While living in Switzerland, we adopted the cultural custom of taking shoes off inside. Taking your shoes off before walking into your home when you've been walking around city streets, on and off of trams and through playgrounds filled with sand just makes sense. Floors stay much cleaner and if you have babies crawling around and putting everything in their mouths, there is less to worry about.
To get in this habit, all it takes is a well-crafted entryway - and living in a place where everyone else also does it!
In Zurich, our entryway was about the same size as ours now. In other words, it was small! To make the most of our space, we loved this coat/hat rack from IKEA and have it again now. We had the discontinued Sigurd bench in red in Zurich and have it in white here. Underneath the bench, we have a small basket for slippers and a boot tray. With these elements in place, when you get home, you can get right in the habit of taking off all of your outdoor stuff and putting coats, shoes, hats and bags in their proper place, then changing into slippers before walking into the house. After being born and raised until almost 3 years old in Zurich, Coco is a total pro! So much so that we run into trouble when we go to my mom's house. Coco, being rooted in the habit, takes her shoes off as soon as she's in the door. Then my mom gets after her to put her shoes on before going in the basement in case there are spiders. Ha!
When we got back to the States, we were happy to see that in Minnesota, most people also followed the shoes off inside rule. It makes sense because in the winter because of all the snow and nasty road salt that gets on your boots would make a ridiculous mess. It's incomprehensible to stomp into your house with those things on! Then, in the summer, with the habit so automatic after nine months of winter, people just keep doing it.
In the Northwest, it's not so much a thing, though. I was surprised to notice that it actually feels wrong, like I am violating my host, to walk into their home with my shoes on. Likewise, I find myself feeling a bit offended when people just walk into my house with their shoes on. But, they do, and they're not trying to be rude, it's just what's normal here. In most American homes with a garage attached to the house, it's actually possible that people's shoes just aren't that dirty most of the time. But, whatever the reason, it's pretty typical that people don't take their shoes off.
Now it's a dilemma. A friend came over the other day and took her shoes off, but then I actually told her to just keep them on. I either need to mop every few days, or just abandon the shoes rule! The floors get really nasty, really fast when shoes are worn inside. I don't feel good about asking guests to take their shoes off if they have to walk barefoot or in stocking feet on a less than pristine floor. I guess that being strict about it is the thing, but I really can't imagine most of my friends and family being very happy about it. I've been thinking of ordering some of these or these to have for guests to wear. In Zurich, we had a bunch of these in different sizes so no one ever had to go barefoot.