Get Organized: Storage Ideas for Shoes

Tired of digging around the dark closet floor for a matching pair? Try one of these solutions

By Becky Harris / Courtesy of Houzz.com

For some it’s their favorite albums on vinyl, for others Hummel figurines. Then there are the shoe collectors. We take a lot of flak from those who believe in owning only the shoes they need, and we are busting out of our limited closet space to boot. Whether you’re a Carrie Bradshaw stiletto collector, a sneakerhead or can make a rainbow out of your Crocs, there’s a good solution for keeping your kicks neat, organized, accessible and in good shape.

This is the shoe collector’s dream. But most of us are not Kardashians, so we have to make do with our small closets. What’s a shoe collector to do?

Trick out a small closet. Mixed-media artist Gavin Benjamindoes a lot of things artfully. In addressing the small-closet situation in his Pittsburgh live-work space, he added shoe shelves as high as he could without interfering with his clothes. The bonus here is that he also displayed some of his work inside the closet and on the closet door. 

Use shelves in other rooms.Shoes don’t need to be relegated to the closet if they’re kept neatly organized. If you care a lot about your shoes and have a free-standing bookshelf or built-in shelves in a room outside your closet, you can keep things looking neat by using white storage boxes meant for papers or photographs.

I mean … this is dreamy. These boxes have label holders so you can insert a little photo of the shoes the box holds. Whenever I dream of having a personal assistant, this is the first task I imagine assigning them. Actually, it’s the only task that ever makes me dream of having a personal assistant. After they finish this, there really isn’t much of a list. 

But I digress — those of us who don’t have personal assistants could designate a Shoebox Saturday and get it done in one morning.

Go clear. Of course, clear boxes don’t even need labels since you can see right through to your kicks. To prevent mildew, I recommend fabric or cardboard shoeboxes with clear windows instead of plastic boxes with plastic lids. If your shoes need a little freshening up in the scent department, throw in a dryer sheet.

Steal space from inside your walls. In this home, the contractor recessed shelves into a thick wall in the master bedroom, creating an easily accessible shoe closet. This setup is rigged so that lights turn on whenever the doors are opened.

Hide them in plain sight. This bedroom built-in has a sleek, contemporary look but hides a lot of closet overflow. The most-used shoes are placed within easy reach, while the higher shelves are good for storing out-of-season or rarely donned items.

Go for pullouts. If we can install deep, space-saving pullout pantry cabinets in the kitchen, we can certainly bring them into a bedroom, hallway or walk-in closet. This makes the most of space in the back that otherwise would be inaccessible.

What’s clever about this design is that the shoe pullouts are hidden within the wood bed surround. The surround gives the room a cohesive look while providing nightstands, bookshelves, the pullouts and a cozy nook for the bed itself.

Another kitchen-cabinet-inspired outfitting involves drawer pullouts, making it easy to see and grab all your shoes — none of them are getting neglected in the back of a drawer.

The drawer pullout idea is also useful in an entry area. Our shoes track in a lot of dirt, but a “kick them off in the mudroom” policy can leave you with an unruly pile. Give each family member a designated spot to stash shoes and boots.

Show off. As any true shoe lover knows, sometimes you end up admiring your most beloved pairs more than you actually wear them. (Though we won’t admit it, this is often because the purchase was a huge mistake and if we try to walk more than six steps in the shoes we’re going to fall harder than Naomi Campbell did wearing Vivienne Westwood platforms in ’93.) With its fashion photography, purses and TV that we’ll imagine is playing Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Barefoot in the Park on an endless loop, this étagèrebelongs in a chic boutique.
 

Close the curtains on them.While display is great, direct sunlight can damage shoes, and dust can be tough to get out of fabrics like suede. Hanging a drapery panel in front of the shelves is an elegant solution. 

This is also a good idea for those who don’t like clutter. By using fabric that matches the wall paint and adding an integrated drapery track, the look is clean, cohesive and keeps the bedroom restful while maintaining easy access to the shoes.

Put them behind glass. Living in a 500-square-foot studio like thismeans creative storage is a must. Tall shelves with glass doors show off shoes and bags while keeping them dust-free. Crystal knobs add to the fashionista glamour. 

If you have this setup, play around with the composition like it’s an art project — organize by color or height, or if you’re feeling blue, go all John Cusack in High Fidelity and arrange them autobiographically.

Maximize nooks and crannies.Space beneath a sharply angled ceiling or window-seat-adjacent often goes to waste. But it’s a great opportunity for built-ins. Attic conversions are particularly full of potential shoe storage spots.

Shoe lovers, where do you keep your collection? Please let us know in the Comments and share a photo of your inventive storage solution.