One of the greatest bugbears of my life, when it comes to trying to maintain some semblance of orderliness in a medium-sized house with 5 active people, is the problem of shoes.
Shoes. They apparently breed in the night - every time I do an inventory, there are pairs there that I don't remember buying or getting, yet there they are. Moreover, some of them disappear on frolics of their own, leaving their mate forlorn and pointless (but unable to be thrown out, due to the protestations of children to whom they instantly become "MY FAVOURITE!") They get grubby in winter and smelly in summer, and they are bulky, not easy to stack neatly. They are also capable of the most astounding disappearing feats, hiding themselves away at exactly the moment that they are needed for a quick departure, only to be discovered nestling smugly somewhere completely obvious after we are already running 20 minutes late and / or have taken sub-optimal shoes and gone for the day.
I have tried a few different systems for managing shoes. Shoe racks failed completely and made the cupboards smell revolting. Scented shoe bags were OK for a while, but also got cumbersome after a time. Mostly recently, we've been dumping all shoes into a large cane chest by the door, which has cut down on odour but has made finding the shoes you're looking for an exercise in daily frustration.
So yesterday we went shopping and have decided to trial a cross between the shoe bag and shoe chest systems - individual shoe drawers.
They are quite pretty, I reckon - designed as children's chests of drawers, they're in bright colours and attractive cane basketwork. We've assigned one drawer per person and one for the overflows (inexplicably, we have several more pairs of sneakers than would seem necessary). Each of us is putting our most-worn shoes on the top, for ease of grabbing. And perhaps most critically, I've sorted through and removed all the shoes that don;t currently fit anyone - that the 7 year old is out of but 5 year old not into, or 5 year old out of but 23 month old not into. Those pairs-awaiting-growth are now in sealed storage bag under my bed.
Only time will tell if this system works better, but at the moment, having just sorted my entryway storage cupboard (used to be a tip, now quite functional) I'm pretty satisfied with the way this corner of the house is working. I've got a bowl for hats, a tray for notices-in and library books to be returned, a spot for keys, coins & paraphernalia, a place for my handbag, a pen jar, and a few photos. It's still more crowded than would be many people's taste, but it suits us - I don't aim for pristine or show-home, I just want useable and friendly.
One tiny zone down; only, oh, the rest of the house to go!