How can you organize shoes in a closet? Expert-approved ideas for more efficient storage

Are your shoes jumbled in a heap on your closet floor? Organize them once and for all with one of these expert-approved methods

a blue lacquered closet with shoe storage
(Image credit: Sivan Askayo. Design: Studio Oshir Asaban)

Organizing shoes in a closet may not sound like too tricky of a job, but a clutter-free space to store your shoes so that they're easily visible can actually be more difficult than it sounds – I know from first-hand experience. 

The thing is, when it comes to closet organization I've mastered how to properly fold, store and arrange my clothes, but my shoes are another challenge altogether. As the first thing I take off after a long day, I hastily kick them off, shoving them behind the door – out of sight, out of mind. Occasionally I'll make an effort to line them neatly along my closet floor. They might stay like that for a week until my boots, sneakers and heels are muddled up in a tangled mess again. 

Sound familiar? Fear not? We've asked some professionals for their tips on how to achieve organized shoe storage that matches your clothes so you can have the satisfying closet of your dreams, no matter the space you have available. Here, they share their best ideas. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. A firm believer that a tidy home is a happy one, she's committed to helping readers organize their spaces by sharing practical tips and guides. For this piece, she spoke with professional organizers to find out how we should be storing our shoes in our closets for ultimate satisfaction

Why bother organizing your shoes? 

I can practically hear some of you asking, 'what's the point in organizing your shoes anyway?' Until recently, this was certainly my take, too. I have far fewer shoes than clothes and only about three pairs that I actually wear regularly - I saw no point organizing them to look nice in my closet where nobody even saw them. 

And yet, when I did take an hour out of my weekend to organize the shoes in my small closet, I actually found myself wearing those other pairs that had been hiding in heap. With them in clear view while I got dressed each morning, I ended up pairing them with outfits I never would have considered wearing them with.

In fact, you'll probably find that your entire morning routine becomes far smoother if you organize your shoes in your closet. 'I see a lot of wardrobes that are stuffed full of clothes that don’t fit or aren’t loved and shoes that rub every time they are worn,' says Sue Spencer, professional organizer and owner of A Life More Organized. 'Having a good declutter and creating a wardrobe that’s filled with clothes and shoes you love makes getting ready so much easier.' 

How to organize shoes in a closet 

1. Start by taking an inventory

An ikea shoe rack organizer

(Image credit: IKEA)

Every good organizing task starts with an inventory so that you know what you're dealing with. Before you begin organizing the shoes inside your closet, take them all out and assess what you want to keep, donate and throw away.  

'First, ask yourself if there any that are worn out, don't fit, you don't like, or you know you won't ever wear again,' says professional organizer and declutterer, Melissa Gugni. 'Time to toss or donate.' 

Melissa then suggests categorizing what is left. 'Special occasions shoes in one pile, footwear for specific activities in another, and everyday shoes in another,' she adds. 'You might want to keep hiking and rain boots in the front closet or garage.' If space is at a premium, Melissa recommends storing your seasonal footwear like sandals in clear, airtight under-the-bed bins during the winter months.

2. Use a shoe rack to display your favorite shoes

The most obvious way to organize shoes in a closet is with an extendable shoe rack along the floor. Not only is this super convenient, but it's also the perfect way to display the more aesthetic shoes you own. 

Adjustable tiered racks are usually angled so that you can easily see all your shoes, but it's a good idea to keep larger and less frequently worn shoes on the back row. If space is limited, the compact design of the IKEA SKOSTALL might help as it stores one shoe on top of the other.

If you don't have a shoe rack, you could always improvise with a small table. 'IKEA's LACK TV shelf is another option for tidying up the bottom of a closet floor,' says Sue of A Life More Organized. 'This is a great option for creating a couple of shelves in a dead space at the bottom of the closet.'

Two-tier adjustable shoe rack, The Container Store
Editor's choice

Two-tier adjustable shoe rack, The Container Store

You don't have to worry about measuring out your space before you buy with this extendable shoe rack from The Container Store. It fits your desired space (up to 44 inches) and has two vertical rows to fit all of your shoes. The simple white or grey design is makes the perfect backdrop for displaying your favorite shoes in your closet. 

3. Use an over-the-door shoe hanger for small shoes and sandals

If your space is limited, your closet might double up as storage for small bedrooms. Perhaps the floor of your wardrobe is used for boxes or spare bedding, in which case, an over-the-door shoe hanger might be the answer. 

These nifty contraptions hook over your closet door providing you with canvas pockets on the inside panel to keep your shoes tucked out of sight. The only downside of them is that they'll only fit slimmer sneakers and sandals. 

As Melissa notes: 'An over-the-door shoe holder can fit quite a few shoes, but if your favorites aren't fitting into the allotted space, I would take another turn and consider donating or selling those you are on the fence about.'

Over-the-door shoe organizer, Amazon
Editor's choice

Over-the-door shoe organizer, Amazon

Perfect for the inside of your closet door, this 24 pocket shoe hanger can hold up to 40 pounds of items. It's slip resistant and made from durable non-woven fabric that's also rip and tear resistant, so you don't have to worry about them falling out. What's more, it also comes in 12 different colors to suit your style.

4. If space permits, use shelving


(Image credit: Future | Anna Hewitson)

Of course, if you're blessed with a large, walk-in closet, the most simple option is to use the available shelving to store your shoes instead. 'I love to store the beautiful, fancy shoes on shelves in the clothes closet - it makes me feel like I am in a boutique!' Melissa says. 'The everyday shoes need an easy-to-access home, but if there are a lot of shoes, I encourage being discerning about which gets the prime spots.' If you want to keep your shelves clean and tidy, clear plastic shoe boxes like these ones from Amazon are a good choice.

If you have deep shelves and find it difficult to see the pairs of shoes behind the ones in front you could consider installing pull-out shelves or, alternatively, you could position pairs vertically. 'One way to maximize space is to store the left foot pointing towards you and the right foot shoe facing away,' says Sue. 'This allows them to fit more closely together maximizing the space on the shelf.' Simple and effective shoe storage that doesn't cost a penny? It's a yes from me. 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.