colourfuul shoes on shelves

Small Dressing Room Ideas: My Custom Shoe Shelves

In a past life, I used to be a shoe blogger.

I just want to get that out of the way upfront so you’re not totally horrified when I show you my shoe collection: 

Amber standing in front of her custom shoe shelves. She is wearing a full red skirt with a Breton stripe top and black high heels

I know, it’s a lot. 

Before you go accusing me of having more money than sense, though (I REALLY wish that was the case, tbf…), let me further clarify that I didn’t actually go out and BUY all of these shoes. I bought some of them, obviously, but the vast majority of them were acquired during the course of my shoe blogging career, by brands who’d send them to me in exchange for coverage on my blog or Instagram. Sometimes I’d even get paid for it too, which was absolutely WILD to me, because I’d always loved shoes, so now I felt like I was living the dream, basically. 

The only problem was storage. 

When I started shoe blogging, I lived in a tiny, two bedroom house, in which one bedroom was used as an office. As my shoe collection grew, it became obvious I was going to need more storage for them, so eventually my husband built me a set of shoe shelves, which I loved with all my heart. 

But I’d also started fashion blogging by this point. 

I had even more clothes than I had shoes. 

So, when we moved house, we decided to turn the smallest bedroom into a dressing room, complete with custom-built shoe shelves, to house my collection. And here they are…

 

white custom-built shoe shelves

These shelves were made-to-measure, and were totally created by Terry himself to fit the space available. We did look at some ready-made options, like the Ikea ‘Expedit’ bookcase, but we quickly realised that if we wanted to maximise our use of the space, and get as many shoes in as possible, we would have to DIY it. Or rather, TIY it. (Er, that would be “Terry It Yourself.” ) The Ikea system, for instance, would’ve ended up costing us more (Especially given that we were able to re-use the wood from the old shelves to make these: Terry chopped them up to create the vertical dividers between each shoe…), but would only have given us half the storage these shelves provide, so although this solution was more effort to create, it’s a much better fit for the space.

Here’s what the shelves look like filled with shoes: 

custom shoe shelves in a small dressing room

Apologies if the photos in this post are making you feel sea-sick by the way: this ‘dressing room’ was originally a box room, and as the space is quite small (Which is one of the reasons we decided to go for custom shoe shelves, rather than just buying a ready-made version), it’s almost impossible to photograph it without it looking like this: 

shoe storage solutions in a small dressing room or closet

I promise the walls aren’t on a slope, it just looks like they are…

fitting out a small dressing room

(That’s a gloss laminate on the floor. I feel in love with it in the showroom, but do NOT recommend it, unfortunately, because it’s absolutely impossible to keep clean, and show up every single hair, spec of dirt, or even footprint that lands on it. Shortly after it was installed, we bought a rug to put over the top of it, and at some point in the future I’ll want to replace it with something lower maintenance, but I’m just having to live with it for now…)

Amber's shoe collectionI’ve had quite a few questions about how I chose to organise them, as there’s obviously a few different ways you could do it (colour, style, frequency of use, etc). For now, I’ve grouped them roughly by colour, but I’m not being too rigid about it: by keeping the rest of the room white, it allows the colours of the shoes to really pop, and as each pair has its own little ‘box’ to live in, I don’t think it would bother me too much if they were mixed up. 

colourfuul shoes on shelves

I’ve tweaked the arrangement a little bit since then, and I’m sure I’ll change my mind a hundred times before I’m totally happy with where they all are, but for now I’m just enjoying having them all back in my life again, and in a place I can get to them without digging through three boxes first.

The other question I get a lot is about dusting, and whether they need a lot of it. 

They do need dusting, unfortunately – both the shelves and the shoes themselves – as anything does that’s on display on a shelf. I wouldn’t say they need a LOT of dusting – it’s not the kind of back-breaking chore that I find myself putting off for days, for instance – but yes, it’s obviously more maintenance than just storing them in a cupboard, or keeping them in their boxes. For me, the payoff is that I can see them all at a glance and easily find what I’m looking for; in our last house, most of my shoes were kept in boxes until I had shelves built for them, and I hated having to dismantle the pile and rummage through it every time I wanted to change my shoes, so I find this more convenient, even with the extra dusting it entails. With that said, of course, it goes without saying that I have a LOT of shoes, and so organising them is more of a challenge for me than is for most, so if you just have a few pairs you tend to wear on rotation, then this kind of shoe storage is probably not for you!

The other wall of this room, meanwhile, is taken up with clothes, bags, and also a few pairs of boots, which obviously wouldn’t fit into the compartments in these shoe shelves, so which had to be stored elsewhere in the room. I don’t have a lot of these, so don’t worry, you’re not missing anything amazing, but I’ll try to create another post soon on the dressing room itself, so stay tuned for that!

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books by Amber Eve
COMMENTS
  • Just OMG. I am actually green with envy at the moment. My shoe storage system is basically stacking the boxes up in a precarious fashion along one wall of the wardrobe room, along the tops of all the wardrobes, in my kitchen cupboards and then in Ikea bags under the bed. I can never find the ones I want.
    Do you keep your shoeboxes?

    September 4, 2013
  • Fran

    REPLY

    That is so gorgeous! Congratulations on the new amazing pigeonhole system. I love how you arranged them in different ways, it varies them and really does make them look like a display.

    September 4, 2013
  • Oh, Amber – WOW!!! Tremendous work, Terry, such a gem he is.

    September 4, 2013
    • Terry

      REPLY

      Thank you that’s very nice of you 🙂

      September 4, 2013
  • Looks amazing! Where do you store the rest of your shoes?? (because obviously those are not all of them) 🙂

    September 4, 2013
  • I only own about 5 pairs of shoes but WOW, I can appreciate a shoe wall of art when I see one. What a great job.

    September 4, 2013
  • DREAM ROOM! That Terry is a keeper!

    September 4, 2013
    • Terry

      REPLY

      I’m non-recyclable so I have to be kept unfortunately 😀

      September 4, 2013
  • Terry did an amazing job, it looks so gorgeous now, I love it!

    September 4, 2013
  • Orgasme visuel ♥ http://t.co/s2nq01CIAd

    September 4, 2013
  • Alison

    REPLY

    Wow! They look fabulous! Well done Terry! How do you manage to get any work done though, I think I would just want to stand and admire them all day!

    September 4, 2013
    • Terry

      REPLY

      Thanks, even I’ve been just standing there admiring them 😀

      September 4, 2013
  • I am so jealous! That looks amazing. Really a work of art.

    You don’t have space for new shoes though.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    September 4, 2013
  • I wish I had enough shoes to fill shelves like this! What an awesome job! And I also wish I had a shoe AND clothes ROOM. Very nicely done, Terry!

    September 4, 2013
  • Does Terry read your blog Amber? If so, Terry you are awesome! Seriously that looks so fantastic after so much hard work. Enjoy Amber, if that were mine I think I’d just sit in there starring all the time.. 🙂

    September 4, 2013
    • Terry

      REPLY

      Thank you 🙂

      September 4, 2013
      • Terry, you should totally do this commercially!

        September 6, 2013
  • Round of applause indeed! Quite the shelving system. Can’t wait to see the rest of your new dressing room.

    September 4, 2013
  • Steph

    REPLY

    AMAZING!! This is essentially exactly what I told my other half I wanted for my collection as I dragged him on yet another ikea trip on Sunday! I’ve had the same issue with ready built units in that the dimensions just don’t work and half the space would end up empty, not to mention the pesky dado rails in our spare room! Sadly mine isn’t quite as handy as Terry! Hey, if he ever fancies a career change you could start a line of bespoke shoe storage solutions!

    September 4, 2013
    • Terry

      REPLY

      It’s just 25cm squares, no bother at all, less than £100 of wood as well so a lot cheaper than IKEA 😀 I was tempted with IKEA’s solution but I wanted the shelves to fit right to the ceiling (just finishing the last level) and none of the shelves I could buy did that in a neat way.

      September 4, 2013
  • Brilliant! I’m uncertain which is more impressive…the shelves or Terry. I think I have to go with Terry. {sigh} Another man my hubby will have to measure up to…

    September 4, 2013
  • My new shoe shelves are done! http://t.co/kbsXd1EpsY

    September 4, 2013
  • Monika

    REPLY

    Hi Amber

    The shoes are fabulous! I have not get bought an expensive pair of shoes over £200 yet as I’m a bag girl, but the urge is getting stronger!!!

    Please can you let me know where you got your fabulous red skirt?

    Cheers,

    September 4, 2013
      • Monika

        REPLY

        Great thanks, it looks expensive & thats because it was!!!!

        September 4, 2013
  • So, so jealous! Those shelves are amazing! How will you decide which pair to sub out if you get an even more fabulous pair though?
    Sounds like Terry would get on well with my H, made to measure shelves are just the kind of thing that he would make.
    Looking forward to seeing the clothing storage area.
    x

    September 4, 2013
  • Also, that red skirt looks really really vibrant on my phone screen.

    September 4, 2013
  • Wow. This is so beautiful. I am so jealous.

    September 4, 2013
  • WOW…. O.O

    Love&Studs

    September 4, 2013
  • Wow, lucky you! This is very impressive and beautiful. Hurray for Terry! 🙂

    September 4, 2013
  • He really deserves a medal! Wow! He did an amazing job! Well done Terry!
    These shelves look even better than the previous ones, and the way you put the shoes on the shelves makes them look like pieces of art. You’re a really lucky girl, and you have an amazing shoe collection. I’m jealous! But you know, in a good way! I always imagined my walk in closet for my future-home with lots of Expedit bookcases from Ikea to fit my shoes, and bags, but these are way better. WOW!

    September 4, 2013
  • Wow, amazing shelves! It’s like being in the world’s best shoe shop… 🙂

    September 4, 2013
  • Stacey

    REPLY

    So jealous of your shoe shelves! Right now, all my shoes are in cheep over the door style storage bags because that’s all I have room for. But that’s an improvement over being thrown in a pile on the bottom of my closet floor! Plus no spiders!

    Terry did a great job. He could have a nice side business going, building shoe shelves for all the shoe obsessed out there!

    September 4, 2013
  • I have long maintained that Terry is a wonderful man and I think this just proves it. My system of keeping my shoes in their boxes with a photo on the front is effective, but nowhere near as cool as this.

    You know we love you Terry!

    September 5, 2013
  • I envy your shoe shelves they’re gorgeous!

    mana
    Fashion and Happy Things

    September 5, 2013
  • Ah a shoe shelf, this is what my life has been missing all along: http://t.co/XYtFSvkqQq @femmegypsy

    September 6, 2013
  • Amber your shoe shelf is so beautiful, it’s like a great artwork installation 🙂

    September 6, 2013
  • It is so fun to look at all the shoes! Thank you to you both for sharing your hard work, and your collection with us.

    September 7, 2013
  • Sally

    REPLY

    This is awesome! Great way to show your shoes – well done Terry 🙂

    September 7, 2013
  • Visually lovely, this woman’s shoe wall (yes, WALL) made my poor feet ache. http://t.co/QoXhT3PbFQ

    September 7, 2013
  • Arlene

    REPLY

    I especially love the left corner shelves. Almost like a showcase area like in a shop. Great job guys xo

    September 8, 2013
  • Stop WHATEVER you’re doing right now & drool over @foreveramber’s wall of shoes on her blog http://t.co/0NeTk02Zg9 Words. Can’t. Express.

    September 8, 2013
  • OMG Amber all I can say is uuuuuuuuuggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhh I’ve just died and gone to heaven. Words fail me.

    (I showed your post to my husband whose immediate response was to just look at me and very sternly say “NO” – I don’t know why he thought I meant anything other than just showing him the pretty shoes?! I didn’t say ANYTHING about him building me some shelves like yours. I just wanted to show him the pretty shoes. On the lovely white shelves.)

    😉

    Catherine x

    September 8, 2013
  • @learice @gemfatale I have a shoedrobe! Well, sort of: http://t.co/nYSUduXMuK

    March 7, 2014
  • Total shoe envy – just found you blog and as another shoe addict although you beat me hands down, looking forward to following your adventures in shoes and style – which is fabulous – loving the vintage vibe -as a die hard vintage fan with a modern twist!!

    January 8, 2015
  • Debbie Serling

    REPLY

    I have a question about dimensions of each space and what type of screws used etc. Can you provide a measurement diagram? I was thinking of using the pre finished boards from Menards & using breadboard for the backing but I wasn’t sure what type screws to use because I wanted it to be really sturdy, I have 400+ shoes .

    January 7, 2023
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