We knew the Take-Your-Shoes-Off-In-the-House-thing had reached critical mass when we saw door mats for sale that say SHOES OFF in big ugly letters, and other iterations on the theme. It got me thinking about the homemade signs we’ve seen asking guests to remove their shoes, as well as the ones we’ve made ourselves over the years. Here’s a collection, a question and some ideas.

Andy Warhol LOVED drawing shoes and made a whole series. One asks the question “To Shoe or Not to Shoe?” which a lot of people have fierce opinions about. Where do you weigh in on it?

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol (Click to embiggen)

We’re down with asking people to take their shoes off (except for the occasional party where people are dressed UP and fab shoes make the outfit.) It protects our soft-wood white floors and keeps out city dirt and vibes. And it’s a strange leveler: When people take their shoes off, they remove a part of the costume, and are left standing on… their own two feet.

Many cultures make it a practice, to keep the space clear and quiet.


Our friends do it so their baby, who crawls EVERYWHERE, can have a clean “streetless” floor to wander.

Mira Keras
Mira Keras

A hipster we know is BOLD in her request:

Mira Keras
Mira Keras

Our no-frills hand-written sign, affixed by magnets, doubles as a request that visitors knock HARD, as we have no doorbell. But we’re thinking of a more charming revise that will let them know there’s a seat inside they use to remove their boots and shoes.

knock hard and take your shoes off

The door and hallway is going to be painted soon, so we’re mulling possibilities.

The prettiest shoes-off sign we’ve seen was made by artist friends years ago. We wish we had a picture. We wish we could draw a shoe, too (maybe we’ll try).

BUT there are Warhol’s many shoes to take inspiration from. We don’t think he’d mind if we appropriated some (after all he loved doing that himself). Google “Andy Warhol shoes” and you’ll find a trove…

 Ralph Pomeroy and Andy Warhol/The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Ralph Pomeroy and Andy Warhol/The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


This would be pretty swell printed on a color printer…

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol

Way better than this:

Shoes off 3

or this (well, it’s not that bad):

shoes off 1

…or this

shoes off 4


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14 replies on “Take Your Shoes Off ? (Signs, Opinions + Warhol)

  1. In my youth and middle ages, I would never have thought “shoes off” would be a problem. Now that age has offered me the opportunity to be “off balance”, I need the ugly shoes and inserts to be able to stand upright.

  2. My friend Gary Whitford once posted the following on his front door:

    Please bare your soles outside, and your soul inside.

  3. I LOVE IT. Really great. May have to copy…

  4. I hear you Helen and have a number of friends who need to keep their shoes on. And as with just about everything, it’s best to be flexible…

  5. I think people could also provide house slippers for those that don’t feel comfortable baring their feet

  6. I have a strict policy of “no shoes in the house,” which I learned while living in Hawaii. Politeness dictates that I follow the rules of my host’s home, which I do, but I hold firm and fast to this rule in my house.

    The reason has to do with the filth that resides on the bottoms of shoes. Think about it. Most of us would never dream of walking barefoot on public streets and sidewalks yet wear shoes and then wear those same shoes inside the house. All that stuff that adheres then has the chance to come off on floors. (I am gagging a bit as I write this because the thought is beyond awful to me.)

    If someone feels strongly about shoes in the house but likes the idea of leaving outside what is outside I can recommend that they get indoor-only shoes that are left at the door. But thinking about what you are willing to have on your floors–especially if you, your guests, or your children sit (or crawl around) there–might have you changing your mind about shoes in the house. If not, and if you want shoes, I will accept that if I ever visit your home.

  7. We’re a no shoes house for all the important hygiene reasons described above, and also as a result of having spent time in Hawaii where the no shoes inside rule is absolute.

    In Thailand, visitors to temples always shed their shoes outside and slip into sandals which line the walls just inside the doorways. Rarely are their shoes stolen – although I haven’t left any Manolos.

    Other friends resolve this issue (some people just hate to go barefoot, period) by having a fresh stash of inexpensive blue paper paper hospital booties in a basket inside the front door which can be tossed after each use.

  8. another shoe-needer for medicinal reasons–heel pain that requires the padded shoes that I buy specially. Even hostess-provided thin slippers won’t do the trick. It literally hurts to walk in barefeet or too thin soles. There’s lots of health reasons for people to be very uncomfortable and not safe without their own shoes on (I’m thinking of diabetics, those with orthotics, and lots of older adults like Helene with balance issues . Just food for thought to all those with “strict” policies.

  9. I find the anti-shoe logic against the microbiota perplexing, what about what lives on our friends’ feet? Isn’t it possible that good things come in on shoes too? Maybe the diversity of creatures actually protects us…

  10. OMG I forgot to photograph the box of slippers that I keep on hand. Thank you

  11. It really depends where you live. The mirobiota of NYC is pretty intense. I am all FOR microbiota and think we really overdo our fear of it/them in this country…but too much humanity can lead to some scary things…

  12. At our house we are firmly in the No Shoes camp – even if I didn’t have painted white floorboards, street shoes indoors strikes me as a yucky, dirty habit. And the idea of street shoes grinding their noxious hitchhikers into carpeting makes me a little sick (@Lauren, I feel your gag!)

    My husband is not comfortable barefoot so he has house shoes and in winter because our drafty old country house is freezing we all have cozy, warm house slippers (I swear by the Danish Glerups).
    I do make exceptions for people with difficulties and I have a supply of grass slippers from Pearl River as well as thick wool socks for those who want to keep their tootsies covered.

    In our area (upstate NY), I find nearly all service people (plumbers, cable, etc) arrive with bootie covers, which I really appreciate.

  13. Asking people to take their shoes off can put some guests in an uncomfortable position if they’re not prepared for it. Some people may be embarrassed about their feet, and don’t wish to have them on display or wear loaner socks/slippers. Some may have a foot health issue they don’t want made obvious. Some cultures and age groups may consider it an offensive request – my grandmother, for example, would have been horrified/humiliated if told she had to choose between showing her bare feet to strangers or leaving the home she’d been invited to. I’m an avid barefooter myself, and even I ended up leaving a party when I was told I had to remove my shoes, as my feet were smelly that day (a fact I didn’t want a room full of other guests noticing).

    In my home, I let people know they’re free to walk around with or sans-shoes, whichever they prefer (and if they choose sans, there’s a place by the door where they can leave their shoes if they like). I chose floor-coverings that aren’t fragile and can be easily cleaned, and if people have babies they don’t want on the bare floor, they simply grab a large blanket from the basket and spread it out on the ground to roll around on.

  14. Good points, all Kimithy. I never ENFORCE shoes off if someone is uncomfortable with it, and I always try to warn my guests before hand. When my feet were in bad shape, I’ve een known to take socks with me. Those Japanese socks with the special section for the two are cool. I have a friend who brings ballet slipps with her. They just fold up to nothing in her purse.

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