The family garage is probably the most used and abused room in a home.
''The average two-car garage has basically become a no-car garage because it's crammed full of so much clutter,'' says Barry Izsak, author of Organize Your Garage In No Time (Que Publishing, $11.50).
Fortunately, it doesn't cost much to organize the family garage, says Izsak, who is also the past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Here are a few low-cost solutions:
• Think. How is the garage used (workroom, storage, extra kitchen)? Do you want or need to change its use? Are you effectively using the floor and walls?
• Pick easy targets. Toss out the rusty wheelbarrow and the 10-year-old magazines.
• Learn from the kitchen. Kitchens have built-in organizational systems such as the refrigerator, cabinets and drawers. Create a system for organizing your garage.
• Create zones. Use a hardware store model to solve the turf war among craft materials, sports equipment and lawn supplies. ''Keep similar things together,'' says Suzy Wilkoff, owner of Tasks Unlimited, a professional organizational service in Miami.
• Find a new purpose for the old furniture in your garage, Izsak says. A discarded entertainment center can be recycled as a work bench. Compartments in baby furniture or old desks can be used to store items.
• Organize a garage sale or donate unwanted items to charity. The family garage should be purged and organized once or twice a year, Wilkoff says.
And finally, ''Save room in your garage for at least one car,'' Wilkoff says. ``That's what it was built for.''
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.