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
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:
Workshop | After
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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!