In today’s post, we’re covering how we turned that clean slate into something actually functional too. The goal: to be able to use this space as a workshop AND still be able to pull both of our cars in. We took it from this:
To this! Holy crap!!
You can watch the video that covers everything below, or keep scrolling for all our choices, steps, and tips in blog-format.
[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a second it would mean SO much to us if you’d like our video or subscribe to our channel. Since we’re brand new to YouTube, every view, like, and subscription makes a huge difference for us. Click here to see the whole channel. Thank youuuuu! We’re doing a big goofy happy dance right now!]
And now, all the details and unattractive photos you’ve been waiting for. As you saw in the video, this is where we started…
So the challenge is that we were asking a lot from our little garage. We’re asking it to house two cars, have all the functionality we need for our DIY projects, and act as a workshop for making products. Oh yeah, and be organized and look nice while you’re at it.
When we bought the house, we actually did inherit a decent amount of storage. It was just… not how we would have done it.
There were some pegboards, but they had been cut up and placed around three different spots that didn’t all make sense. For instance, the right side of our garage has a step that gives us a few feet of space between our cars and the wall, so it would be perfect for something that required more space, like shelving. But a big pegboard, which sits more flush against the wall, was taking up half of that wall. And since we had extra space in front of it (and no room anywhere else), stuff always ended up getting piled there. Plus, these pegboards weren’t in the best of shape. They had lots of gouges, unusable holes, and so on.
We inherited some ok shelves too, but the shelves were on brackets that were screwed into drywall (instead of studs) so we couldn’t put too much weight on them. Also, the ones on the left side of our garage made it hard for Evan, who parks on the left, to get out of his car without hitting something, so placement wasn’t always great.
The garage also came sporting some old cabinets and a wire rack, which we planned on sprucing up and continuing to use.
In addition to these bits and pieces of storage, we’ve added our own over the years. We have a big Uline shelving unit for heavy and big things (if you squint your eyes you can see it behind the wood, cords, and bike).
We bought a small tool storage/work table when we first moved in that we very quickly outgrew.
So then recently we built a giant rolling work table that better suited our needs, but took up a lot of space.
And we built a rolling wood cart to hold extra scrap wood (see it to the right of the work table?).
So I guess what I’m trying to say is… we have a lot of tools and project materials and general garage-y stuff, so we have a lot of storage to try and corral that stuff, but then the storage units themselves just end up being more stuff to take up space. We knew something had to change.
STEP 1: Declutter garage (and fix the walls while we’re at it)
We got rid of as many things as possible. This included a bunch of stuff we never used, plus the storage we decided to ditch. We Craigslisted the black tool table and ripped off the old shelving and pegboards.
Then, as y’all know from our last post/video [LINK], we pulled everything away from the walls so we could patch, repair, and paint them, giving ourselves a clean slate to move forward.
STEP 2: New pegboards
Pegboards are pretty much a garage staple in our minds. Even though we got rid of our old ones, new ones were first on our list of things to buy. You might view pegboards as sort of a basic item without much variance between one and another, which honestly is kinda how I felt before this project, but then we found these:
Wall Control pegboards. They’re made of steel, they come in modular panels, they have built-in stand off, they’re incredibly sturdy, and they are just about as pretty as pegboards can be. (Side note, no, they are not sponsors, we just LOVE these things).
Here’s what you’ll need to install them:
- The pegboard panels themselves of course
- Stud finder
- Power screwdriver
- 1×4’s (we used three 8-ft boards)
We decided to put these on the left side of our garage, because we needed this wall to have storage that was more flush (so Evan could still get out of his car).
These pegboards are made to work with the normal spacing of normal studs in a normal house. What we found in our garage is that the studs were a little off in some places, and really off in others, so they didn’t count as “normal”. To get around this, we used 1×4’s to bridge between our studs.
First, use a stud finder to find your studs.
And mark them on the wall.
We had eight feet worth of panels so we got three eight-foot 1×4’s, and placed them horizontally at three different heights because the panels have attachment points at their top, middle, and bottom.
Use a level so your 1×4’s aren’t all kittywampus, and grab a buddy if you can because it helps to have one person holding one end while the other person screws into the other. Screw the pegboards into the boards at their top, middle, and bottom attachment points.
Because the pegboards have built in stand off, screwing them into the boards doesn’t make you lose any usable space like with a traditional pegboard.
Because we bridged the studs, we could attach our pegboards to the 1×4’s without having to worry about hitting a stud.
Each pegboard panel has six attachment points (three on each side) that you’ll need to screw into your 1×4’s.
STEP 3: New shelving
Shelves were another item that we still wanted, we just had requirements that the old ones didn’t mean. Mainly, we wanted them to be easily adjustable, and able to hold more weight than our old ones.
We ended up finding this rail and bracket system called EverBilt. It’s kinda like what you might find in a closet system: different lengths of rails and brackets that hook into them. Then you just use wood planks as the shelves themselves.
We love the idea of this because we want to be able to move shelves around easily if we need a different set up in the future.
To install these, you’ll need:
- Heavy Duty Dual Track rails(the amount/length will depend on your space)
- Shelf brackets (the amount will depend on how many shelve you want)
- Stud finder
- Power screwdriver
- 1×12’s (we used six 6-ft ones)
We planned to put all our shelving on the right side of the garage, where we have the stepped up area (because we have a little more space between the wall and the car on that side).
Again, the first step to this project is finding and marking your studs. And again, our studs were really wonky. Like… they seemingly disappeared anywhere above five feet in some areas.
Meaning we had to go with a different part of the wall on this side of the garage, but it was fine and honestly probably worked out even better in the end because it’s closer to where our worktable ended up.
Mark your studs at several different heights and draw a vertical line connecting your marks. You’ll attach the rails vertically along the studs, and you want to make sure you hit the stud with every screw.
Screw a rail into each stud. You’ll need at least two rails obviously, but if you need more weight support or if you’re spanning a wider area, you can do more.
Then all you need to do is add a bracket onto the rails at each height you want a shelf. They just pop right in, super easy.
We used 12 inch deep boards for our shelves, in lengths of 6 feet since that was the widest we could go on this wall. The weight of the boards makes them stay in place pretty solidly on the brackets.
The best thing is if we need to adjust the height of a shelf, it’s so easy to bump the brackets up or down and place the board back on top.
We used these shelves for things like drawers of safety gear, boxes of extra product and supplies for our pop up shops, and our OCD-embracing screw, nail, and general hardware organizers.
We ended up living these so much, we added a couple shelves above our pegboards too using some of the short rail lengths (they come in several lengths). We use these for extra wood that’s too long for our rolly cart and items we don’t need frequent access to.
STEP 3: Track system
Next we added a track system to hold the typical long awkward items you have in a garage, like shovels, rakes, etc. We decided this would go on the left wall next to the pegboards (because these tend to be more flush against the wall too). There are a lot of systems to choose from, but we went with the Rubbermaid FastTrack system. Mainly because it’s got a big variety of hooks, was very modular, and had great reviews.
To install this, you’ll need
- The track itself (you can get it a set with hooks here)
- Hooks to go with it (if you didn’t buy the set)
- Stud finder
- Power screwdriver
- 1×4 to bridge the studs
First, you guessed it, find and mark your studs. We used the 1×4 trick again to bridge between them.
Then attach the track onto your 1×4. The secondary benefit of using the 1×4 is that it gives a little bit of extra space between the items you’re hanging from the track and your wall, meaning your wall won’t get as dirty or beat up.
The cover should slide right over your track.
Then clip on your hooks. There are all sorts of different types, depending on what you need to hang.
We filled it up pretty fast with brooms, shovels, rakes, trimmers, etc. It can even hold super heavy stuff like our ladder.
We love how modular and sturdy this is!
STEP 4: Wire rack
After installing our new storage, we turned our eye back to our existing storage. This little wire rack has rested humbly in our corner for years and we actually use it, so it was a keeper. But he was dirty, chipped, and slightly off white. So we gave him a good scrubbing and a coat of white semigloss spray paint.
Then we added him on the wall back where he used to be, except this time we screwed him into studs (seriously, it seems like NOTHING in this garage had been attached to studs).
STEP 5: Cabinets
Our cabinets, which came with the house, originally started out pretty much the ugliest brown you could ever imagine. So one day we couldn’t take it any more and we painted them with some white paint we just happened to have on hand. What we didn’t think about was that it was flat paint, so it got really dirty really easily. We had some of our paint leftover from painting the walls, which was Behr Ultra Premium Plus off-the-shelf white in a satin sheen, so we decided to try that.
Hopefully painting them with extra paint won’t come back to bite us in the butt again, but they definitely look better now and are easier to clean!
We also gave the knobs a new coat of paint. They had been painted over so many times that it had built up quite a bit.
To get off the old paint and prep them for a new coat, we used this trick. First, screw a knob onto your drill.
Then use one hand to control the drill, and the other hand to hold emery cloth around the knob. As the drill spins, the cloth sands the paint off the knob.
It’s a little hard to tell in the photo because the old knob color was white and the paint that had gotten on it was white, but it was much smoother!
We spray painted them semigloss white to even them out (I know, seems kinda redundant, but it helped give them a more finished look)
Then we reattached the knobs and called these cabinets done.
STEP 6: Moving stuff into place, DIY dolly shelf, DIY drying racks
The step was kinda like “ok we are basically done, let’s move stuff back, wait let’s DIY a couple things while we’re at it!” So not so much a step we did, more like a series of fortunate distractions as we wrapped this thing up.
We moved our Uline back where it used to live to the left of the cabinets and loaded up our big, heavy items.
We used to keep extra tile and bricks from the house stacked underneath it, but it was like a breeding ground for cobwebs, dirt, and dead bugs back there because they were so heavy, we could never move them to clean. So we decided to convert an old dolly to a low profile rolling tile storage cart (really, this would work for anything low profile and heavy).
To install this, you’ll need
- 1/2″ plywood
- Some extra scrap wood to bring the lower center part level with the ends
The dolly has a higher, padded part on either end, and slightly lower wooden parts across the middle. So Evan cut some 1×4’s down to size so that they could sit on top of the wooden parts and make the middle of the dolly level with the ends of the dolly.
Then we used some 3/4” thick plywood that was just a little wider and longer than the dolly and secured it on top with four screws. We drilled through the plywood, through the 1×4’s, into the wooden part of the dolly’s frame.
We loaded her up with tile and she fit snuggly under our Uline. Now it’s about a billion times easier to move the tile around when we need to. That stuff is HEAVY.
Side note, I looked into it and a dolly like this is only $19. In a lot of cases, that’s cheaper than buying wood + four casters, and it’s already put together for you. So if you’re needing a quick and simple rolling cart, might be worth just getting a dolly and popping some plywood on top!
Next we added our rolling wood cart to the right of the cabinets. We had hoped to put it there, and last minute realized it was about 6 inches too wide (that’s what we get for dreaming big and not measuring). We didn’t get photos of this step, but we cut off some overhanging surface, moved a couple casters, and baaaaarely got it to fit. Woo!
The space under the cabinets was begging for our work table, but before rolling it in we took a few to add a little more functionality to it. We use this table for all sorts of projects, including working on our products, which often require time to dry (wet paint, cement that needs to cure, stain that’s soaking in, etc). We used to use the oh so glamorous technique of dismantling cardboard boxes, laying them flat on the floor, and splaying all our drying goodies across those. Which technically worked, but was not space efficient at all.
We were liking our shelves from earlier so much, we got more short rails and more brackets to built a drying rack area under our worktable. We attached the rails to the table legs, popped in the brackets, and used planks of particle board (?????) as shelving. I can’t believe we never thought of this before – it is SUCH a better use of space! No more tip toeing around drying products all over the floors!
Once our drying rack was loaded up, we rolled the work table under the cabinets and it was literally a perfect fit. I’m kind of in disbelief that this worked. Our Tetris skills of yore were clearly put to good use.
Moment of Truth
All of our stuff corralled? Check. Usable work space for projects and products? Check. Space to pull in both of our cars?
Y’all. This is for real. And I kinda can’t believe it. Especially when you look back on where this started.
We kinda feel like now that our garage is in order, there’s no stopping us. Feel like making a DIY cutting board or a bench? No biggie, our wood is no longer buried under a mountain of disgrace. Need to crank out a new product order? No longer do we have to turn our garage floor into a sea of half-dried items.
Expect a (hopefully) higher frequency of projects, new products, and posts now that this space is functional again!
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