Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
Review: Ultimate Kid-Stuff Storage Solution [photos galore]
Say hello to the Wall of Awesome. It’s in our living room, filled with kid’s stuff, future kid’s stuff and parent stuff. My wife calls it a Steadfast Storage System. Yeah, kind of nerdy. Wall of Awesome it is.
Those floral curtains on the left are not so awesome. They came with the place.
We struggled for four years with toddler toy storage, using a mishmash of child-size shelving in our daughter’s room. I hated the idea of buying pastel or primary color shelves that would surely be replaced with “normal” furniture when she grew a little older.
Why not buy tall, durable solid wood shelving with a normal wood stain that will last from birth to college? Just put toddler stuff on the lower shelves, and secure the bookcases to wall studs using steel cables so they can’t be tipped (sold as earthquake safety gear here in California).
Then I came across an idea on ParentHacks.com and adapted it… a toy library, except ours is for books and boxed games.
The idea is, when you take an item from its storage space, you are responsible for returning it before taking another item. Our exception will be bedtime books, with two checked out each evening. When our boy is old enough, he’ll be able to check out items too, a sort of forced sharing situation with his big sister. Granted, 4 years difference doesn’t create much overlap, but kids can be possessive.
We bought two oak bookcases for a combined 7-foot-tall 8-foot-wide presence in our living room (from a local oak furniture store).
The three lowest rows of shelves are filled with our daughter’s items: books, puzzles and boxed games. The upper shelves contain materials we kept in two closets — older-kid and adult (complex) board games, cookbooks, craft books and “chapter books” that we read our daughter.
Next to the Wall of Awesome is our daughter’s old IKEA wall shelf-turned-floor-bookshelf, filled with our baby boy’s future board books and knob puzzles. A shape sorter and similar toys will reside in his own room.
Our daughter’s room still has her kid-sized shelving, now a bit more barren, reserved for true toys — her doll house, Woodkins dress-up dolls, K’Nex, doctor kit, dress-up clothes, a fix-it toolbox, tracing books, and so forth. One of the shelves has become a cabinet for her play kitchen.
The long-term scheme for the Wall of Awesome is for it to be overtaken by games, a family center of shared fun. My hope is we will need to buy a third giant shelf to fit our books.
The fact that the Wall of Awesome is located in our living room, rather than our kid’s room or a closet is, for me, a badge of honor. It’s a philosophical statement. These are the things we value: family time, education, play.
For your edification, or my ego, linked below are photos of each shelf hosted on Flickr. See something interesting? Ask me about it.
Jump into a specific zoomed view. These rows are from lower right-to-left.
- Row 1A: Children’s books
- Row 1B: Winnie the Pooh books
- Row 1C: Children’s books and jigsaw books
- Row 1D: Children’s books and pop-up books
- Row 2A: Paperback children’s books (unreadable except to sharp eyes)
- Row 2B: Learn-to-read and educational stuff, mostly
- Row 2C: Floor puzzles
- Row 2D: Puzzles
- Row 3A: Boxed toddler games
- Row 3B: Boxed toddler games
- Row 3C: Boxed toddler games
- Row 3D: Boxed toddler games
- Row 4A: Library (and borrowed-from-friends) book return shelf (keep these separate!)
- Row 4B: Cookbooks (used to be vegetarians)
- Row 4C: Carcassonne (great older-kid game)
- Row 4D: Older age games
- Row 5A: Parenting books
- Row 5B: Cookbooks
- Row 5C: Older age games
- Row 5D: Older age games
- Row 6A: Craft books and kid’s activities
- Row 6B: Older age games
- Row 6C: Classic board games
- Row 6D: Smaller older age games
- Row 7A: Poetry, nursery rhymes and older age books
- Row 7B: Chapter books for reading to kids (lots from a library book sale)
- Row 7C: More classic board games
- Row 7D: Big older age games
- Row 8A: Cyberman and Zeebot helmets (more about Cybermen and Zeebot)
- Row 8B: More older age games
- Row 8C: Busy Beetles
These rows are from bottom left-to-right.
- Baby Shelf bottom: Baby puzzles
- Baby Shelf Row 2A: Board books
- Baby Shelf Row 2B: Board books
- Baby Shelf Row 3A: Board books
- Baby Shelf Row 3B: Board books
If our collection of books and games seems extensive or excessive, know that much if it is purchased at garage sales. The Wall of Awesome was four years in the making. When you begin attending sales religiously on Saturdays, you can pick only top quality stuff in great condition, sometimes never used. It amazes me how many great books and games were presumably given to people as gifts and never opened or played, yet they have large collections of well-used junk I wouldn’t want for free in mint condition. Their parenting philosophy differences are my gain.