Is your garage overtaken by so many toys, tools, garden supplies, paint, and bicycles that it's crowded your car out? It might be time for a de-cluttering campaign—shelving systems can maximize storage and make the space actually presentable, as well as creating an atmosphere of order that makes it easier to find things, and to function.
"Organizing is about creating environments that help us to live, work, and relax," says personal consultant Dena Lorenzi. "Decide what really matters to you—neatness, efficiency, productivity? Then create a strategy that works with your lifestyle and natural preferences."
Of course, the garage isn't the only area in a house that can be crippled by clutter. Bedroom closets, the kitchen, and the home office can each benefit from organizational systems.
But before you rush out to buy storage systems, it's a good idea to have a brutal cleaning—purge before you splurge.
Taming the Garage
The garage is often the most overlooked and underutilized room in the home and suffers indignities other rooms don't: dust, dirt, heat, cold, bugs, and stuff—lots of stuff. But there are more storage solutions for garages—and more affordable ones—than there are for most other spaces in the home.
A company called GarageTek, for instance, claims that you can have "the world's cleanest garage" with an organization system designed to capitalize on vertical storage.
Using a foundation called TekPanel (thermoplastic panels resembling aluminum siding), GarageTek will cover your garage walls completely from floor to ceiling, then add clippable accessories to transform clutter into cleanliness.
It's waterproof, weatherproof, bugproof, and fire-rated and it's not permanently fixed; you can change and rearrange. But it's not cheap.
"Our installations run from $2,500 to $20,000 with an average around $7,000," says Baltimore franchise owner Steve Flowers.
Discover clothes you forgot you had by installing one of several closet organization systems.
One such solution is the adjustable freedomRail from the Schulte storage-system company. Once the hanging rail is installed to support the system, components such as shelves, shoe cubbies, and wardrobe rods can be moved up, down or side-to-side by the homeowner at any time—without tools.
The various-sized shoe cubbies—part of what's called the O-Box—also accommodates bulkier items like sweaters and men's shoes.
Homeowners can try on a closet design and check out prices before making an investment by using an interactive design program on freedomraildesign.com.
Corralling the Kitchen
The most-used room in the house obviously collects the most clutter. Kitchen counters become a catch-all for everything from unattended papers to tools and keys and clothes.
Rev-A-Shelf offers a line of cabinet organizing accessories made from polymer, wire, wood, and stainless-steel components.
An appliance lift, for example, helps conceal things like toasters and blenders when not in use. Pull-down shelving systems offer a way to bring top-shelved items within reach without using a stool; a cookware organizer stores unwieldy pots and pans; a universal spice tray fits inside of a kitchen drawer to rid your countertop of mismatched spice containers.
"You won't have to do a complete kitchen makeover to effectively use your existing cabinet space," says personal organizer Trezise. "Rev-A-Shelf products for the kitchen and other rooms are ingenious because they allow you to use dead space." The do-it-yourselfer can find them in Lowe's, The Home Depot, and other retailers. Visit rev-a-shelf.com for names and locations.
Order in the Office
A home office should be a place to work efficiently but should also be visually appealing—you shouldn't feel you have to shut the door when guests come over.
A custom furniture designer like Artisan Interiors in Baltimore can build your dream office without interrupting your meetings and conference calls. They design and build off-site in their warehouse, then install the solution in your home in a day or two.
"Every piece we build is one of a kind," says owner Erik Rink, "for people who want that high-end library look as opposed to a corner desk or computer stand."
Many of his clients opt to put the computer behind cabinet doors that also hide paper, wires, and other office equipment. Placement is usually behind a desk and includes shelving, base cabinets, file drawers, lighting, and maybe a space in the center for a piece of art.
With this solution expect to spend at least $12,000 to $15,000.
If you'd rather buy stock cabinets and countertops for your home office, there are plenty of cabinet retailers who can help. No time to research the process? Hire someone like David Young of Building Concepts in Phoenix, who can coordinate and install the project for you.
Semi-custom cabinets are another option, says Young, who often uses the manufacturer Plain & Fancy.