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From Cluttered to Clean

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When it comes to a house, the garage is the biggest area where clutter and disorganization occurs and with most people, they tend to park their cars in the garage, creating a walkway full of clutter into the home.

“Over 90 percent of the people that I work with, they use the garage as the entryway into their house, maybe even 95 percent,” says Paul Greskovich, owner of Garage Craft Interiors.

Closets for Less of Bucks owner Aaron Lewis agrees with him, making it his goal to help his customers create a clean space that someone will enjoy walking through.

 “Today most people enter and leave through their garages, not through their front door,” says Lewis. “And because of that, they want them neat and clean, so it doesn’t look like a garage because they are using it as their entrance way now.”

House & Home spoke with local experts on ways to transform your garage into an organized, functional space.

Saying goodbye
The first step to any garage makeover is to sort through the clutter, whether that is by making donation boxes or relocating it.

 “The first thing is the hardest to do, which is pretty much empty the garage and make decisions on everything you touch whether it’s worth keeping or not worth keeping,” says Greskovich. “If you haven’t touched it in a year and a half to two years, throw it away, give it away, move on.”

If a person wants functionality out of their garage they need to clean it out, and although that sounds easy it can be extremely hard. That’s why Anthony Brinn, owner of ABC Closets, suggests doing it in multiple steps not only to help with the emotional attachment but to save money as well.

 “We have found that quite a few customers start with just organizing one section of the garage at a time. This is not only cost effective but aids in figuring out what the storage needs actually are,” Brinn says.

 “The process of doing the whole garage at once can be daunting to most, so scaling it down to one wall at a time or one section can be a great solution.”

Organizing the chaos
Every person has a different need when it comes to garage storage. Whether it’s lawn equipment, kids toys, bikes or even shoes, there is a way to organize it all. Everything needs a place whether it’s in a cabinet, overhead storage or on a slotwall. All of these organization methods help to lift everything off the floor creating more space for cars and walkways.

 “We install cabinets and garage organizers for people who want to get their garage cleaned up and organized, and we provide a slotwall or mighty wall to hang items; it’s a great way to add storage to your home and get everything organized,” says Reid Murray of Floorguard. “We measure out and fit the cabinets to the space to make sure the garage is well designed and the cabinets and slotwall work well together to meet the storage and organization needs of the family.”

Although it has various names, a slotwall (sometimes called slatwall) or craft wall, is designed with grooves in it that attach to brackets that are able to move throughout the grooves allowing for lawn tools, bikes and baskets to be placed on the wall.

The slotwall is a great way to organize items but it doesn’t hide them from plain view. Which is why adding cabinets, workbenches and even a high lift in the garage makes the area appear cleaner.

A high lift or heavy lift is a 4-by-4 platform with an awning crank that allows you to bring it down to waist level so you can place boxes on it and then you can crank it back to the ceiling where it will be safely stored above.

Another storage option that people tend to use is installing cabinets into their garage. The cabinets can either be brand new or they can be part of a kitchen remodel where instead of getting rid of older cabinets they can be reinstalled in the garage.

 “I would say that a lot of times the garage organization projects that we work on are the result of a kitchen project,” Dennis Gehman, MCR, owner of Gehman Design Remodeling, says. “So they now have a new kitchen and the cabinets they had in the kitchen are generally not worn out and so they get repurposed and installed in the garage.”

Considering the garage is one of the main entryways into the home, there can be clutter when it comes to shoe storage, and a lot of times regular cabinets don’t create a clean storage for those items. Which is why installing a shoe pantry allows for easier or- ganization in the garage.

“I do shoe pantries too so inside a 36-inch wide pantry, you can have at least 24-27 cubbies inside the pantry to hold your shoes so you don’t have to take them into the house,” says Greskovich.

Making it livable
While organizing your garage creates a lot of space, sometimes it’s not enough when you have a full house. Which is why transforming the garage into a mudroom, laundry room or even an in-law suite can be essential to your renovation.

When deciding to remodel the garage, it is important to consider the amount of space that you would need, such as keeping some space for a car or just to transform the entire area.

 “There are times that we have finished the existing garage into a living space and then we make an addition or add a detached garage so that they still have garage space,” says Gehman.

When renovating the garage into a living area, there is a lot to consider such as installation, drywall, flooring, running heat and air conditioning throughout the room and how to build a room when the garage door is in the way.

 “Typically we take out [the garage door] and build the wall and then on the inside we frame across it and from the outside it just looks like it was a garage,” Gehman says. “But we certainly disable it so someone couldn’t come along and open it.”

Sometimes you just need the space when guests are over. Adding small adjustments allows you to easily transform the space into a livable area and then back into a garage.

 “I’ve made it into a man cave as well, where you put a big screen TV and fridges and ice makers, so that on game day, everyone is in the garage enjoying it,” Greskovich says. “Then you can clean it up and it’s right back to being a garage. It works quite nicely.”

Flooring that wows
One of the biggest factors to consider when redoing your garage is the flooring.

 “One of the things in garages, especially if they are going to be keeping vehicles in there but they want storage is creating a nice-looking floor,” says Gehman. “That can be as basic as giving the floor a good cleaning and then painting it, to putting some epoxy coating on.”

When it comes to flooring there is a lot of personality that can be displayed, either with parking pads, checkerboards or just a clean new shine with an epoxy or race deck finish.

 “Epoxy is a polymer resin that is applied to concrete and it provides a hard durable clean surface for everyday use,” Murray says. “Concrete, it stains, it’s porous, it’s dirty and it creates dust of its own and it’s almost impossible to actually clean, so when you put an epoxy coating on that you get a waterproof, hard, durable, beautiful color finish on the floor so that the garage is clean and can stay clean.”

Epoxy flooring is offered in a variety of colors in imitation granite or stone. Race deck flooring is made out of PVC plastic flooring that is interlocking with a flow grid underneath to allow for easier water and air flow for moisture to evaporate quickly. This type of flooring is more rugged looking and comes in checkered patterns or neutral tones.

 “The real sizzle is when you do the floor because you can make it very laid back or you can put a lot of personality into it, you can do parking pads with checkerboards or you can do a very homogeneous look with epoxy floors so it’s very handsome but it’s a little more muted,” says Greskovich. “The nice thing about the floors is that it’s easy to clean and they last forever.”

The little things
After all of the major renovations and organization is over, the last step is making final touches that will make the room pop—whether that is adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls or adding new lighting.

 “The surface mount LEDs that I do are 4-feet-by-1-foot wide, and they have two rows of 50 watt LEDs and they really pop when you turn them on,” Greskovich says. “It’s a really nice addition when you add them to a space, typically a garage with real high ceilings.”

Another small addition that will increase your garage design is adding a wrap to the columns so your car doors won’t get damaged.

 “Something so simple as putting a specialized wrap on the lally columns in the garage so when you open your car doors you are not going to damage your cars,” says Greskovich. “It’s a premium rubber with ripstop nylon, it’s a really nice product.”

But the best way to spruce up the garage is by simply adding a new garage door.

 “People often talk about carriage house doors, put some windows in it and some hardware,” says Gehman. “Another thing is that a new door is going to give you better insulating values so that your garage is going to stay more comfortable.”

ABC Closets
Hammonton, N.J.
(609) 567-8621

Closets For Less of Bucks County
Southampton, Pa.
(215) 660-3080

Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 510-8326

Garage Craft Interiors
Warminster, Pa.
(215) 443-0458

Gehman Design Remodeling
Harleysville, Pa.
(215) 513-0300

Select images courtesy of ABC Closets, Garage Craft Interiors, Floorguard, and Gehman Design Remodeling.

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 20, Issue 6 (Spring 2020). 
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