Adding Function to the Workshop (Again)!

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.

Much like our skinny little guest room, our skinny little workshop has seen a couple of incarnations since we’ve been in our Chicago home. When we first whipped it into shape a few years ago, CC was relatively new to our family, there wasn’t a baby in sight, and the thought that we’d actually own a home in Michigan seemed like a pipe dream.

Now, our needs have shifted, and we’re spending more time working on projects in Michigan and more time relaxing at home in Chicago. We’ve got our back and forth travel down to a well-oiled system after making the trip to Tree House dozens of times, but as tools, supplies, and carloads of stuff destined for Michigan started to consume the usable space in the workshop, we knew that we needed to make a few changes to the space. A change that better suited the needs of our family right now, not our family almost four years ago.

This is what the shop looked like (after a quick tidying up) right before we dove into the refresh:

Workshop | Before

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

It’s certainly not a bad use of space! The systems in place served us very well for a few years, but there was lots of room for improvement. The shop has been completely transformed (with more modular storage options than we ever knew were possible!) by the Gladiator GearWall system and some good old fashioned organizing. Here’s how it looks today:

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Workshop | After

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

Supplies Used

Gladiator GearWall
Gladiator GearBox
Gladiator Metal Power Strip
Gladiator GearTrack System
Gladiator Wire Baskets
Gladiator Bins
Cord Cover Kit

The very first step to installing the modular GearWall panels was to measure the space at a few points to determine a consistent width. Our panels came in eight foot lengths and are a little bit flexible, so cutting and installing solo would have been pretty challenging – it’s definitely a two person job. After cutting the first panel on the miter saw and dry fitting it on the wall to ensure proper fitment, we made the rest of our cuts and were ready to move back inside. The composite material of the gear panels cut perfectly and didn’t require any sanding, which eliminated a step from the process. Nice!

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

Next, we found and marked all of the studs using our trusty studfinder and then simply leveled the panels and screwed them into place right into the studs. Simple as that! Each panel has a tongue on top and a groove on the bottom, allowing them to slip together easily. Once the first panel was level and fastened tightly to the wall, the panels stacked on top of one another and installed very quickly.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

Since our panels were installed wall-to-wall, the ends aren’t visible, but Gladiator even offers finish pieces for the bare ends for different applications or if you need to make cuts around outlets or switches! Once the wall was in place, the GearBox cabinets hang in place with the included brackets. If we ever decide that they’re too high or low, they can be easily moved without tools. A few additional GearWall panels would even allow for another level of upper cabinets if necessary. The configurations are endless!

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

Over on the window side of the room, we needed to relocate the charging base for our cordless Dyson. The provided cord is quite short and the power adapter is pretty bulky, so we used this paintable peel and stick cord cover kit to keep it neat and tidy. We then plugged a flat plug extension cord into one of the outlets on the back of the Gladiator Metal Power Strip (as seen behind my socks above) to get power to the vacuum base as well as the work light. The power strip also functions as a backsplash and bolts directly to the rear edge of the countertop to provide easy power for any project. It even has a built in circuit breaker. It’s pretty much the coolest and my new favorite thing!

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

Our grandpa jars were great to us for many years, but we had outgrown them. A dozen Gladiator bins that can be popped on and off the wall now corral multiple categories of fasteners and hardware that will make it much easier to find that one screw necessary to finish a project without a trip to the hardware store.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

The workshop is right off of our kitchen and a couple of steps from the back door, which makes for easy access to the detached garage where we also store some of our larger tools. This setup works perfectly for us at this point in our lives, but the space could very easily function as a combo workshop/walk-in pantry if necessary. Let’s show you around the freshly organized workshop!

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from LoweAn organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

As noted earlier, the room is reeeaaally narrow, measuring less than six feet wide, but it’s fairly long. (Sound familiar?) As a result, we created two zones to squeeze the maximum amount of function out of the room. On one side we have our GearWall and workbench space, which meets up with a GearTrack that holds brooms, mops, a skinny ladder and any other taller tools that formerly took up floor space and had us tripping all over the place.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

Our old heavy, paint-splattered (but sturdy) fiberglass ladder got shuffled out to the garage to do outdoor duty, and this new slim Werner dual platform ladder tucks neatly against the wall. Like the Gearwall, the GearTrack is also modular with the same track spacing, and could be rearranged easily if our storage needs ever change.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from LoweAn organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

The wire baskets below the GearBox cabinets now contain tubes of caulk, extension cords, contractor bags and a few of the other oddly shaped items that need to stay accessible.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from LoweAn organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from LoweAn organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

The newly labeled plastic organizing bins pop right off the wall for transportation and easy access, and they snap together for stacking if tabletop or cabinet storage suits the space better.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

We also included a few special pieces into the mix. Last year, we picked up this amazing vintage Craftsman work lamp at the flea market with this exact placement in mind, but it took us 14 months to install it – ha! It’s a perfect match to our equally vintage workbench, but with a modern LED bulb swapped in, the lamp is bright and functional, and it even features an articulating arm for easily directed light.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from LoweAn organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

And on the wall, we hung art that showcases a handful of old nails we personally pulled out of our home during the demolition phase of our many renovations!

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

On the other side of the room is our storage zone! We purged our DIY floating shelves, and now (for the first time in pretty much forever), we have some empty shelf space that will allow us to neatly store packages and shipments as well as provide a staging area for things that are waiting to make the trip up to Tree House.

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from LoweAn organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

The existing sliding wire mesh baskets were repurposed to contain quarts of paint matching every color in the house, which makes the chore of occasionally touching up scuffs and scrapes just a little bit easier. We had just the right amount of space to house everything and can now see all of our labeled lids without having to sort through a stack of cans. It’s the little things, right?

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe

While this little indoor workshop was functional right from the start, we’re both amazed with the way our new storage configuration has freed up so (so!) much space. The shop is lighter, brighter and more efficient than ever before and makes containing messy jobs and accomplishing small indoor tasks a snap. With winter closing in on Chicago, we have a feeling this space will get put through its’ paces in the next few months!

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  • Erin - December 14, 2018 - 9:17 AM

    Workspace organization is my love language. We have been purging our shed (for a move to Chicago!) for the past couple of weekends, and I often picture the previous iteration of your work room as the goal. Today’s post will help propel me to finish this weekend. Plus the little cans of touch-up paint are brilliant for our future homeowners!ReplyCancel

    • Scott - December 14, 2018 - 9:43 AM

      We feel you, Erin! It’s amazing how much time it saves us when everything has a place. Also, (early!) welcome to Chicago!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - December 14, 2018 - 11:49 AM

    As always, you two are elevating my idea of what an organized, functional space can look like. I really love the framed nails and the vintage lamp!

    Speaking of Grandpa jars, my Grandpa’s garage in Wisconsin had a very Pinterest-worthy organization system: about a hundred recycled jars with their lids attached to the bottom of the ceiling beams (only about 8 feet high). He would put different odds and ends in each jar, tighten the jars into their lids, and you could always see what was inside them. Such a charming, thrifty display! Thanks for reminding me of this memory.ReplyCancel

    • Scott - December 14, 2018 - 1:02 PM

      Thanks for the kind words, Elizabeth! We’ve seen a few of those grandpa jar systems before and are always amazed by how ingenious people got with the idea!ReplyCancel

  • Anna - December 14, 2018 - 3:39 PM

    Would you mind sharing where you got the sliding mesh wire baskets from? Thanks!!ReplyCancel

  • Alison L McAfee - December 17, 2018 - 3:14 PM

    Did you buy empty quart paint cans? Or did you somehow sweet talk into getting them free from a paint store? I desperately need to get rid of my leftover gallon-sized cans but not sure where to source!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 18, 2018 - 9:36 AM

      We bought them! I believe we found these on Amazon.ReplyCancel

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