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  • Neyir Urminsky

Shoe storage for kids, the only idea you'll ever need...maybe

Welcome back for week 4 of another iteration of the One Room Challenge. An amazing event that happens twice a year that anyone can join with the goal to finish one space in their home :-)! Please hop over and check out the featured designers and the other guests like myself. To get caught up on my vestibule vivication plans check out post 1 and post 2 here. And no you didn't miss a 3rd post, I skipped it ;-).

I am an only child and the front vestibule of my home growing up was a relatively tidy place. There was a moment right when you walked in on the left hand wall, with a mirror centered on a wallpapered wall & a shoe tray beneath that generally held no more than 6 or 7 pairs of shoes. I could be wrong but I have a sneaking suspicion my Dad straightened the shoes at least once a day. Things fell apart a bit more during my highschool years as a good friend boarded with us while studying dance at a professional school in my town. But even then, with 2 teenage girls, things stayed relatively tidy. Now I will admit we had a cabinet outside the vestibule we tossed shoes in for storage but at least we put them in there and shut the doors!!!!

In my current life I will admit that there are some days that I walk through the front door and want to throw my hands in the air and declare ‘Why is this happening???? How did we get here????’. Ok, I have 4 boys and the last 3 all came within 3 years, I know what’s happening & how we got here. They mostly don’t play with fire so I really ought to count my blessings (fire play is reserved for supervised campfires only!).

So as I contemplated finishing the vestibule I knew shoe storage was going to be one of the most important elements. Closely followed by coat, hat, glove, scarf, mitten, and neck warmer storage - this is Montreal, Canada afterall! But and it’s a big but, the shoe storage isn’t static. Roughly 8 months a year we have everyone needing to store multiple shoes (say 20+ pairs) and then the remaining 4 months all we have are 1 pair of boots per person, except me, I have two :-). Also as the shoe storage needs decrease the outerwear storage increases! Winter brings short coats, long coats and snowpants! I wasn’t kidding in this post when I said this was high value real estate!

The first shoe storage I tried was this, we’ve all seen it before and I thought it would work! It was generously sized, fit a lot of shoes and expanded to fit the space really well. As you can see it doesn't work at all! The boys just tossed their shoes in the general direction but didn’t actually place them on the rack. And sometimes that tossing actually knocked other shoes off the rack! Also the more shoes that landed in front of the rack the harder it became for them to hang up their coats because they couldn't reach the hooks so coats kept getting tossed as well.

I was flummoxed, I didn’t know what to do. I could build custom shoe cubbies but I didn’t see that changing much. I could do custom drawers with a bench above but the idea of something extending into the space and reducing the floor space was not appealing & it just sounded like a trip hazard. Anything with doors was going to present a similar problem. Lockers would be a dream but there wasn’t enough space. Everything else I looked at including the Ikea units we had used in another house involved the step of the kids picking up and putting away their shoes.

Now I hear you, I do! I know you are saying ‘then teach your kids to put away their shoes!’. I get it, I have kiddos who really, really struggle with distraction and executive functioning & I would literally need to police them every single day to have any hope of getting those shoes put away. I have chosen instead to work with them on hanging coats and bringing lunch boxes into the kitchen. As in I yell ‘Hang your coats and don’t forget to bring your lunch boxes to the kitchen ;-)’. That is my life and I have peace with it!

My last option was to allow shoes in the house and move the shoe storage to their rooms. Well as some of you know I have 3 boys in 1 room so really that would just be moving the same problem to a different spot! Plus we have never, ever been a shoe-on house, it’s just not something we do. Though incidentally I grew up in a shoes-on house…

So what happened??? A smarter woman than me figured it out!!! I was perusing FB one day, as one does, and this amazing woman I know who is a mama to 5 kids had posted a pic of her prep for school the next day. There it was! The solution to all my shoe storage woes! I was smitten. I knew exactly what the units were that she was using, I ran to check some dimensions of the vestibule, went back to FB, opened Marketplace and ran a search. There were 2 available and I had them installed within 24 hours!

And it worked, it worked! The boys now mostly put their shoes away and apologize when they don’t. The whole area is tidier, we have storage on top of the shoes and the ability to take out a unit in the winter to allow for longer coats and to store the drastic reduction of foot wear.

So why does it work? The first is that the littles have the lowest cubbies so they can literally kick their shoes in and because of the lip on the cubby they generally don’t fly back out. The same aforementioned lip allows many, many pairs of shoes to be stored in 1 cubby space. In fact the twins are sharing one of the smaller spots and can fit about 7-8 pairs in at the same time.

Another reason I think it works well and this is so, so important as we think about how to plan our homes is that it reduces decision fatigue. The kids never have to stop and puzzle out where to put their shoes. If you have anyone struggling with executive functioning (particularly around decision making and planning) then the process of having to look at the shoe rack, analyse where there is space for shoes, pick up the shoes they’ve taken off and put the shoes in that spot is just one more demand at the end of a potentially exhausting school day. Having a spot that is the same every day where you kick your shoes in is much more achievable :-)!!

Another very visually pleasing feature is the reduction of negative space. With the shoe rack there were all these slivers visible wall behind as well as peeks of the racks below. It was visually very cluttered. With the cubbies you don’t really see the shoes so much, rather your eye concentrates on the lines of the actual cabinets. And the colour the glorious colour!

You’ll need to stick with me in the coming weeks as the cubbies are properly installed and I fill them to capacity with shoes. I promise they fit soooo many shoes - these pics are deceiving!!! Currently the cabinets are out curing as I have just painted them and the chaos has returned completely - it is wild!!! I refuse to put any shoes in them until the paint is fully hardened. My husband commented on the difference, the shoe devolution that is, and on what a positive change the new shoe storage has wrought - I wonder if there is a way to speed up the curing process????

Still to do????

Prep the vestibule for painting, lots of patching and filling

Prime and paint vestibule


Install floor

Finalize shelves and install

Install hooks

Finalize boy stuff containment ;-)

Style and Photograph

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1 Comment

Kourtney DeVries
Kourtney DeVries
Oct 24, 2021

I want this style cubbies for the playroom for similar reasons! I think it will reduce the "dump and search" struggle we have with bins and clean up involving tossing and things not falling out sounds perfect!

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