Monday, July 11, 2016

Shoes Off Inside


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.


I find it so fascinating how these little customs are hard to maintain within your own home when the wider culture doesn't support it. I fully remember being so annoyed by "shoes-off" homes in the US before living in Switzerland. Now I completely understand these folks, but it's an uphill battle when it's not the norm. The trend must be catching on, though, because there are so many cute shoe storage options. I am in love with that mid-century bench. Do you take your shoes off inside? Why or why not?

20 comments:

  1. We've never had a shoes off inside rule but I prefer to go barefoot for comfort as do the kids. My husband, however, puts his shoes on as soon as he gets dressed in the morning and he doesn't take them off again until he's about to get into bed at night. It kind of annoys me! As much as I prefer to be barefoot, I've actually had to start wearing shoes inside due to a foot problem. I hate it, but my podiatrist wants me to wear hard soled shoes (ie. clogs) all the time for support. Yep, I'm getting old! I bought myself a pair of wool Haflinger clogs that I wear as my "slippers" but I really struggle with wearing them even if they are comfortable. After a whole lifetime of going barefoot inside it just feels weird to wear shoes when I'm watching TV or sitting at my desk!

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  2. I don't allow shoes on in my house. Sometimes I have to explain that it's a Canadian thing to people in Amsterdam but for me it runs deeper than the practical reasons (cleaner, small children). It just feels wrong to wear dirty outdoor shoes inside. I have to decided to embrace it as though it were a spiritual practice as it is elsewhere in the world.

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  3. I'm 50/50 on this, a fallback position because think it totally depends on climate and season and occasion. I was raised in northern New York State where the winters are slushy and muddy and cindery. In those months, taking off shoes is just logical. In the summer months, so long as you haven't just encountered a dust storm or tromped through a swamp, I'm fine with shoes indoors. (That said, I've always lived in homes with hardwood floors. Maybe I'd have different habits if carpet was my norm.) It always bothered me when we'd go to events (say, a dinner party or holiday occasion) at the home of people who were hard and fast about the no shoes rule. It's really odd to me to have a cocktail party full of well dressed adults and have them all standing around in their socks. I even went to a wedding reception in a private home once and everyone was asked to remove their shoes. So there I was in a pretty dress with my best jewelry but without shoes!

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    1. YES! It's like that Sex and the City episode when Carrie's Manolo's are stolen at the no-shoes baby shower! The best line: "But this is an outfit!" I agree it's just wrong to make people take off shoes for dinner parties, but a wedding?! Beyond the pale!!! HAHAHAHA!

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    2. Expecting people to take shoes off at a wedding? That's crazy!

      I used to be a personal assistant for a wealthy family who had a strict no-shoes rule in their penthouse - even for cocktail parties. It was always weird to see a group of immaculately dressed people in Chanel and Louis Vuitton sipping cocktails and eating canapes in their socks! Asking casual guests to remove shoes is one thing but at an event where guests are expected to dress up it seems wrong. Plus, surely a spilled cocktail would make more mess than shoes!

      There was also always some sort of work going on in their home and I was supposed to make sure that any tradesmen who came in took their shoes off. Of course, this was completely against OH&S rules and there's no way I could get a plumber to work barefoot! So instead, my boss had boot covers made up and I had to insist that they were worn over work boots. Ugh, I hated it so much! The boot covers were super slippery on the polished marble floors so no-one wanted to wear them. There was more than one occasion when the tradesmen just refused and left and I had to find someone else to do the job - and I don't blame them. I can understand not wanting potentially dirty boots on your floor, but safety has to come first.

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  4. I really did not know this was such a contentious issue, but it seems to be specific to the US. Being Canadian (and living in Canada) people just automatically take their shoes off when entering homes, even if there isn't proper shoe storage in the front entry. I honestly can't think of a single home I've visited where there was a 'shoes-on policy'. I would be so uncomfortable walking around in my own house or someone else's with my shoes on. And in the winter, people usually bring their own slippers when they visit if they want warm feet, or I've been to homes where they have a basket of slippers at the front door.

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    1. Everyone in Switzerland goes around with their own house shoes, too! I love that. I got super cute Ugg slippers!!

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    2. We are in rural England where its the norm to take shoes off. Many will take slippers when visiting.
      As a family we switch from shoes to slippers at the door.

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  5. I have been doing this since I lived in Ukraine from the age of 19. Then it carried on when I married a Swiss and lived there. We still do it here in the USA & even though I know its a cultural thing I get a tinge of rage when people don't do it. I just can't bring myself to say it to adults because it feels so snobby. I do tell all the kids and often the parents follow suit. Still, it feels weird.

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  6. They make cute little signs to hang at the door. Maybe thats the answer...

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    1. My cousin has a Hawaiian one. They're mostly successful, but not during parties. :)

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  7. I am the same way! After living in Germany for over 10 years, it drives me nuts to keep my shoes on! Feels so dirty and wrong! Even NY two year old immediately takes his shoes off when we get anywhere. Next time you visit Zurich get one of those big slippers with all the little slippers in it ☺ I make an exception sometimes if we are having a dinner party with foreigners and then I just mop afterwards!

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  8. Our dinner party guests often bring their own slippers with them! Ha!

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  9. Like this! http://thumbs.ebaystatic.com/images/g/3gYAAOSww-NTz7vB/s-l225.jpg

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  10. Another Canadian here; also didn't realize some people keep shoes on inside. Seems like it would be dirty! But then I guess if you're wearing shoes inside, and not barefoot, wouldn't matter as much since you're not stepping on it anyway (which is more my concern with the dirt…the yuck factor of stepping on it as opposed to the visual). ~K

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  11. I seriously would not recognize this became a real contentious matter, nevertheless it looks like it's distinct on the PEOPLE. Staying Canadian (along with moving into Nova scotia) men and women only routinely get his or her sneakers off of while going into residences, regardless of whether there is not suitable sneaker hard drive inside the front accessibility. My spouse and i seriously are unable to imagine one particular household We've went to wherever there were a new 'shoes-on policy'.

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  14. That's very different. I recently have visited the online boot store, my work wear. they have come this time with new arrivals maintaining the supreme quality. Those are surely gonna be my most preferred best work boots for men .

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