This week's challenge is to organize shoes and boots for yourself and family members.
In a way this week's task isn't really too hard, even if you tackle every pair of shoes in the house, because we're just dealing with shoes.
But on the other hand, at least for some of us, we absolutely love shoes. And since I'll be asking you to declutter the pairs down to what you can really realistically store in your house, in the space you've got, this can be difficult.
Don't panic though if this is you. Just work through it one pair at a time, and you'll most likely discover some shoes you've completely forgotten but that will quickly become new favorites, while gaining the resolve to reduce your collection.
Are you new here? The Organize Shoes Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
The first task, as always, is to gather up all of the shoes in your house, from all the different places you keep them either on purpose, or where they get slipped off your feet, and declutter your pairs down to a more realistic amount.
Obvious ones to declutter are those without a matching pair, that are too small, that hurt your feet, or that are so beat up you'd never wear them again.
After you've dealt with the obvious ones to declutter it can get more difficult, especially if you're emotionally attached to your shoes.
It is best to gather all the shoes for each family member in one place and begin to categorize them.
Here are some suggested categories:
Often when you see them all together you can see how many excess pairs you've got, such as several pairs of black dress shoes, or several pairs of athletic shoes, for example. Then it's easier to decide which are your favorites, or are in the best condition, and then get rid of the extras.
Think about how many pairs you need, and in what variety. The answer to this is different for everyone based on their activities, and also the space you have available to store your shoe collection.
No matter what, you need to have sufficient space for all the shoes you decide to keep, for everyone in your family, otherwise they will continue to be clutter.
If you struggle with how many pairs to keep read the rest of the steps in the challenge, since I'll discuss the most obvious storage locations for shoes and you can keep decluttering in rounds until everyone's shoes fit into those spaces comfortably.
As we discussed in the Mudroom and Entryway Organization Challenge it is common to have shoes in the entranceway or mudroom of your home. In fact, it can make perfect sense.
What you don't want is for those shoes to just pile up in a clutter pile, where people can't find the ones they want, or actually trip over them when coming in and out.
Instead of banning all shoes by the door, which is rather unrealistic, instead create a designated storage spot for these shoes, and make some rules for your family about how many pairs of shoes, or types of shoes, they can keep in that location.
Common types of shoes that are often found by the front door include those worn almost daily, such as tennis shoes for kids, and those related to the weather or outdoor uses, such as rain or winter boots, or gardening shoes.
Keeping weather related shoes by the door (only during the season they're in use though) makes sense because taking them off soon after entering keeps dirt, snow or rain from being tracked through the house. And a place for everyday types of shoes makes sense because then people can find them easily right before they leave the house.
The key to dealing with shoes in the entranceway is to understand there has to be a limited number of shoes -- no more than can easily fit into the storage area you designate for them. The rest need to go somewhere else!
The rest of your family's shoes that aren't held in the entryway need to be kept in a closet or bedroom.
Again, you should only keep the amount of shoes in each closet that you have room for. You may need to declutter further if there is not enough storage space.
Another possibility would be to keep only the in-season shoes in your closet, and the out-of-season shoes in a storage area and switch them out. This allows you to keep more shoes overall, but still have adequate space in your closet.
Be realistic though and know if you'll actually take the time to deal with switching the shoes out each season. This is easy to do if you do a seasonal clothing swap for clothing so if you're already in that habit, this can be a viable solution for you.
Whatever storage solution you choose, and I'll discuss those more below in step 4, make sure to keep the mated pairs together, and for ease of finding the pair you should arrange them by categories.
You can use the same categories I discussed above, when discussing decluttering.
Many shoe storage solutions can't actually fit larger footwear, like boots into them. So if you (or other family members) have a boot collection of just about any size you'll need to consider both storage solutions for boots and for shoes, separately.
Whatever method you choose, make sure you are treating your boots with the care they deserve.
Sturdy boots, such as work, rain or snow boots can be stored in more ways than dress boots, because they don't typically bend over.
However, when storing dress boots make sure you keep the shaft of the boot straight and upright, and keep some type of shapener inside so they don't fold down and wrinkle or get disfigured, like what happened to the boots shown on the right.
I suggest using boot shapers, or a similar product, to keep your boots from bending in this manner.
There are many ways to store shoes, either in your entranceway, mudroom, or closet. I mentioned some of the most common ways above for entranceways.
Here's the most common solutions you might want to choose from:
A simple way to store shoes is to use shoe boxes, but I will warn that it takes a lot of space to do it this way. Plus, this works best for shoes you don't wear frequently, because otherwise trying to get yourself to put them back into the box each evening, and out again in the morning is too much work and you just won't do it.
If you decide to use this method you can either use the boxes the shoes came in, or you can get some plastic shoe boxes for a more uniform look.
If you do use boxes I suggest taking a picture of each pair of shoes, and attaching that to the front of the box so you have a visual inventory of what is held in there, making it easier to find the pair you need.
If you have just one or two pairs of nice boots it might be easiest for you to just store them inside their box to keep them looking good between wearings. They also make boxes that are longer for boot storage if you no longer have the original boxes.
Another common solution is a shoe rack, and these are often placed on the floor of your closet. In theory these are great, because they utilize the floor space that otherwise might not be used that is below your hanging clothes.
However, consider if it is in your closet how accessible a rack on the floor will actually be. If you've got to kneel down and manuever around hanging clothing to use it there, it may not really be a good solution.
On the other hand, if you don't mind your shoes being out in the open shoe racks can be great in an entrywy or mudroom where you can easily place your shoes on them.
My point is merely to think about where you're placing them before you decide if they'll be a good solution for you.
Shoe organizers are one of my favorite shoe storage solutions because they often utilize otherwise unused space, and are typically easy to access.
An over the door shoe organizer can use the back of an otherwise unused closet door. Similarly, a hanging organizer can be used, hanging on your closet clothes hanging rod, if you don't have too many clothes taking up actual closet space.
Shelves and cubbies have many of the advantages that shoe organizers have, although the difference is that shelves and cubbies are typically built in or are assembled pieces of furniture.
They are more sturdy and generally look a bit nicer than organizers as well, but also take up more space and cost more.
Between shelves and cubbies I personally like cubbies more than shelves, just because shoe cubbies can keep the pairs mated and separated more easily, instead of them getting as jumbled together on a shelf.
However, if you've got large shoes, and men shoe's especially, can be a tight fit in some cubbies and in such instances shelves work much better. You've got to keep the size of your shoes in mind when choosing what solution will work best for you.
If you don't have space in your closet, you might consider storage for your shoes under your bed.
Honestly though, these can be very difficult to get shoes in and out of, and I would suggest using them for out-of-season storage mainly, for that reason.
I already mentioned above that you might want to store your boots in the box they came in.
However, other boot storage solutions you might consider include boot racks, which hold the boots upside down, boot hangers, or even boot stands.
I would be careful with boot hangers which have clips, because they can cause marks in the boots where they clamp onto the top of the footwear.
Whichever type of solution you choose for your boots just make sure that it keeps the boots from bending over.
Some people just line up along the wall of their closet, and honestly that works quite well as long as you've got something inside the boot, like I mentioned above, to keep them upright.
I would love to know how this week's Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this items in your home in the comments below.
I also would love to see before and after pictures of your organized shoes and boots once you've completed the challenge. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from this week's Challenge. However, I know you like to know what is coming up, so I'll tell you.
We're continuing to work on getting our clothes and accessories organized and under control, and next week we'll focus on organizing cosmetics and makeup.
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