In a utilitarian room like the garage, flexible components make good sense. "Part of the concept of Universal Design―a key element of the 2008 Cooking Light FitHouse―is using products that help people of different ages, heights, strengths, and abilities easily access their belongings," says Jennifer Usselman, the designer of the 2008 Cooking Light Fithouse.
Corral small items. The clear drawers of Akro Mills’s Hardware Storage Cabinet ($32; 800-600-9817 or www.organize.com) tell you at a glance whether you’re reaching for a rubber band or a picture anchor. Storage cabinets like these can be wall-mounted or placed on a shelf. Hang your bike. The Gladiator Claw Advanced Bike Storage (available this winter, $60; 866-342-4089 or www.gladiatorgw.com) grasps and releases a bike’s tire when a user depresses a plunger; there’s no need to hoist the bike up and over a conventional hook. “It’s ideal for children and older adults who might need a little help retrieving a bike,” Usselman says.
Condense your recyclables. Consider installing a trash compactor in the garage, as Usselman did in the Cooking Light FitHouse (with Gladiator Garageworks’ Garage Compactor). By condensing the amount of recycled material you have, you’ll make fewer trips to the curb with filled bins of heavy paper, plastic, and other items.
Hide infrequently used items. Cabinets from companies like Rubbermaid start at $1,500 (www.rubbermaidpro.com) and provide ample storage space with open shelving for items such as nested terra-cotta pots, and closed cabinets for cleaning and automotive products.
Rethink what you can do in the garage. Jewelry making, scrapbooking, and other craft projects can find room in your garage. Create a crafts center with storage devices such as Deflect-o’s Tilt Bins (from $12.50; www.officeworld.com); the drawers stay open to give you access to supplies and tools, and the graduated sizes help crafters keep all items related to projects close at hand.
Amy Rogers Nazarov is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. She specializes in home, lifestyle, and business topics.