year in review

This Sleek Expandable Shoe Rack Is the Best Thing I Bought This Year

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Writers

If you’ve read any of our Strategist editor hauls, you’ll know that our writers and editors buy a lot of stuff, and even though we think carefully about each item that goes into our carts, there are still standouts. To close out the year, we’ve asked our staffers to write about the best thing they bought in the past 12 months. Here, Liza Corsillo on the handsome expandable shoe rack that brings calm to her home — and her marriage.

Until recently, I was very comfortable with clutter. Leftover ribbons that I planned to reuse, old magazines that might be good for a collage, books that I meant to read someday, a pair of impractical shoes awaiting the right occasion — I preferred to let it all pile up just in case. But getting married this summer and trying to prepare my apartment for a baby on the way has forced me to change the way I think about my space.

More specifically, it’s made me much less tolerant of extraneous objects without a real home. So when it came time to build a wedding registry, I decided that what my fiancé and I needed most were nice-looking solutions for apartment organization. I knew right away that I wanted a few things from Yamazaki Home, a minimalist Japanese brand that makes all kinds of space-optimizing shelves, hooks, carts, and racks. Everything the company sells is calming to look at, like the décor you’d see in a boutique hotel upstate. Its signature style is sleek powder-coated steel paired with lightly varnished wood. Of its items that I added to my registry, the expandable shoe rack is the MVP that I would, and did, buy again. And, surprisingly, it’s the addition to my home that has brought me the most joy so far this year.

We don’t have an actual entryway in our apartment. Instead, the front door opens into a living room / dining room / shoe-and-coat corner. But despite that area’s small size, it holds a lot of stuff: a closet, a ladder, two bikes, several backpacks, revolving piles of broken-down cardboard, a basket full of disposable KN95 masks, and the shoes we wear most days. In previous apartments, I used a basket to hold shoes and routinely threw them in there at the end of the day. In this apartment, before getting the Yamazaki shoe rack, I spent a silly amount of time trying to make our shoes fit across a woven-cotton mat from Ikea, lining up the heavier pairs and balancing lighter sneakers or clogs on top. But the whole delicate structure would inevitably topple. Several times, this ended in me passive-aggressively asking my fiancé why he couldn’t just place his shoes more gently on the pile, which wasn’t great for our relationship. Then the (first) shoe rack arrived and brought a new sense of peace to our days.

Putting it together took less than 20 minutes and required no extra tools or hardware. It even fit perfectly atop the Ikea mat. It’s surprisingly slim and unobtrusive for how strong it is, giving the illusion that our shoes are kind of elegantly floating in space. I’m convinced this makes our small “entryway” look bigger. I can easily pick up the whole thing to clean underneath, and best of all, it can be expanded width-wise to hold two, three, or four pairs of shoes across. This also means it can be adjusted to fit practically any closet, a fact that inspired me to buy a second one for our bedroom.

It’s such a simple object, but because it’s one of the first things I see when I walk into our apartment and the last thing I see when I leave, the Yamazaki shoe rack has had an incredibly calming and positive effect on my brain. Its most powerful magic, though, is that its minimalist design has inspired me to edit my shoe collection and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit within its handsome limits.

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This Sleek Shoe Rack Is the Best Thing I Bought This Year