Organizing this tricky space, which is part storage and part entryway, doesn’t have to mean a trip to a big box store or a secret stash of cash. Just try our thrifty tips below.


Shop your house.

Sometimes the best solutions are the ones you already own -- repurposed to fit your life now.

1. Renew old storage.

Becky Barnfather, who dispenses organizing advice on her blog, Organizing Made Fun, suggests moving outgrown toy cubbies into the garage to store balls, helmets and gloves. Placing wire baskets inside makes it easy to stack cleats, shin guards and other outdoor footwear that would get lost in a larger bin.

2. Breathe new life into a bookshelf.

A taller shelf can hold gardening tools, empty flowerpots and seed packets in a bucket. Or top a table or old desk with a short bookshelf to create an instant craft bench, and unify it all with a coat of pretty paint. A row of Ziploc® brand Twist ’n Loc® Containers can keep frequently-used supplies in order, right at eye level.

3. Recycle a hotel-style towel rack.

Roll beach towels and stack them on top, and use the hooks or hanging bar on the bottom to hang a whisk broom, shop apron or that one tool you always misplace.

Thrift wisely.

Keep a running list of garage make-over items you’re looking for. Then drop into a thrift store, where you might find just what you need (see ideas below) – all for pennies on the dollar.

4. Think inside the box.

Large file cabinets (yard sale, here we come!) turned on their backs and emptied of drawers can hold garden tools as well as bags of soil, compost or fertilizer. Don’t forget to transform the cabinet’s drab outsides with paint or easily applied vinyl decals!

5. Rethink desk supplies.

These castaways abound at thrift stores, and you can use pencil holders to corral screws, bolts and more on a workbench. The narrow slots of a drawer divider are perfectly sized to hold rulers, carpenter’s pencils and foam paintbrushes.

6. Go upright.

Metal file folder organizers can hold pieces of plywood, stray bin lids and any other lightweight item that fits.

7. Stash it.

Use metal or wire wastebaskets to keep bamboo garden poles or odd lengths of scrap wood in line. Paint them for a pretty alternative to the industrial look.

8. Resurrect a picnic table set.

Stack a wood picnic bench on top of a table, add a second bench on top of the first, and secure everything together at the back and sides with fence boards. Voila! Instant shelves and workspace. (A coat of paint can turn any mismatched wood into a showpiece.)

Build or adapt what you need.

A hammer, a screwdriver and a paintbrush can breathe new life into pieces in need of refurbishing.

9. Construct a mini-mudroom.

Install a simple shelf with hooks over a bench and turn your garage entryway into a hardworking drop spot. If you back the space between shelf and bench with pegboard, you’ll gain even more vertical storage.

10. Adapt or repurpose a larger piece.

Barnfather painted two bathroom vanities she found at a thrift store, topped them with a sanded, stained door for a countertop, and created a designer-worthy workbench. A sheet of pegboard, painted with a monogram, holds garden tools.

11. Small pieces live large.

Barnfather’s husband built a simple kids’ scooter stand out of scrap wood, turning a cluttered pile of scooters into an orderly parking spot easy for kids to use. Want to make your own? Just look at this easy plan.