Dorm Therapy

8 Brilliant Ways to Hide Shoe Clutter in a Small Space

published Jul 6, 2024
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girl in dorm room crouching down placing a pink basket with shoes underneath bed
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Being a shoe-lover while also living in a tiny college dorm room is a struggle. When deciding what to pack for college, you might spend hours determining whether it’s worth it to take a pair with you or to (tragically) leave it behind. Browsing online is near torture, because you have no room for any of it. For anyone in this situation, it can feel like there’s never enough space in your dorm to store shoes — let alone do so practically and attractively.

Well, I can promise that it’s not you, it’s the dorms. I remember touring colleges after my junior year of high school and the first thing I said after seeing a dorm in person was: “They expect me to fit all my stuff in this small thing? There is absolutely no way!” The closet spaces were always the most concerning; I quickly learned that college dorm closets can barely fit a minimal amount of clothing, let alone shoes to go with it. 

Unfortunately, having limited space for shoes doesn’t give you permission to leave them all over the place (unless you want bad blood with your roommate). Thankfully, there are tons of ways to creatively store shoes — yes, even for those of us with larger collections. Many shoe organization systems are compact but effective, and if you’re stressed they won’t fit your aesthetic, don’t worry. Here are eight of the best shoe storage items that fit a variety of needs, design styles, and budgets.

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was $34.99

Basic organization products tend to be not-so-attractive, but this shoe rack actually makes organization cute. Made from solid pine wood, it has a distinctly bohemian look that gives off an effortlessly cool (but orderly!) feel. The rack can hold up to 12 pairs of shoes across three shelves, and its relatively compact size makes it easy to put anywhere in a room to reduce clutter — especially near the front door, or even on the floor of your closet if there’s room.

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If you search “what to buy for my college dorm” on TikTok, one of the top recommended items is a storage ottoman. This one from Target can help give your room a touch of chicness, as it's encased in polyester velvet (available in various colors) for an elegant, soft finish. Bonus: This one is multi-purpose, as it can also be used as a step stool for getting up onto those lofted beds.

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An under-bed shoe storage organizer is the perfect choice for anyone who wants something that can be stashed away in the blink of an eye. This one from Walmart has the added benefit of blending in even when it’s not under the bed, as it comes in neutral colors. Holding 24 pairs of shoes, each in an individual compartment, this item is a good choice for those who just can’t stop buying new footwear.

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Nothing says “classic college” more than an over-the-door shoe organizer — and for good reason. It does its job without asking you to compromise any extra space, as it can easily hang in your closet or over any available door. Each shoe is neatly organized in its designated slot, and two over-the-door hooks are included in the packaging.

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The Container Store

Sometimes, a common horizontal shoe rack just won’t cut it. This product puts a twist on that by making it vertical, creating a more elevated look that simplifies grab-and-go moments. With its narrow build, it can be placed in pretty much any small space without being too in the way of your getting-ready space.

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When decorating your dorm, it can be hard to decide whether to focus more on style or practicality, especially if you’re feeling the pressure to have an Instagram-perfect space. In this case, you can have both! This basket can be placed in pretty much any open space — either on the floor or on a shelf — and its woven design adds a boho touch wherever it’s stored. Not to mention, this basket allows for some organized chaos — you can just throw your shoes in here without worrying about what it looks like on the inside.

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was $54.99

TikTok loves this innovative shoe storage option that allows you to individually store pairs of shoes while also being able to stack them. This item will upgrade your organization game by allowing you to simply look at your shoes when deciding which ones to wear, instead of having to rummage through opaque or messy bins. The boxes can stack any way you want, so you can configure them to whatever height you need depending on where you place them — which can even be under your bed for the ultimate space-saving hack.

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Shoe storage often comes in boring neutral colors, but what if I told you there are fun pastel options to choose from as well? These plastic storage bin organizers will help you make a statement while also making your room look put together. They come in various colors to match pretty much any color scheme — plus, they can easily be stacked to save space.

This post originally appeared on Dorm Therapy. See it there: No Room for All Your Shoes? Here Are 8 Creative Storage Ideas