The 6 Secrets of Successful Shoe Storage

Shoe storage can be an absolute nightmare. When I was in high school I used to just chuck all my shoes down the bottom of my cupboard. Then I’d frustrate myself cross-eyed every morning trying to find both parts of a pair. I actually went to work one day wearing two different shoes. It was the 90s and all my shoes were chunky, clog-like slip ons so they all looked the same. I also worked at a newsagent and my Sunday shift started at 7am, meaning that I had to get dressed way before my brain had reached the minimum level of functionality. On this day I ended up wearing one brown shoe and one maroon shoe. It wasn’t so much embarrassing, just surprisingly jarring. They had slightly different height heels so I spent the day standing on a tilt. It was rather unpleasant. Anyway, it was after this incident that I started exploring different options for shoe storage and I realised that most people need a combination of different storage methods to meet their needs and that this changes depending on their living situation. For example I currently live in a small flat, so I use a Plastic Box/Under The Bed Roll Away Storage combination. In my last flat, I was blessed with ample closet space, so I used a Hanging Plastic Rack/Upright Rack combination. It’s all about finding the perfect system to suit your daily needs and keep yourself sane so you don’t end up chucking a Cher Horowitz and emptying your entire wardrobe because you can’t find your white collared shirt from Fred Segal. 

The 6 Secrets of Successful Shoe Storage

Clear Plastic Boxes

This is one of my personal favourites and has made shoe storage a breeze in my tiny flat. I have about 10 to 15 clear, plastic foldable boxes and I store one pair of shoes per box. These boxes are then stacked neatly up the top of my cupboard. Mine are from Pink Lily and I love them because you can unfold them and store them flat when they don’t have shoes in them. I recommend that you only store occasional shoes in this way like fancy high heels or boots that you only wear in really cold weather because it’s fairly time consuming to pack and unpack the boxes if you’re trying on several pairs with an outfit. It’s perfect for fancy heels though because it keeps them out-of-the-way for everyday dressing and also keeps them looking gorgeous because they haven’t been trapped at the bottom of your cupboard for months on end being spooned by your skanky Uggs. 

Upright Racks

These racks are perfect for everyday shoe storage and can be kept at the bottom of a cupboard, near your front door in the foyer or in the laundry for things like football boots or gardening shoes. It’s best to keep shoes that you wear on high rotation on a rack like this as you have limited space and you don’t want the high heels that you wore once to your year twelve formal getting in the way of your early morning efficiency. No one’s got time for that shit. Keep shoe racks functional by using them only to store a few everyday staples. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 2.05.30 am

Hanging Shoe Storage

These are a fantastic space saver so they’re perfect for small living areas. The trick with plastic hanging racks is to remember that they appear to be an everyday storage solution but they’re actually a bit of a pain in the arse. I recommend keeping occasional shoes in a rack like this and don’t be getting greedy and shoving two or three pairs in each console. That’s abusing the system and it WILL result in early morning stabby stabs. Use these to store fancy shoes and off-season foot wear and shove it right to the side of your wardrobe so your clothes don’t get too annoyed. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 2.10.09 am

Under The Bed Roll Away Storage

I don’t want you to get too excited here but this is THE BEST solution ever in the history of me telling you stuff. I own a Karton bed, which is made out of cardboard, but the best thing about it is that it has four really long cardboard drawers underneath. I keep all my everyday shoes in there, as well as my gym gear. The biggest mistake that people make with shoe storage is that they store their shoes ‘out of the way; which means that they’re constantly having to move other things to get to them. If you have space under your bed, invest in a few roll away drawers and you’ll be able to see all your shoes and access them really easily. Roll away drawers are game changers, I promise. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 2.14.12 am

Storage Stools

A friend of mine lives in a tiny flat with no cupboard. I know. I totally cried when I saw her place. I mean, it’s adorable but what about the shoes??? She came up with a brilliant solution. She bought a sturdy square stool that’s hollow inside and she stores her shoes in there. It’s the perfect solution for a  small apartment. Not only does she have a great place to store her fancy footwear but she also has extra seating for guests. Brilliance.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 2.16.47 am

Shelf Displays

This solution is for those who are blessed with space so if you have a large bedroom or ample living space, why not display your shoes as works of art? There are some great storage systems that you can have installed in your home, like this one from Howard’s Storage World or you can get a free-standing shoe closet like this one from BabooshoeSome shoes are so beautiful, it’s such a shame to keep them locked away. 


Jonathon Says

1. Split your shoes into 2 categories – everyday and occasional – and store them accordingly.

2. Be sure to adapt to each new environment and choose 1 or 2 storage systems that fit your current living situation.

3. Make life easy for yourself. Store your everyday shoes in a place where you can put them away without a huge amount of hassle. No one needs to be messing around with a complicated boxing system on a daily basis.

How do you store your shoes? Do you throw them down the bottom of your cupboard? Or neatly stack them in individual boxes.

P.S Jonathon The Organisation Crustacean was drawn by my mate Arran McKenna and he has classes in Canberra if you want to learn to Draw Fun Stuff.

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. Ali 2 years ago

    we have a pretty huge apartment (but with minimal hanging space) at the moment so I have a shoe rack by the door. but before now I’ve always used the cloth hanging shelfy divider things, they’re the best.
    pro tip: you can actually lay those things sideways in the bottom of your cupboard if you don’t want to sacrifice hanging space. stack them alternately (like you’re bricklaying or something) so they don’t all collapse on each other, it’s a good way to still use the excellent shoving-in-the-bottom-of-the-cupboard method without them all scuffing each other up and getting lost.
    second pro tip: if you do hang them up and they are too long or there are more shoe spaces than you need, clip the bottom ones up with bulldog clips to save space (or buy more shoes to fill the gaps, up to you)

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Nice one, I never even considered that! I always found hanging racks a bit of a pain because they aren’t solid and they wriggle around when I’m trying to shove shoes in them. I’m such a princess.

  2. 2 years ago

    Good idea re occasional vs everyday shoes.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      That system changed my life because I was always throwing giant platforms to the back of my cupboard trying to get to my every day ballet flats.

  3. Bec 2 years ago

    Excellent advice. Only I believe it was a “white collarless shirt from Fred Segal” 😉

  4. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 2 years ago

    Great advice!! 😀 I have two shoe cupboards as well as two closets with shoe space but it never seems to be enough. And I probably shouldn’t show you when I stuff two pairs in space for one 😛

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Definitely don’t do that. I might not sleep for weeks. 🙂

  5. Lau 2 years ago

    I’m both perplexed and amazed by the bed….did you move it when you moved apartments? and how is it holding up?

  6. Nicole 2 years ago

    You have a bed made out of cardboard?? How do you resist the urge to constantly draw on it!

  7. Nessbow 2 years ago

    Up until this moment, I thought that Cher Horowitz was looking for her “white collarless shirt with red seagull”. The actual line does make a great deal more sense…

  8. Kate 2 years ago

    I used to use hanging storage for my shoes and it totally gave me the stabby stabs (from abusing the system, of course!). So I made my husband build shoe shelves into the walk in wardrobe when he was building our house. Only problem is I have too many shoes now….should have got him to make two walk ins…one for the shoes…..


  1. […] And in light of this week’s post about closet organization pros and cons, I was thrilled to see this post about successful shoe storage. […]

Leave a Reply

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 1.22.31 am
5 of The Creepiest Landlord Stories That Will Make You Sleep With One Eye Open

I’ve been renting houses for around 5 years and I’ve had a really easy ride. Good landlords, great housemates, no...