Shoe storage is difficult enough at the best of times, especially when you're strapped for space. They are the most awkward items to store in a closet and inevitably end up in an unordered pile on the floor, which is both unsightly and impractical.
We always seem to have more items to store than we have space for in our closet. No matter how much space you have, closet organization is always a challenge, especially the impossible-to-organize shoe section. In a small space, footwear is often neglected as we prioritize our clothes storage solutions, but we've finally had enough of staring at the clutter of shoes strewn across the floor.
To put an end to the disorganized nightmare, we've entailed the help of professional organizers to help us finally find the best shoe storage solutions that are suitable for even the smallest of closets. Together they've provided five tips on how to tackle the issue, and they can also be applied to other areas in the home, too.
1. Start with a declutter
'The first step to an organized shoe collection is editing,' says professional organizer at the NEAT method, Lisa Ruff. When you have a small closet it's essential to be as intentional as possible, and that means not holding onto anything you no longer have use for.
'Gather all your shoes in one place and sort by type, then say goodbye to any that are damaged or haven't been worn in the past year,' Lisa says. 'Consider setting them aside for donation or if you're struggling to let go, consider reselling them to lessen the sting.'
If you have shoes stored in boxes, consider which you can remove. Some special occasion shoes do deserve to be kept in that pristine box, but consider what's actually necessary. Boxes take up unnecessary space and make a room feel more cluttered and this simple switch could already help you gain lots of space.
2. Add adjustable shelving
Finding the perfect way to store shoes in a small closet is a lifelong mission, so our expert organizers advise opting for something adjustable to increase versatility. 'I would suggest investing in adjustable shelving units,' says William Horton Co-Founder of Homebody Forever. These can be used in a range of spaces and can be adapted for tall boots and flats, as well as more shoes as you buy them.
When it comes to how to organize shoes in a closet, a system that's easily accessible is key to achieving the perfect storage solution. Try providing a section in your closet for everyday shoes that you reach for daily. 'If shelving is lacking, add a modular shelving unit to increase the visibility and accessibility of your collection,' suggests Lisa. Much of this is about making your footwear visible since it's no good storing all your shoes in difficult-to-access boxes where you can't even see the collection you have available.
3. Utilize all the space
When trying to organize a small space you have to get creative with space-saving solutions. One popular way to do this is through under-bed storage. 'When storage space in the closet is limited, under the bed can become an option,' says professional organizer from House 2 Home Organizing, Ben Soreff. 'We want to put items we don't use often in more remote areas of our space to maximize storage. Under-the-bed bins can work well for the winter/summer swap, they can be great places to store off-season shoes and boots.'
Alternatively, think about areas that have little to no use that could be utilized. 'Use the back of the closet door or side walls for hanging shoe organizers,' says William. The otherwise useless space can now be used to store flat shoes. 'These can be over-the-door racks or wall-mounted shelves,' William adds. 'This approach leverages unused vertical space, keeping the floor clutter-free.'
4. Alternative storage options
People who always have neatly organized shoes don't restrict their footwear storage to the traditional rack as these can take up a lot of space that isn't necessary. Storage boxes are great for small closet storage and can be used for flat shoes that don't need to be kept in a structure. 'Corral flat sandals and slippers upright in bins by type to save space then place them at the bottom of your closet,' says Lisa. 'Less precious sneakers can also be stored this way.'
If you do have precious sneakers that you want to keep pristine, try storage crates like these from Crep Protect, which stack well and keep your shoes well protected. They also make some playful artwork out of your sneaker collection.
Another alternative storage option we've already spoken about is over-the-door storage. 'Not only does this create floor space in your closet for other items, but it makes it easy to see exactly what shoes you have,' says professional organizer Lauren Saltman from Living Simplified.
5. Toe to heel
If you have more shoes than shelf space, try the toe toe-to-heal trick to free up a few inches of extra space. Lisa recommends positioning your pairs of shoes this way to maximize the total possible space available and, while it might not seem like a lot, these marginal gains make a world of difference when you have limited space.
Test out these suggestions from our experts and see how much they help your small closet feel bigger while also keeping your shoes more neatly organized. You can thank us later!
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Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.
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