By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

Cinderella wasn’t the only woman to ever have problems keeping track of her shoes. In fact most of us have a frustration over our shoe collection and our inability to keep them neatly organized.

If you are like me, you probably have the original shoebox your pumps came in, and you try hard to put them back in said box each time, before stacking it among the other boxes of various sizes and stability. This, usually, resulting in the smaller, more narrow boxes, on the bottom of the stack giving way and toppling the entire pile over. Not only does this method not work as far as keeping them organized, but it’s also impossible to either find the shoes you’re looking for and/or to even remember what shoes you own.

I start off with the best intentions. I clean up my closet and put all of my shoes in their designated cardboard cells and stack them neatly, but in a matter of a week or so, I have lost the gumption to take the time to put them away, and there is soon a jumbled heap of sneakers, pumps, wedges, mules, flip flops, etc., etc., etc. littering the bottom of my not-grandiose closet.

In light of this constant struggle, I thought it might behoove us to spend a little time discussing some shoe storage options to help us all wrangle those much beloved, but frequently neglected, footwear collections.

Weather you have a huge closet, or share a very small one with your better-half, there are lots and lots of different ways for you to store and/or display your shoes.

  • Don’t Hide Them: Instead of putting them away in the dark recesses of a closet, bring them out into the light and display them. Most of us spend a pretty penny for pretty pumps. Why not put up some floating shelves across a wall in your bedroom and actually use them as an art installation that you can also wear pieces of? Not only will this free up closet space, but it also makes the shoes easier to see and more likely to be worn.
  • Use Crates in a New Way: Stack some rustic wooden milk crates and secure them to your closet wall. Add a middle shelf to each and store your shoes in them. I love this idea for use in a mudroom as well. It’s a great way to get those muddy shoes up off the floor and put away without worrying about ruining nice shelving. The crates can also be washed down easily.
  • A Basket Comes in Handy: Flip flops are one of those shoes that are hard to store and easy to leave piled up. Use a cute basket to store them all in. You can fit a lot of these thin little summer-must-haves in a basket with a fairly small footprint that won’t take up much floor space.
  • Think Outside the Box: Try cutting PVC pipe to one foot long sections and adhering (Liquid Nails is a great adhesive for projects like this) them together in a floor to ceiling column. Store your shoes in the ‘honeycomb’ structure that is created. Again, this makes it easy to see your shoes and convenient when putting them away.
  • No Need to Have Them Exposed: Shoe cabinets have been around for many years now and work great. These storage solutions are designed to look like furniture and yet to hold numerous pairs of shoes without anyone being the wiser. Another take on this idea is to use an old china hutch in your room. You can either frost the glass to hide the trove being stored within, or, if you want to show your shoes off, but have them actually shut away, leave the glass clear. Use the bottom of the hutch to store winter sweaters or blankets and you just freed up a huge amount of closet space.
  • “Drape” Them: Place several curtain rods either in a closet or out in your bedroom and actually hang your shoes on them. This works wonderful to display and organize heels, but does leave tennis shoes, flats and even wedges to fend for themselves. However, if you have a large pump/stiletto collection, this would be a great way to show them off.

The reality is, no matter the size of your collection, nor the styles it’s composed of, everyone has shoes that can use some organizing and, with a little research and planning, be corralled.




By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

The moans from the backseat are loud, eyes are rolling and heads flop lifelessly forward.  My children are protesting my need to visit some random free pile on the side of the road.  They have grown tired of my countless stops at these subtle prize heaps.  They don’t see the appeal of another man’s junk and how it can become my treasure.

They are generational products of a society that values bright, new, shiny, technological, cutting-edge, and flashy.  They have grown-up with messages that tell them they must buy the ‘next generation’ before the current one is out of the box.  They just don’t see the beauty in old things as I do.  They certainly don’t see the potential in them and they will probably never understand my drive to pay homage to the history of our society by keeping the utilitarian items it once used out of the dump.

It makes me feel mushy and sad when I see a sweet-old rocking chair, an old side table or a headboard discarded and on its way to a refuse center just because no one sees the value in it anymore.  The history that these pieces have witnessed is in danger of being lost with them.  What about all of the love the rocking chair witnessed of mommies rocking their babies or all of the coffee visits that side table had been a part of?  I just wish I could save them all.

The history is only part of it though, there is also the fact that our landfills are becoming too massive for our planet to accommodate.  Shouldn’t we want to reduce the amount of garbage we produce? Keeping furniture items out of the mix will help immensely!

Then there’s the whole idea that some items are just too dated to be fashionable.  We’ve all heard someone say it before (we might have even said it ourselves), “That piece just screams 70’s.” or “Yuck! The 80’s called they want their couch back.”  It’s my strong belief that for the most part furniture cannot be too much of any one decade that it can’t be updated and used in our modern homes.  A new upholstery job, a coat of paint, the addition of updated embellishments or hardware and you’ve got a new in-style piece.

The best part about using second hand décor is threefold.  One, you generally can find the pieces for a lot less money (often for FREE) than if you were to go out and buy a brand-new piece; two, older furniture is frequently better made and comprised of more quality materials; and three, it keeps it out of the landfills.

On a recent stop to a free pile (much to my children’s’ chagrin) I found this adorable, sturdy, albeit beat-up, plant stand.  It was with a pile of other items that looked like they might have come from an old barn.  I was drawn to it for no specific reason, but I did see some great potential in it and thought, with a little elbow grease and a new coat of paint, it might be a keeper.

So I took it home and started to work.  I used chalk paint on it (which I had not used before, but had been dying for something to paint so I could).  The paint boasted a one-step application process with no sanding needed.  I thought “Hotdog! That’s my kind of paint”.

Here’s a quick breakdown of my experience with this product.

  1. Overall, I liked it. It was easy to apply and quick drying.
  2. I would suggest you skip the expensive brush they sell for applying it. Yes, I bought one of them and no, I don’t think it made much of a difference—I think any short bristled natural brush would have done the job at a fraction of the cost as the expensive brush they suggest.
  3. One coat might cover, but not without streaking and some show-through. I used two coats and the coverage was great. If a real deadpan flat finish is the effect you are wanting, stopping here is exactly what you should do.
  4. If you want a more finished look then I would suggest you use one of the waxes they sell to finish your piece. There is a clear wax that provides no additional color just a nice sheen (I used this to finish the plant stand) or there is the antique wax which adds a dark patinaed look through which the paint shows. My only side note to the wax is that it takes a lot of ‘elbow grease’ to apply and I thought my arm might actually fall off by the time I was finished.
  5. As far as the ‘no sanding’ goes. Yes, the paint adheres great with no additional sanding, but if you have an older piece that has some dings in the old finish, globs of dried paint on it or other issues impacting it’s smoothness you may want to do a little sanding or other prep work before you start.
  6. I felt the paint was fairly expensive, but that said, even with two full coats it did not use much and I have plenty left to paint a couple more pieces.

I wanted the piece to be unexpected, so after I painted the whole thing and before I applied the clear wax I hand drew and painted a design on the back of each shelf area that is reminiscent of a 1960’s linoleum and then applied silver leaf in a large sweeping pattern over that to add some depth to the design. The result is perfect!  I love it!

I enjoy redoing furniture and helping others with their furniture design dilemmas too.  But what I really garner the most satisfaction from in doing it is just knowing that I am helping to reduce waste and cost while giving new life to old pieces.

I encourage all of you to look at old/dated furniture with a new eye.  Is there something that can be done to bring it more modern?  You can save yourself a lot of change and the planet a little more space if you can use the furniture that already exists instead of buying new.

chalk paint 1Chalk paint


Ahhhhhh Spring! Ehhhhhhh the Patio!

April 7, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger The twittering birds are here again, the sun is up earlier and setting later, the days are warmer and the flowers are blooming: It must be spring! If you are anything like me this time of year energizes you.  I start to feel excited to do some cleaning and decorating and refreshing […]

Read the full article →