Having a well-heeled closet may be the first step to strutting your style at home.
Whether you wear designer shoes, sneakers or slippers, it’s important to keep footwear organized and off the floor when you’re not wearing a pair, says Carolyn Musher, sales vice president for California Closets in New York City.
“The shoes you wear say a lot about your personal sense of style,” she says. “And how you store your shoes says a lot about your personal sense of organization.”
Organized shoe selections don’t hide on the floor or in hanging plastic shoe bags behind closet doors. One of Musher’s most renowned shoe shuffles involved Beth Brenner, a New York City-based home design publication’s chief revenue officer. Brenner’s shoe collection stood out and began taking over her pre-war Manhattan apartment.
Musher’s solution for Brenner’s footwear affair was to build a floor-to-nearly-ceiling cabinet with built-in shoe cubbies and an adjoining nightstand for the corner of her bedroom. This custom-built cabinetry was placed between her bed and the wall, which meant getting rid of the stacks of shoes in her bedroom corner.
The first step to having a shoe closet is to clear out the clogs — or other shoes — that are no longer worn, Musher says. “Unless you have unlimited space — and no one has that — you have to purge shoes you no longer wear,” she says. “By keeping only the shoes you love and wear, it makes it easier to move into the organizational phase.”
It’s easy to become head over heels for a shoe closet when it is built to your shoe specifications. Shoes can be the eye candy in a closet en suite that resembles a personal boutique on display.
“For some, shoes are like pieces of wearable art,” Musher says. “After spending a lot of money on, say, the red-soled shoes, why wouldn’t you want them displayed in your closet when you’re not wearing them?”
Shoes are accessories that can be style showstoppers and a closet’s centerpiece. But even if you don’t have a large walk-in closet space for shoe storage, the most important thing is to keep footwear off the floor.
“You don’t want to start your day by digging around for a pair of shoes that match,” Musher says. “The best organizational plan involves making a place for everything and keeping everything in its place.”
Most-used shoes should be placed at eye level, with lesser-used or out of season shoes placed in a closet’s upper shelf storage space. “Your shoe closet should evolve with the seasons,” Musher says. “Sandals shouldn’t occupy prime closet real estate when it’s winter and you’re wearing boots.”
While shoe closets might be more closely associated with female footwear, men and children are having shelves built for shoes in their closets. “Being able to choose a pair of matching shoes quickly is desirable — no matter who or how old you are,” Musher says. “The key with children’s closets is to take stock of shoes regularly, because they grow out of them quickly.”
Musher says to move too-small shoes down the road by putting them into storage for younger siblings or by donating them.
When it comes to organizing shoes in your closet, group similar styles together, whether it’s by color, season or heel height. Shoes can be placed on shelves, in cubbies or stacked in see-through containers with lids.
An organizational system that utilizes the boxes in which the shoes were purchased can also be implemented, just make sure you don’t become lazy with your loafers by not putting them in the box and back on the shelf. Taking a picture of the shoes and affixing it to the outside of the box makes seeing your shoes a snap.
Musher says while it’s easiest to build a shoe closet from the ground up, homeowners can also organize footwear on a shoestring budget. With nearly 80 California Closet locations throughout the United States, Musher says shoe closet costs can start around $500 and go up from there, depending on size specifications and finishes.
Footwear closets should be as accessible and comfortable as an old shoe, but shouldn’t look like one. Higher-end closets can have shelving units or shoe displays with glamorous lighting.
But the closet isn’t the only place that should be a clutter-free zone for shoes. People entering the home – either through the front-door foyer or side mudroom — should have shoe storage that is as well-ordered as private shoe closets, Musher says.
“Have a place to stow shoes by the door, whether it’s under a bench, inside a cubby or into a basket,” she says. “People entering a home shouldn’t be tripping over a field of footwear deposited by the door.”