Adding Some Shallow Shoe Storage By The Door

We couldn’t do all of this work in the laundry area and just ignore our sloppy shoe situation. Since the side door into our laundry room is our most-used entrance, it’s also the dumping ground for most of our footwear (since we try to keep shoes off in the house).  Up until now, our “storage solution” has been a shallow woven basket from Bed Bath & Beyond about five years ago (that and a pile next to it – not pictured, because I don’t want to ruin the illusion that we’re not complete animals).

This system actually worked fine at the old house since the basket stayed in the sunroom, where it sort of fit the casual feel of the room. Plus, when it overflowed it didn’t create a tripping hazard on our way out the door or to the washer since that was a much larger space.

But since we’re now dealing with a 3’5″ wide room, we realized we needed something with a more “organized” vibe, like this cheap-o shoe shelf that once lived in Clara’s closet at our first house (originally snagged at Target a while back).

It wasn’t bad (especially if we had taken the time to notch out the back to fit around the baseboards). But it wasn’t great, either. Why? Well, we seem to have a mini Carrie Bradshaw on our hands thanks to Clara, so shoes often become playthings and end up looking more like this:

That’s when we agreed that concealed storage was what we needed to be hunting for.

There are lots of good options out there for shoe cabinets, it seems. Ikea even has a few different versions to choose from. But everything was too wide (we only have 24″ to work with) or too tall (we’d didn’t want it going higher than the window sill so it would look nice and streamlined since the built-ins we added lined up with the sill as well).

After a few other stores were a bust too, we contemplated using a plan from to custom build something (she has amazing and completely free furniture tutorials for those not in the know). But before we went out and bought a ton of lumber and worried about building something that could stand up to everyday slamming, Roberta saved the day with this comment about affordable and ready-made Ikea recycling bins that might just do the trick:

Yup, she kindly introduced us to Retur, who we met in person on a recent trip to Ikea. We liked him so much that we came home with him and his twin brother (at $19 a piece).

It hadn’t come up in our search results because, as Roberta noted, they’re technically “recycling bins” but are coincidentally designed just like a shoe cabinet. Plus, their 23.5″ width made them a PERFECT fit for our 24″ space. That was enough for us to overlook that they:

  1. weren’t bright white (they still read as white in the room, and we’re not really die-hard about all of our white tones matching perfectly anyway)
  2. were plastic (wood might have been nice, but Sherry pointed out that something wipe-able, less precious, and virtually ding/scratch proof might be good for shoes anyway)

Another little detail that we did our best to overlook: between the two of them they only came with one screw to hang them. Yup, somebody must have been daydreaming about swedish meatballs on the Ikea assembly line or something.

But after digging out some of my own screws, they were a cinch to install (four screws/anchors per piece through pre-made holes in the back). We were in business in practically no time (for those who actually want a time breakdown it was probably fifteen minutes total). And so far Clara hasn’t so much as touched them once (I think the lack of knobs to pull on has her stumped for now).

The most amazing part is that not only was the width perfect, but the height was almost too good to be true. When the two stacked units were placed right on top of our baseboard the top was perfectly flush with the window sill. We still can’t believe it. And there was about a centimeter of breathing room on either side (so it looks nice and intentionally centered between the door and the sill).

So now that whole wall is almost like one seamless shelf thanks to the window sill that visually connects the ones I built to our new shoe cabinets (which are all on the same exact level). And I shouldn’t fail to mention that although they’re made for recyclables, they store shoes quite nicely too (including room for some frequently-used pairs to be stashed underneath).

In short, we’re thrilled – and eternally grateful to Roberta The Perfectly Timed Commenter. The rooms feels sooooo much more organized without a mess of sandals and running shoes waiting to greet us. And the Returs are so danged narrow (they only stick out six inches beyond the door frame) that the room actually feels more open than it did with the more invasive basket or stacked shelf options that we had going on before.

Eventually we’re thinking that we might do something to gussy them up a bit more – maybe paint them or cover the fronts/top with decorative paper (or even grasscloth wallpaper or colorful labels) but we want to wait for the rest of the room to come together before doing anything that could end up being “too busy” in the end. You know, since the whole space is only about as wide as a bathroom stall, as demonstrated by my monkey-toed self in this photo from a few weeks back (so not every item in the small space has to scream “look at me!”):

Speaking of the rest of the room, here’s our almost-totally-crossed-off laundry room list:

  • Paint the odd brown quarter round near the baseboards glossy white
  • Redo all the dinged up trim (also in semi-gloss white)
  • Paint the walls
  • Replace our dryer hose with a safer all-metal one
  • Add adjustable built-in shelving in that nook next to the stacked washer & dryer
  • Prime & paint the upper cabinetry
  • Replace the hinges and knobs on those upper cabinets
  • Hang the ironing board to obscure the giant metal fuse box
  • Get a new light fixture <- we’ll be back to share our homemade clothespin chandelier tomorrow morning
  • Add a window treatment (maybe a homemade one?) <— might just frost it when we convert the carport to a garage
  • Add other functional storage near the door for shoes, Burger’s leash, etc
  • Hang some art to keep it cheerful

Now it your turn. What’s your go-to shoe storage solution? Did you repurpose something like a basket, bin, ottoman, or cabinet? Or do your kicks usually end up somewhere they’re not supposed to? Does your baby throw them in all directions while screaming shoooooooooo, shoooooooooo!? It can’t just be ours that does that…


  1. says

    Love it!

    I’m always drawn to the Hemnes shoe cabinet (I really like the Hemnes line though) so I sometimes forget that there are other options out there. My current shoe rack is too large for my shoes (I’m a size 6) and they all end up hanging by their heels or falling into a pile at the bottom. I may have to check these out for our new place!

  2. says

    I love IKEA…if only we had one near us. Good find however, very fitting for your laundry room. I always wonder that myself…is there some way to get all the shoes organized instead of a big heaping pile….let me know if it works?

  3. says

    In my old house there was a perfect nook next to the door to put a big roomy basket that kept them looking coralled and neat, whilst still being super easy to just kick em off and pop them in there. Alas, my new (old ish now) place just doesn’t have a sensible place to put shoes. I keep trying out different things but they just end up strewn about the place.

    Love how things are coming together in there!

  4. says

    We also enter through our laundry room and it is insanely small! Plus we have 2 litter boxes in there, so there isn’t much room for shoe storage. So I transformed our Target woven basket, which normally holds our firewood in the winter, into a flip flop basket for the summer…

    It sits right outside of the laundry room, to avoid the litter situation, and now has a seasonal purpose :) We’ll have to think of something else in the winter….

    • says

      That wall where the shelves used to be is where the door swings open and closed, so it would be blocked a lot and could bang into them since they stick out about 6″ – hope that makes sense!


    • says

      Yeah, that’s the challenge with that wall- we think whatever we put there has to be purely decorative and flush (like art) since anything that sticks out or has function will be hit/blocked by the door.


  5. says

    Great solution! Side note (and the reason for my comment): Yesterday, I was singing the song in your title. Literally. A shoe had just fallen off my foot as I was getting out of the car (flip flops… so tricky), so I started singing, “Shoo shoes, don’t bother me, Shoe shoes, stay on my feet…”

    What a wild coincidence.

  6. says

    What a genius idea! We have the same problem by our back entrance, except we have a tiny landing (think 2 ft x 3 ft) before the stairs. I’ve nearly killed myself several times because I trip up over shoes and fall up or down the stairs. Ikea here I come!

    • says

      We have the same problem! Unfortunately, it also feels too small for taking shoes off, particularly if you come in laden with bags, etc. But this might just be the ticket. Except for the boots. Rain boots, winter boots, all are the worst culprits for both tracking in stuff and being difficult to take off while standing up. Hm. Will have to think more.

    • says

      Oh yeah, that’s true. Maybe you can stick a boot tray under the overhand and stash those out under them like our two pairs of shoes shown on the floor?


    • Ashley says

      Great deal for you! Bummer for me! Do you mind sharing the brand? I wonder if I can Google up another steal.

    • Sandy says

      I was thinking the same! I was like, “Shoe rack what? I love those wedges!” It’s like the container store, they have cute shoes and clothes on display and I forget why I’m really there. :0)

      Btw, I have the Hemnes 4 drawer shoe rack, but my son man handles the drawers and the plastic part separated from the door…BUT, they look great and we put the doggie leash and poopie bags, plastic bags, misc items and have only one drawer for shoes for our 3 yo.

  7. Pam the Goatherd says

    Our actual shoes are in wire organizers in our clothes closets. What I have not been able to find a storage solution for is our barn boots, which sit next to the door on the floor to get slipped on and off the 27X a day that I run out to hay and water the goats, feed the chickens, check to make sure the rabbits aren’t cooking in the heat, water the goats again (the milkers need a LOT of fresh water through the day and we don’t have automatic waterers), haul compost stuff out to the compost pile, pick veggies in the garden, weed the gardens, water the goats again, milk the goats, hay and water the goats, etc., etc.

    The barn boots are always mucky – in summer from mud, in winter from snow and mud – so I can’t really put the into a cabinet. So they sit right out there for everyone to see. Any suggestions from other farmers who have found a solution for this problem would be appreciated.

  8. elaine K says

    We have a small white storage bench from Ikea that we use for shoes in our den. It’s a bit of jumble inside, but it works great if you need to sit to put your shoes on.

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