Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Garage Organization Makeover Project

By: Danny Lipford
Organized garage with shelves, overhead storage, and wall-mounted bike racks.

Gaylords’ garage after makeover.

Courtney and Bajorn Gaylord of Columbus, Indiana, were the winners of our “Get Your Garage Back” contest, sponsored by Toro, which included a complete garage makeover as well as some cool Toro lawn equipment.

Garage Organization Projects:

  • Install storage shelves and cabinets
  • Build bins for scrap lumber
  • Add a workbench
  • Construct a drop zone for shoes
  • Install garden tool storage racks
  • Add wall-mounted bike racks
  • Install overhead storage
  • Add fluorescent lighting
  • Install Rinnai tankless hot water heater
  • Reverse refrigerator doors

Read episode article to find out more.

Further Information

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re helping a handy Indiana homeowner get back his garage and give his wife a place to park.

Courtney Gaylord: He’s not a hoarder. He just…sometimes it takes him a little time to want to get rid of something.

Danny Lipford: Bajorn and Courtney Gaylord of Columbus, Indiana recently won a contest sponsored by Toro.

Bajorn Gaylord: So she entered the contest, and I think I was actually probably busy cleaning up the garage at the time.

Courtney Gaylord: I think he was cleaning up the garage.

Danny Lipford: Besides some cool tools for their yard, they’re also getting a garage makeover.

Bajorn Gaylord: She said that she needed to come in there to take some photographs, and I was like, “For what?” and she said, “For a contest.” So I’m…

Courtney Gaylord: I said, “It’s going to get your garage back “and you need to get your garage back.” And he said, “Fine.”

Danny Lipford: The garage is particularly important because Bajorn has become a very active Do-It-Yourselfer.

Courtney Gaylord: Now, let’s see, your projects. The gate and the fence, the tree house, the little mud room area inside, pretty much all the flooring in the house he replaced, all the trim, the kitchen island, he built an elaborate outdoor workout contraption out of cedar. If you can build it out of cedar and sheer ingenuity, he’ll do it.

Bajorn Gaylord: I do like cedar.

Courtney Gaylord: He loves cedar. He loves cedar. He has a thing with the cedar.

Bajorn Gaylord: If I could rub it on me for deodorant, I would, you know.

Courtney Gaylord: Isn’t he a hunky carpenter?

Bajorn Gaylord: When she calls me a carpenter, that is to aggrandize what I do around here, which is mostly fumble my way through a project now and again.

Courtney Gaylord: Always, if there’s something I’m wanting him to do, and he doesn’t do it, what do I say?

Bajorn Gaylord: I’m going to get a quote.

Courtney Gaylord: I’m going to get a quote. I’m just going to get a quote. And then what do you do?

Bajorn Gaylord: I do it.

Courtney Gaylord: He says, “Don’t get a quote!”

Bajorn Gaylord: I know.

Danny Lipford: Actually, Bajorn is a high school English teacher. But he obviously has some DIY skills and his garage really needs some help.

Bajorn Gaylord: Well, I feel like the garage is evidence of the universe’s tendency toward disorder. All right, gang, you asked for it, so here’s the mess.

Danny Lipford: I’ve seen some pretty tough garages now, this ain’t too bad. I can even see the floor here, not a problem. How would you like this thing to come together over the next couple of days?

Bajorn Gaylord: So, I would like to not have to find the tool before using the tool. That would make me happy.

Danny Lipford: Okay. All right.

Courtney Gaylord: There just isn’t a space for everything in there.

Bajorn Gaylord: Yes, it’s, we’re over…

Courtney Gaylord: And so you have to pile everything on top of itself.

Bajorn Gaylord: I don’t want to trip over things when I’m going to my tool box.

Courtney Gaylord: Right.

Bajorn Gaylord: Which is often what I do. And then, a whole bunch of expletives come out of my mouth after that…

Courtney Gaylord: Right.

Danny Lipford: And you probably would like to be able to park the car in here on a regular basis.

Courtney Gaylord: That’d be nice. That’s the dream.

Danny Lipford: Okay.

Courtney Gaylord: You know, we still haven’t put a vehicle back in there ’cause there hasn’t been room. You know, there’s just not room.

Bajorn Gaylord: There’s not room.

Courtney Gaylord: Everything doesn’t have a place to go.

Bajorn Gaylord: That is true.

Danny Lipford: Now, what about being able to throw a few things away? Have you discussed that? You got your list all together and you agree on everything, on what needs to go out?

Bajorn Gaylord: We agree on most things. I can part with a few things.

Danny Lipford: Uh-oh. Her eyes are rolling. There may need to be more discussion.

Courtney Gaylord: I’m good at throwing things away and I think he can do it with a camera on him. All right.

Danny Lipford: Good, good. Well, we can get a list of materials and a few ideas together, and we’ll be ready to tackle this thing over the next couple of days. To do that, we’re enlisting the help of a couple local carpenters, Jeff and Dominic.

The first step is clearing the garage. There’s a lot of stuff here, but it goes pretty quickly with six adults and some occasional help from the Gaylord kids, Gus, Stella and Toby.

As soon as the room starts getting clear, we begin repairing the damaged drywall so we can start with a clean slate.

Well, you know, this was the easy part, getting everything out of the garage. The hard part will be for Bajorn and Courtney to figure out what won’t go back in the garage. Hopefully, that throwaway/recycle pile gets a little bigger.

Courtney Gaylord: I vote we get rid of these, I don’t know.

Bajorn Gaylord: Yes, we can.

Courtney Gaylord: I mean, we might be able to reuse that.

Bajorn Gaylord: Well, yes.

Courtney Gaylord: What is it you call this?

Bajorn Gaylord: It’s my respirator.

Courtney Gaylord: And it’s pink. And he does wear it.

Bajorn Gaylord: All the time.

Courtney Gaylord: With these all the time like that, really?

Bajorn Gaylord: I really do.

Courtney Gaylord: So he has to keep this.

Bajorn Gaylord: We’re keeping those.

Courtney Gaylord: And I know that you’re going to have to use these, probably, to do my backsplash.

Bajorn Gaylord: Really? I didn’t know that was on the agenda.

Courtney Gaylord: I’m going to get a quote on that before long. So…

Danny Lipford: As the dry wall work nears completion, Allen gives Bajorn and Courtney a run-down of our plan to zone their garage.

Allen Lyle: Bins for lumber, shelving, of course, on top that you could use for storage. Over here I’ve got a workbench, cabinets above, doors on them, hide everything so you don’t see it. You’ll like that, Courtney, I know.

These homeowners are just fabulous. I mean they’re funny, they’re complimentary to each other, I love seeing that.

As we get over on this side of the wall, I’m going to move the refrigerator down, reverse the doors, so it’s easier access. Put a drop zone for the kids to sit down and take off their shoes, store them.

Then get over here, we’ve got a little more shelving and of course some lawn and garden very close to the door, back in the corner, so easy access for the yard.

Courtney Gaylord: Sounds good.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Bajorn Gaylord: Very good. Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Well, we’re going to get started also in putting some electrical lights up here, some fluorescent lights. It’s always better to have nice, bright light.

But you guys have to continue figuring out what’s being thrown away and what’s being recycled but no fighting, so let’s go. Let’s trash it all. Yeah, I like that idea.

Joe Truini: Whenever you park in a garage, you have to play a guessing game of knowing how far in to pull the car so the door can close behind you.

You may have seen this trick before where you hang a tennis ball from the ceiling, then you pull forward just far enough so that the car hits the tennis ball. Then you know you’re in the proper distance.

So we’ve upgraded this tip and improved it by running a string up and across the ceiling, through a couple of screw hooks, then tied off the opposite end of the string to the garage door.

Now, depending on the depth of your garage and the size of your car, you may have to adjust the height of the ball. So leave a lot of extra string hanging, then just tie it off where you need it, so it just contacts the car.

And now when you close the garage door, as the door goes down, the string and the ball move up and out of the way.

I wish that we could throw everything away. And just leave it like that. You think you can arrange that for me?

Danny Lipford: We’re giving Indiana homeowners, Bajorn and Courtney, a garage makeover.

Courtney Gaylord: The garage is not my area. All I do is go in there to get in the car.

Danny Lipford: We moved everything to the driveway now, so he can sort out what stays and what goes.

Courtney Gaylord: What’s in here?

Bajorn Gaylord: I’m not sure.

Courtney Gaylord: A piece of granite. We can definitely get rid of that.

Danny Lipford: The question is, how much is he letting go? He’s not a hoarder. He just… It’s… Sometimes it takes him a little time to want to get rid of something. So, I think he’s doing okay.

Courtney Gaylord: Normally, it’s the wife that’s a little more sentimental than the husband. But I believe we have a sentimental husband here.

Bajorn Gaylord: I was pretty aware of the mess that we had made of the garage. I discovered some things that I didn’t know existed.

Courtney Gaylord: Yeah, I would just like to be able to get in and out of the car, with the grocery bags, without climbing. You know, climbing with grocery bags is hard. I want to avoid that.

Danny Lipford: These two are a lot of fun and, you can tell they have a lot of fun being together.

Courtney Gaylord: I wish that we could throw everything away. And just leave it like that. You think you can arrange that for me?

Danny Lipford: Not sure we can do that. Besides all the wood, toys and tools, we also found a lot of spiders in this garage. So Allen is applying some long-term spider control called Miss Muffet’s Revenge.

When it dries, we sweep away the cobwebs, leaving a barrier to spiders for up to 12 months.

Then we’re ready to install the cabinets in the corner, that will be Bajorn’s workshop zone.

While Jeff and Dominic handle that, Allen and I are hanging the new lights. What we need to get them to think about are the things they’re going to use the most.

Allen Lyle: Right.

Danny Lipford: Get them down here, handy.

Allen Lyle: Easily accessible. That’s right.

Danny Lipford: Everything else needs to go in this attic or up high or something.

Allen Lyle: Uh-huh.

Danny Lipford: As soon as the cabinets are in place, Allen applies a coat of primer to them while Jeff and Dominic finish sanding the drywall repairs so they can get started painting all of the walls and ceilings. The combination of this fresh white paint and our new light fixtures should give Bajorn plenty of light to work by.

While the guys are finishing up on all of the painting inside the garage, I thought I would build one of the things we’re building to keep things a little more organized, just a little drop zone bench.

It’ll go right outside the door, leading in to the kitchen. That way, the kids can sit down, put their shoes right under the bench, and keep from tracking all of the stuff inside the house. This won’t take long at all to build.

The cabinet-grade three-quarter inch birch I’m using for this project is really the ideal material.

Back inside, Allen is reversing the doors on the refrigerator to make access easier. This is an option few folks are aware of, but it’s really an easy way to simplify use and save a lot of space.

We’ve also got a really nice surprise for Bajorn and Courtney brewing. A local plumber is removing their old tank style water heater so we can replace it with a new tankless model provided by Rinnai.

Because the tankless unit is smaller and mounts on the wall, this will be an enormous space saver. Plus, it’s more efficient, so their utility bills should also go down.

When the primer on the cabinet doors is dry, Courtney lends a hand, getting a coat of gray paint on them while the workbench is being installed. This is a prefab bench from a company called Monkey Bar Storage.

And along with it we’re hanging a track wall to organize Bajorn’s tools. And I wasn’t sure how this was going to look, this ended up looking pretty darn good.

Allen Lyle: I think it looks really nice. It’s a good sturdy work bench.

Danny Lipford: I see you’re using some of the old pieces.

Allen Lyle: I did. This one just fit perfectly here and he’s got a couple more pieces that we took out that I think are going to look very nice. I’m going to try to put them over this wall.

Danny Lipford: We knew he wouldn’t throw that away.

Allen Lyle: No, no.

Danny Lipford: Another thing he hadn’t thrown away is all those little pieces of wood.

Allen Lyle: Scrap, yeah.

Danny Lipford: I mean, here’s one I thought about. That long pallet that we had, take it, cut it, build a little vertical storage here, put everything down there. Little horizontal storage on top for those longer boards.

Allen Lyle: Okay, I’m confused. It sounds like a cool idea.

Danny Lipford: I mean, it’s better than constructing something really big, but…

Allen Lyle: Oh, I’d like to see it. While you’re working on that, I’m going to tackle that overhead storage.

Danny Lipford: All right, good. I’m glad to get out of that one. By cutting along the linear supports in this oversized pallet, I can create a long, sturdy panel that should be just the right height for all those wood scraps. Then I just need to use the other pieces to create sides to tie it to the wall.

Before Allen can get started on that overhead rack, he ends up giving Bajorn a demonstration of the new track wall.

Allen Lyle: These are simple. Push it in, push down, snap!

Bajorn Gaylord: How about that? That is pretty handy. So wherever you want.

Allen Lyle: Your tools, your workbench, so…

Bajorn Gaylord: That’s true.

Allen Lyle: You got some ideas of where you want them?

Bajorn Gaylord: Let’s try one of these.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Bajorn Gaylord: Oh!

Allen Lyle: Do you see this more efficient workspace?

Bajorn Gaylord: I see it. I see this coming together.

Bajorn Gaylord: Okay, good.

Danny Lipford: It sounds like he’s getting excited.

Bajorn Gaylord: Absolutely.

Danny Lipford: Now if I can just overcome his skepticism about my pallet-inspired storage bin. All right, I think I solved your wood storage problems for all of that valuable wood that you have to store. So does it make sense?

Bajorn Gaylord: It’s going to come together, I’m sure.

Danny Lipford: It’s going to come together… You’re relying a lot on the wall here…

Bajorn Gaylord: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And we’ll put this right under that window where hopefully it won’t be in your way. But it’s a little heavy, so…

Bajorn Gaylord: I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Danny Lipford: All right. We’ll see what happens.

Bajorn Gaylord: We’ll see what happens.

Danny Lipford: Get it in there first.

Bajorn Gaylord: All right.

Danny Lipford: While we get this thing installed, why don’t you check out this week’s Best New Product.

Jodi Marks: You know, I’m the believer that you can never have too many power tools or hand tools, and is always nice to have them all spread out. That way you got them right there, when you need them.

But I also will admit that it’s nice when you just have one tool that can do a lot of different functions. Take a look at this one right here by Crescent.

Now this is their Pass-Thru adjustable wrench set. Now, it is a Crescent wrench, and let me just show you this, because I’ve got it set up right here. All I got to do is loosen this, though; and, look, it comes right off.

And on this side, I’ve got teeth, and I slide this in and lock it in place, and now it becomes a pipe wrench. So that’s ready to go.

Another thing, another feature, another tool, rather; is that, look, I’ve got this socket ratchet set here on the end. So I can put any number of different sizes on here, lock it in place. And, of course, you reverse it that way. And I’ve got a ratchet set. And there’s also a pass-through, so I’m not limited to what I can work on.

So I like having all these tools but if you want to have one tool that can do a lot, Crescent’s got one right here for you.

Danny Lipford: We started our makeover of Bajorn and Courtney’s garage by clearing out the space, and repairing and painting the walls and the ceilings. We also created more space by swapping their enormous water heater for a streamlined tankless model.

Then we started adding some elements like cabinets and a work bench to make the garage more useful as a workshop. Bajorn even got the kids involved with stocking the scrap wood bin we completed.

Bajorn Gaylord: That works fantastic.

Danny Lipford: We’ve also added some wall hanging gadgets to organize their lawn and garden tools and the family bicycles so they don’t monopolize the space. We’ve made a lot of progress but there’s still a lot of stuff in that driveway.

Bajorn Gaylord: I think you guys forced me to do a job that I wouldn’t have done otherwise, which is to say I had to weed through some stuff, which was kind of nice.

Danny Lipford: So, at the start of the third day things are looking up, literally. Allen and Dominic are installing an overhead storage rack that’s sure to help get some of the clutter up off the floor.

Dominic: You’re hanging on. You’re going to bend that. Hanging on. Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Both we’ve also discovered a few wrinkles with our new plan for the garage.

Bajorn Gaylord: So I was putting the kids’ art boxes in the attic, and I went to pull down the attic door and found out that the cabinet was in the way. It was going to interfere with the door. And you don’t really know about those things until, like, you start doing ’em.

Danny Lipford: So what do you think, Bajorn? Where would you want to… Where do you think you want to go with it?

Bajorn Gaylord: What if we just flip-flop the shoe drop and…

Danny Lipford: That’s no problem if it works with you.

Bajorn Gaylord: Because, it doesn’t make any difference what side we put our shoes on or off on.

Danny Lipford: Once we relocate the shoe drop, we’re ready to clean up the floors before bringing back in the items we’re going to reuse.

Why don’t you start that way as far as you can go…

That includes these simple shelf units and a rolling work table that belonged to Bajorn’s father. This will be handy since it’s a little bit lower.

Bajorn Gaylord: That is handy. Ooh!

Danny Lipford: Do you think it will fit under there? Come on!

Bajorn Gaylord: Look at that, huh?

Danny Lipford: Hey, of course, we—Allen and I—figured that. We measured it, spaced everything just right.

Bajorn Gaylord: Lot of forethought involved. Yeah, that might work, actually.

Danny Lipford: Bajorn is starting to own this organization.

Bajorn Gaylord: Double storage.

Danny Lipford: And that’s key if he’s going to maintain it over the long haul. So, you got to have ladders in the garage.

Bajorn Gaylord: Yes, you do. Maybe we’ll put that one back in that dead zone. I might hang that sucker like that. That way the chords are free.

Allen Lyle: Got you.

Bajorn Gaylord: And maybe that one does make sense to go up there.

Allen Lyle: I’ll install it up here. On the wall this way?

Bajorn Gaylord: Probably. Don’t you think?

Allen Lyle: Okay. Yeah, I think it’ll look good.

Danny Lipford: The excitement of moving back in seems to be shifting the planning into overdrive.

Bajorn Gaylord: I could put some tools here. And some of the stuff that I don’t really need access to up there.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, you could every single bit of paint you have right there.

Bajorn Gaylord: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: You know, put the… I know in my shop, I put, like, the gallon cans and then put the quarts on top. That way you can see all of them and it’s aligned.

Bajorn Gaylord: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Restocking a clean garage also makes you take stock of how much stuff you have. And whether you need it all.

Courtney Gaylord: Were all these things we bought? We’ve spent so much money on paint. Give me that. I don’t want it.

Bajorn Gaylord: Is this that ugly wall color that we used in the living room, initially?

Courtney Gaylord: I don’t know but I don’t want it.

Bajorn Gaylord: Let’s get rid of it.

Danny Lipford: People often ask me how they can silence a noisy garage door that rattles and squeaks when it opens or closes. Because there’s so many moving parts in these things, and they’re used so frequently, it’s not uncommon for the nuts, bolts, and screws to work themselves loose over time.

A little regular maintenance is a good idea. Simply checking all of the fasteners with a socket wrench every year or two is a good way to catch loose ones before they fall out and disappear altogether. If you have missing fasteners, they can usually be replaced with large, self-tapping screws.

While you’re working on the door, it’s a good idea to lubricate the track the door rides on as well as the rollers themselves. If the garage door opener is chain-driven, it will help to apply some lubricant to it as well.

Finally, check the sensors in the opening to be sure they will properly stop the door from closing if there is an obstruction in the doorway.

Bajorn and Courtney’s garage started this week with way too much stuff competing for too little space.

The chaos left behind from Bajorn’s woodworking projects was battling with bikes, toys and other family storage to keep the car completely out of the garage.

But after a few days’ work and some pretty tough choices, the Gaylords have gotten back their garage.

Courtney Gaylord: I’m thinking maybe we should try to put two cars in there, just for fun. Just for a minute.

Bajorn Gaylord: Just to see, while it lasts, right?

Courtney Gaylord: Just for a minute, yeah, it looks, it looks really beautiful.

Danny Lipford: Besides getting the family minivan into the garage and making it look 100 times better, we’ve also made it more functional for Bajorn as a workshop.

His dad’s rolling workbench tucks neatly under the new, sturdy wall-mounted bench we added. And the track wall, cabinets, and repurposed wood shelves gives him plenty of space to store his tools, so he can find them when he needs them.

I wish I had about four of these, because that is incredibly handy. We will, optimize that storage.

Courtney Gaylord: Yeah. All of the lights are nice, too, and you couldn’t have so many lights if you didn’t have…

Bajorn Gaylord: The lights are nice, they are.

Courtney Gaylord: Ceiling space to do it.

Bajorn Gaylord: It brightens things up. I can actually see what I’m doing now.

Danny Lipford: And seeing everything is what creating zones is all about.

Their new lawn and garden tools are tucked neatly in one corner, where everything, including that folding mower, can be accessed without getting in the way.

Hopefully, the kids will use the new shoe drop to contain some of the chaos that their coming and going creates.

We’ve even corralled the scrap wood pile and the kids’ toys so that they no longer form a mountain in the middle of the floor.

And the family bikes have a brand new home that doesn’t take up any floor space, though it may have raised a sore subject.

Bajorn Gaylord: And there’s the bike that I, we got you for Mother’s Day which you’ve yet to ride.

Courtney Gaylord: That’s not true, I rode it,

Bajorn Gaylord: Like what, twice now?

Courtney Gaylord: It could’ve been twice.

Bajorn Gaylord: That’s why I bought you a used bike.

Courtney Gaylord: But that’s because I don’t understand hand brakes. Hand brakes and I don’t get along that well.

Bajorn Gaylord: Right. Sure. Sure.

Danny Lipford: All in all, I’d say this garage makeover was a success. You know, we’ve done a few simple things here that’ll help this active family out in kind of taking back over their garage.

You know, they do a lot of work around their house, and it’s kind of nice to able to do a few things for them. And these are simple projects. Things that you can do at your house that’ll make a big, big difference.

And I hope you enjoyed this week’s show. And I hope you’ll be back next week, right here, on Today’s Homeowner. I’m Danny Lipford.



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