Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

Dreaming of an Organized Garage

I like an organized home. When things get all chaotic and messy, I find that my mind kind of gets that way, too. But when everything has a place — and everything is in its place — I feel a sense of peace. I can think straight, relax and enjoy.

I like an organized garage, too. At least I’ve enjoyed the pictures I’ve seen of garages that function in all the ways that garages are supposed to. Let’s just say I haven’t experienced this firsthand.

Faithful readers know that my husband is a woodworker — a master craftsman. He remodels our homes, designs and builds heirloom furniture. This amazing talent does come with unintended consequences. Let’s just say the man does not possess a single iota of organizational talent. I’ll leave it there, although I could offer several pictures as examples to illustrate my point.

For 27 years (our last home in California), we had a two-car garage, also known as the hubs’ workshop — and for the record, there was no space in this garage for a vehicle of any size.

We moved to a home in Colorado with a beautiful, pristine, three-car garage — complete with built-in cabinetry and extensive pegboard. I worried that instead of a regular-sized chaotic, messy workshop we’d end up with an extra large chaotic, messy workshop. And still no room for a vehicle of any size.

My husband promised me this would not happen — that we will have room for two vehicles and it will be neatly organized and tidy, while still fully functioning so he can make me stuff.

I believed. He delivered to this extent: He turned one of the three bays into a really cool workshop. We have room for two vehicles, two bikes, a big freezer and garage refrigerator. We have bins that are somewhat organized. I won’t say we’re not 100% there yet, but we continue to work at it.

And to that end, I’d like to suggest a couple of neat tips and tricks that we’ve used to make tremendous progress.


I know how hard it is to keep tools organized, and by organized I mean “able to be found.” A carabiner is an oblong metal ring with one spring-hinged side that is used especially in mountain climbing to connect stuff. They’re easy to open with one hand and come in all sizes from itty-bitty keychain size to big ones. A carabiner is the perfect way to organize box-end wrenches and other items that have a hole in the handle. We have dozens of these, which should tell you just how many tools he has because you need many when you cannot find any of them.


Random nails, brads, screws, bolts, staples and other small, pointy, metal objects can be quickly corralled in a magnetic bowl. Just remember, honey, — this is not a handy place to set your mobile phone, or anything electronic that does not play well with magnets. He will have a number of magnetic bowls to match the many different sizes of screws, bolts, nuts, nails and brads that master craftsmen (and auto mechanics) require to be really good at what they do.


I think we will need a dozen or so magnetic trays to keep long objects like wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers organized and also handy when needed. Really, this is such a brilliant idea. I’ve seen how my husband works. He uses dozens of tools at the same time, and he isn’t about to run back to a cabinet or bin between every use.


Not clothes hangers, but a quick system that is excellent for keeping odd-sized things off the floor and visible so they are handy. We are working toward an entire wall for this purpose. Given the great reviews and reasonable price, he’s going to be one happy camper I mean woodworker.

While we work toward completion, we are having a great time planning. In fact, the hubs is really getting into the ideas I’m coming up with for how two vehicles will be able to get along with a woodworking shop. While he promises me his shop will be confined to a single space, I’m not taking any chances.

I’ve been promoted to Shop Assistant, and you can be sure I’ll come fully prepared with carabiners, magnetic bowls and trays in multiple colors and sizes. And something else.

I’ve got my eye on a killer sawdust collection system.

You can find resources for the organizing items mentioned in this column at EverydayCheapskate.com/garage.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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