We couldn’t do all of this work in the laundry area and just disregard our sloppy shoe situation. because the side door into our laundry room is our most-used entrance, it’s also the disposing ground for many 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 destroy the illusion that we’re not complete animals).

This system actually worked fine at the old house because 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 because that was a much larger space.

But because we’re now handling a 3’5″ broad room, we realized we needed something with a much more “organized” vibe, like this cheap-o shoe shelf for all shoes for cross country running that once lived in Clara’s closet at our first house (originally snagged at Target a while back).
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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 small Carrie Bradshaw on our hands thanks to Clara, so shoes typically become playthings and end up looking much 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 broad (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 good and streamlined because 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 customized build something (she has outstanding and completely totally free furniture tutorials for those not in the know). but before we went out and purchased a ton of lumber and concerned about building something that could stand up to everyday slamming, Roberta saved the day with this comment about cost effective 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 developed just like a shoe cabinet. Plus, their 23.5″ width made them a ideal fit for our 24″ space. That was enough for us to neglect that they:

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)

were plastic (wood might have been nice, but Sherry pointed out that something wipe-able, less precious, and practically 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 should 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 company 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 many outstanding part is that not only was the width perfect, but the height was practically too good to be true. When the two stacked units were placed best 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 good and intentionally centered between the door and the sill).

So now that whole wall is practically 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 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 much more open than it did with the much more invasive basket or stacked shelf options that we had going on before.

Eventually we’re thinkingthat we might do something to gussy them up a bit much 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, because the whole space is only about as broad as a restroom 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 yell “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 huge 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 joyful 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 typically end up somewhere they’re not expected to? Does your baby throw them in all directions while screaming shoooooooooo, shoooooooooo!? It can’t just be ours that does that… More messages from young house Love

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