Imagine you have a jar that needs to fit sand, rocks and some pebbles. You decide to start with the sand, followed by the rocks and pebbles. No matter what you do, the rocks and pebbles won’t fit in the jar with the sand. But, if you start with the rocks and pebbles, you find that the sand settles around the larger items.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get the rocks and the sand mixed up when it comes to organizing. We absentmindedly place things where they fall, and don’t think about it until we run out of room. This is especially true in limited-space areas.
A prime example of this is our garage cabinets, which need some love from time to time. There are a number of strategies you can employ to maximize your cabinet storage. Periodically, take an afternoon to go through them and see if there are ways you can store more in those confined spaces. Here are a number of strategies that may be helpful to try:
1. Start with the basics.
If you’ve used any organizing strategies in the past, you can use the same ones to organize a space as small as a cabinet. The easiest way to organize a cabinet space is to remove everything from the cabinet so you can start with a fresh slate.
Once you have everything out, group things by category. Generally, it’s most helpful to group by purpose (i.e. camping gear, lawn equipment, cleaning chemicals, etc.). You could also group by size or frequency of use.
Think about the jar of rocks when placing things back inside. Because it’s limited, place big items in their place first. Once those are settled, you can find spots for medium-sized things and then finally the small items. This practice alone will open up a lot of extra space in your cabinet. It also opens the door for the next creative steps.
2. Adjust shelving and add shelves.
While most cabinets come with shelves included, that may not be optimized for your storage. Often, people leave the shelves at their default position after installation.
Try this. If there are four or more inches of clearance space above any of the items on a shelf, you can close that space by raising or lowering the shelf to free up more space somewhere else. Play around with your garage cabinets to see how much room you have that isn’t being utilized. With the leftover space, you can either add more shelves or try one of the other ideas listed below.
3. Add drawers.
Drawers are an option that most people don’t consider for cabinets. If you have large cabinet units, drawers can be an organizational dream.
The biggest benefit of using a drawer is it makes it much easier to find things, especially smaller items. Dumping tools, clothing, or utensils into a large cabinet is inefficient because then you have to dig around larger or miscellaneous items to find something that is hidden. Using a couple of drawers saves space and makes it easier for you to get what you need quickly.
4. Use boxes or containers for smaller objects.
If you don’t have the budget or setup to install drawers in a cabinet, you can achieve a similar result by using small totes or boxes. Simply buy a few generically shaped and sized containers, and fill them with the miscellaneous items by category. That keeps things in their place while saving room elsewhere in the cabinet. Hard plastic or metal containers are recommended because they are durable and can be stacked.
5. Install hooks to doors, roof or walls.
One of the best hacks for increasing the usable storage space inside a cabinet is by utilizing the doors, roof or walls. You can pick up cheap anchors or Command hooks from a local hardware store, and add them to the cabinet interior. Any empty space can then be filled with random odds and ends that normally cause clutter. This works great for things like cords, towels or hand-held tools.
With a clever use of these techniques, you will be able to have several times the garage cabinet space you do now.