Once that’s done, the concept of ‘zone planning’ comes into play. 

The idea is to partition your garage into zones dedicated to a specific purpose. 

For example, you might create zones for car maintenance, gardening, sports gear, or a hobby. This deliberate planning ensures every inch of your garage is used effectively and items are easy to locate. 

Constantly Reassess Your Space Needs

Remember, your garage is not static, so expect your needs to evolve over time. 

Don’t be afraid to consistently reassess your garage layout. 

For example, if you’ve picked up a new hobby or your kids have outgrown their sports equipment, it’s OK to change things up. 

This way, you’re ensuring that your garage adapts to the changing needs of your household.

Small cluttered garage

Small Garage Organization & Decluttering

Statistics suggest that 15%-25% of Americans can’t park their car inside their garage because of excessive clutter. 

So no matter what small garage storage solutions you end up with, you need to start by decluttering your garage. 

I have an entire article on my “No-Stress” method of decluttering your garage, breaking it down into manageable tasks. 

Here are some of the highlights:

Stage 1: Clearing Floor Space: Start with disposing of large items such as old mattresses, outdated computers, piles of recycling, unused paint cans, empty boxes from your last move, and stacks of old newspapers or magazines. 

This initial step creates workable space and delivers quick, visible results.

Stage 2: Sorting Items: Next, categorize all items into piles of similar products. Maintain clear space between piles to prevent a sense of being overwhelmed. 

Your garage should be tidier by the end of this stage but don’t worry if it’s not fully organized yet.

Stage 3: Determining Their Fate: Pick a pile and sort items into three categories: discard, donate/sell, or keep. Dispose of things you haven’t used within the last year and anything that no longer serves a purpose in your life. 

For items of potential value, use platforms like eBay to decide whether to sell, donate, or discard them.

Stage 4: Implement Storage Solutions: Once your clutter is under control, it’s time to introduce storage solutions. 

In the next section, we’ll look at some of the best small garage storage solutions to help you make the most of your limited space.  


Garage Storage Ideas for Small Garages

Once you’ve sorted and purged your items, the next step in small garage organization is to make the best use of the available space. 

Small garages like yours can become functional and organized with the right storage systems and accessories.

Let’s explore some small garage organization ideas that are perfect for your one-car garage.


Low-Profile Garage Cabinets for Small Spaces

Finding the right cabinets is crucial if you have a small one-car garage. You need to look at factors such as depth, options, construction quality, and price. 

I looked at the off-the-shelf garage cabinet brands to see which ones were best suited for small garages. 

I could rule out most cabinets quickly, as they were just too deep. This included the NewAge Pro (24″ deep), Ulti-Mate 2.0 (21″), Gladiator Flex (19″), and the Husky Regular Duty (20″) and Heavy Duty cabinets (24″).

That leaves us with four brands: Craftsman, Seville Classics UltraHD, Gladiator RTA and Premier, and NewAge Bold.

NewAge Bold Cabinets
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Craftsman offers 18″ deep cabinets in their Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) line, but the options are limited. They also have sturdier, welded cabinets, but these are 21″ deep, possibly too big for smaller garages.

Seville Classics UltraHD has 18″ options too. However, they don’t feel as solid or durable as other brands.

Then we have Gladiator and NewAge. 

Both brands provide plenty of 18″ options, which is perfect for smaller spaces. 

Gladiator’s RTA and Premier cabinets let you mix and match to your heart’s content. 

NewAge’s Bold series also has a wide model range but with a higher price tag. That said, they offer a ton of pre-configured sets, often at a discount to purchasing individual pieces.

At the end of the day, while all four garage cabinet brands have something to offer, Gladiator and NewAge stand out for small garages due to their size, flexibility, solid construction, and option variety. 

Gladiator Garage Cabinets
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Saving Space with Folding Workbenches

Every inch counts in a small garage. 

I love my Gladiator workbenches, but they’re 25″ deep. That’s too much wasted space when you’re not using them. 

That’s where a folding workbench can really shine. It’s there when you need it and tucks away when you don’t. 

Surprisingly, there aren’t many off-the-shelf solutions to choose from, but my favorite is the Husky WSH72FWB. It’s an adjustable height, 6′ long workbench with a solid wood top. 

Because it’s height-adjustable, it lets you work standing up or sitting down. You set the workbench to fit you, not the other way around.

Then, when your project is finished, it folds up flat against the wall, giving you space to park your car.

It’s heavy-duty, supporting up to 800 lbs. Despite its strength, it’s easy to move around, thanks to the built-in casters. That means you can shift your workspace around the garage as needed.

So if you’re trying to make the most out of your small garage, this Husky 6′ folding workbench is definitely worth a look. 

Husky 6 ft. Folding Adjustable Height Workbench
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Wall Storage: Space-Saving Tool Storage

In a small garage, every square foot matters, especially when you’re trying to squeeze in a car or two. 

That’s why wall storage is such a great option. It frees up valuable floor space, keeping your garage uncluttered and easy to navigate. 

Let’s start with pegboards.

When you don’t have room for a rolling tool chest, pegboards are the perfect solution for hanging hand tools, brushes, and other small items on your garage walls. They also have heavy-duty hooks designed for power tools.

Pegboards let you see all your tools at a glance without taking up too much wall space.

Plus, they’re customizable, so you can easily rearrange hooks and bins as your tool collection grows.

Wall Control Black Metal Pegboard Kit
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For larger tools and garden supplies, I like track systems like the Gladiator GearTrack. It’s a heavy-duty solution ideal for lawn tools and equipment. 

With various hooks and bins designed to slot into the track, you can hang everything from bikes to ladders while keeping them easy to reach. 

Finally, there are wall-mounted cabinets.

These are ideal for storing items you want to keep out of sight and out of the way. Whether it’s paint cans, cleaning supplies, hardware assortments, or automotive supplies, wall-mounted cabinets can hold it all without eating up any floor space.


Use Overhead Storage to Free Up More Floor Space

When organizing a small garage, we often forget to look up. 

Taking advantage of your garage’s ceiling height can help you store more without sacrificing floor or wall space. 

Overhead storage space, including racks, ceiling-mounted tote storage, and wall shelves is an excellent way to leverage vertical space in your garage.

Overhead Storage Racks

Overhead storage racks make good use of the typically unused space above your head. They’re great for storing seldom used or seasonal items. They also free up your garage floor for essentials such as parking your car or a workspace.

Ceiling-Mounted Tote Storage

Ceiling-mounted tote storage offers a neat, organized way to store items in totes and plastic bins above your car. Like garage ceiling racks, it’s a great way to store seasonal or rarely used items. 

To really save space, install them above your garage door track.

Koova Overhead Garage Storage Rack for Totes
  • Each set includes 2 mounting rails
  • Four advanced structural lag bolts and a T30 bit are included
  • Supports up to 40 pounds
  • Work with most standard storage bins including black and yellow 27 gallon bins
  • Made in the USA
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Wall Mounted Shelves

You’ve probably got adjustable shelving in your garage already. But, many homeowners with small garages make the most out of their vertical space by stacking garage shelves above cabinets, slatwall, or pegboard. 

That provides additional storage and easy access to frequently used tools or supplies while keeping your garage neat.

Use shelves above cabinets to maximize space in a small garage

Making Your Small Garage Space More Comfortable and Inviting

Your garage can take on a lot of different roles: workspace, storage spot, or hobby center. You might want to spend more time there if it feels comfortable and inviting.

Identify the vibe you want – modern, rustic, or eclectic. Consider your budget and the necessary materials for your garage revamp.

Adding a small rug or garage mat is a straightforward way to improve your garage’s comfort. They help cushion your hard concrete floor and provide additional insulation. 

Rugs or mats can brighten the concrete floor and distinguish areas like workspace, storage, or seating.

Next, art or plants can make your garage feel more appealing. Artwork, posters, or murals bring personality, and plants enhance air quality while adding a natural touch, making the space feel vibrant.

Lastly, consider adding furniture or accessories. 

A comfortable chair, a practical table, or a mini fridge make the space more functional. It provides seating, storage, and a place for guests, making your small garage the perfect place to hang out with friends.


How to Add Lighting and Ventilation to Your Small Garage

Improving your small garage’s lighting and ventilation can take it to the next level. 

Lighting

Enhanced lighting can significantly improve the visibility within your small garage. This becomes important for tasks requiring precision, such as vehicle repairs or DIY projects. 

Better lighting also helps improve efficiency. You’ll be able to navigate and work in your space more effectively, reducing the time spent searching for tools or other items. 

Better lighting also contributes to safety and reduces the likelihood of accidents. 

Finally, lighting has a huge impact on the look and feel of your garage. With strategic lighting, you can create a pleasant atmosphere and highlight certain features you wish to emphasize.

Ventilation

Installing proper ventilation is especially important if you use your garage for activities that generate harmful substances like chemical fumes or car exhaust. Ensuring adequate ventilation can effectively clear these potential hazards from the air. 

More importantly, a well-ventilated garage helps control the temperature. 

In the summer, ventilation works to circulate air around your garage so you feel cooler. In winter, it can help to reduce condensation and dampness. 

Finally, ventilation can help to control odors. Good ventilation can clear the air and keep the space smelling fresh if your garage is used for projects that produce strong smells, such as painting or staining wood.


Wrapping It Up

Whether your cozy, one-car garage serves as a haven for your hobbies, a central storage hub, or simply a shelter for your car, the right tweaks and additions can significantly enhance its functionality. 

We’ve learned some essential steps of turning your cluttered space into an organized garage while sharing some of my favorite products to help maximize the space in small storage spaces. 

But remember, the ultimate goal isn’t just about maximizing usable space. 

Keeping your small garage organized is about creating a garage that reflects your lifestyle, caters to your unique needs, and fills you with satisfaction every time you walk through the door.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.