I Sent a Pro Organizer a Photo of My Messy Shoe Storage Area — Here’s How She Fixed It

published Feb 15, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Shoes and boots are unorganized under a shelf.
Credit: Rebecca Jones

The shoe storage area in my basement is a big mess. There are my sons’ sports cleats and outdoor boots, and my husband’s athletic shoes for cutting grass. This area is where we keep “outdoor shoes” to avoid an even bigger mess of gravel and mud tracking inside our home. 

Not only is it a mess, but it’s also not much of an ideal storage space either. We place shoes at the bottom of a wire shelving unit that houses a fish tank and supplies. It’s become an eyesore and pain to keep tidy. What I thought was a good idea of stowing shoes out of the way has turned into just a dirty heap of shoes, with mud, dirt, and those tiny turf beads (more than once, I thought we had an ant invasion) tracked all over the floor, spilling out into the walkway. 

I needed a new plan for this messy shoe area — specifically, some expert assistance. I called on professional organizer Jean Prominski of Seattle Sparkle to help me with the dilemma. Thankfully, she acknowledged my frustrations. “Shoes are one of the hardest areas to keep neat — especially with kids. And because these are all for outdoor/messy tasks, it will be harder to keep clean,” says Prominski. I wasn’t off the hook because I needed some tidiness in this space, and she vowed to help.

Here’s what I did.

Credit: Rebecca Jones

First, I decluttered.

First, she asked if I needed to declutter. Yes, there were shoes the boys had outgrown that needed to be culled from the heap, but I also had to order more cleats for the upcoming baseball season. Once I cleared out any unneeded shoes — I went from the 12 pairs of shoes to nine even with the additional new cleats — I knew this would help with tidiness. 

Credit: Rebecca Jones

We considered more shelving.

She asked if I was open to adding more shelving to the unit I already had to create an additional level for more shoes or if it would be better to purchase a new rack and move the storage location of the shoes. I considered both and ultimately decided to go with a new shoe rack.

I changed how I stored the shoes.

Given that this particular shoe storage location was on the bottom of a wire shelf that held a fish holding tank and fish supplies, and the shoes were continuously spilling over, Prominski and I agreed that a new shoe rack would be best to accommodate the shoes. “It will be a much better idea to move the shoes closer to the door so that they’re not tracking dirt in on the way to the shoe rack at the fish tank,” suggests Prominski. I felt like that was a great point and would alleviate the dirt and mud being tracked all over the floor if the shoes were closer to the basement door. 

She suggested this shoe rack to accommodate all the shoes, and I purchased it that afternoon. Because I have a variety of shoe sizes to make room for, I felt this one with the flat sling-type shelves was ideal to prevent shoes from falling through. 

Credit: Rebecca Jones

Now, the shoes are neatly stowed.

The shoe rack with the shoes is near the basement door. Ideally, the boys will remove dirt and mud before entering and place their outdoor shoes on the shoe organizer. I like the dark color of the rack to minimize dirt showing. The boys have stacked the taller boots on the top and placed the athletic shoes and cleats on the lower racks.