When people say they have a “shoe problem”, it usually means they buy too many shoes. As a shoe addict in total denial, my shoe problem is how to store what I’ve accumulated so that everything is visible, easily accessible and neatly organized… all while taking up as little space as possible!
While I would loooove shelves upon shelves of neatly displayed shoes like Carrie Bradshaw’s closet in the movie Sex and the City, function and practicality are my main concern. I consider myself to be more of a shoe-addict-in-denial, rather than full blown shoe addict because when it comes down to it, shoes are not my weakness. I am more of an overall or general beauty/fashion junkie, and any space taken up by additional shoe racks only means a bigger problem storing everything else…
I was previously using 2 extendable shoe racks stacked one on top of another. My heels and sneakers were on the shelves, half my boots were along the top shelf, the remaining boots were lined up next to the wall and I also had a bin off to the side containing my flip-flops & flat sandals.
For those of you ladies who wear high heels on a regular basis (+3 in.), I’m sure you understand my frustration with the standard shoe racks that use 2 bars in place of a shelf. While they do hold everything in place, taking heels in and out can be somewhat of a nightmare—the tall heels often hang down too low, touching and getting hooked onto the shoe that you are trying to pull out or put back. The result: a messy shoe rack with some shoes half hanging, some that tumbled down to the shelf below and a lot of shoes perpetually strewn at the base of the shelf. So maybe it’s not a complete nightmare (read: first world problem), but I knew there had to be a better solution.
Here’s how I
crammed neatly organized 29 pairs of high heels, 9 pairs of flat shoes, 13 pairs of sandals, 4 pairs of ankle boots, 5 pairs of knee-high boots and 4 sneakers into 2.5ft2 of floor space…with room to grow!
(There are also 4 more pairs of random over-the-knee boots, Ugg boots and rain boots somewhere to the right, but for the sake of this post, let’s just pretend they don’t exist. I don’t think I can fit much more onto this one shelf, but if you think of a way to do it leave a comment below! I’d love to hear it!)
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Ikea Billy Bookcase ($69.99 CDN)
- Ikea Billy Extra Shelves ($10.00 CDN each) – I used a total of 3 extra shelves
- Screwdriver + Hammer (as per the Billy Bookcase instructions)
- Power Drill
**If you aren’t quite as comfortable as I am with power tools, feel free to replace 3 & 4 with your dad, boyfriend, super nice guy friend or very handy girlfriend!
The best part of this project is that you can change it and switch it up according to your own shoe collection. Feel free to make use of the predrilled holes and use only what comes in the Ikea box, or purchase additional shelves and take a power drill to the bookcase to make the shelf levels completely customizable.
Before you start, you should decide if you want to build something that is more of a shoe display case (i.e. something that nicer and neater but doesn’t hold as much per bookcase) or if you are looking for a more practical shoe storage solution (i.e. more shelves and more shoes per shelf). Your decision should take into consideration how extensive your shoe collection is and how much floor space you have to work with. Whatever you want to achieve will determine how best to install the shelves and organize your shoes.
♥ Arrange first by style / type of shoe
This will make the most efficient use of shelf height. I determined the height of the shelves by measuring it against the tallest pair of each style. If you have more than one shelf per style, make sure that all of those shelves are the same height, and try to start new styles of shoes on different shelves so that the excess space can be used for any future purchases.
♥ Then arrange by colour
Arranging by colour is the most aesthetically appealing because it gives a greater illusion of order and organization, especially if you are tight on space. To keep things simple, I went lightest to darkest with neutrals, with some variation near the end for coloured/multicoloured shoes.
♥ Determine how best to arrange the shoes on each shelf
- 4 Pairs Per Shelf: Display 4 pairs of shoes per shelf facing forward.
- 5 Pairs Per Shelf: Alternate the direction in which you face shoes to compress each pair’s width. Fitting 5 pairs per shelf will allow a little buffer between pairs so that taking something from the shelf does not disturb the shoes next to it.
- 6 Pairs Per Shelf: (This was the option that worked best for my shoes) I alternated the direction of my shoes, but pulled the front facing shoe as far forward as possible while pushing the back facing shoe as far back as possible. This further compressed each pair’s width allowing me to fit one more pair per shelf, but removed the extra space between pairs. Removing or returning a pair does disturb the shoes next to it, but not by much and not inconveniently so.
- 7 Pairs Per Shelf: Alternate the directions of the shoes again, but first put in all the back facing shoes at a diagonal, then put all the front facing shoes in facing forward. Although this method makes the most efficient use of shelf space, I opted not to organize my shoes this way because I found removing and returning shoes to be too inconvenient. I think that there are also too many shoes crammed onto each shelf, making it difficult to remove or return shoes quickly and neatly.
- Flats + Sandals: If you have few pairs of flats & sandals, I recommend stacking them one on top of another with pairs side by side so that removing one pair doesn’t jostle the ones next to it (as I did with my shelf of flats). If you have many pairs of flats & sandals, I recommend laying them on their side with the toes facing opposite directions and soles facing outwards (as I did with my sandals & flip flops). This allows you to compress the space further if you purchase more shoes, and keeping the soles facing outwards prevents them from dirtying one another while also preventing the straps from getting tangled when taking them off the shelf.
Note: I recommend that you spread your shoes out as much as you can at first, then cram them in a little at a time and reorganize/compress as you buy additional pairs.
♥ Keep a shoe mat nearby
Wipe them at the door, but it doesn’t hurt to keep one nearby to wipe shoes before putting them back onto the white shelves. Buy a nice one that matches your décor or do what I did and grab one for $1 at Ikea—it’s very plain, but it can be put away when company comes over and is easily replaced after each rainy/snowy season.
SOME ALTERNATE IDEAS:
♥ If you wear sneakers more often than I do, place one low shelf along the bottom and store sneakers below your boots rather than along the top.
♥ Arrange your shelves so the shortest ones (for flats) are at the top, and the tallest ones (for boots) are at the bottom. Although this will make things look more orderly, consider that it may be less practical to have to reach higher for flats and sandals.
♥ Hide or conceal your bookcase using the accompanying glass doors from Ikea. If you are planning to close off your bookcase, make sure to air out your shoes every once in a while.
♥ If you are creating a display case:
- Tilt the shelves forward by placing the back pegs one peg hole higher than those in the front to give a better view of the shoe.
- Replace all regular shelves with the frosted glass shelves from Ikea (same price, $10 each). If you do this, please note that the middle shelf is fixed and will have to remain white.
- Consider installing lighting to illuminate your display case
Would you organize your shoes this way? What other space-saving solutions have you come up with to store your shoe collection?