Garage shelving ideas – 10 ways to create an organized space

These smart garage shelving ideas will help you take advantage of one of the biggest storage areas in your home

garage mudroom
(Image credit: Garage Living)

If you don't currently have garage shelving ideas that enhance the organization and flow of your home, you're sitting on some major untapped potential. 

The garage is one of the most popular storage spaces in a home. It's where we stash everything from bikes and golf clubs, to power tools and Christmas decorations ... not to mention the car. While the versatility of the space certainly comes in handy, storing so many different items in a single space is a recipe for clutter.

Enter: well designed garage shelving and storage ideas. Specialty shelves can help you make sense of clutter and free up space on the floor. 

Garage shelving ideas – for an organized space

'Proper garage storage improves organization, manages clutter and opens up space that was once underutilized, by converting it to valuable, multi-purpose real estate,' says Aaron Cash, co-founder of Garage Living, a garage storage and organization company.

Here's how shelving can help maximize space in your garage. 

1. Create a garage mudroom

'Attached garages are often the main entry way for homeowners,' says Cash. 'Cleaning up the look and feel of a space reduces frustration every time you arrive home.'

To improve the functionality of this hardworking space, use shelves and hooks to form a simple garage mudroom idea. This will create an efficient drop zone for coats,  bags, and gear that would otherwise end up in a pile or strewn around the house. In the mudroom above, Cash added specialty shoe shelves mounted to the wall to take advantage of vertical space.

2. Vary shelving types for flexible storage

garage shelving

(Image credit: The Container Store)

The items you store in your garage are likely to come in all shapes and sizes, so storage shouldn't be one-size-fits-all. Instead, flexible storage systems, like this one from The Container Store, that feature different types of shelving will create a more useful space. 

For example, a single, long shelf is handy for holding excess lumber or skis, while deep, freestanding shelving can accommodate large storage bins. Shelving with drawers in various sizes works well for housing tools. 

3. Use overhead shelving to maximize vertical space

garage shelving for tire storage

(Image credit: Garage Living)

One of the challenges with garage storage is that many of items stored there are bulky, like bikes, power tools, and spare tires. In this case, every inch of real estate counts, including the space on the ceiling.

'For garages with high ceilings, overhead storage maximizes this extra air space, allowing homeowners to store seasonal and bulky items in a visually appealing and organized manner,' Cash says. 

4. Install slatwall for easy shelving configurations

hanging garage tool storage on a wall

(Image credit: Garage Living)

'Adding slatwall and height adjustable accessories including mesh baskets for light items, as well as sturdy shelves, provides suitable storage space for everyone in the family,' says Cash. 

You'll find plenty of options for shelves, hooks, rails, and storage bins that latch directly into the horizontal slats on the panels, which can be easily taken on and off for re-configuration. Most mass home improvement stores will offer a variety of storage options that work with slatwall. 

Installing slatwall couldn't be easier, since panels can be attached directly over your existing garage walls. 

5. Create zones with shelving

modern organized garage

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Zoning' or storing different types of items together, is an organizing technique commonly used by professional organizers. You can create natural zones with your garage shelving by using a separate type of shelving for each item you're storing, like freestanding shelves with bins for holiday decorations, or slatwall baskets for soccer balls and sports gear. You'll likely find yourself doing this anyway, as different types of garage shelving will be better suited to certain items.

'I like to keep shelves organized by use, so I have one shelf dedicated to car supplies that I use often like windshield wiper fluid, microfiber rags for removing spots off the car, oil and gas cans,' says Mark Feldman, owner of Riverbend Home. 'I have another shelf dedicated to gardening supplies, like trowels, and clippers things that you always need and like to keep handy. The bottom shelf I tend to reserve for the heavy stuff and change it up seasonally, so depending on the time of year you’ll find it stocked with things potting soil or ice melt, outdoor extension cords, or hoses.'

6. Invest in freestanding storage

freestanding garage shelving

(Image credit: The Container Store)

Freestanding garage shelving is a must in almost any garage. It's versatile and sturdy, and takes advantage of the vertical space along your walls. For the best long-term organization solution, look for a set with enough space between shelves to accommodate closed storage bins.  

7. Use wall shelves for fitness equipment

garage storage for home gym equipment

(Image credit: Garage Living)

If your garage doubles as a home gym, or its simply where you house your workout equipment, dedicated hooks on the wall creates instant organization.

'Installing vertical wall storage for fitness equipment allows easy access to a home gym while virtually any sporting equipment like fishing rods, tennis rackets, skis and kayaks can be safely stored off the floor with specialty hooks secured into slatwall,' suggests Cash. 

8. Choose shelves that will last

garage storage with labels

(Image credit: HomeSort)

For garage storage, strong, metal shelves are the best choice, say Brandie Larsen and Ryan Eiesland, founders of Home Sort and brand representatives for mDesign

'Flimsy plastic does not stand the test of time. You want something that is durable and can stand up under the weight of the items being stored,' she says.

9. Create a system with shelving

garage storage ideas

(Image credit: HomeSort)

The best way to ensure your organization efforts last is to create a system that allows everyone in your home to know where things go. The easiest way to do this is to label each bin or storage zone in the garage. 

10. Install hooks

garage storage ideas

(Image credit: Jessica Litman)

True, hooks are not technically shelving, but adding wall-mounted hooks is a great way to get large objects like yard tools off the floor and maximize space, says Jessica Litman, the organization expert behind The Organized Mama

'My biggest piece of advice for organizing and storing yard tools in your garage is to get them off the ground. Hang as many yard tools as you can,' she says. 'It really helps create a more streamlined space. Find an area in your garage that is long enough to hold the yard tools. Then add hooks or a wall-mounted hook system. Make sure you have enough walking room so no one gets their head bumped by a yard tool before hanging.'

Which is the best garage shelving? 

The best garage shelving will ultimately depend on your storage needs, but you can't go wrong with strong, metal freestanding tower shelves. Not only are they widely available in all price points, these shelves are incredibly versatile because you can store bulky items on their own, or group smaller items together in labeled bins. 

How do I maximize my garage storage space? 

Garages are the storage hub of most homes, so you'll naturally want to maximize storage space.

To start, clear out the clutter. If you can't remember the last time you cleaned out your garage, start there. Take everything out of your garage so you can take inventory of both the space you have, and what you're currently storing. 

Then, sort through items and discard or donate anything that's broken or you no longer use. Be ruthless! This is valuable storage space we're talking about.

Once you have your edited pile of items to be stored, take a look at the space you have and consider how it can be put to the best use. If you have a lot of empty vertical wall space, floor-to-ceiling open shelving is a great option, especially if you're storing a bunch of smaller items that can be grouped together in bins (i.e. seasonal sports gear or holiday decor).

If you have lots of vertical wall space, but your garage isn't deep enough for shelving, slatwall panels are a great option, since the panels take up almost no space. You can add various hooks and basket to meet you storage needs. Slatwall panels are also a good idea if you have a lot of items of different sizes to store. You can find hooks for bikes, skis, your garden hose, and even small hand tools, so you can store everything along the same wall. 

Lastly, look for hidden storage potential, like the space on the ceiling. Overhead storage shelves and racks make it possible to stash storage bins, sports equipment, spare tires, and more, overhead.

Once you have everything in it's place, label each storage bin or area so your organization system sticks. 

Kaitlin Madden
Executive Editor, Homes & Gardens

Kaitlin Madden Armon is a writer and editor covering all things home. Her work has appeared in Real Homes, Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Refinery29, Modern Luxury Interiors, Wayfair, The Design Network, and lots more. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, three kids, and black lab.