This Pro Organizer Has Tackled Hundreds of Garages—Here Are 5 Products She Always Buys
Plus the genius scooter stands she scores on Amazon.
Published Apr 13, 2023 1:30 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Bay Area–based professional organizer Samantha Pregenzer wants her clients to feel calm from the moment they step into their home, and for most of the families she works with, that’s not achieved in the entryway. “The garage is where they want bags hung, where they want order,” says Pregenzer, the founder of Simply Organized. “It’s become the front door for a lot of people.” Tidying up this space, which Pregenzer says she views just like any other interior room, has become her specialty. She’s even listed “garage expert” as one of her credentials in her Instagram bio, which helps explain why she’s accrued more than 260,000 followers: Soothing photos of wall-mounted bikes, stacks of paper towel rolls, and sleek epoxy floors frequently grace her feed. When asked how many garages (single-car, three-car, tandem, you name it) she’s spruced up, it’s too many to count. “It’s definitely in the high hundreds,” Pregenzer estimates.
With her team on site and plenty of tricks up her sleeve (like using mesh ball bags to store golf clubs), Pregenzer can usually transform a space within four to six hours. Ahead, the pro shares her top tips and products for a more organized garage.
Pregenzer’s 5 Essential Garage Organizers at a Glance
1. Clear bins, because anything concealed makes it hard to identify what’s inside.
2. Wall-mounted shelves, because “freestanding shelving is limiting and a major headache to adjust,” she says.
3. Utility hooks for hanging brooms, mops, and gardening tools.
4. A pegboard system for small tools and accessories.
5. Overhead racks for storing items that are rarely (or never) touched.
Take Advantage of the Ceiling
Whenever there is enough clearance between the garage door and the ceiling, Pregenzer will implement her system for getting rid of major clutter: overhead racks. The pro works with local company CDR Overhead on the majority of her projects, because it can offer a quote to a client and install the superhigh shelving units in the same day (the parts are usually sitting in the company’s trucks, ready to go). Pregenzer points out that you can buy industrial racks straight from the Container Store or on Amazon, but the important part is to have them professionally installed. After all, “you’re putting a lot of weight onto these things,” she says.
Once they’re in place, she and her team will load them up with bins, more than likely ones that are filled with memory items (e.g., framed diplomas, old kids’ art). This is also the area where she’ll stick awkward-shaped seasonal essentials like skis and snowboards. “We try to keep things they’ll actually be accessing, like holiday decorations, toward the front of the shelves,” she says.
Create Cohesion Among Your Airtight Boxes
While style isn’t Pregenzer’s main concern when organizing a garage, she strives for a streamlined aesthetic by selecting see-through bins with supersecure lids. (The weather-tight totes from the Container Store frequent her shopping cart.) Still, Pregenzer knows that most people probably already have a collection of perfectly usable boxes in their possession. “I’m not of the mindset of ‘let’s get rid of all these bins that don’t match and just go buy new ones,’” she says. “But having it look cohesive can help the eye a lot.” At the very least, she suggests situating like-colored cases next to one another.
Have a Shoe Drop-Off (If Your Climate Allows)
To store shoes in the garage or not to store shoes in the garage? Turns out, that’s a somewhat controversial question, and Pregenzer’s answer is it’s all about personal preference (and geography). Where she lives, in California, the garages remain fairly bug-free and dry, so many of her clients like to create a mudroom setup right next to the door. But she’s also aware that it might not work for those in muggy or supercold climates. “If we have cabinets to work with, we’ll add additional shelves to them so we are maximizing the space for shoes,” she says. And if it’s a wire shelving system like the Elfa unit, pictured above? She’ll pop a liner on each platform, that way dirt doesn’t trickle down and find its way into anyone’s boots.
Put Any Tools With a Hole or Handle on a Peg
To avoid a messy tool bench with wasted drawer space, Pregenzer looks to the walls for help, particularly for things that hang easily like screwdrivers, rolls of tape, and hammers. “I want you to be able to see your things and grab them quickly,” she says. Because she also likes to offer people a countertop to work on, the pro will opt for something like the 4-foot-wide Elfa Platinum garage system, which features mesh drawers, a steel surface, and a utility board.
Hang Your Bikes Up Like You Would a Coat
You’ll almost never see Pregenzer mount a client’s bikes on the garage ceiling. Instead, you’ll often find them on the wall in a perpendicular fashion where they can get to them without having to whip out a ladder. In most cases, she’ll use a stagnant bike rack system with multiple hooks, but recently she’s been using collapsible versions (like this) that are even more space efficient.
Before you commit to any type of wall-mounted bike storage, ask yourself a few questions: Do I have the space to do it? Do I have the strength to get them down? And (most important) if I have kids, am I okay with being responsible for putting their bikes back up? “Some people just want the garage to look tidy all the time. And if that’s the case, then just know you will be picking those bikes up and mounting them all the time, because your kids aren’t going to do that,” she says.
If the answer to some of those questions is no, then consider her other favorite solution: an outdoor bike shed. “I’m always looking for other opportunities besides just what’s happening inside the garage,” she says. And for pesky scooters that can turn into a tripping hazard? She found interlocking stands on Amazon for $17 for that.