Sneakerheads, stiletto lovers and boot enthusiasts are familiar with the struggle to find a place to store their footwear. Keeping your shoes organized can be tricky, and if you’re like me, they often end up in a giant pile on the floor rather than tucked away neatly. These creative homeowners, some who live in homes that are less than 1,000 square feet, work around limited space and have come up with smart solutions to create boutique-worthy displays.
1. Shoe-stopping statement display in New York. Andrew Holden and Perry Lowe live in a glass-wrapped open loft in downtown Brooklyn. The couple ran out of space in their walk-in closet and decided to keep all their shoes on display on open shelves. “We are lucky enough to be the same shoe size, so we have an extensive collection of shoes and boots, all of which get worn on a rotating basis,” Holden says. “Plus, we loved the way they looked as a visual statement, all organized and sitting proudly on shelves, waiting to be worn.”
All of the boxes are full of eclectic things they need to store for work or personal projects, and each is labelled. “It’s a great way to have open shelving but still keep it organized and aesthetically harmonious,” Holden says. “The uniformity of the boxes hides the eclectic and diverse nature of all the contents.”
2. Understairs storage in San Francisco. Brian Lowery and Cynthia Burks live in a modern renovated loft in Northern California with just one bedroom. To house the couple’s shoe collection, their designers dug out a space under the stairs and installed custom shelving in their built-in closet.
3. Custom scrap-wood industrial-inspired shelves in San Francisco. Retail visual merchandiser Taylor Hoff rents a room in an apartment with three other housemates. He doesn’t like the look of dressers but needed a place for his clothes and shoes since his bedroom does not include a closet. “I didn’t want crappy furniture but couldn’t afford nice furniture, so I decided to make it myself,” he says.
Hoff built open, retail-store-inspired shelving using reclaimed scrap wood left over from commercial building projects, brackets from Discount Builders Supply, a drill and a handsaw. He loves the minimalist aesthetic of Japanese design and follows a pragmatic design principle: build and design based on functionality. “I want to create solutions to a problem,” he says. The open shelves give his belongings — including shoes, clothes, cameras and books — a curated look.
4. A shelf steps up the style in Tampa. Shona Carcary, a personal trainer, lives in a light and airy Florida cottage and has a growing collection of platform shoes. She splurged on a vintage-style shelf from Anthropologie, and uses it to display her collection of retro-inspired shoes and various travel knickknacks. “I love to spend time on the weekends looking for one-of-a-kind finds,” she says. She purchased the leather handbag hanging on the left on a trip to Ibiza.
5. DIY snap hack in London. Architects Barbara Toscani and François Martens’ 750-square-foot London rental is a treasure trove of low-cost genius ideas. With two young kids under the age of 5 and limited floor space, they took to the walls to add shoe storage. This vertical shoe rack was made by recycling parts of a piece of Ikea furniture and adding long industrial elastic bands.
6. Industrial-rustic style in downtown Los Angeles. For some people, living without a closet seems unthinkable, but Glenn Shelhamer and Yara Jasso have embraced their open-concept home. “The loft is truly an open space and comes with no closets,” Shelhamer says, “so we’ve had to be creative coming up with storage solutions.” In their bedroom, industrial shelves are used to store shoes, and a rolling clothes rack serves as an alternative to closet space.
“I actually don’t mind not having a closet, since it forces me to keep everything neat and tidy,” Jasso says. A small space beneath the ceiling is cleverly used for additional storage. “Glenn built this simple ladder to gain access to it,” she says.
7. Vintage shelf turned shoe rack in Brooklyn. It can often be challenging to figure out where to store things in an open layout. For Brin Reinhardt and Nathan Ursch, their 960-square-foot loft in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood with only one bedroom closet required them to limit their things. Alongside this teensy space used as son Ronan’s bedroom is a wooden rack from Portland Salvage to keep their shoes organized, saving closet space in the couple’s bedroom.
The leaning ladder leads to a small loft space above Ronan’s room. When Reinhardt and Ursch moved in, they intended to use it as a sleeping place for guests, as it can accommodate a queen-size mattress, but since they are tight on space, the couple quickly turned it into a storage area.
8. Makeshift family mudroom in San Francisco. Parents Adrian Booth and Jennifer Fetner-Booth are raising their three young kids in a three-bedroom home in San Francisco, and they’re trying a clutter-free design approach in decorating their spaces. This section of the living room with a modern Blu Dot modular bookcase also serves as a mudroom and a catch-all for things like shoes.
“The bookcase in the living room acts as the family staging area, since we don’t have a mudroom,” Fetner-Booth says. The framed silhouette family portraits that hang above it were a DIY project.
9. Personalized mudroom with DIY charm in Maryland. A coat closet off the main entry in Chris and Cassie Bustamante’s Myersville, Maryland, home made a dark hallway feel too narrow. Since the entry doesn’t have a mudroom, the couple decided to convert this space and also use it as a place to keep shoes neat but nearby. The couple stripped everything down, removed the bifold doors, then added cedar planks to the walls. An Ikea shelf with baskets adds storage.
10. Overflow shoe storage in a Los Angeles rental apartment. David Greening has a large shoe collection that has outgrown his closet, and he has resorted to storing pairs where he can. Pictured here are several pairs tucked under a colourful vintage dresser. “It’s in my blood,” he says. “My grandfather was a shoe manufacturer and owned the shoe department at Fedco [Costco’s precursor]. It’s no wonder I have more pairs than the average man.”
Displayed on top of the dresser is a collection of watches and meaningful mementos, including a silver monogrammed shoe horn passed down from his grandfather.
11. Playful yet practical storage for a family of five in Maryland. Anthony Arambula Carrera and Rebecca Carrera live in a suburban brick colonial. With three school-age daughters, it’s important that they have an organizational system for their things. Vintage lockers labeled with the initials of their daughters keep outerwear, book bags and shoes out of sight and organized, while a vintage industrial-style laundry bin is also used as a drop-off place for shoes.
12. Timeless cottage charm for a Pennsylvania home office entry. Blair and Donna Skundrich of McKnight, Pennsylvania, are familiar with months of rainy and snowy weather in the winter. A shoe tray by a door leading to a home office is a clever solution for muddy or wet footwear.
A coat rack above made of old barn wood and a vintage hook for each family member also provide outerwear storage to help in the transition from outside to in, while a rug provides a plush landing for feet.