Organize shoes – 10 top tactics to keep footwear neat

These ways to organize shoes in closets, entryways and bedrooms will keep your home tidy

Organize shoes
(Image credit: Alamy)

Footwear is notorious for spreading around a home, making strategies to organize shoes vital for anyone who wants to put a stop to clutter, and get the whole family in and out of the house with the least fuss each day.

Whether shoe collections are part of organizing an entryway, or they’re kept in a closet, or even under a bed, solutions for keeping them neat – and easy to find – are essential.

Here, we’ve put together our favorite shoe organization advice to keep walkways clear, closets well arranged, and bedrooms tidy.

Organize shoes – ideas for around the home

In many homes, shoes storage ideas are found in a variety of locations, and consistency about which pairs go where is important. But also vital is avoiding the accumulation of footwear that is no longer worn. Use these ideas for organizing shoes to arrange yours.

1. Edit your collections

Shoe closet with cubbies and white doors in room with neutral carpet, green rug and chandelier

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photograph: Antony Crolla)

Before starting to organize shoes, take time to assess the whole family’s collections and to make an attempt at decluttering. ‘Try on every shoe and boot,’ says professional organizer Brenda Scott of Tidy My Space. ‘Make sure that they fit and check to see if any need repairs or cleaning.’ This is especially the case for kids’ shoes, Brenda points out, as they grow out of them so quickly. 

‘Keep only the pairs that you actually love and wear,’ she adds. ‘If any caused blisters or were uncomfortable the last time they were worn, then they should be donated.’

2. Decide on locations

In most homes, shoes are kept between a variety of locations, so take time to decide where they will best fit. Are you looking for entryway closet ideas? Or organizing a hallway closet for hallway shoe storage? Perhaps you are reconsidering your boot room storage ideas? Or creating space in the bedroom? 

‘Keep only the footwear that’s being used currently every day near the door that you use every day,’ recommends Brenda Scott. ‘For example, winter boots and maybe a pair of shoes or slippers to wear in the house that you can change into. In the warmer weather, switch it out so that only one or two pairs of sandals and shoes for each person could be at the door.’

3. Organize shoes in an entryway

Entryway with stone floor, coats on hooks with bench and baskets below, and cabinets above

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photograph: Jonathan Gooch)

It’s imperative to organize shoes in an entryway so they don’t clutter it up, making passage through the space hard work. Ideally, you might have an entryway mudroom, but failing that, you need to have a plan.

‘Save your family from tripping over stray shoes by placing a shoe rack or cabinet with cubbies nearby to keep your shoes neat and organized,’ says Marty Basher, organization professional with Modular Closets.

Alternatively, and especially with young kids in the home, opt for containers or baskets. ‘Shoes can be kept in a bin – preferably one that you don’t need to pull out,’ says Andrea Wolf of Organize Detroit. ‘The likelihood of a shoe making it into a bin is much greater if you don’t have a two step process.’

4. Tidy footwear into an entryway closet

Prefer to organize shoes in an entryway closet in order to keep them out of sight until needed? To maximize the closet’s capacity add a shoe rack below any hanging rail to hold shoes neatly. Predicting the family won’t necessarily place their shoes on the rack? A container can work here instead.

Be mindful of the caution not to keep too many pairs in the entryway, however – even if they are in a closet. ‘Minimize them to only what you use regularly,’ says Amanda Liford, professional organizer and owner of Easy Life Organizing, who recommends keeping just one to three pairs here. ‘The cute pair of heels are nice to have out, but if you’re only wearing them once a month or less, store them away until you need them so they don’t get damaged.’

5. Organize shoes under a bed

Underbed shoe storage box

(Image credit: The Container Store)

Opt to organize shoes with underbed storage ideas and it’s possible to keep a whole lot more pairs neat and tidy.

‘If you haven’t considered keeping seasonal shoes under your bed, you're missing out on some quality space,’ says Marty Basher. ‘Invest in either hard case boxes or plastic shoe storage bags to keep your summer shoes organized during the winter months.’

If you think locating a particular pair of shoes under the bed will be difficult, try this strategy from Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. ‘Stack your boxes under your bed, but instead of having to haul out all the boxes to find the ones you want, attach a photo of the shoe to the end of the box for easy selection,’ she says.

6. Deal with sports shoes

Sports shoes can claim a lot of space in a family home, so organizing them so they don’t cause clutter is essential. ‘First make sure if it is out of season, this gear is not in an active area,’ says Andrea Wolf. ‘Active areas should only have the gear that is being used regularly.’

Make sure, too, that these shoes can dry after use. ‘I like to set up a small bin so sports shoes can air out,’ says Andrea. ‘If space is limited, keep them in the bin with the other shoes.’

7. Organize shoes in a closet

Walk-in closet with shoe storage and drawers

(Image credit: Boca do Loca)

To organize shoes in a closet, use clever closet organization ideas that make the perfect pair for each occasion easy to find. ‘Sort your shoes by type and color, grouping all tall boots together, for example, then separating tall boots into different colors,’ suggests fashion expert Maria Juvakka, founder of Chic Pursuit. 

‘Line up those shoes on your rack or shelf and repeat until every last category is complete. Then, when you go to grab a pair of sandals, you head to the sandal section of your shoe collection and “shop” via color to find a pair that matches your outfit perfectly.’

8. Extend the lifetime of shoes

How you tidy and arrange them can influence how long shoes last. ‘Ideally, you want to keep them dust-free, and putting them in boxes is best,’ says Yolandie Hamilton of Mind Your Style. ‘It is also beneficial to the longevity of the shoe to keep it dry and shaped. Fill shoes with a muslin cloth or acid-free tissue paper to wick away moisture. If you want to be resourceful the little silica gel packets can be gathered into a small pouch to dry out shoes as well.

‘It’s also important to make sure that the shoes are clean before storing them,’ she continues. ‘The longer the dirt sits on the shoe the greater the chance of damage.’

9. Optimize space with shoe organization systems

Closet with shoes

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photograph: James Merrell)

The way shoes are arranged can help fit more without crowding. ‘Opt to store and display pumps on slanted shoe shelves,’ says Marty Basher. ‘The slanted shelves make it easy to pick out the perfect pair of shoes for any given day. Store your shoes heel to toe to save even more space.’

But shoes can also be arranged to make an impact. ‘Be creative and consider using an accessory like a small antique ladder or towel rack to keep some of your favorite shoes out on display,’ suggests Marty. ‘Hang heels off the bars to show your favorite sets.’

10. Deal with boots

Organizing boots can be a little more awkward than sorting out shoes – especially if you’re organizing a small space. ‘Boots have different specifications with a tendency to flop over and take up a lot of unnecessary floor space based on their length,’ says Marty Basher. ‘Consider stuffing them with plastic bottles to keep them upright and organized. Another option if you have some extra closet space is to hang them on a closet rod with specially made boot hangers.’

As for snow and rain boots, it’s worth investing in a boot tray for the entryway. ‘This protects the floor and you don’t end up walking in puddles in your socks or bare feet,’ says Brenda Scott.

What is the best way to organize your shoes?

In many homes shoes are kept in different locations, often the entryway and in bedrooms. ‘Shoes kept in an entryway or back door should always be limited to shoes that are in the current rotation. This is usually seasonal,’ says Andrea Wolf. 

Organize the remaining pairs in closets. There are a variety of systems to choose from, each of which can make shoes easy to find. ‘You can organize your shoes by type, such as sneakers, dress shoes, sandals, etc,’ suggests Dan Wiener, founder and lead interior designer of Homedude.

‘You can also organize your shoes by color,’ he continues. ‘This might be helpful if you have a lot of matching shoes. Another way to organize your shoes is by occasion. For example, you might have a separate shoe rack for work shoes, party shoes, and casual shoes.

‘A final way to organize shoes is by season. This might be useful if you only want to bring out certain shoes in certain seasons, or if you have limited storage space.’

How do you organize shoes in a small space?

To organize shoes in a small space, it’s worth investing in shoe bins. ‘Shoe bins are a great option because they are stackable, they can hold many shoes, they are widely available, and they are usually clear, so you can choose which pair you want to wear quickly,’ says Marty Basher.

Within a small closet, shoes can be arranged to fit additional pairs. ‘Turning one so the heel is out saves space on a shelf and allows you to see the heel of a shoe,’ says Andrea Wolf. ‘You will also save space on a shelf by having one shoe sit in the crook of the other.’

If closet floors can’t accommodate any more shoes, use the doors. ‘An over the door storage system works great,’ says Brenda Scott.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.