The Garage Ranks as one of the most disorganized rooms in the house, according to several highly rated professional organizers across the country. Worthless junk often crowds out the family car. "They're one of the most neglected areas and can get out of hand quickly," says Alexis Rubin, owner of A-rated Funktional Home professional organization service in Littleton, CO. 

She estimates garages make up one quarter of her business, and she charges an average of $500 to $800 to clean and organize them. "Considering that cars are often a family's second most expensive investment, professional help in desiging a garage that can maximize and maintain its function is a good use of money," Rubin says. "Beyond that, a well-designed garage can expand storage for a wide variety of household items."

Professional organizers help homeowners sort, purge, categorize and put items back in a way that makes the most sense to the individual. They will often discard unwanted items, either by donating them to a charity or consignment shop or posting items for sale online. 

Some organizers sell storage products and install them, while others handle the decluttering and bring in help to install cabinets and perform other tasks. "I consider myself project manager of other community experts, such as handymen or women who can assist with hanging," says Melanie Raelin, owner of A-rated Wits End Organizing in Somerville, MA. "I personally set up donation pickups and yard or estate sales to help the person offset the cost."

Photo: Your Great Garage

Highly rated Your Great Garage in St. Petersburg, FL., sells and installs garage-specific solutions. Owner Tony Braswell says costs start at $99 for simple shelving and go up to $5,000 for multiple solutions in a large garage, such as overhead rack systems, epoxy floors and custom workspaces. 

Angie's List member Carol Pressman of New Port Richey, FL., hired Baswell in July to clear out junk, organize her hobby paraphernalia and corral her grandchildren's toys. The job, which took just over two days and cost $2,800, included an epoxy floor coating, overhead racks, wall storage and a customized gardening workbench. "It will make everything I do much more pleasant," she says. "And they took away everything I didn't want - that was a huge selling feature."

Rubin and other organizers stress the importance of developing a system that's easy to maintain. "Clearing out a space and making it look nice is just the beginning," she says. "Organization is about maintenance. We can help change habits and build structures that work for you."

Angie's List member Cathy Flanders of Littleton, CO recently hired Funktional Home for the third time. After tackling the home office and kid's playroom, Flanders wanted to maximize storage space for toys and bicycles and add a mudroom area in her garage. For less than $500, Rubin cleared out unwanted items and added shelving, hooks and bins to store outside toys, garden tools and other supplies. "It doesn't just look pretty - she put in new systems that are easy to keep up," Flanders says. "Our garage was a disaster," Flanders says. "We could only maybe fit one care, if everyone held their breath. Now, we have a workable garage that should last."

Flanders says her favorite part is a brightly painted accent all that Rubin suggested. "It feels like a finished space that's an extension of the house," Flanders says. "It makes me smile".

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