Review: Revolving Toddler Shoe Tree

We are in storage heaven this week. We bought a shoe tree.

It’s kind of like a metal coat rack, with shoes placed on rotatable carousels. A heavy circular base keeps the unit from tipping.

Unlike an over-the-door shoe hanger, all levels of the tree are accessible to a toddler.

Unlike a shoe bench or floor rack, the tree stays orderly with every shoe having its place, all visible quickly without stooping. And with a 12 inch diameter, the unit occupies minimum floor space.

Two photos of the shoe tree, one sparcely populated by shoes in order to show its metal framework, and a second photo showing the tree completely filled with shoes and some mittens and hats.

(The pole at lower left in the photo was unscrewed from the tree to reduce the overall height to 3.1 feet, making the shoe tree more toddler-friendly.)

One of my daughter’s 3-year-old friends is smitten. Upon entering our home she’ll say, "Would you take a pair of shoes off so I can put my shoes on your shoe rack?"

In our defense, we did not give birth to Imelda Marcos. We do have 19 pairs of toddler shoes, but most are hand-me-downs from friends and my daughter does cycle through all of them. (…snow boots, cold weather boots, rain boots, running shoes, slippers, dress shoes…)

We also use the shoe tree to hang mittens and hats and sometimes scarves.

This particular tree, the 4-Tier Satin Nickel Plated Revolving Shoe Tree by Whitney Design, has some nice features.

First, it has four carousels affording space for up to 24 pairs of shoes. Not 24 shoes. Twenty-four pairs.

Second, the carousel heights are adjustable. Each one locks into place with a tightening screw (see photo below). Have large rain boots? Give one carousel a little extra space.

Close-up photo of a locking screw that holds a carousel in place.

(Seen above, screw knobs are used to adjust the height of the four carousels.)

Third, the tree’s overall height is adjustable. This is not an advertised feature, but the vertical pole that comprises the tree’s trunk is actually three pipes that screw into each other. If you faithfully follow the installation instructions, your tree will be 4.3 feet tall (1.3 meters). That’s too tall for a toddler to reach the top.

So, I removed one of the poles and presto-change-o, the tree is now 3.1 feet tall (.95 meters). The four carousels fit acceptably in the shorter length so long as toddler shoes are being hung. Adult shoes may be too long for clearance between the carousels.

Using the tree at it’s full intended 4.3 foot height could be attractive for mom and dad to hang a six pairs on the top rung, accessible without bending down.

I found the Whitney Design shoe tree at Costco for $17, although not all Costco stores sell the same merchandise, and it is likely a limited time offer. Most online stores [Amazon] sell the tree for about $30 (Costco is notorious for its slim 14 percent maximum markup on products.)

Long-time readers may recall a previous shoe tree I reviewed two years ago. It was purchased used from an out-of-business daycare. It held fewer shoes and was sad in a Leaning Tower of Pisa sort of way, but we loved it just the same. We may continue using it to hang coats and hats, or donate it. The newer tree simply holds more shoes, which will be important after our second child arrives.

My wife thinks I upgraded because I’m in nesting mode. But she’s only saying that because I’ve assessed every single possession we own, reorganized our closets and bought new bookshelves and moved our daughter into a different room and bought a new ceiling light to make way for the baby. It’s been a productive two weeks. Anyhow…

Are we insane? How many shoes does your kid have? Where do you store his or her shoes?

Update: Feeling a little defensive about having 19 shoes, I cleaned out 8 pairs that don’t fit or we despise for other reasons. That leaves us:

  1. Snow boots (purchased used for a rare snow trip)
  2. Regular boots (very warn)
  3. Speedo pool/beach shoes
  4. Sandals (hot weather)
  5. Open toe shoes (for somewhat warm weather)
  6. Mary Janes (dressier)
  7. Tennis shoes (running)
  8. Ballet slippers
  9. Soft slippers
  10. Hard sole slippers (for colder days on our hard floors)
  11. Rubber rain boots


26 Responses to “Review: Revolving Toddler Shoe Tree”

  1. adrienne says:

    Maybe it’s the difference of having a boy…

    Our 2.5 year old usually has 3 pairs of shoes:
    -tennis shoes with lights
    -rain boots
    -snow boots or sandals (depending on season)

    February 26th, 2008 at 5:50 am

  2. Jessica G. says:

    I am living out my own shoe fantasy through my daughters. My 3.5 y.o. has at least ten pairs of shoes and boots. My 1 y.o. is rocking about 4 or 5 pairs of Robeez type crib shoes. I have reconciled with the fact that I buy good, well-made shoes that are easy on my feet. My days of spiked heels and fashion-only shoes are done with as long as I have rug rats to chase after!

    February 26th, 2008 at 6:01 am

  3. Kaely says:

    Another mother of a boy here and like adrienne, my son rarely has more than 3 pairs of shoes that fit him at any one time. We store shoes in a cabinet in our foyer. Everyone has a basket and that is where their “stuff” belongs. For ds this includes his shoes, hat, sweater, and his little backpack full of “treasures”.

    February 26th, 2008 at 6:12 am

  4. Summer says:

    What a great idea. We are going to Sam’s Club tomorrow – I will have to see if they have one! My husband works for a Crocs Superstore here and so we always have lots of crocs and nowhere to put them!

    February 26th, 2008 at 6:58 am

  5. Marianne O says:

    Is there any way to orient the shoes so that the tops (instead of the soles) are facing outward? Seems to me that would be handier for a preschooler AND for adults too.

    February 26th, 2008 at 7:01 am

  6. Jennifer says:

    We use a bookshelf at the door. It’s handy as the shoes just line up on the bottom and the top shelf is used for those things we leave by the door (things we don’t want to forget on the way out, etc..) We don’t have that many shoes, in southern California there’s really only a need for two kinds: tennis shoes and sandals!

    February 26th, 2008 at 7:28 am

  7. AJ says:

    Marianne, you can hang shoes in reverse so the tops face outward. The larger the shoe, the harder it is to do though because the shoe will hit the metal arm that extends from the center pole.

    February 26th, 2008 at 7:39 am

  8. Erica says:

    I must be mean mom…I think poor mom has something to do with it, too, though. My 2 1/2 year old girl has four pairs of shoes (2 pairs of tennies, 1 pair of flip flops, and 1 pair of nice shoes), and two of those are hand-me-downs. Shoes are too expensive when she’s gonna grow out of them so quickly, and I’m a SAHM with a husband who’s not independently wealthy. What’s a girl to do? :o)

    February 26th, 2008 at 8:26 am

  9. Andie says:

    Hi AJ,

    I really like the shoe tree, and wish my hubby would support me in my desire to buy more shoes for our little girl, at the moment she has 5 pairs of shoes/boots, but 2 stay at daycare, a sweet pair of high-top sneakers and Robeez slippers (for naptime) while another pair of shoes that fit her and a pair of hand-me-downs that will soon are at home. Here in the Great White North, she wears her snowboots daily! I think her big brother had more shoes at her age, because living in Californina he “needed” a variety of sneakers and sandals all year long…

    February 26th, 2008 at 8:32 am

  10. RubiaLala says:

    We have a five year old boy and he usually only has two or three pairs of shoes at a time. One white pair, one brown pair, and sandals in the summer. We keep them on the floor in our closet because he usually gets dressed in our bedroom. I’m sure it would be totally different if we had more than one kid or if we had a girl. Bravo on the great find!

    February 26th, 2008 at 8:34 am

  11. AJ says:

    I hear you Erica. What’s a parent to do? Shop at a baby thrift store where shoes are $2 to $5 a pop (it works until about age 4, before kids rough up their shoes too much to resell). Having friends with slightly older children helps tremendously for hand-me-downs.

    But yeah, my secret desire is for half those shoes to disappear. If we live within the limitations of the shoe tree, each shoe our boy gets will mean one less for our girl. Problem solved?

    February 26th, 2008 at 8:38 am

  12. JMo says:

    At 17 months, my son has 12 pairs of shoes. This is definitely excessive, as I have 12 pairs for myself and my husband has 6. But he has small feet, so 6 pairs are hand-me-downs, and 4 pairs were baby gifts that were given us when he was born. There are a couple of pairs that are still too big for him to wear.

    I purchased the over-the-door shoe rack for my son’s room on your recommendation AJ and we love it! My son puts his shoes away every night (and put his dirty clothes in the hamper). He’s so proud of himself for helping keep the house clean.

    February 26th, 2008 at 9:48 am

  13. K @ the Homestead says:

    Love the red mary janes…. but where are the cowboy boots??

    I really like the shoe tree… wish we had room for one. We have a lot of shoes and tiny closet space.

    1.5-year-old girl has pink kitten Robeez, lime green Croc mud boots, red high tops, Phat Baby boots (hip cowgirl boots…. hee-hee), slippers, snow boots, sandals (2 pairs… one with toe protection and one for adorable).

    3.5-year-old boy has cowboy boots, mud boots (the Croc ones in lime green… love them), snow boots (two pairs… one heavy duty pair for sledding & one light duty pair that are for hiking in the winter), hiking boots, tennis shoes, slippers, sandals (two pairs…. one with toe protection and one with flashing lights and spider man…. hello licensed characters).

    I was thinking we didn’t have that many shoes but I realize I was WRONG. I also just realized my kids have more shoes than I do…. But they do wear them all and most of them are hand-me-downs so I can justify it in my mind….. I just splurged on $17 clearance snowboots for the boy for next winter… in a color he can hand down to his sis, of course.

    February 26th, 2008 at 10:03 am

  14. twinsanity says:

    Our 2 1/2 year old twins (girls) only have 3-4 pairs of shoes each depending on the time of year and those are more than enough, but that tree could be useful since that means we have as many as 8 pairs of shoes, plus hats and mittens.

    February 26th, 2008 at 10:08 am

  15. Cindi Hoppes says:

    I love the revolving shoe tree. We have looked for a very long time for this item! It looks like it will fit in the small space where we need it. Then, I won’t be complaining quite so much about muddy shoes! Thanks for the wonderful tip…..Cindi

    February 26th, 2008 at 10:59 am

  16. AJ says:

    In my own defense, I weeded out 7 pairs and just appended the article with a list of our remaining shoe types.

    I also fixed the old shoe tree with a new washer (it no longer leans). I’m thinking it will serve perfectly as a toddler coat and hat rack.

    February 26th, 2008 at 11:24 am

  17. lace says:

    Love this shoe tree. We store shoes in a closet or right now on the stairs (they haven’t been taken care of yet).

    February 26th, 2008 at 11:24 am

  18. Mama Peach says:

    I must have this!!!! Just for the mitten / hat / scarf functionality alone!!!

    My daughter is 2 1/2, and has 3 pairs of shoes, including her snowboots. Substitute the snowboots for sandals in the summer and she pretty much always has three pair of shoes. She is VERY difficult to fit (wide foot, high instep) so we spring for one very good pair of shoes that she wears for 8 hours a day at daycare (usually Eccos or Stride Rites), and a secondary pair for home. Then we do spend on her boots, from Land’s End (it’s just too cold here not too).

    If I could, my daughter would have a shoe collection like yours does. :D I actually get a ton of hand-me-downs from my 4 year old neice, not a single pair of which have fit my daughter to date. She is just tricky to get into shoes.

    I am really hoping that our Costco has this shoe rack but I highly doubt it will. Hats, mits, scarves are where my daughter’s closet looks like someone out of Sex and the City’s.

    February 26th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

  19. Stacey says:

    Since our twins are only 12 months old they don’t need access to shoes. In fact I try to keep them away from the shoes at this point because well….they eat them :o) That, and my son is in love with shoes. He looks at every part of them and will deconstruct a shoe quicker than you can say boo.

    Both kids have:

    2 pair of soft slippers for inside
    2 pair of hard sole shoes for outside

    My daughter has two additional pair of soft shoes.

    I think I will get through this winter w/o having to buy boots but will need them next winter.

    I started out keeping shoes, hats and mittens in baskets by the front door but the baskests collected other stuff and I had to sort through them when I needed anything. So I switched to an over the door pocket style organizer. Each pocket holds several pair of mittens or a set of mittens, hat and scarf. And I can stash shoes, a rolled up sweater or light jacket, and a handful of binkys.

    I think I will keep using it as they grow. It will be the perfect place to store all the small bits that you need to get your hands on as you run out the door.

    I also put one of these organizers on the back of my pantry door to hold packs of instant oatmeal, granola bars, and little snacks.

    February 27th, 2008 at 6:15 am

  20. Diana (Holes in my Shiny Veneer) says:

    I think it’s hysterical that the commenting on this post is largely how many shoes our kids have, so I’ll join in the fun. My 4yo son has several hand-me-down pairs, but refuses to wear anything besides tennis shoes (even to church), flip flops, and sandals (when we won’t let him wear his flip flops.) All he needs in SoCal, I guess.

    My 2yo daughter has tennis shoes, sandals, and a pair of Mary Janes. She loves shoes and would love to have more, but at this age it’s hard to justify spending a whole lot when she won’t wear them for more than 6 months or so. That, and she’s a hard fit with a very narrow foot for her age– she can never wear hand-me-downs. If anyone has great narrow shoe companies, I’d love to hear them– she currently wears Keds and Umis.

    February 27th, 2008 at 8:02 am

  21. Meg says:

    Must. Have. This.

    I have 3 kids and our shoes (5 of us total) fill up 3 baskets in the entryway. But none of my kids are toddlers. What’s you opinion on it working well for 6-8 year olds and adults?


    *My wife thinks I upgraded because I’m in nesting mode. But she’s only saying that because I’ve assessed every single possession we own, reorganized our closets and bought new bookshelves and moved our daughter into a different room and bought a new ceiling light to make way for the baby. It’s been a productive two weeks. Anyhow…*

    Please come visit.

    Great blog.

    February 27th, 2008 at 8:38 am

  22. AJ says:

    Meg, there shouldn’t be a problem with adults using the shoe tree because it’s not specifically designed for kids. You should add the third pole I omitted so the larger shoes fit after you space out the carousels more.

    In that respect, despite the tree’s weighted base, there is a tipping danger, so don’t use it with rambunctious super young kids.

    If you have more than 24 pairs, you might opt for the floor-to-ceiling tree that holds 36. It probably looks a little funny though, in a 1970s sort of way.

    February 27th, 2008 at 9:01 am

  23. Sandra says:

    What a great idea! I’m a shoe lover myself, and Christopher, who is now 15 months has like 7 pairs of shoes – instead of buying shoes for me, I buy shoes for him – right now though, they are all in a drawer, but I think when he is older, the shoe tree is a good idea so that he can put away his own shoes!

    February 27th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

  24. Nissa says:

    We’re off to Costco this weekend to look for it! It might save some space for other family members’ shoes! Check out this post!

    February 29th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

  25. Allie says:

    I’ve never seen a shoe tree before. I like it! That would be perfect for my munchkins. You’ve introduced me to a variety of things that I never knew existed by writing about them & the ads that are on here. Thank you!

    February 29th, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  26. Jean says:

    I’ve heard that it’s not good to wear hand-me-down shoes (unless of course they’re barely worn) because shoes conform to the shape of one child’s feet and can restrict the development of feet of the child they’re handed down to. Has anyone else heard this?

    September 11th, 2008 at 6:33 am

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