25+ Amazing Shoe Storage Ideas to save space in 2023 [DIY]

Shoe storage ideas - faverie

The shoes we wear are often the first things people notice about us, so we want them to look good. A great pair of shoes can finish off an outfit and give us a much-needed boost of confidence. But shoes that have lost their original luster can be a sorry sight to behold. 

This is a tragedy when we are talking about a pair of shoes that we loved so much we spent more than we should have, but it’s a tragedy that can be avoided.

This post was written to help you avoid the anguish we all feel when we grab a favorite pair of shoes or boots, only to discover that time and neglect have robbed them of their glory. 

It will explain how we store our shoes can make them last longer and keep them looking like new for years. Besides, it contains dozens of ideas that you can use to tame your shoe collection and open up valuable closet space. 

If pricey storage solutions don’t sound appealing and you would rather spend your money on more shoes, this post will also show you how to make your own custom shoe rack using materials that are available for free.

Let’s get started!

Shoe Storage Fundamentals

Our shoes and boots are our hardest working accessories, and we often have quite a lot of money tied up in them. We all know that taking care of our shoes is important, but does the way we store them really make much of a difference? If you have ever pulled a beloved pair of shoes out of your closet only to find them ravaged by rot or mold, you will already know the answer to that question.

If you have managed to avoid such heartbreaks but would still like to keep your shoes looking as good as possible for as long as possible, this chapter will give you some helpful pointers.

Why Is It Important to Store Your Shoes Properly?

If you have a killer pair of heels or an incredible pair of dress boots, you will want them to last for as long as possible. You may think that shoe storage is all about making space and keeping things organized, but protection is the real objective. Closets are fairly benign environments, but they can do great damage to shoes and boots when given enough time.

Businessman choosing shoes bedroom

Leather thrives in cool and slightly humid conditions, but temperature extremes and excessive damp can ruin it. If you want to keep your precious footwear in the Goldilocks zone, you should ensure that your closet is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and has a relative humidity of no more than 60%. This will be warm enough to keep shoes supple and humid enough to stave off dry rot, which is crucial because the leather that has succumbed to dry rot cannot be repaired. If your wardrobe is a little on the dry side, you can use a humidifier to improve its moisture level.

Storing shoes properly also makes wearing them more comfortable. Even expensive shoes and boots become stiffer as they age as the folds and creases that develop naturally with wear turn into permanent deformities. Stiff and unyielding uppers and curled-up toes are the hallmarks of neglected shoes, but a few preventative steps can prevent this from happening. Here are a few things you can do to keep your leather shoes and boots looking as good as new:

  • Use shoe trees: These simple devices have been used for centuries to help shoes keep their shape. Plastic shoe trees will work in a pinch, but wooden models are better because they wick moisture while providing structure.
  • Stuff tissue in the toes: Stuffing the toes of your shoes with paper does not provide as much structural integrity as shoe trees, but it is better than letting nature take its course. Choose gentle tissue paper instead of newsprint as it does not contain acid that could harm your shoes.
  • Clean your shoes: You don’t have to grab a shine kit and start brushing every time you take your shoes off, but you should remove any obvious grit and debris. If it will be a week or longer before you wear your shoes or boots again, you should treat them to some leather conditioner before you put them away.

What’s the Best Way to Store Shoes in a Small Place?

When she was the first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos had an entire floor of color-coordinated closets to house her impressive shoe collection. Few of us have the kind of resources or space that would be needed to implement such an elaborate storage solution, but that does not mean we have to rummage through piles of footwear every time we want to put an outfit together.

A little planning makes organizing shoes and boots effectively quite simple. The first thing you should do is take all of your footwear out of the closet. Once this is done and the magnitude of your task has become clear, you should sort your shoes and boots out according to how often you wear them. Taking this simple but often overlooked step will make sure that you won’t have to wade through shoes that you hardly ever wear just to get to a favorite pair.

The next thing you should do is figure out a way to use the space you have available wisely. If your closet is already bursting at the seams, there are products available like behind-the-door shoe racks that can create space and order out of seeming chaos. Nooks, crannies, and tiny shelves that appear to have no function can all be used to store footwear, and kitchen or bathroom rods attached to the walls of your closet provide a great way to keep shoes with high heels away from the rest of your clothes.

What’s the Best Way to Store Family Shoes?

A lot of people keep the shoes that they wear most often on the floor, which is a mistake. Shoes left on the floor are susceptible to damage and can be hard to find for people in a hurry, so piles of footwear in the corner of a closet should be avoided. Instead, consider some other innovative shoe storage solutions.

Shoe Boxes

The boxes that your shoes and boots came in can make organizing your footwear a snap. They will be the perfect size as you will be using them for the purpose they were made for, and they are easy to stack on closet shelves. The only drawback is that they all look much the same. To get around this problem and reduce frustration as you search for something to wear on your feet, you should tape a photograph to the outside of the box that reveals which shoes are inside.

Plastic Containers

Plastic containers are an alternative to shoe boxes that seal tightly to protect against environmental dangers, but you should clean your shoes thoroughly before using them to prevent mildew. These containers are usually transparent, but it may still be a good idea to attach photos of your shoes if you plan to put them on high shelves.

Shoe Organizers

Door hanging shoes organizer 1

Organizers that hang on clothing rods or on the back of closet doors can be a real blessing for those of us who have more clothes than space, but they should be reserved for sneakers and other lightweight shoes as they can get pretty heavy. These shoes are often made out of delicate materials like cork and lace, so you should toss in a couple of silica packets to remove moisture and protect them before you put them away.

What’s the Best Way to Store Your Heels?

Shoes with high heels present us with a storage challenge because they are oddly shaped and quite delicate. Wire racks are the preferred shoe storage option for many people because they are inexpensive and fairly robust, but they are not a good choice for high heels. The heels on your favorite pair of pumps could easily get snagged on a wire shoe rack, and pulling them free with a good yank could be a recipe for disaster.

Rods and Crown Molding

To avoid such misfortunes, you should arrange your heels in a way that allows you to see your whole collection at a glance. Installing a rod or piece of crown molding in your closet is an easy way to accomplish this. Just slide the heels behind the rod or crown molding, and you will have an instant custom shoe rack that keeps your cherished shoes safe and accessible.

Storage Ideas Just for Heels

If you have money to spare and don’t feel like attaching things to your closet walls, there are several products available that have been designed specifically to store high heels. These products run the gamut from simple racks and shelves to elaborate motorized revolving showcases, and they come in all shapes and sizes. If you invested a lot in your heels and think they deserve the royal treatment, you may want to think about picking one of these products up.

What’s the Best Solution to Store Your Boots?

Boots can be the wardrobe element that turns a good outfit into a great outfit, but they take up a lot of wardrobe space and tend to flop over. There are products available that will prevent this from happening, but a rolled-up magazine or newspaper can work just as well. Once you have taken steps to make sure that your boots keep their shape, you will have a few storage options.

Boots on parade

The simplest way to store boots is to line them up like soldiers on parade. This obviously requires a fair bit of space if you have a lot of boots, but it makes things very easy. If you do take this approach, you may want to choose a more protective storage method for boots that you will not be wearing for a long time. This is because boots left untouched for weeks or months at a time in a closet may deteriorate.

Boot Storage Boxes

If the floor of your closet reminds you of gridlock instead of serenity, you may be better off putting your boots in large storage containers and placing them on shelves. This approach will take up more space, but you will always know where your boots are. Another benefit of using boot storage boxes is not worrying about dry rot or other environmental hazards.

Boot Hangers

You have probably noticed that many shoe stores place boots on racks like blouses or skirts, and the special hangers they use are available to the general public. You may think that this is the perfect boot storage solution, but there is a major drawback. The items in boutiques and shoe stores are pristine, but boots that have to contend with roads and sidewalks every day are not. If you do decide to hang your boots up, make sure that you give them a thorough cleaning first.

What’s the Best Way to Store a Lot of Shoes?

Shoe collections tend to grow so slowly that we often do not realize how many pairs we have until we spend an afternoon or evening sorting them all out. If you are running out of closet space because you can’t resist a bargain, you will need to approach your shoe storage strategy with ruthless efficiency. That pair of penny loafers may have looked great back in the day, and you could never bring yourself to throw them away, but you must not allow sentimentality to determine where they will be stored.

Getting Organized

Before you can decide how to best store your shoes, you will need to do some sorting and counting. Long journeys become more bearable when they are broken down into short legs, and sorting out your mountain of shoes and boots will be much easier after you have broken them down into categories. If sorting your footwear into piles of boots, flats, heels, and casual shoes still leaves you with an unmanageable mess, go even further and categorize them by season or occasion.

Snap Some Pictures

Woman sitting floor smartphone shoes

That pile of shoe boxes at the top of your closet may look neat and organized, but finding what you are looking for could be a long and frustrating experience if you don’t know what is in each box. Fortunately, a camera and printer are all you will need to take care of this problem. Just snap away and then tape the photographs to the outside of the boxes, and make sure that the pictures tell you all you need to know with a single glance.

Make or Buy Some Shoe Racks

Many modern closets have spaces for storing shoes, but these areas are rarely large enough to house a substantial collection. If you have more shoes than space, you will probably need to acquire a few shoe racks to keep things orderly. If buying all of those shoes has left you a little short of cash, chapter three of this article will explain how you can save some money by making your own shoe racks.

Now that we have covered the basics of shoe storage and the reasons why it is important, let’s dig a little deeper into the dizzying array of products and solutions that are available to make the job easier. In the next chapter, we will go over these options and the reasons why you should or should not consider them. Every storage company claims that their ideas are the best, but how many of their products are truly innovative? Chapter two is where you will find out.

Best Shoe Storage Ideas

Now that we’ve covered why it’s important to store shoes and boots properly, let’s explore some of the ways you can get your prized collection of flats, heels, wedges, and sneakers off your closet floor and into more suitable accommodations.

This chapter will focus less on general advice and more on actual footwear storage solutions, and there are a lot of options to choose from. After you have read it, you will have the information you need to take control of your closet once and for all. 

Shoes indoor shoe plastic boxes storage

If you are ready to put an end to frantically scrambling around on your hands and knees whenever you want to put your hands on a favorite pair of shoes, read on for some truly innovative storage ideas.

Shoe Storage Ideas

There are a dizzying number of shoe storage products and ideas out there, and they run the gamut from improvised quick fixes that can be cobbled together using items you probably have lying around the house to high-end solutions that would not look out of place in an upscale designer showroom. The perfect choice for you will obviously depend on how many pairs of shoes and boots you need to store, but make sure that you leave enough room for new additions.

If shoes are your passion or you can’t resist a sale, it may be best to pick a flexible storage system that can be expanded in stages over time. If you have shoes that you only wear every now and then, you may want to look for a solution that both saves space and provides protection against dust, moisture, and other closet hazards.

You should also bear in mind that not all shoes should be stored in the same way. Athletic shoes can take far more punishment than dress pumps, and something that works great for keeping heels organized could be useless for storing boots. If you want to learn more about the different shoe styles, check out our blog post on the subject for a full rundown. With all of that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. 

Whether you have a massive shoe collection to tame or a few cherished pairs that you want to keep out of harm’s way, you will almost certainly find something among the following choices that fits the bill perfectly.

Cubby Shoe Organizer

Cubby shoe organizers are extremely popular because they work with just about any type of decor. Most have a very regimented look with storage slots that are all the same size, but some add larger spaces that can accommodate more substantial footwear. 

Cubby organizers work pretty well at keeping dust and debris off shoes, but they do not provide much protection against moisture. You can’t make a standard cubby organizer any bigger, so you will have to get another or choose a backup solution if you run out of space. These organizers work great for flats and athletic shoes, but they are not ideal for heels or boots.

Modular Cubby Storage

If you like the look and simplicity of cubby organizers but want something a little more flexible, a modular cubby storage system could be just the ticket. Instead of a single unit that can store a dozen or more pairs of shoes, modular systems are made up of small storage cubes that are designed to slot together. 

Hallway interior furniture clothes shoes

This means that you can build them up over time, which is great if you want to avoid having empty spaces staring at you because you have more storage slots than shoes. Modular systems are great for storing shoes under stairs or in other awkward spaces, and some of them can be arranged to create interesting geometric shapes if you get tired of standard columns and rows.

PVC Pipes

If you like the idea of a modular shoe storage system and want to save some money, sections of PVC pipe glued together can provide the same benefits as cubbies at a fraction of the cost. You will need 10-inch long sections of 6-inch PVC pipe, which most hardware stores will be happy to cut for you if you don’t fancy doing the job yourself. 

You should stick them together with the PVC glue that plumbers use and pick up a couple of clamps along with the pipe so you can take care of other chores while the glue dries. Check out this video to see how it’s done.

YouTube video
How to Make a PVC Pipe Shoe Rack | The Home Team S5 E19
by The Home Team

Closet Shoe Cubby

If you dream about custom shelving with high-end finishes but see nothing but rods and wire racks when you open your closet door, you could get a little of the bespoke look you yearn for with a strategically placed shoe cubby. 

Most closet shoe cubbies are designed to fit in the space below hanging garments, but vertical cubbies can be found if you are willing to do a little searching. They rarely have space for more than a dozen pairs of shoes, but they provide a neat, simple and effective solution.

Shoe Drawer

A dozen or more pairs of even the hottest shoes can look a little messy when they are all fighting for attention in a limited space. If you want to get organized while keeping things clean and uncluttered, shoe draws could be the answer. The drawers of most footwear storage cabinets tilt rather than slide out, which makes them great for storing bags as well as shoes.

Detail hands shoes storage cabinet

A lot of people keep these cabinets in mud rooms or hallways, but they can look just as good in a bedroom. The tilting design allows shoe drawer cabinets to be very slim, but don’t be fooled because they have plenty of space.

Closet Shoe Shelves

Most high-end stores use shelves to display their shoes because they look good and make it easy for shoppers to find what they are looking for. You can get this same look at home pretty easily, and you can even choose angled shelves for real High Street appeal. 

Shelves won’t protect your shoes from dust as well as cubbies or pipes, but they can look really good. Most shoe shelves are 15-inches deep, but they come in various lengths. You can mount shoe shelves directly onto your closet wall, or you could choose a system with a frame that the shelves just slide into.

Shoe Baskets

You will be amazed by how many pairs of shoes you can fit inside a basket, and you will have no shortage of places to put your shoe basket once you have filled it. Shoe baskets can slide under beds or be placed on top of wardrobes, and they have enough give to fit into some pretty tight spaces. 

Living room wooden table plant baskets

Your shoes won’t be neatly organized in a basket, but they will be out of the way and easily accessible when you need them. If you do decide to use a basket, try to find one made out of bamboo because it will protect your shoes by absorbing moisture.

Door Hanging Shoe Organizer

Shoe organizers that hang on the back of doors are almost as popular as cubbies, and they are a great choice if you have a lot of shoes and very little space. Most hanging shoe organizers have wire forms to hold shoes in place, but there are also rack models that have tilted shelves instead. Just bear in mind that they make doors heavier and more difficult to open and close. 

This type of storage solution will make the most out of your closet’s available real estate, but they are not the best option for heels or boots. Hanging one up takes only a few seconds, and you won’t be left with any unsightly holes or scratches if you decide to take it down.

Metallic Mesh Shoe Racks

Metallic mesh shoe racks are popular because they look good and provide ample ventilation. The mesh also grips shoes a little bit to hold them in place. Many mesh shoe racks have coasters that make moving them around very easy, and an occasional wipe with a damp cloth is all it will take to keep them clean. 

The openings in mesh shoe racks are very small, so snagging your prized heels is not something you will have to worry about. They are also very simple to manufacture, so they are as affordable as they are versatile.

Shoe Boxes

There are good reasons why virtually all shoe manufacturers ship their products in boxes. Boxes can be stacked on top of each other to make the most of available space, and they also provide their precious cargoes with a great deal of protection. You can buy transparent plastic boxes made especially for storing shoes, or you could simply keep the boxes that they came in. 

If you do decide to store your shoes in this way, tape a photo of what’s inside to the outside of each box. That way, you won’t have to rummage through several boxes to find the pair you are looking for.

Shoe Cabinet Folio

A shoe cabinet folio takes standard shelves to the next level. Instead of having individual shelves, a folio cabinet has tilting sections that contain several shelves. This means that you can fit a lot more shoes into the same amount of space. 

Opening one of these cabinets also makes choosing the perfect pair of shoes to match your outfit just a little bit more dramatic. Shoes are stored almost vertically when these cabinets are closed, which means they take up very little floor space. Most shoe cabinet folios have contemporary designs, but traditional models can also be found.

Shoe Pyramid Stairs

If you think standard shelves look a little boring and don’t give your shoes enough pop, you might want to consider pyramid stairs. The pyramid is formed by placing a series of shelves that become gradually narrower on an A-frame, which means the shelves and the framework together to create the effect. 

There is also plenty of room between the pyramid stair shelves, so you will be able to store ankle or calf-length boots on them as well as flats, heels and athletic shoes. This design also has a hinge at the top that allows the piece to be folded flat, like a stepladder, for easy storage.

Shoe Ottoman

A shoe ottoman is a great choice if you want some extra seating as well as a place to keep your shoes safe and secure. They look like regular ottomans from the outside, but you will see storage slots specially designed for shoes instead of a single large space when you lift up the top. 

A shoe ottoman is basically a traditional shoe storage caddy that has been turned on its side and placed inside a functional piece of furniture, and they look amazing when placed at the foot of a bed. The only downside is cost, as they are a little pricier than some other options.

Floor Shoe Trolley

People have been storing shoes and other items under beds and closets for years. Putting shoes under a bed is very easy, but getting them back out again can be a bit of a pain. Floor shoe trolleys make this much, much simpler. They are compact enough to fit just about anywhere, and they have small wheels and handles that make retrieving their contents a walk in the park. 

Interior hall shoes stand

Say goodbye to getting down on your hands and knees every time you want to find a pair of shoes, and say hello to a less cluttered bedroom and closet. If you like the sound of a trolley but want to give your shoes a bit more protection, you could opt for an under-the-bed shoe bag.

Crown Moldings

Using sections of crown molding to keep heels out of harm’s way is one of the most popular DIY shoe storage solutions around. Most hardware stores will be happy to cut the molding to whatever length you want, and mounting them on the wall is a breeze because that is where they are designed to go. 

Make sure that you choose deeper molding that will hold your heels more securely, and prepare to impress with the finished result because it will look amazing. Check out this video to see for yourself.

YouTube video
Molding Shoe Rack: Lowe’s Hypermade
by Lowe’s Home Improvement

Ladder Shoe Rack

These innovative shoe racks look like a section of a ladder leaning against the wall, but they are usually much wider than regular ladders and feature rungs that are a lot deeper. You can paint them to match your wall for a built-in look, but most people choose to leave them unpainted. 

Shoe ladders can be moved very easily, and they can be used to store just about any kind of shoe or boot. If you are looking for a simple and basic way to take your shoe storage vertical, a ladder could be the answer.

Wire Shoe Rack

These wire racks hold shoes vertically rather than horizontally, which makes it much easier to see your collection with a single glance. Wire shoe racks are often used to display sneakers in stores, but they could look just as good in your mudroom, hallway, or closet. 

The loop-style wire forms work like mini shoe trees to hold shape, and some models have an additional row of inverted hooks at the bottom to hang boots upside down so their shafts don’t crease. Larger models can get quite heavy when they are loaded with shoes and boots, so make sure you attach them securely.

Corner Shoe Shelves

These clever storage shelves are designed to take advantage of space that usually goes to waste. They add a custom touch to a closet for a minimal investment, and they display as well as store shoes. You can use corner shelves to store heels as well as flats, but they are not an ideal solution for long boots. 

Most corner shoe racks are not designed to store very many pairs of shoes, but the pairs they do hold will look really good. These racks usually stand on the floor, but you can also find inexpensive wall-mounted models.

Revolving Shoe Display

If you are looking for the last word in shoe storage sophistication, a revolving shoe display is about as good as it gets. Some of them even have motors and can be operated at the touch of a button. 

Revolving displays can handle more pairs of shoes than their static alternatives, and they add a dash of flair and excitement that you won’t get from any other footwear storage solution. They are not suitable for small closets because they take up more room than corner shelves, but that is a small price to pay for the drama they provide.

Hallway Bench

Shoe lovers who have closets that are bursting at the seams often look for ways to store bulky or oddly-shaped items in other parts of their houses or apartments. Hallway benches are an ideal place to store shoes that are worn frequently, and they provide a place to sit and put shoes on as well as a storage space. 

Hallway interior entrance furniture

Some benches have open shelves that put shoes on display, but cabinet designs with hinged tops that conceal shoe cubbies are also quite popular. Open hallway benches are a great place to store shoe baskets, which look fantastic and also increase their storage capacity.

Hanging Closet Shoe Storage

Hanging shoe organizers provide a really effective way to store a lot of shoes in a very small space, and installing one is as easy as hanging up a jacket or blouse. You will lose a little bit of hanging space if you use them, but at least your prized shoe collection will be off the floor. Hanging shoe organizers also make it easier to coordinate an outfit. Just hang the clothes you plan to wear next to the organizer, and you will see at a glance which shoes work best.

Peg Wall Hangers

Pegs are often used in closets to hang up bags, but they can also be used to keep shoes off the floor. This is a functional rather than an aesthetic solution because the soles of the shoes and not their uppers are on display, but that should not bother you if saving space is your primary objective. 

You can slide heels over pegs to hang flats and athletic shoes, and you can also use this system to store boots if you turn them upside down. Each peg will only be holding one shoe, so you won’t have to worry about finding studs because the weight will not be an issue.

Boot Hangers

If you want to get your boots up off the ground, hangers with clips on them that attach to boot shafts are probably the easiest solution. They are not really great for hanging cowboy boots with pull straps, but that is probably their only drawback. 

If you want to make the most of your available hanging space, you can hang a second rod under your jackets and blouses, or you could use extenders. If you do decide to use hangers to store your boots, you won’t need to put rolled-up magazines inside them to prevent creases.

All-In-One Shoe Storage

Shoes and boots come in many shapes and sizes, which can make finding a product capable of storing an entire collection difficult. Cubbies are great for storing flats, but they can’t accommodate most boots, and heels present a completely different set of challenges. 

All-in-one solutions offer a combination of shelves, cubbies, and hangers, so they can take pretty much anything you can throw at them. They are not the most attractive shoe storage products, but they are ideal if you value function over form. 

All-in-one shoe storage products can be made out of metal or wood, and they often have space for coats, bags, and umbrellas as well as shoes and boots.

Pocket Shoe Organizer

This kind of organizer stores shoes in fabric or plastic pockets instead of mounting them on wire forms. This approach makes putting shoes away a little easier, but it does not prevent rubbing. 

That’s fine for fabric or canvas shoes, but you should take care if you use one of these organizers to store shoes that scuff easily. Most pocket shoe organizers are designed to hang on the back of closet doors, but you can also find models that attach to walls.

Garage Shoe Storage

Garages are a good place to store just about anything, and that includes shoes. Garage shoe organizers are designed with durability rather than appearance in mind, but your car won’t object. The garage is not an ideal place to store everyday shoes, but it is a fantastic location for seasonal footwear like winter boots or summer sandals. 

Expect to see plenty of racks and shelves on these storage products, and metal is usually the material of choice. They can get quite heavy when loaded up with shoes and other items, so you may want to look for something with wheels.

Hidden Shoe Storage

If you want to keep your shoes out of sight as well as off the floor, you will need something with hidden storage. The choices here range from cabinets and ottomans to benches with hinged tops, or you could take a more old-school approach and just use baskets with lids. 

In addition to freeing up space in your closet and eliminating clutter, organizers with hidden storage will protect your shoes from dust. If you want to keep your shoes out of the way without adding another piece of furniture, look for something that can slide under a bed.

Stackable Shoe Storage

If you ever find yourself in the back of a shoe store, you will probably see boxes of shoes stacked on shelves. You can take the same approach in your closet by using clear plastic stackable boxes. 

Shoe boxes wooden stand storage

There are small boxes for flat shoes and taller boxes for heels, but you will soon find yourself running out of room if you have a large collection. If you choose stackable boxes with drawers, make sure that they have small ventilation holes that will allow your shoes to breathe.

There are dozens of shoe storage ideas to pick from, and they all have their pros and cons. This chapter gave you plenty to think about, but what if you want to make your own shoe rack so you can use your hard-earned money to buy more shoes? We’ve got you covered on that front too because that’s what the next chapter is all about.

How to Build a DIY Shoe Rack

Simple racks placed in hallways or mudrooms are one of the most popular shoe storage solutions around, and you will have plenty of options to choose from if you decide to visit a big-box store or home improvement center to buy one.

If you would prefer to save some money and like to tackle simple projects yourself, you can build your own shoe rack using parts that you can source for free and basic hand tools that you probably already own. 

This chapter will explain how you can complete this basic task in the morning or afternoon and still have time for a cup of coffee, and it will guide you through the process with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions.

Building a DIY Shoe Rack

People with carpentry skills and fully stocked workshops will probably be able to make a simple piece like a shoe rack in just a few hours, even if they start from scratch, but what about those of us with DIY skills that don’t go much beyond hanging a picture or putting together a piece of flat-pack furniture? 

If you like the idea of making your own shoe rack but don’t fancy the prospect of spending the best part of a day sawing up pieces of wood, there is a far easier option. The wooden pallets used to move goods around in warehouses and large stores can be broken up and reassembled to make a shoe rack, and you won’t have to worry too much about measuring and cutting as there is very little sewing involved.

That is because the pieces of wood that make up a standard pallet are already the perfect size for a shoe rack. Pallets are made up of pieces called stringers that are 48 inches long and deck boards that are 40 inches long. 

The deck boards make up a frame that supports the stringers. The shoe rack we will be making in this chapter will be made entirely out of stringers, so you will need at least two pallets to get all of the pieces you need. When it is finished, your DIY shoe rack will be 48 inches wide and have shelves big enough to store several pairs of shoes and boots.

Step 1: Find Some Pallets

Pallets are disposable items that are usually broken up and discarded after use, which means that you should be able to get your hands on one or two of them without spending any money. 

Wooden pallets
Source: Lucas Santos on Unsplash

You can find them in large stores or warehouses where forklift trucks are used to move products around. Still, you should probably avoid chain stores as they usually have strict policies that forbid their workers from giving items away even if they have been earmarked for the trash.

You will probably be pointed toward a pile of pallets and told to help yourself at a mom-and-pop store, so just take your time and look for pallets with wood that look good and have not been damaged. If you don’t feel comfortable asking for free stuff, there are plenty of places where you can buy used pallets without breaking the bank.

Step 2: Break up the Pallets

Pallets are nailed rather than screwed together, so taking them apart will require a bit of elbow grease. You can use a hammer or crowbar to do this, but don’t go all out. Pallets are not designed to come apart, and using too much force could crack or split the wood. 

Take your time and gently pry the pallets apart, and make sure that you place your crowbar only in places that are joined with nails. You may need to tap your crowbar with a hammer a couple of times to get it between the pieces of wood.

You should work your way around the pallets prying each joint in turn, but don’t try to separate a joint entirely as this could damage the wood. Just pry a little bit at each joint until the pallets come apart easily. When you have finished, you will have all of the wood you need to make a shoe rack.

Step 3: Remove the Nails

Before you can start building your shoe rack, you will need to remove all of the nails that once held the pallets together. This is sometimes easier said than done. Claw hammers are the best tools for the job as this is precisely what they are designed for, but you will need to grab a pair of pliers to pull out bent or broken nails. You will want to remove the nails without damaging the wood, so take your time and be as gentle as you can.

Step 4: Sort Out the Wood

Once all of the nails have been removed, it will be time to sort out the wood. Set aside the deck boards and any stringers that are damaged and unusable, and then sort the remaining stringers based on their appearance. 

You will want to use the best-looking wood for the top and sides of your shoe rack as these are the pieces people will notice. Three stringers will be used to make the sides, top, and shelf of your shoe rack so that you will need 12 altogether. You will also need a couple of pieces of wood to make the supports that will hold your shoe rack together.

Step 5: Screw the Pieces of Wood Together

Joining wood together used to be a task that required a great deal of patience and basic carpentry skills, but you can now buy plastic fixit blocks that make the job easy for just about anybody. 

Use a power drill to make guide holes, and then just screw the pieces together to form the base and sides. You will notice that fixit blocks have sides with either one or two holes.

Just alternate them, so each piece of wood is held in place with one screw at one end and two screws at the other end.

Step 6: Make the Shelf

The stringers you will use to make the shelf will have to be shortened a little bit to fit inside the frame sections you have just screwed together. You will not have to get the measurements down to the last millimeter, but you should be careful not to make the pieces too short. 

Once you have cut a stringer to just the right size, use it as a guide to cut the other two. When you have all of the stringers cut to the right length, screw them into place with fixit blocks.

Step 7: Add Some Support

It is now time to add some support and attach the three sections you have made to each other to form a piece of furniture. You do this by screwing on supports that you will make by cutting up a couple of pieces of wood that you have left over. 

You will need two supports for each side of your shoe rack and two for the top, and they should all be more or less the same size. Use a drill to create pilot holes, and then just screw them into place with carpentry screws.

Step 8: Sanding and Finishing

Nobody likes getting splinters, so you will want to give your shoe rack a good sanding down to remove any rough patches. This will take a little time because pallets are made to be durable and not attractive. 

Start with a piece of 60 grit sandpaper to remove sharp edges and rough patches, and then switch to 120 grit sandpaper to smooth all of the surfaces until they feel good to the touch.

Put some music on in the background if you find the job boring, and pay particular attention to the parts of the shoe rack where people will place their hands when it has to be moved.

Step 9: Painting

You can call it a day after sanding your shoe rack, or you can go all the way and apply some paint. If you do decide to paint, you will need to apply a coat of primer first. Use a white primer if you plan to paint your shoe rack in a light color, and look for a product that dries quickly and is compatible with the paint you will be using.

Man carpenter painting wood

When it comes to painting, you can use either latex or oil-based varieties as long as they have a satin or semigloss finish. Apply the paint with a brush using broad strokes, and keep a rag handy to take care of runs. If you really want to push the boat out, you can finish the job off with some clear coat.

If you think wood looks better than paint, you can finish your shoe rack with some varnish instead. You won’t have to worry about a primer coat if you use varnish, but you will need to make sure that you follow the wood grain when you brush.

Step 10: Place Your Shoes on the Rack

Now you have reached the time when you can step back and enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Your completed shoe rack will have a top, bottom, and shelf that can each accommodate three pairs of shoes, so now all you have to do is decide what goes where. Boots with long shafts should go on the top, and place shoes that you don’t wear very often on the bottom.


You probably clicked on this post because you are sick and tired of rummaging around every time you look for a pair of shoes or boots. We hope that reading it gave you some useful ideas. 

Proper shoe storage will not only make your shoes easier to find, but it will also keep them looking good and help them to last longer. There are dozens of shoe storage solutions you can buy, or you can go the DIY route and put something together yourself.

If you have any questions about the shoe storage options we have covered in this post, please use the comment section below to ask them. You can also leave a comment if you liked what you read or have something you would like to add. 

If your friends could use some help organizing their shoe collections, please feel free to share this post on social media. If you are eager for more interesting information and useful tips, you can check out some of our other fashion posts.

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