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Tips to transform garage from messy space to organized space
Cabinets, shelving and overhead storage can maximize space
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Todd Carter of Tailored Living featuring Premier Garage added wall storage systems and flooring to transform a messy garage into a workout room.

Many homeowners would never let sports gear, tools and yard equipment clutter up the front hall where it’s the first things guests see.

But they’re willing to trudge into their homes through a garage stuffed with those things, plus patio furniture, bikes, holiday decorations and more.

Susan Jones, creator and designer of Design Traditions in Hoschton, has been helping homeowners transform their otherwise cluttered and useless garages into more functional spaces.

Her company focuses on design, but renovating and improving garages is one of the company’s other driving forces and a hot area in home renovation, experts say.

From cabinetry and shelving to flooring and overhead storage, homeowners and designers have many new ways to transform a garage into an organized and attractive space for storage, entertaining or working out.

The trend has been made possible by today’s larger garages.

“I think part of (the trend) has to do with children staying in the home longer, or parents moving back in,” Jones said.

She routinely outfits garages with better flooring — she recommends luxury vinyl planks, because they have antimicrobial backing, which doesn’t let mold or mildew through.

“They look like real hardwood until you get down and look at them,” she said.

Ceramic tile and real hardwood are also viable options but don’t insulate as well as the planks.

“Garages, by definition, don’t have the same amount of insulation,” Jones said.

The 40-year business veteran uses her expertise to help homeowners transform their garages.

“I have the clients make a list of priorities. It’s just like anything else, you need to make a list of pros and cons,” Jones said.

Pinterest and Houzz.com are two places she suggests homeowners look if they aren’t sure about the style they want for the garage.

“After 10 to 15 photos, I can have an idea of what they want,” Jones said.

Some homeowners might end up adding televisions and seating.

Jeff and Linda Marsack of Macomb, Mich., hired a professional to organize their two-car garage. They added cabinets to store shoes, sporting equipment and tools. She chose red cabinets to match their kitchen.

“Every time you open your garage, you really do smile because it’s so organized,” she said. “Who doesn’t love an organized space?”

Susan Rhodes of Tempe, Ariz., purged a lot of items from her garage, added nice flooring and cabinetry, and created a work bench near a window where she can do crafts or pot flowers. The space is so tidy when temperatures dropped over Christmas, she moved tables from the patio into the garage for dining.

“It was just perfect,” she said. “It’s good to know, it’s not just for cars and gardening.”

Professional organizer Melanie Dennis gets many calls from homeowners who want to redo their garage because it’s too cluttered to fit a car.

“It’s a combination of people not wanting to get rid of their stuff and having access to buy things 24/7 and have it delivered to their house,” said Dennis, owner of Neat Streak in Columbus, Ohio.

Families today have more stuff than previous generations did, she said. They decorate for more holidays, have dishes only used on special dinners and hang onto photos and sentimental items with the intent of making scrapbooks, she said.

Bill McDonough, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for M/I Homes, a Columbus-based home builder, agrees.

“The big trend has one word, and that is ‘storage,’” he said. “People of all ages have an increasing amount of stuff.”

Customers increasingly ask for three-car garages or bump-outs to extend the garage’s length or width, McDonough said.

The National Association of Homebuilders found 23 percent of new homes built in 2014 had three or more garage bays. In 1994, only 13 percent of new homes had garages that large, according to the Washington-based organization.

Storage products for the garage include wall-mounted panels with slots that can hold everything from pliers to bikes to motorized lifts for hanging golf bags and kayaks. There’s cabinetry designed specifically to hold power tools.

Garage renovations are also a popular do-it-yourself project, said Jason Arigoni, field divisional merchandising manager for Home Depot’s Southern Division.

“I’m definitely seeing more interest in the garage,” he said. “It often starts with function and then jumps into fun.”

Associated Press contributed to this story.

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