Like bags, shoes are tricky to store. By their nature, they come in sets of two, so you have to figure out where you have space for both. Most are pretty rigid, too, and you don’t want to squish them. Personally, my ultimate goal in life is to have a big walk-in closet where I can display all my shoes, but in the meantime, I spend a lot of time (and a little money) finding other ways to store my footwear in my small apartment.

Shoe storage ideas

I am a shoe fiend. I’m hardcore. Even though I try my best to adopt a “one in, one out” mentality, I’m much more likely to bring a new pair of shoes home and not get rid of an old one. I have shoes stored in my front closet, boots by my front door, hanging storage on the back of my front door and bathroom door, and even more shoes in a fancy rack in my living room. I don’t say this to brag, nor do I say it as a cry for help; I’m simply letting you know I know what I’m talking about here. Learn from my storage triumphs and mistakes.

My system is this: Any shoes that have a high resale value and I think I’ll list for sale in the future get stored in their original boxes, which are stacked next to my clothing rack. (That’s not space-saving, but it’s the truth.) Nice shoes that don’t have their original box are stored on this shoe tree, which is a major space saver in my closet—it holds the pairs vertically and rotates 360 degrees so I can easily access shoes in the back without disrupting the rest of the stuff in the closet or making a mess digging around in there.

That is the exact one I have and it has held up well for over six years. It’s indispensable to me because of how much space it saves and how well it holds the shoes, maintaining their shape by propping them up from the inside.

For everyday wear or less valuable shoes, I rely on over-the-door racks, but as I’ll explain in the next section, I do not use the rigid ones made of metal rods. Instead, I use the fabric kind that feature pockets. These take up less space when the doors they’re on are closed and are easy to maintain. I have ones like this:

To store boots, you need to keep the structure and shape at top of mind. The goal should be not allowing the tops to fall over or crease, so even if you’re just storing them on the floor of the closet or a shelf, make sure they’re always stuffed with newspaper or even out-of-season clothes, for a two-for-one storage solution. (You can also try hanging them.) You only need two things: A hanging chain designed for holding clothing hangers ($9.99 for seven) and a set of clips on hooks ($9.99 for 50). Thread the hooks of the clips through the chain, then use the clips themselves to hold the boot pairs together from the top. Not only will this maintain the boots’ shape, but it will save major floor and shelf space, too.

Finally, consider some multifunction storage furniture, as long as you have the space. Try an entryway bench with shelving underneath to store everyday shoes and rain boots.

How not to store shoes

In my years of being a true shoe hound, I’ve tried many more storage methods than the ones listed above. I don’t recommend acrylic storage boxes, for instance, if your goal is to save space; they actually take up way too much. The most ineffective tool, in my opinion, is one that I see being promoted pretty often online: The rigid over-the-door rack made of metal rods. Simply put, I hate these. First, to make them truly stable, you need to find a way to attach the free-hanging bottom to your door, which could involve screwing it in. Even if you do put holes in your door, which I especially don’t advise if you rent your home, that won’t keep the shoes in place when you open and close it. I had one of these on my front door for a few years and any time I opened or shut it with even a little vigor, all my shoes popped out onto the floor. These things use plain, horizontal rods to hold the shoes in place; there’s nothing else there to help the footwear stay in the rack. Avoid these and use the kind of over-the-door holders that have pockets. But if you must, here’s one similar to the one I had ($41.15).

There is an exception to this rule, though. You can mount one of these to the interior side of your closet, filling up space that otherwise goes unused. Since it will remain static there—not ride back and forth on an ever-moving door—the shoes will be safer and you’ll get some use out of those few inches of wasted space. Also, add a few motion-activated LED lights to your closet, so when you have to look deep in there (like you will if you mount the shoe rack), you can at least see what you’re doing. I have these, which attach to adhesive magnets so they’re easy to remove and recharge when necessary (two for $19.96).