I Sent a Home Stager Photos of My Garage — Here’s What She Said to Change

published Dec 14, 2023
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Garage before organizing.
Credit: Meg Asby

I want to swap garages with my next-door neighbors. Their space is not just clean and organized, but it’s also decorated. There are framed photographs on the walls, which sort of blows my mind. My family’s garage, on the other hand, is the kind you have to turn sideways to navigate. It is home to our hobbies (both real and aspirational), emergency supplies, trash cans, and a smattering of tools. Our car and camping trailer fit, but just barely. It needs help. 

I reached out to Stephanie Treantos, founder of Lemonaid Solutions (@lemonaidsolutions), a premier luxury home organization, staging, and styling firm in Maine, to get her take on how to improve my cluttered garage. “The garage can often be overlooked when considering staging,” says Treantos. “This could be the first space [buyers] see. And first impressions are so important.” 

Credit: Meg Asby

It’s definitely the first space I see when I come home, so that alone is compelling enough to put me to work. Treantos shared several other pearls of wisdom, which I used to start creating the garage of my dreams — or, at least, one more like my neighbor’s.

Edit ruthlessly. 

The first step, says Treantos, is to declutter or relocate all the unnecessary stuff. I gave away the sporting goods we weren’t using, moved all of our tools to the basement, and recycled trash. If we were actually selling our home, this step alone would have saved significant moving costs. 

For staging, even vehicles should go, says Treantos. Because our home is large enough for a family with children, the hanging bikes need to move, too, to make room for a potential buyer’s tall SUV. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Create zones.

After the decluttering marathon, I was left with four categories in my garage: earthquake emergency kits, pool supplies, camping gear, and sporting equipment. I repurposed clear bins from the basement to store emergency and pool supplies on the shelving unit, and I relegated the sporting and camping goods to the right side of the garage. Treantos recommends storing all paddle craft on one wall, but I opted not to because it would be hard to access a kayak stored above shoulder height.

Clear the floor.  

People should be able to walk in a garage, Treantos tells me — and not just sideways — so my next task was to clear the floor. I moved the garbage bins out to the side of the house, and ordered two shelves for the camping gear. I purchased a six-pack of garage hooks for only $7.99, and simply getting the ladder off the floor made such a difference, both visually and functionally. Of all of Treantos’s great advice, this was my favorite.

Credit: Meg Asby

Do a little housekeeping.

“A little dedication to cleaning things up … will go a long way,” says Treantos. Remove the cobwebs, pressure-wash the floor, and replace the light bulbs. I swear the cobwebs repopulate the second I remove them, but I did make an effort. 

Credit: Meg Asby

*Almost* Staged

Treantos’s advice is golden, but I couldn’t do it all. I brought back my Joseph Joseph trash bin to sort recycling, even though it takes up floor space. I (wanted to, but) didn’t buy a mini fridge-freezer combo to replace the precarious stacking situation I have going on. Our heavy generator sits on the floor, the bikes are back on the ceiling, and we still have to turn sideways to walk.  

That said, every time I drive into my garage, I feel a little jolt of joy at how much better the space looks. I know where everything is, cleaning is a breeze, and — as a nod to my neighbors who inspired it all — I did leave one wall space clear to hang a photograph