We re-evaluated a lot of spaces in our homes over the last year. Our basements and dining tables became home offices. We welcomed plastic basketball hoops and mini trampolines into the living room (and we ignored the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on television for now). And garages became areas to entertain friends and family in a socially-distanced way.
At least that’s what Mary Gordon did after her garage got a facelift from local company Garage Boost. With new epoxy floors, tall, organized cabinets and even a motorized bike rack, Mary’s garage was suddenly the place to host all sorts of events.
“We want to get together, we still want to socialize, but we didn’t feel comfortable going into people’s homes,” says Garage Boost co-owner, Amanda Backenstoss, of Mary’s project. “So they got a couple heaters and held bridge tournaments. Your garage can be an extension of your home.”
Amanda opened Garage Boost in 2018 and saw a lot of garages reimagined over the past year, like a client whose new epoxy floors became the hot spot for the neighborhood kids to roller skate.
“It’s fun to see the different functions that people can make in their garage,” she says. “It can be like a closed-in patio.”
And Amanda knows how to make a space function. While many garages can become cluttered with lawn equipment, toys, seasonal gear and tools, Amanda knows how to step in and refresh the space. Her mantra is giving everything a place, especially when garages are notorious for compiling equipment and gear on the floor, sometimes so badly that it becomes hard to park your car. Amanda calls this the clutter triangle.
“People just shove things onto the floor and it just slowly creeps into the square footage,” says Amanda. “It just slowly triangulates and you just have this clutter triangle. We try to get it up off the floor and onto shelves, so you can utilize the floor and get your cars in.”
But Amanda and her team do much more than just make sure you can park your cars in your garage. She’s truly a designer and professional organizer who figures out the client’s lifestyle and budget to find what will work best for them.
“I just really love to see the change that a little bit of organization can do for people,” she says. “Most of the time, people don’t need the whole garage makeover. They really just need to find what’s functional for them and teach their children how to use it and find a place for everything.”
Amanda loves using the Monkey Bar Shelving System, a product her family discovered when renovating their own garage. Amanda and her husband built their own house, but always hated the garage. After they finally had enough and decided to give it an overhaul, they discovered the Monkey Bar solution. They loved it for their own home, but found there was no dealer in the Kansas City area. Amanda realized that making over garages was something she could do professionally, and after deciding to become a dealer for the Monkey Bar Shelving System, Garage Boost was born.
Now Amanda helps others love their garages, too.
“If you think about your kitchen and how you have your kitchen organized, everything has a place,” she says. “You always put your Instant Pot back in the same spot. And it should be the same thing with the garage. Everything needs to have a place and everyone needs to know where that place is, especially when you have kids. And to be able to teach them at a young age, this is where your bubbles go and this is where your chalks go.”
On top of not having a place for things, she sees equipment and gear that is used infrequently getting top billing in the space they take up in the garage.
“Some people get paddleboards or do canoeing — if you like those things, try it out, but once you know you’re going to stick with it, it needs to have a home, so when it’s not that season, it’s not taking up the garage floor space.”
Maybe someone has large tools or equipment that they rarely use that’s taking up precious space. Amanda recommends renting those tools, or even borrowing them from a friend or neighbor. She also recommends tackling your stuff before things get too overwhelming.
“I’ve been to so many places and they’ve been like, I’ve reorganized this 5 times in the last 6 months,” she says. “You need to purge. If you haven’t used it in 5 years, the chances of you using it are very slim.”
To prevent decluttering from getting so overwhelming, Amanda is a big fan of the biannual “spring clean.” She says seasonally swapping out equipment, like going from snow blowers to lawn mowers, is a big way to feel more prepared for the way your garage is going to function in the months ahead. She always recommends that customers clean their garage floor twice a year, and then use that time to switch things out.
“Reorganize a couple times a year and it’s going to make a huge difference in the feel of your garage and you’re not going to hate it in there,” she says.
And if anyone can help you love your garage, it’s Amanda, whether you want your space to be a place for bridge tournaments, roller skating dance parties, or just a blissfully and beautifully organized place with room to park your car.