As the seasons change, it’s usually a good reminder to swap out your clothes. But while you’re in your closet, take a good look at the shoes, sneakers and heels scattered all over the floor and consider whether you want to keep them or donate them to Goodwill instead. If you decide you want to keep them, a shoe organizer could help. We spoke to Nancy Meck, a professional organizer and owner of Meck Organizing, who said that you have a much better chance of wearing — and appreciating — your shoes when you can easily reach them.
In order to find the best shoe storage options to consider to help you get the most use from your current shoes, we consulted professional organizers like Meck, as well as Caroline Solomon (founder of home organizing business Caroline Solomon Home) and Kelly McGreevy (founder of home organization business Styled Neatly) for their shoe rack, shelf and organizing recommendations. Below are recommendations from easy-to-locate stores like Ikea and The Container Store — and advice on how to keep shoes in their best condition after they’ve been stored.
Best shoe storage: Shoe racks, shelves, organizers and more
Here are a few shoe storage solutions to consider, recommended by professional organizing experts.
While it may seem unconventional to use a bookcase for a shoe rack, Solomon said the Billy Bookcase from Ikea is one of her favorite “no-nonsense” ways to store her heels and show them off for visitors. The bookcase comes with adjustable shelves so you can move them around according to the height of your shoes — boots, for example, will need more space than a pair of sandals. But each shelf is only about 11 inches deep (about a size 11 in men’s shoes or a women’s 12), so make sure that works for your shoe collection. There are six shelves, and assuming you can place around three pairs of shoes per shelf, it should fit 18 pairs of shoes. Solomon also recommended the shorter version of the bookcase for those with half the pairs of shoes.
Meck prefers a classic shoe shelf: She feels it’s a no-fuss fix for lining up shoes easily, efficiently and neatly. Even better, you can find shoe shelves in many different flavors, from custom builds to those that have been repurposed (like we mentioned above) or ready-made. For those who don’t want to spend the time or money on customized builds, Meck recommended this stackable shoe shelf from The Container Store. It’s made from bamboo, which the brand says “is easily renewable, so it’s an environmentally friendly material.” It has two shelves that can typically hold around eight pairs of women’s shoes or six pairs of men’s shoes, according to The Container Store.
Thanks to its minimalist, sleek design, the Open Spaces Entryway Rack is a “real cut above the rest,” Solomon said, able to make even the most well worn shoes look good. ”It also allows you to comfortably fit 10 to 12 pairs of shoes — more than you’ll wear in a week, '' she added. Open Spaces says the rack is made from a powder-coated steel that’s easy to clean. Plus, it’s available in a few different colors: Black, Dark Green, Navy and Cream, plus limited edition colors like Light Blue or Light Pink. (The limited edition Lavender color is currently out of stock).
McGreevy said this Large Drop-Front Shoe Box Case from The Container Store made “organization a breeze.” Part of the appeal of a box like this one is that you can keep your shoes safe from external forces while also letting you see them. (And if this particular profile or aesthetic doesn’t fit your closet, The Container Store has lots of other options, too: check out its Tall Side Profile Drop-Front Shoe Box and the Cambridge Drop-Front Shoe Box in Linen. No matter which you buy, the store doesn’t recommend stacking more than seven or eight boxes on top of each other for stability.
Sure, it’s not the most glamorous of shoe racks, something Solomon admitted herself, but she recommended this option for its functionality and durability — especially for bulky boots. Even though it looks more like a plastic gardening bed than it does a shoe organizer, Bed Bath & Beyond’s 2-Tier Boot and Shoe Organizer is colored black, made from polypropylene and easy to wipe clean if you happen to get it dirty (which is, after all, what shoe racks are for).
Hanging shoe pockets can be ideal for kids’ shoes, flip flops, flats and other clunky shoes, according to Meck. This over-the-door shoe bag from Bed Bath & Beyond is great for anyone who wants to be able to see their shoes easily — and doesn’t mind having them prominently displayed over the back of their door (don’t worry, it includes hooks for installation, too). This shoe storage option can hold up to 26 pairs of shoes (though boots would be a tight squeeze), more than any of the other options listed here, so check it out if you have a big shoe collection.
Meck mentioned this 15-Unit Stackable Organizer from ClosetMaid for those who want cubbies, which can be great if you want order and division between pairs of shoes (or single shoes). Because the height of each cubbyhole doesn’t reach very far, the organizer is only good for accommodating flip flops, sandals and other low-profile shoes, it says. ClosetMaid specifically singles out any that measure smaller than 5.75 inches tall by 4.5 inches wide by 11 inches deep. The organizer comes in three colors: White, Espresso and Dark Cherry.
This shoe storage rack from Seville Classics — which also makes Select favorite standing desks and laundry baskets — is a favorite of Solomon’s. It has interlocking shelves that can be stacked horizontally or vertically, depending on your shoes’ needs. In addition to the espresso color of our recommended shoe rack, Seville Classics makes it in other colors, too. The lower shelf on the Seville Classics can be raised in order to create more space and each shelf can hold about six pairs of shoes total.
How to decide what shoe storage solution to buy
Before buying any kind of shoe storage, McGreevy encourages a shoe cleanse: categorize all of your shoes first and then place them side-by-side, donating or otherwise getting rid of all the pairs you don’t need anymore. “Going through this step is important so that you don’t end up organizing extra pairs of shoes or buying more storage than you need,” she said. “Count how many pairs — and how many of each type — you have after decluttering. Purchase storage based on those numbers.”
After you assess which shoes need to go in the shoe case, look at your space on the whole. The type of shoe organizer you buy should also depend on what the size of your space is and how often you wear each pair, McGreevy said.
Solomon agreed and added that the frequency at which you wear your favorite pairs is especially important when searching for shoe storage, since you won’t want to tuck away shoes into individual storage bins if you plan on wearing them frequently. Instead, opt for open storage like a shoe cubby or shoe rack that allows for easy access, Solomon suggested. An over-the-door shoe bag could work for someone who doesn’t need their collection in plain sight, she said. Plus, it frees up floor space.
How to properly store shoes away
Generally, you should make sure you’re storing shoes somewhere that isn’t directly hit by sunlight but is well-ventilated and cleaned regularly, according to Meck. This can help prevent shoes from becoming damaged or collecting dust.
For shoes that you want to pack away, Meck explained that wrapping them in tissue paper (and even old clothes) can keep them from scraping or scuffing together.
For those shoes you reach for regularly, Solomon recommended leaving them around an entryway to prevent dirt from traveling further into your house or apartment.
Here are a few other expert-recommended tips to consider when arranging your shoe storage:
- Boots: Both McGreevy and Solomon suggested using shapers in order to help maintain their shape and keep them standing straight. The two recommended this affordable option from The Container Store. For seasonal shoes like winter and rain boots, Solomon the best place for storage is in an entryway closet or mudroom, especially if you don’t want to drag in dirt from outside.
- Sneakers: Avoid sealed storage like storage bins for sneakers since these shoes need to breathe to look fresh and new, Solomon said. She’s a fan of stocking sneakers in shoe cubbies, especially for someone who has a larger collection that they want to show off.
- Heels: Those who have a bigger selection of high heels should look in between the shelves of a shoe shelf. Solomon recommended avoiding shoe racks with slats, as they “always lead to heels getting stuck in between the rungs” or slanted shelves “as shoes tend to fall off the racks more easily.”