Your Weekly Organasm: Handbags and Shoes Edition

Plus, I tell you why your shoes are like filthy, greedy little beasts, sucking up all the space you don't want them to have.
Publish date:
September 5, 2012
shoes, storage, organization

My lady accessories are so spoiled. They own me, not I them. Over the years, I have considered, read about, and purchased almost everything that has to do with storing and organizing handbags and shoes. I’ve made some mistakes, but the search goes on. I’m always looking for something newer, better, simpler -- an arrangement I can be happy with forever more.

The most attractive handbag display I’ve ever seen was at a Rebecca Minkoff sample sale. It remains in my memory as a glorious, drool-worthy vision, with neat rows of colorful satchels, clutches and evening bags set up on tables lining the walls. I was inspired to create a similar setup on a console table, once purchased from Ikea (it’s now sold out). It has enough depth to store my bags sideways, and most of them can stand up on top. The ones on the bottom shelf are usually stashed inside their dust bags, but I’ve pulled them out for this photo. This seating arrangement does require handbag filler. I’m a big fan of using recyclables to fill up dead space, so I pulled out clean bottles and egg cartons help the slouchier ones stand up.

For a more flexible, budget-friendly solution, I might go for these wire storage cubes ($20 and up). Not only are they wide enough for my purses, they can be adjusted to fit almost any space.

When it comes to storing my footwear, I use a variation of the classic shoe rack. It’s an Elfa unit that I designed with the help of an expert at the Container Store. I really love that it’s anchored to the wall. It’s so secure, and I almost never have to hear the sound of a gorgeous sandal falling to the floor with a loud, heart-shattering thunk.

For my husband’s shoes, I use ventilated shelving from Rubbermaid. Luckily, I didn’t have to buy it since it came with the apartment. I have readjusted the shelves to fit my reach and the height of the shoes. Since he has a small collection, I have more than enough room to stash a few appliances underneath.

Now, I’ll answer some of your questions. XoJaner Katherine Wellman asks, “What about boots? I find them to be the most awkward and annoying to store. I have a ton.” To solve your problem, I took a handful of curtain rings and slipped them onto a detachable closet rod. This is the result.

The curtain rings come in various sizes, so you’ll probably be able to find one to fit your current rod. They have little clips that can be attached to the top of each boot. I am finding that two clips per boot is great for balance. You can also use recyclables – soda bottles and rolled magazines as boot filler. And just so you know, I had to use my Hunters for this photo because I have wide calves, and they make it hard for me to shop for long boots.

Next, xoJaner IS78 asks, "Where should I put my shoes? They are ruining my life." Since I don’t know anything about you, your space or your budget, I have to guess. Perhaps you are like my friend Nicole, who likes to toss her shoes into a bin parked by her door. If so, maybe you’ll like this idea.

I took an over-the-door shoe organizer, cut it up into rows of four and arranged them inside the bin. This saves a lot of space, protects your shoes and is great for long-term storage. To adapt this solution for everyday, I would use iron-on hemming tape (or a sewing needle) to force the little canvas pouches to stay in place. This idea is inspired by the $999, fancy-shmancy Lilly Pullitzer shoe ottoman.

I have a lot of extra canvas pouches left over from this project. And come to think of it, I’ve always been strangely harassed by small shoes and flip flops. They don’t seem to deserve the same shelf space as normal shoes.

If shoe-binning isn’t your problem, you might have a clusterfuck of shoes parked by your front door. You probably think you have no room to put them. If so, my answer to you is that you can always make room. Finding a place for your shoes should be more important than storing practical, sensible items like clothes, towels, linens and pantry items.

Here’s a thought. Stop getting caught up in this vision of where things should be rather than where they can be. Give your shoes the proper fear and respect they deserve. If you don't, they will get their revenge like greedy, filthy little beasts, sucking up all the space you don't want them to have. So, go forth and get another shoe rack, put up some shelves, get creative and steal room from something else. You really can’t lose. Even if you were to dump everything I mentioned -- the towels, linens, pantry items, and the like -- right in the middle of your living room, they would still cause you less grief than having a wilderness of filthy soles and spiked heels parked at the entryway, ready to stab the bottoms of your feet every time you want to walk in or out.

Here’s an example. Hell, I’ll give you two. With my Elfa shoe rack, I’m currently sacrificing a good three feet of closet rod space. But I think it's totally worth it because I can store 33 pairs of shoes, and that includes my summer and winter footwear. Another example is my husband’s shoe closet, which is in a kind of sweet spot between the kitchen, bathroom and the front door. Any reasonable person would have put a whole bunch of sensible items there. As a matter of fact, my very practical husband did kick up a fuss when I wanted to use that closet for shoes instead of coats. But guess what? I’m not most people, and I find a place for my shoes first. It’s something I do every time I move into, or plan a new space.

Maybe I have messed-up priorities for wanting to use prime real estate for my shoes. Whatever. All I know is that most days, I’m able to reach my goal of having only two pairs to deal with everyday -- one for each person in the apartment. So you know what? Maybe I’m a crazy smart lady with an uncluttered doorway.

Now, it’s time for you to share. How do you store your handbags and shoes? And what are some of your biggest organizational issues? I want to know all about it, so please share in the comments.