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How to Create a Shoe Tower for Family Shoe Organization

The Most Efficient Shoe Organization and Shoe Tower Storage Strategies For Families

There are many types of shoe organizers on the market. Most shoe racks will organize between six to a dozen pairs of shoes. Since most people own around twenty pairs of footwear, purchasing a couple of these for the closet will do for many homeowners.

In my home, however, we don't keep our shoes in the bedroom closet. In an effort to keep the house clean, family members are expected to remove their shoes when entering the home and walk around in their socks or slippers. (We don't enforce this rule for our guests, who are always welcome as they are). Removing outdoor footwear upon entering the home has long been a traditional custom in Japan, and it has gained in popularity throughout the United States with families of all ethnic backgrounds. This can lead to a lot of shoes piling up by the door. Even families with only one or two people can end up with a huge mess when all your shoes are lying en masse next to the entranceway.

shoes by door of home

When you have a multitude of shoes to deal with, the best organization solution is usually some sort of shoe tower to provide optimal shoe organization and shoe storage.

Whether enclosed or left in the open, a shoe tower is essentially a section of tall, narrow shelving just for shoes. It can be created from space inside an existing closet, or from a new storage unit that you build outside the closet such as a wardrobe style "shoe armoire," or just attractive shelving. At it's core, the shoe tower is simply two parallel vertical panels with a series of perpendicular shelves placed between them. It may or may not include a back and/or a cabinet door. It seems simple, but there are several things to consider before beginning to construct your shoe tower.

Essential Considerations For Creating an Effective Shoe Tower:

  1. Plan a Flexible Design to Accommodate Growth:

    This can mean two things, and both are important. You need to make sure that your shelving is adjustable in order to accommodate a change in shoe size. For children, this seems obvious, because they grow like weeds. A twelve year old won't be able to fit as many shoes per shelf as a four year old, because the shoes will be bigger. The older child will need more shelves spaced farther apart than the pre-schooler.

    Adults also need to plan for a change in shoe size. Although their feet usually don't grow longer, the shoes may get taller. Fashions change from year-to-year and season-to-season. Overall, flats require less storage space than heels or boots because they need less vertical space. You can get more shelves into the tower if you are organizing athletic shoes and ballet flats than hiking boots or even high heels. Even though you may think that you only need space for flats, if styles change next year, your mind may also change regarding what type of footwear you need. Make sure that you include enough shelves with sufficient vertical space between them to allow for this shift.

    360 organizer shoe spinner rotating shoe rack

    You also need to plan for the possibility that the number of shoes you need to store will increase over time. Even if you pride yourself in your ability to keep your wardrobe, including shoes, to a minimum, not everyone in the household my subscribe to this thinking. Most shoe collections tend to grow over time. Households that include members who are fashion forward should plan on a lot of shoe storage and a lot of growth in their shoe storage requirements.

    If you have limited space for your shoe tower, consider a rotating shoe rack system like the 360 Organizer® Shoe Spinner. These shoe organizers make more efficient use of space, maximizing areas that might otherwise be wasted. They stand about 89 inches high, requiring only a 40 x 40 inch corner, and hold between 85 and 200 pairs of shoes in that space.

    No matter what type of shoe tower you end up with, plan for growth by making sure that all of your shelves are adjustable, and that the tower is big enough so that there is room to add more shelves if needed as time goes on. On average, you will need about 9-10 inches of shelf space for each pair of mens' shoes and 7-8 inches shelf space for womens' shoes. Children's shoes simply depend on the ages of the children. Once again, plan for growth in both their sizes and quantity of footwear.

  2. Use Sturdy Materials:shoe tower

    There is no organization nightmare worse than a collapsed closet. Your shoe tower or shoe closet is no exception. Build it right the first time so that it will last and stand up to everyday wear and tear. Try and find structural components that are at least 3/4" thick. Whether you are using wood, plywoord, MDF or particle board core, the 3/4 inch thickness is the furniture industry standard and will ensure that your components are sturdy enough to support the required weight. Some people like to use glass shelves in their shoe towers in order to fully utilize the benfits of an in-cabinet lighting system. High quality glass made for shelving is composed from laminated material. Two thinner sheets of glass are laminated togther with a plastic core in the center, creatig a product that is better and safer for shoe shelves than straight glass. Tempered glass or laminated glass made in this manner that is also at least 1/8 inch thick can be sturdy enough for almost any type of shoe. Laminated glass is preferable over regular glass because it tends to hold together when broken, and doesn't cause as much of a safety hazard. Glass looks pretty, especially when lit. However, glass shelves will never be as strong as your wood, plywood or particle board materials. If you have any concerns that a child may try to climb your shelves or that they may be used in some other unintended manner, stay away from glass. The added appearance is not worth risking your child's safety. In fact, there are special shelf pins available for standard (not glass) adjustable closet shelves that keep the shelf in place and prevent tipping in the event a child tries to grab it. They are slightly more money than regular shelf pins, but well worth the expense when a child's welfare is concerned.

    glass shoe tower storage
  3. Convenient Placement:

    Organization should always make your life easier. Keep this in mind as the guiding principle when choosing a location to store your shoes. If you mostly take your shoes on and off by the back door, then this is where your shoe tower should be because it will be the most convenient location. If you build your shoe tower in a different area than the place where your main shoe action takes place, it will sit empty and unused.

    Many people include their main shoe storage in the laundry or mud room near the back door for this very reason. You don't need a mud room in order to have your shoe tower by the back door, however. I do not have a mud room, but my shoe tower is located inside a closet next to the back door anyway. I was able to create space for this by switching the single closet rod to a double hang configuartion. Although the linear space for hanging coats is now half as wide as it used to be, I didn't lose any space for jackets since there are now two rods. Plus, I gained a tower of shelves for shoes by my back door!

    family shoe organization closet for mudroom

    Other people like to put their shoes on in their bedroom closet. A shoe tower inside a closet dressing room could be the right solution for this type of homeowner.

    shoe tower storage in mudroom next to back door
  4. Lighting:

    Closet lighting can make a big difference in your level of satisfaction with your shoe tower. Shoe towers are often positioned in the odd corner or some unobtrusive space. Unless that corner happens to be next to a window, they can be dark. It will be a lot easier to find and select your matching shoes if you include an LED closet lighting system. This can be especially important if you have selected a dark finish to your shoe shelves. Vertical strip lighting installed along the inside of each vertical panel works best for shoe towers. This lighting is low voltage and doesn't require opening up the wall to connect with the electricals. A transformer plugs into a standard electrical outlet and runs the strip lights. A handy homeowner can handle the installation.

    shoe tower in closet with vertical lighting systemshoe tower shelves closeup with lighting system and shoe fence

Ready to create your family shoe tower?

No more tripping over piles of shoes when you keep all your footwear organized in a shoe tower. Whether used for dress shoes, boots, sandals or a combination of all types of shoes for all ages and family members, a shoe tower will be able to handle your shoe organization needs. A shoe tower can be configured in multiple ways. Whether designed as tall and skinny open shelves, a wider set of shelves for even more shoe organization, a cabinet with shoe shelves behind a closed door, or a rotating shoe organizer that sits in a corner, adding a shoe tower to your home will improve shoe organization for the whole family. It's one of the most efficient and versatile ways to organize a large amount of footwear. Whether inside or outside the closet, there's sure to be a space somewhere in your home that could use a shoe tower organization system.