The seven-member McKenna family of Wellesley, Massachusetts, needed to find a place for every piece of equipment (and enough floor space for a game of keep-away).
With bikes strewn everywhere and all sorts of equipment teetering in hampers, the garage had that oh-so-familiar anarchy vibe. Without an organizing system, the kids left their gear wherever it landed.
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Sports Garage: After
Now every sport has a home base. Baseball bats live in a wooden holder, lacrosse sticks in a proper caddy—and bikes and scooters have their own parking spots. Off-season items, like ice-hockey sticks and snow shovels, hang from ceiling hooks, freeing up space.
To buy: Tubtrugs buckets in orange, $23.50 each, and Rubbermaid Deluxe Tool Tower (holds lacrosse sticks), $40, amazon.com. Large Tint Stacking Drawers in orange, $18 each, containerstore.com. Cedar Creek tool holder (bats), $93, walmart.com. Benjamin Industrial pendant light (back corner), $98, barnlightelectric.com.
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Sports Garage: A Clever Bike Wall
Orange paint brightens the mood and is an undeniable reminder to hang up your bike (the younger kids use the bottom racks). Rubber floor tiles are safer, softer, and better-looking than concrete.
To buy: Aura Exterior paint in Electric Orange 2015-10, from $60 a gallon, benjaminmoore.com for stores. Andrew Lang Cycloc racks, $99 each, nova68.com. Interlocking floor tiles, $4 a square foot, Swisstrax, 866-748-7940.
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Sports Garage: Nooks at Work
A zone for each sport makes it easy (dare we say fun?) to put things away. The space between wall studs is a natural for rackets.
To buy: FastTrack vertical ball rack and fishing-pole holder, $20 each; multipurpose hook (holding tennis rackets), $9.50; mesh baskets, $21 each; and horizontal rails, from $10 each: rubbermaid.com.
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Sports Garage: Surprise Storage Space
The spot under the stairs is ideal for golf clubs. Simple stands keep scooters vertical. Helmets hang from chalkboard hooks labeled for each child.
The payoff: Wendi McKenna says of her crew, “Now we can dash off to games—the kids are on 10 teams total—without the usual equipment-search chaos.”
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The Gardeners’ Garage
Carolyn Weber, a freelance editor, and her husband, Eduardo Aponte, a finance executive, wanted one side of the garage in their Silver Spring, Maryland, home for potting (hers), one for fixing (his)—with parking zones for all manner of vehicles clearly delineated.
With bulky equipment (wet-vac, riding mower) pointed this way and that, the garage was hard to navigate, and finding small items (hammer, nails) was almost impossible. Blank walls begged for purpose and personality, and garden supplies needed attention.
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Gardeners’ Garage: After
To cozy up the sprawling space, the garage was carved into zones—potting station, sitting area, tool depot, seasonal storage (on shelves). Bulletin boards hold project plans. The painted window frame and pegboards, plus the wooden bench, add warmth.
The garage is a walk from the house, so an accordion hook to hold a spare jacket and hat saves Weber a trip when the air gets chilly. Nearby a wall-mounted tool holder marries an unlikely array of objects in vertical bliss. The slip-resistant mat catches gas spills from their riding mower.
To buy: Zinc Zig-Zag hook, $38, shopterrain.com. Elfa system (holding tools), $120, 800-733-3532. Drymate garage mat, $145, stacksandstacks.com. Wall paint: Gentle Rain 790E-2, $32.50 a gallon, Behr, 800-854-0133 for stores.
The payoff: “We had sort of given up on the garage,” says Weber. “I was repotting plants on the front stoop. Now it’s a joy to be in there.”
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The Crafty Garage
Pascale Le Draoulec, a Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, food writer and the mom of Sabine, 6, and Mina-Claire, 7, wanted to transform her small home’s clutter catchall into a happy workshop and playroom.
Flea-market furniture finds took up valuable real estate and didn’t fare well. (The once white sofa was no longer white; wood tables were starting to warp.) Long outgrown toys and bikes were junking up the tight space as they waited to be given to friends.
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Crafty Garage: After
With some items cleared away, the garage’s rustic charm shines through. A craft table on a wipe-clean synthetic rug is lit by the previously blocked window. (The lantern above adds a soft glow.) And there’s plenty of storage space for project materials, garden tools, and more. To buy: Stainless-steel table, $200, target.com. Modern stools, $125 each, sundancecatalog.com. Water-hyacinth baskets (on shelves, back corner), $10 to $20, pier1.com for stores. PS red cabinet, $100, ikea.com for stores. Luau lantern, $200, oxo.com. Basic mat, $199, potterybarn.com. Cooler, $160, coleman.com. Five-position beach chair, $30, bedbathandbeyond.com. 8D Retro family-size lantern, $30, coleman.com for similar.
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Crafty Garage: Necessities on Display
A tape measure, a hammer, and a flashlight (in orange)—the items that Pascale is always looking for—enjoy places of honor on a can’t-miss-it shiny pegboard.
The old wooden walls couldn’t support a heavily loaded storage unit; sturdy freestanding shelves were the answer. Garden supplies live in easy-to-tote baskets; bins hold cleaners and other overflow from the house. To buy: Broder shelving, $288; and Vessla crates with casters (under shelving), $7 each: ikea.com for stores. Flax Large Eyelet totes, $10 each, bedbathandbeyond.com.
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Crafty Garage: Easy Access
The super-light kayak, which previously lived on the lawn, is hung low enough for Le Draoulec (who is five feet four) to reach. When it’s time to head to the nearby farmers’ market, which Pascale runs, her preloaded wagon is easy to find.