Recreation rooms are portrayed as places of refuge for men, but for most guys, the garage is the true man cave. Atlanta’s dogwoods will start blooming in a few days, heralding the arrival of spring. Once that happens, you don’t want to be stuck indoors arranging your garage. Now is the time to get organized so that you can find all your tools and toys when you need them this spring.

The most basic organizational tip is to get it off the floor. That’s where most of the clutter occurs, swallowing up space. When planning your layout, keep the outdoor equipment hung on the walls closest to the garage door. Items used indoors should be hung or stored in bins nearer to the back wall or, in attached garages, the entrance to the main house.

Install wall racks for hanging lawn tools and sporting goods. Next, use the overhead areas by installing ceiling hangars for large items. For hand tools, choose a free-standing tool chest or cabinet. Other small items can be organized and stored in stackable bins or boxes. Finally, if the job seems too big, seek the help of a professional garage organizer.

All of these storage systems can be found in an independent hardware store, along with expert advice and friendly customer service. Most independent hardware dealers now are members of cooperatives, such as Ace Hardware. Each Ace store is locally owned, and many have been in business for generations and specialize in neighborhood service.

Tool chest: Bates Ace Hardware
1709 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 351-4240 

Hours: Mon to Fri—8 a.m. to 7 p.m.,  Sat to Sun—10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

In business since 1921, Bates Ace Hardware has had but two owners. In 1973, the Bates family sold the operation to David Doss. The Doss family expanded the store to 22,000 square feet and has maintained the business as a neighborhood family enterprise.

Bates can be your source for the Ace 5-drawer Tool Cabinet. The unit is free-standing and has a lifttop tool chest with three 19-inch and two 24-inch drawers, the perfect place for hand tools.

Ceiling hangars: Intown Ace Hardware
854 North Highland Avenue, NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 874-5619

Hours: Mon to Fri—8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat—8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Intown Ace Hardware was founded in 1979, when brothers Doug and Joe Eifrid bought the Clement Hardware Store in Virginia-Highlands. At first, the brothers opened the store under the name St. Charles Place Hardware, but soon moved the business to its present location and changed the name to Intown Ace.

For storing big, heavy items like file boxes, lawnmowers, canoes or kayaks, ask the Intown Ace staff about the RacorPro PHL-1R 4-foot by 4-foot Ceiling Storage Lift. The lift draws the load up to the ceiling and out of the way. When it’s time to retrieve an item, the lift can be lowered without having to use a ladder.

Storage bins: Oakdale Ace Hardware
4359 West Atlanta Road
Smyrna, GA 30082
(770) 436-1451 

Hours: Mon to Fri—7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun—varies, Check website as times subject to change

Oakdale Ace Hardware has been a staple of the Smyrna/Vinings area for more than half a century. It’s also been recognized as a throwback to an earlier time, offering items and services hard to find elsewhere.

While browsing at Oakdale Ace, ask about the stackable Quantum Storage Bins. Made of rust, water and corrosion proof polypropylene, these are ideal for holding nuts, bolts and other small items.

Wall racks: ClosetSmith
1369 Stonefield Court
Ridgeland Corporate Center
Alpharetta, GA 30004
(678) 455-0005

Hours: Call for consultation

When it comes to wall racks for storing lawn tools or sporting gear, CloseSmith has a wide variety of options available. These run the gamut from shelves and baskets to custom racks for golf clubs and tennis racquets. 

ClosetSmith can work with you to design a custom layout using either StorAway Solutions or Hafele brand wall rack systems. You can call them for a free consultation to plan your storage makeover.

Professional help: The Garage Geek, Inc.
P.O. Box 491502
Lawrenceville, GA 30049
(404) 579-9535  

Hours: Call for consultation

If you find the prospect of creating order from the chaos in your garage to be too daunting, call the Garage Geek. Greg Horne has a mechanical engineering background, but now focuses on garage organization and beautification.

Horne can help with your garage storage makeover, including painting, electrical work, carpentry and even setting up a garage sale or junk removal to lessen the clutter. The Garage Geek offers free home estimates and consultations.

Jimmy Jacobs is an outdoor and travel writer that has spent the past two decades exploring the region from the Southern Appalachian Mountains to both the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Along the way he has won numerous Excellence in Craft Awards for writing and photography from the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. He currently resides in Atlanta. His work can be found at