For some women, the shoe obsession is so out of control they will not admit (even under torture) how many pair they own. If you think this blog is going to browbeat you into surrendering even a tenth of your footwear, you can relax. Even we are not prepared to devote a column to divesting one’s pumps, sling-backs or garden clogs. Our issue is with what passes for intelligent shoe storage and organization in the hallways, bedrooms and closets. There is no single way to organize one’s shoes. There are options galore in a number of price ranges. Deciding for one over another is largely based on the size of your collection, the space you can devote, your budget and whether the storage unit will be visible to other people or hidden behind closed doors. Certainly any device is preferable to diving into a heap of beach encrusted sandals, wingtips, and ballet slippers or crawling on your belly with a flashlight in hand, squeezing under the bed in search of an errant espadrille, when you have to catch a bus in the morning. Still, we would argue that some shoe storage solutions contribute to the aggravation, rather than the alleviation, of the problem.
Ideally, if you have the space, clear plastic boxes are the way to go. Clear boxes are designed to house a single pair. They are stackable. You can see what is inside and keep the dust off. If closet space is at a premium, then a shoe rack hung over the back of a door can be a handy means of utilizing vertical space. Shelving can offer relief from the floor pile by taking advantage of walls. Another relatively inexpensive but effective option is the narrow cloth cubbies that hang from the rod in the closet, that can also double as storage for gloves, scarves and winter hats.
Yet, there are all kinds of racks that insist on keeping shoes on or near the floor. Our least favorite holds nine pairs of shoes in an upright position. Either made of molded plastic or metal, these storage mechanisms are fraught with limitations. First, you can’t layer them so they quickly engulf the entire real-estate of your closet floor leaving no room for other floor-centric items like gym bags and give-away clothing bins. These shoe holders are not usually well made and frequently self-destruct, rendering them non-functional. Our clients also appear to have a hard time just using the system, preferring to kick their shoes off to find their own refuge while the wire forms remain shoeless. These shoe racks are very popular most likely because of the low price point and availability in a multitude of dollar and house-ware stores. You can do better.
Perhaps the hardest part of de-cluttering your home of less than desirable shoe storage solutions is what to do with them. These racks possess a single purpose and are not easily adaptable to other uses. If you find yourself dithering as to whether to donate to charity, we suggest a compromise. You may have a garage or vestibule that serves as a secondary location for some of your shoes, like those that are out of season or specific to a particular athletic pursuit. Remove the nine pair holder from your bedroom or hall closet and install it in the garage. It might also make a pretty good device for storing a large collection of hand puppets.