Michele Vig, Neat Little Nest Owner + Chief Organizer

Hello! Here I share my passion for creating both beautifully organized + designed spaces. I hope you find some inspiration.

-Michele

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our garage makeover

Just like you, there are some projects on my own home update list that have lived there for quite some time. One big one for our family was our garage. For nearly 17 years we have talked about and conceptualized its overhaul but it remained less of a priority than other areas of our home... until this past spring.

Our garage has two stalls that are relatively narrow so not a lot can fit on the side walls.

I had been looking at garage eye-candy on social media for a least a decade envisioning our future garage as a clean, decluttered space that would bring us joy when we pulled into it. I desired a garage space that was both functional and beautiful. To me, functional meant it would be able to hold all of the items we needed it to and beautiful meant it would be an aesthetically pleasing space.


So when we finally earmarked time for our own garage makeover after doing so for many of our Neat Little Nest clients, I was more than ecstatic.

This was our garage BEFORE using the original homeowner's wooden shelf and hanging strips

The reason updating the garage was on our list for a very long time is that it was fine as was, nothing was inherently wrong with it. When we first moved into our home, there was a wooden shelf screwed into the wall and a Rubbermaid FastTrack system hanging that had been installed by the previous owner.


To keep organizing costs low, we chose over the years to add onto the items that came with the house such as a garage system from IKEA. We saved a lot of money compared to other systems on the market that we could have gone with, so we felt great about that purchase. That is, until we learned the system had been discontinued when we wanted to buy more shelves a year later. Even though we couldn't get the new shelves we wanted from IKEA, we carried on with the system making do with it until it just no longer worked for us. Hence, our spring decision to finally tackle a total re-do.


Knowing we wanted to paint the garage and get a new floor, we decided to take the leap and declutter and organize the entire space. The process to make the transformation happen took us several months from decluttering to design to execution. Below are the main strategies we used.

we involved the whole family
To my suprise, my kids actually liked painting together as a family and we had a lot of fun!

If you've been following me for some time, you know I believe kids learn by doing and participating in home projects is a wonderful way for them to build skills they will need as adults. My husband and I had discussed hiring all of this work out, but we made a conscious choice to enlist our children to help with the transformation.


Our kids, who are 16 and 13, helped us declutter the garage, remove the old garage system, clean and paint the walls and put everything back when it was time.

we bought a garage system I trust
The AFTER picture using hanging strips and shelving to maximize every inch of the back wall.

Since I launched my company Neat Little Nest, I've researched and used a variety of different organizing systems in both the home and the garage. I did not have this knowledge when we chose to buy our original IKEA system more than 17 years ago.


For our garage, I chose to use the Elfa system because I know the system well, it's easy to modify as needs change and it is an established brand that will be around for years to come.


While I do know how to install the Elfa system, we chose to have the system installed since we purchased the system on sale and installation was at a much reduced price. With everything we needed to get the garage ready for the system, all of us were happy when the installer arrived.

we used bins to corral smaller items
We chose the deepest shelves we could get and still have room to get cars in and walk around.

With the system in place, I reused the bins I had from our prior garage organization. They are made of durable, thick plastic and are an excellent choice for a garage. I especially like that these utility bins come with the ability to divide the container into smaller sections.

we used a rail to get most things off the floor
Getting things off the floor helps to decrease the cluttered look of any space

The track system is mounted to the wall and you can simply add different types of hooks to the wall based on the items you have to hang.


We used the Elfa straight hook to hang the chairs, the shovels and the snowshoes. We used the Elfa wide ladder hook to hang the weed trimmer and the tennis rackets. To hold our balls, we used the Elfa utility mesh storage bag. To hold the bike pump and long rake, we used the Elfa utility tool holder.


While not the most practical color, I absolutely love the white color we selected because it makes the garage looks so fresh. As you've probably noticed, many garage organizing solutions are typically gray in color.

we invested in a new floor

The largest expense in our garage was the new epoxy floor. This is something both my husband and I have wanted for some time as our old floor was starting to have some challenges. We used a local Minnesota company, Northland Coating, Inc., for our new garage floor on the recommendation of our neighbor and we couldn't be happier with the results. It took a full week to get the floor completed.


Overall, this garage transformation has been a labor of love. We are enjoying the space so much more and because it looks so nice it's easier to want to keep it clean and tidy.


If you've been putting off decluttering and organizing your garage, it might be time to move it up on the priority list. I can tell you from personal experience that once the space was completed, I had wished we had taken on the task sooner.


Photo credits: Jes Lahay Photography


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