Garage Playroom Clean Up (With Before and After Photos)

Several years ago, my husband surprised me by carpeting our garage (which also meant giving up parking his car inside).  That’s just one of the many reasons why I love my guy.

In Oregon, we have quite a few days of drizzle so a playroom where the kids can run-a-bit-crazy-wild has been such a huge gift.  It’s a two car garage, with a little extra room to one side.

We used carpet tiles, which we also ended up using in our family room, because they are just so practical and easy to install.  Big spill–tear up a square and replace it– that’s why I’m sold on carpet tiles!

The garage/playroom is also where we exit and enter the house.  It quickly becomes a dumping ground. 

And recently, it got so bad, that even I was contributing to the mess because putting away a pair of shoes so that I could trip over 20 more, felt pointless.

So–this weekend, I attempted to mercilessly clean up the garage.
I was brutal.
If I couldn’t find a spot for an item…it was gone!

Now I’m not saying the garage is clean yet…but it is a lot more organized and usable and I invited a friend over this afternoon to look through our Goodwill pile.  The pile in the photo above was about twice the size it is now (here’s my official “sorry” to her husband), but she has little guys just a few stages behind ours, so it was really fun to think of them enjoying the boys’ Spiderman slippers and ninja swords.

So here’s what it was looking like before the clean up
But to be fair to our crew– this was on Saturday morning after a Friday night slumber party…
And to be fair to me– this was after we’d already attempted to “clean it up”…

And this is after many, many…did I say MANY… hours of organizing!
Looking down from the steps into the garage…now I have clear path to the treadmill–so there should be no excuse…
Again–love those carpet tiles!!! So practical…
Our 4-foot-by-8-foot-$10-delivered-Craigslist-find…the kids love that dry erase board and now they can actually draw on it because the piles blocking it are gone.


Lydi’s “kitchen and shopping area”…

Jason put this smaller basketball hoop up a while ago, but it was difficult to play much in the midst of the mess.
These rings are from Ikea and they are great for indoor or outdoor use. If you are interested, just remember that the hooks must be purchased separately. A ladder and swing attachment are also offered as part of the same series. All of our kids have gained muscle strength by using these to do flips!
This I-don’t-know-what-you’d-call-it…was free off Craigslist, but we use it to organize hats and gloves, so that are easily accessible as we’re running out the door.


Another Craigslist find…this massive entertainment center was delivered to us by the nice sellers and we use it as storage and as a divider between the main play area and our real “garage” shelves. We sectioned off an area that is behind the entertainment center for storage and our shoe & jacket path.
Ball and Lego bins…the boys keep their smaller Legos inside, but these are any-age-friendly-Legos.  We try to keep the playroom safe for all ages so that when friends with little ones come over, we can send them out to play without worrying about choking hazards.
I love having the kids’ coats in the playroom/garage because 98% of the time we enter and exit right past this coat rack. It’s worth it to find a heavy duty rack so that it will hold up under the weight of many jackets. Ours is from Ikea, but it’s their in-store model–around $30 (couldn’t find it online).
Shoes, shoes…lots of shoes…but at least all the shoes are in one place. These shoe racks are stacked on top of each other. Again, I love the location–right where we enter and exit the house. In theory–“hang up your jacket, put away your shoes…and then…head inside.” I should have taken a photo of this area before the clean up though, because there was a massive pile of shoes blocking the whole pathway.
Here’s looking back towards the coat rack, by the garage door where we enter after piling out of the car. I like to keep a stack of swimming towels by the clothes rack so that heading to the pool is quick and easy (or else I won’t do it). Our swimming bag is usually packed and ready to go too…or again…it feels like too much work to take them all to go swimming–which they LOVE to do!

The bins…I can’t guarantee that what’s written on the labels is what’s actually in the bins…but it gives me a good starting place when I’m looking for something.

At least the Christmas bins are obvious…

Camping supplies and the other “real garage items”…


The walkway past the shoes, to jackets, and out the door…


The cabinets above and below the sink did not have covers, so after our dog chewed a hole in our bedspread a while back…I used the remains to cover the openings. Mostly so that the kids know to stay out of those areas.

Boxes for keepsakes…

The cups idea developed last summer, but I didn’t actually implement it until today. In the summer (and throughout the year) our house is often full of children. Last summer, I had many “drink of water” requests and a pile of cups in the sink, so I eventually found some bright, dishwasher safe cups, labeled them with the names of our most frequent requesters (our kids & neighbors) and then a few extra for friends. My plan is to eventually hang each one individually from a ring on the towel bar, but I ran out of rings this afternoon.

Close up of our “cup ring system”…

This was another Craigslist freebie…from a retiring teacher…it holds tons of books!

Wish I’d taken photos of inside the cupboards beforehand….it was bad.
Because everyone needs three bins for guns. wow.

Still not quite ready to get rid of the baby clothes…

And a final shot below of the whole room…

But not before I take a final shot–at myself. 
Lest you-think-that-I-think-that-I’ve-got-it-all-together (and just in case any sleep deprived new mamas) happen to read this post: 

–On Saturday, I complained…well no…more like ranted because I found 9 dirty socks in the Lego bin.
–We ate take-out Thai food on Saturday night and my husband stopped by Taco Bell tonight. 
–Our youngest, not under close supervision at nap time, took off her pull-ups twice and tracked the contents across the carpet.
–I found half a hot dog in a playroom cupboard.
–I snapped at our neighbor kiddo (who is practically part of our family).
–I threw away about 37 markers just because I didn’t want to deal with them.
–I definitely deserved a repost of “There Are Rats In My Cellar“.
–And if you want to see some snapshots of the rest of my REAL life, visit me here.

All that to say…I’m thankful this is accomplished, but in the big scheme of life and what matters…I’m thankful for God’s grace (and my family’s forgiveness) because even when things are cleaned up on the outside, it’s sometimes the inner mess that really needs some work.

And this is how Dad kept the crew busy while I was organizing and throwing away their stuff.
We’ll just call it:
“Fun With Dry Ice”

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  1. We missed you and Lydi at Football, but I’m glad you got so much done :)

  2. Great job! I can imagine this major project took many hours, but I bet it feels so much better to walk into this area of your house now! I know the feeling! I love getting organized, but the process to get all neat and tidy is daunting sometimes and time-consuming! These before and after photos are great! Love all your craigs list finds! I hope your family can keep this place beautiful! My family has a problem with the “drag and drop syndrome” where I will spend hours organizing and putting everything in its “place” but then little ones drag things out and drop them where ever they shouldn’t be :)

  3. Thanks Becks…
    But I actually got myself stuck. The “stop human trafficking group” is meeting over here to plan and pray this morning and the garage needed to be “little kid safe” by 9am. I forgot about how projects always get worse before they get better…

    Tracy–that is always the challege….will we avoid “drag and drop”???? :)

  4. What a great space and super clean up job. You find the best things on Craig list:) I have yet to use it not sure they even have it in the UK

  5. Wow! I absolutely love all you have done. Doesn’t it feel like a huge weight lifted off of you?? At least for a little while, until things get crazy again. Because we all know they do! Your organization is inspiring. And I love, love, love Ikea and Craigslist! They are the best.

  6. A place for everything. Everything in its place.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am inspired! I really want an organized garage and playroom. That’s a great idea! Thank you!:)

  8. Great job! I’m a big Craigs List fan – I ALWAYS check there first. I love organization stories. I’m a little obsessive with it. One sad mistake I’ve was taking to the Goodwill a few treasures I now wish I hadn’t. Like my daugher’s signed book from friends on vacation in Hawaii, my son’s baby drum. Aaargh! What was I thinking?! But on the whole, I’m glad we’ve “traveled light.” Organizing does so much for a mom’s sanity.
    Thanks for following my blog! ( :

  9. How fun! Looks like you’ve got a head start on spring cleaning. :)

  10. Oh I’m totally showing this to Seth! haha (I think that the captions are better put above the photos. So not Journalistic, but that way you see the photos after you read about them as you scroll down :)

  11. drooool… wow, looks great!!

  12. Aimee–I’m sure Seth will be “so” impressed :)
    Totally agree about the captions part…I switched them around! THANK YOU!

  13. Thanks everyone!
    And Rose…we’ll see how long “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place” :)

    That’s always the true challege with kiddos–right? Like Tracy commented–we seriously battle “drag and drop” issues :)

  14. I read that GypsyMama post too and thought it was awesome. I love organizing and this post makes me want to go mess something up just so I can organize it. :) It’s a good thing it’s almost yard sale season because I am going to purge my house like crazy!

  15. Looks fabulous, nice work.

  16. Virginia–totally agree…loved her post! I almost started the clean-out-clear-out process a bit too early because now I don’t want to hold onto a pile for a garage sale. Ready to see it go NOW! :)

  17. WOW! visting from tackle it tuesday. my husband and I were just talking TONIGHT about carpeting part of our garage to give us more space. Your before and afters are AMAZING. WOW! and again- WOW!! You worked so hard. Love all the organization. I’m a new follower. ;) meagan at

  18. That is great! Love the transformation! I usually start a project before taking a picture of it and then wish that I would have taken a before picture when the change is complete. Even Hubby said that we should have taken a before picture following the heavy work of our last project. LOL!

  19. Woweee! I love this room!! I really do wish I had a better play area for my kids. Those carpet tires are pure genius!

  20. MommyMeagan–I know it’s hard to give up the garage, but honestly…it has been SO worth it!

    Deanne–I’m with ya. We cleaned out our boys’ room. It would have made for INCREDIBLE before and after photos (it was down right scary)…but of course, I forgot.

    Heather–thanks! The carpet tiles are very easy to install… :)

  21. WOW!!!!!!!!! Great job! I’m inspired to get organized this weekend too!


  22. Not only does your playroom look great. It looks really fun too. We have one of those foosball/pile-crap-on tables too.

  23. Wooohooo! It looks awesome! Way to go!

  24. Most excellent job. It looks fantastic!!

  25. Wow…amazing job! I love your idea of writing names on cups – I thrifted some extras for the same reason but I haven’t labeled them.

    Seeing the after photos of your garage definitely made me think that your description of the “many” hours put into the clean up didn’t begin to cover it. And I especially appreciate your honesty at the end of the post. It always makes me feel like a fraud when someone says that I must really have it together based upon a limited view of my daily accomplishments. Way to keep it real!

  26. Wow… what a great space! That is a wonderful surprise from your husband. And such an awesome idea! Great use of that space. Thank you so much for sharing with us on the ‘studio sneak peek’ (in)courage post! :)

  27. Wow..great play area. We are in the process of converting our garage to a family room for the same reason. What a great job you did!!!

    Need to check Craigs List more often.


  28. Ezenhom11 says:

    Thank you for posting this, you did a great job! Just wondering, is your garage insulated or have ac? I live in a warmer climate and want to convert my garage but I don’t think it’s insulated. Thanks.

    • It may be insulated, but no AC…we get a little warm on a few days during the summer and cold on a few days during the winter (but we use a space heater for that). In the summer…I open the garage door so that it’s a sign for the neighborhood kiddos that they are welcome. Having that garage hang-out-spot makes me MUCH more willing to have over crowds of kiddos :)
      One of THE BEST house decisions we ever made.
      I do know that my parents had a fan installed in there garage and it wasn’t crazy expensive??? At least it’d be a shaded place to get out of the sun when the weather is warmer…


  1. […] of the best house decisions we ever made was transforming our garage into a playroom because it has been such a gift to have that space for gathering neighborhood friends.  In the […]

  2. […] have a snowball fight…  …because he gave up his inside parking spot so I could have a playroom (and installed the carpet when I was gone for the weekend to surprise me)…. …because […]

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