Transforming Your Garage into Usable and Organized Space


People in Orange County use their garages for more than just a place to park their car. The majority of garages double as crucial storage space for homeowners. In addition to storing everything from lawn and garden items to tools, holiday decorations, golf carts, golf clubs, motorcycles, beach chairs, sports equipment and surfboards, garages also double as a laundry area and many times house an extra refrigerator. It’s easy for a garage to quickly become over cluttered or unorganized.

Barry Amster, owner of GarageTek in Irvine, specializes in transforming garages into usable and organized space that meets the needs of individual needs and lifestyles.

When Amster decided to open a GarageTek franchise (the company was based in New York), he was ahead of the curve. His is still the only one serving Orange County and he has had enormous success along the coastal communities providing garage makeovers.

“I thought with the lack of basements and inside storage in this area that GarageTek could provide a great solution to give homeowners more storage space and increase the resale value of their home,” Amster said.

According to Amster, the biggest mistake people make which prevents them from having an organized garage is holding onto items they have no intention of using. “I see paint that is old … tools that are rusted … athletic equipment that has not been used,”  he said.

A garage makeover begins with a free consultation where the customer’s needs and lifestyle are assessed. During this process, a specialist will survey the items you store in the garage, and inspect the condition of the walls, floor and ceiling as well as take precise measurements.

3-D Computer Generated Designs
After the initial consultation and intake, plans are then made using unique software that creates three dimensional designs which shows customers different options of how to configure their new garage. The software also provides a line by line summary of what everything will cost. This way, ultimately, the customer will be able to prioritize and decide which features they can’t live without, and which features are not priorities.

Getting in the Zone
Central to organizing a garage is creating zones. For example, Amster points out: garden tools would usually be toward the front of the garage for easy outdoor access. Bike racks and activity racks are also usually in the front of the garage. There can be an area toward the entry door to the house for brooms and mops. Pantry items should be located by the door or near a refrigerator.

Customizing and Maximizing Space
Tek panels are the cornerstone to garage organization. The Tek panel is made of PVC that is 5/8″ thick. It is attached with white headed screws directly into the wall studs. It goes up the wall like a hardwood floor. It will not break like a particle board/MDF slat wall. From the Tek panels anything can be hung: bikes, strollers, beach chairs or garden tools. There are 100 different accessory items which get sporting goods, bikes, or golf clubs off the floor and onto the wall of the garage. Another benefit of the Tek panel is the ability to move and add accessories as your needs change.

In addition to the Tek panels there are a multitude of options, such as custom-built cupboards and matching storage bins to help complete a newly organized system.

From Floor to CeilingAfter Tek panels get items off the ground, attention can be paid to the ground itself.

Amster uses Polyurea flooring. “This flooring that looks like granite has been used commercially and is now becoming popular residentially. It is superior to epoxy paint which wears away over time. Although it costs a bit more, it comes with a 20-year guarantee from chipping, peeling and fading. The flooring includes a UV inhibitor,” he shared. Price per square foot is $4.50, which includes installation. The choices of colors are unlimited. The flooring takes only one day to install and you’ll be able to walk on it within four hours and drive on it within 24 hours.

The ceiling is a great place to store items that you access infrequently like holiday decorations and tax returns. Many garages have sufficient height to take advantage of overhead storage racks. Many times they can go above the garage door which hides the racks when the garage door is up. GarageTek also has racks that can store kayaks high up on a wall, so they’re out of the way.

“Our accessible attics are four feet wide, four feet deep and 39 inches high. They go on a back wall and allow you to still park a car underneath them,” Amster said. “They hold 1,000 lbs. They have a door on them similar to an SUV door.”

Safety Begins in the Garage
In addition to having an organized and customized garage, Amster also emphasizes safety. The specialists will do the thinking for you and make sure your garage is outfitted with an updated fire extinguisher in a convenient location. In addition, they will install a carbon monoxide alarm and a portable first aid kit and permanent first aid station which hang on the GarageTek paneled wall. In the event of an emergency, time is crucial and knowing exactly where your flashlights, fire extinguishers, or first aid kits are at all times cannot be over emphasized. Lighting in garages is usually lacking, so installing plenty of reliable lighting is not only convenient, but also safer.

“Our system is a way to differentiate your home from one in your neighborhood,” Amster explained. “When you want to sell your home this could be the tipping point in the buyer picking your home with an organized garage over a cluttered mess down the street. At a time where it is more difficult to sell, I have had sellers tell me that the garage was a major plus in getting the sale.”

The cost of organizing your garage will depend on what you opt for. As a general rule of thumb, for a major overhaul of cabinets, flooring, shelving, etc., it can cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

For more information, visit The GarageTek showroom is located at 17751 Sky Park Circle, Ste. D in Irvine. Call 949.748.6333.

By: Jill Fales