I see posts all the time looking for a new (or easy, or inexpensive) way to store all those toys and books that our toddlers seem to accumulate. Today I’d like to suggest the following homemade solution. You will need:
* one old (or inexpensive) bookshelf, preferably five or six shelves and about six feet high;
* wall anchor straps (available at Target or Babies R Us); and
* brightly colored, pastel, or coordinating bins (optional).
Here’s the trick. Take the bookshelf unit — and yes, one of those particle-board numbers from your college dorm room or first apartment will work perfectly well — and turn it on its side. We’re now going to take the shelves out and put them back in in a pleasing, yet utilitarian arrangement. Before you turn the shelf, mentally label each shelf, top to bottom, as A, B, C, D, and E (just like Ikea probably did originally….).
Remove the top shelf (A) and the two bottom shelves (D and E) from the unit. (Here’s where the particle-board or prefab units are actually advantageous, as all you have to do is take out the little tabs that support them!) Is shelf B already firmly fixed in place using glue and/or screws? If so, set shelf A aside; this is the only shelf that you will need to cut.
With a friend, rotate the bookshelf so that it is lying on its side. The bookshelf should still be facing you, but it now appears to be about 6 feet long and 30 inches tall. Fixed shelf B is now a vertical support.
Lay shelf D down flat and slide it down to the end of the piece, at the bottom left corner. Using this as a measurement, place shelf C snugly up against it and secure it firmly in place using drywall screws and an electric drill (or whatever you have on hand that will work). Make sure that it is snug up against the shelf and nice and square if you can, using the same measurement for both the top and bottom of this piece. Once C is secure, slide shelf D up about 2/3 of the way and screw it in securely. The screws should go into the top/left side of shelf C and the bottom/right side of what used to be the very bottom of the bookshelf. Now slide shelf E into the space below shelf D, about 1/3 of the way up, and secure it.
Now, the only sawing that you will probably need to do will be to shorten shelf A so that it fits snugly between the top/left side of the bookshelf and shelf B. Measure, cut, slide it in at a pleasing height, and secure it.
To complete the look, slide in your favorite brightly colored, pastel, or coordinating bins, or use wicker baskets to hide the legions of action figures and teams of race cars that used to live under the couch.
Overachieving moms may want to touch up the top and sides of the unit with dabs of white paint where the screws went. If you do, please don’t tell us.
Widget’s bookshelf; the idea works just as well for all those little toys and cars in the playroom!