The Best Shoe Racks Aren’t Eyesores to Hide in the Closet
Store your sneakers stylishly on bamboo, sturdy steel, and more.
Published Jan 31, 2022 1:55 AM
Shoe racks may seem like no great shakes in the grand scheme of home organization. But for anyone who has watched a heap of footwear grow steadily taller and increasingly more precarious, finding a solution that doesn’t involve pulling your sneakers out from under a pile (à la Jenga) is probably (definitely) a good idea.
The best shoe racks can organize your habitual rotation of sneakers, slippers, and more, while still blending in with your home’s existing design. If you’re looking for a way to thoughtfully and stylishly arrange this part of your wardrobe, discover our favorite picks that check all the boxes.
- Best adjustable: Yamazaki Expandable 3-Tier Shoe Rack
- Best wood: West Elm Mid-Century Disk Entryway Collection Shoe Rack
- Best built-in bench: Urban Outfitters Belle Shoe Bench
- Best entryway: Design Within Reach Corrugate Shoe Tray
- Best color options: Open Spaces Entryway Rack
- Best assembly: Weecron Shoe Rack
- Best space saver: Pottery Barn Temple Street Shoe Ladder
- Best for boots: The Container Store 6-Pair Natural Boot Rack
Best Adjustable: Yamazaki Expandable 3-Tier Shoe Rack
Dimensions: 16.1-by-9.8-by-17.9 inches | Material: Steel | Color: White | Shoe-pair capacity: 12
What we like:
- Clean, modern look
- Easy to assemble
- Bottom two shelves won’t fit tall shoes
Why we chose it: This Scandinavian-style rack adjusts to fit the length of your storage space.
There are few greater bummers than ordering an item only to find out it doesn’t quite fit your space. With an expandable shoe rack like Yamazaki’s, that won’t happen. It gives you the ability to test out footwear storage in different parts of your home; expand in an entryway or squeeze it into a hallway closet—it’s pleasantly flexible.
We especially appreciate the simplicity of this rack, with its clean lines and pared-down design (the wood type is ash veneer with a clear varnish, and the bars are steel). It’s easy to assemble and holds up to 12 pairs of shoes when fully stretched out. Heads-up: If you plan to put taller boots on the rack, you’ll need to store them up top, as there are only 4.88 inches of clearance between shelves.
Dimensions: 25-by-13-by-8 inches| Material: Wood | Color: Walnut finish | Shoe-pair capacity: Six
What we like:
- Mid-century design
- Walnut and bronze finishings
- Matching entryway pieces available to buy
- Limited storage space
Why we chose it: The walnut wood finish on this two-tier rack looks elegant and timeless.
Wood shoe racks are a dime a dozen, and unfortunately many of them miss the mark (talking to you, poorly executed faux grain). But this high-quality option from West Elm, with its walnut finish and dark bronze metal accents, is a handsome exception and would be well suited for an entryway or mudroom.
And if you’re on an organizational kick, this rack is part of a collection; coordinating wall hooks and a coatrack may be all you need to give your space an easy yet comprehensive facelift.
Best Built-In Bench: Urban Outfitters Belle Shoe Bench
Dimensions: 42.13-by-12.99-by-8.5 inches | Material: Bamboo | Color: Bamboo | Shoe-pair capacity: Eight
What we like:
- Solid top can be used for seating or accessories
- Versatile bamboo texture
- Slatted tiers
- May take longer to process and ship
Why we chose it: This rack doubles as a bench top, making it easy to sit while putting on and taking off your shoes.
We’re suckers for a multipurpose piece, and this shoe rack doubles as a bench thanks to its flat-top design. It can comfortably store eight pairs of shoes (not including the top) and is crafted in a versatile bamboo texture. Place it near the front door for a quick seat, or style it with a lush green plant and a catchall tray for grab-and-go essentials.
To note: Because this shoe rack is imported from one of Urban Outfitters’s vendors, it may take a bit longer to process and ship—but we say it’s worth the potential wait.
Best Entryway: Design Within Reach Corrugate Shoe Tray
Dimensions: 27-by-2-by-9 inches| Material: Steel and wood | Color: Blue | Shoe-pair capacity: Six
What we like:
- Designed by Yenwen Tseng
- Uses magnetic fasteners for easy assembly, breakdown, and cleaning
- Eye-catching design in a selection of colors
- Weighs 10 pounds
- Limited storage capacity
Why we chose it: The bold color, wavy shape, and clever design make it a no-brainer.
Industrial designer Yenwen Tseng is behind this architectural rack of art. Two sheets of powder-coated corrugated steel is the star attraction; they’re held together by four wood blocks with magnetic fasteners (this makes it gloriously easy to assemble, take apart, and clean). The size, though small, packs a punch and would be perfect for any entryway.
Additionally, the grooves catch debris from the bottom of shoes, and the bold blue colorway accentuates the rack’s playful wavy lines. It also comes in black and gray.
Best Color Options: Open Spaces Entryway Rack
Dimensions: 33.8-by-12.5-by-26.1 inches | Material: Steel | Color: Multiple options | Shoe-pair capacity: Nine
What we like:
- Powder-coated steel is easy to clean
- Comes in seven colors
- Unique rounded shape
- Weighs 28 pounds
Why we chose it: Available in a variety of cheery colorways, this rack is a fun-for-all pick.
When we came across this lavender number from Open Spaces, our color-loving hearts skipped a beat. The brand is known for its playful collection of organizational essentials, and this rack, which comes in seven colors, has a whopping 448 five-star reviews.
It is constructed of powder-coated steel, which makes it easier to clean with a soft, dry cloth. We also like that the shape of the shelves is rounded (as is the bar on top), giving the unit fluidity and versatility (it could transition, for example, to a bookshelf in your next space). The piece is sturdy, weighing in at 28 pounds, which isn’t necessarily a negative, but far heavier than the other racks mentioned on this list.
Best Assembly: Weecron Shoe Rack
Dimensions: 27-by-10-by-24 inches | Material: Bamboo | Color: Green | Shoe-pair capacity: 16
What we like:
- No assembly required
- Bamboo material
- High shoe capacity
- Because it’s foldable, may feel less sturdy
Why we chose it: This foldable shoe rack requires no assembly—enough said.
For the instructions-averse, this option is a godsend. The foldable design makes setting up this four-tier rack virtually effortless and especially easy for moving around or storing away if needed. It’s crafted in bamboo and comes in a natural wood or calming shade of green, lending a subtle pop of color to your wardrobe (or wherever you choose to place it).
Its storage capacity is also noteworthy: While many shoe racks have two to three shelves, this option has four, meaning more storage and less clutter for the shoe lover.
Best Space Saver: Pottery Barn Temple Street Shoe Ladder
Dimensions: 8.75-by-7.25-by-30.5 inches | Material: Steel | Color: Black | Shoe-pair capacity: Four
What we like:
- Vertical composition
- Matte finish
- Modern look
- Limited storage
Why we chose it: Showcase your favorite rotation of shoes on this sleek, vertical storage solution.
Go all in on a modern look with this black steel shoe ladder from Pottery Barn’s Temple Street collection. The vertical design ensures it fits almost anywhere and the sleek black silhouette blends in rather seamlessly.
A few fun details: The bottom of each shelf features an anti-slip pad, so your shoes stay put, while the rack has a flattering matte black finish, aka no cheap-looking shiny metal. There are 8 inches of clearance between shelves, and the entire unit can hold up to 88 pounds (she’s sturdy!).
Best for Boots: The Container Store 6-Pair Natural Boot Rack
Dimensions: 35 3/4-by-9 1/2-by-18 inches| Material: Wood | Color: Natural | Shoe-pair capacity: Six
What we like:
- Solid wood
- Helps preserve boot shape
- Pegs in the front are meant for shorter boots and pegs in the back are for taller boots
Why we chose it: Boots are often too tall for shoe racks, but this option can fit six pairs and help preserve their intended shape.
You might have already noticed that shoe racks typically don’t have enough clearance in between shelves for taller boots, leaving the top shelf as the only storage option. If you only have a pair or two in tow, that’s not an issue, but if your footwear inventory is heavier on the boots, consider something separate.
This solid wood rack can accommodate everything from over-the-knee boots to mid-calf and Chelsea silhouettes, all while helping to maintain the integrity of your shoe’s shape.
How We Chose These Products
There are a few key attributes that were top of mind when researching the best shoe racks. To start, they needed to be crafted from top-notch materials with sizable weight capacities, like sturdy steel and wood (no wobbling, please). Assembly was another big one—a shoe rack that can be easily put together is a necessity, and all shown here check that box. We also searched for a range of shoe capacities for those who desire a rack in their entryway versus others who want it in a bedroom. Lastly, they needed to feel special. There are plenty of run-of-the-mill shoe racks in the world—and that’s fine—but we knew you’d be looking for something a step (or leap) above a cloth rack hanging over a closet door; something that could be considered a functional design moment in your home.
Our Shopping Checklist
As simple a product it may seem, there are a few noteworthy design details that can take a shoe rack from sufficient to can’t-live-without-it. The number of shelves is important based on what you’re looking for (if it’s for the entryway one or two are fine, but if it’s for your closet consider more); while clever touches like anti-slip pads are pretty great for keeping your shoes in place. Additionally, think about the space you’ll be placing it in and imagine how your rack’s shape will look there. Sometimes the difference between a rounded silhouette and a traditional 90-degree angle can totally transform the mood.
Perhaps the most important measurement to pay attention to when picking a shoe rack is the clearance in between shelves. If you’re planning on storing low-rise footwear like sneakers, slippers, and loafers, then any rack you choose will be A-OK. But if you have several tall boots that need a home, consider something like a separate boot rack or select the boots you wear most often to place on the top shelf of the shoe rack and tuck the rest in under-bed storage.
The most common materials for shoe racks are some combination of wood and metal. But as you may have noticed, a few brands play with textures like bamboo, which is known to be quite strong and durable. Also pay attention to whether it has a glossy or matte finish, as that will affect the overall look of your rack.
Despite different shapes, sizes, and other granular variations, most shoe racks follow a similar structure pattern that’s likely easy to assemble. Unless you’re getting into large modular units or considering built-in shelving, you can count on the experience of assembling your shoe rack to not eat up too much time or energy.
Q: How do I clean a shoe rack?
The best way to clean a shoe rack is by removing all of your footwear and wiping it down with a soft, dry cloth. Avoid using abrasive household cleaners, as that can damage the surface of your rack over time. “I clean the bottoms of my shoes before I put them back into my dressing area to keep my shelves clean, but I realize the majority of people don’t do that,” notes professional organizer Laura Cattano. “So cleaning the rack is recommended on a weekly basis.”
Q: Is a shoe rack’s home just in the closet?
Definitely not. While the closet is a great place for a shoe rack, areas such as your entryway, mudroom, or even living room can be conducive to a well-styled rack. If you’re placing it somewhere other than a bedroom, consider accessorizing it with something like a plant or stack of books to make it feel more intentional. “I normally keep weather-type shoes and boots in the coat closet and keep fashion shoes in the clothes closet, as you need to see them create an outfit,” says Cattano.
Q: How do I maximize the storage space of my shoe rack?
If your end game is to fit as much footwear on the rack as possible, you can put the soles of your flat shoes (e.g., sneakers, loafers, sandals) together. That said, this generally looks a bit sloppier than setting them down bottom-side first, so consider editing down your rack-worthy shoes to the maximum capacity and storing the ones you wear less often in under-bed boxes. And if you have kids, store theirs elsewhere. “I prefer baskets for everyday kids’ shoes, as they’re small and not always so precious—it’s space saving and looks neater,” says Cattano.
The Last Word
A shoe rack is the kind of seemingly snoozy product you don’t realize how desperately you need until you actually own one—and then you can’t live without it. “Shoe racks allow you to see what you have and they also give an immediate sense of order in a space or closet,” adds Cattano. Decide which room in your home you have space for a shoe rack, pick a style that complements the existing ambience, and then create the perfect footwear vignette that will make getting dressed each day a bit more fun.
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