23 March 2009


i'm a sucker for any books published by parent's magazine press, in the late 1960's, early 70's. why, you ask? because those were books that i had as a kid. my favorite books.

the first child-related purchase i made after finding out i was pregnant with cosmo, was parent's magazine press books i found on ebay. titles i'd loved as a child. i could not afford the few copies i could find of jelly beans for breakfast. fortunately and unfortunately by remi charlip was also out of my price range, but i did get my nostalgia fix with arm and arm (also by charlip) and a few other wonderful stories. now, i scan the bookshelves at thrift stores and yard sales, hoping to pick up a few more titles. one, which i found at a good will here in town, is called the awful mess. it isn't one i had as a kid, but is of the same general quality, and i love it. it is about a boy who crafts elaborate towers and tunnels and jungles in his room, which the rest of the family regard as "an awful mess." the conclusion of the book (spoiler warning!) involves the boy having a new friend over. the boys crawl through the tunnels, and share caramels at the end, and the friend says, "i like your room, it's neat."

i said that to cosmo today, and meant it. it is really neat and tidy in there, thanks to these awesome shelves i made this week. i've been meaning to make these for six months or so, finally got around to it. nothing like house guests (arriving this weekend), to get one motivated to finish projects. they were fairly easy to build. however, since i skimped on the "grade" of pine boards, i got some seriously warped and otherwise messed up boards that i had to work around, but, the finished product, i feel perfectly happy with. it was so much fun to fill in all the slots with toys, and art supplies, and TALL books (which had been lying on their sides, since we had no tall bookshelf space before), and to have more of cosmo's stuff down low, where he can actually can reach it. his clothes really had no proper home before this either, and, while i think i need to add a couple of shelves to the tall one, it is such a huge improvement. the new shelving also allowed me to de-clutter all the other storage areas, like thes built-in open shelves, and and the closet.

oh, and please note the "feet" of the lower shelf--they are made of wooden beads (which came from cosmo's beading set, which originally came from one of those beads-on-wire-tracks toys, which someone gave us when he was a baby, which i took apart one day, and saved the beads). they add a subtle color accent.

the stuff i build is always very simple, rarely painted, in this case, not even a clear coat. i'm just way too impatient to install the thing, and put it to work. i can't be bothered to wait for paint to dry! one of my neighbors said they looked "scandinavian." i'll take that as a compliment. even if she did mean that they look like they came from ikea. my other secret dream job is to be a furniture designer for ikea...

i also have to work within the confines of the tools i have available to me. i can borrow a table saw from our neighbors, but i'd rather not, so i avoid designs that would involve a table saw. recently i made a tv stand (so that cosmo could have his little table back) and i made it way too deep, primarily because i could find pre-cut plywood pieces at 2ft x2ft. it was close enough to what i had drawn, and so much easier than dealing with sheets of plywood, and getting it cut to size. the sides consist of small pieces, assembled to make a panel. i actually get a big kick out of coming up with the simplest and cheapest design, with the tools (and skills) i have at my disposal. constraints always force creative solutions.


julie said...

I LOVE it! My favorite part is the bead feet, and my other favorite part is the clothing storage.

I have to break it to Matt one of these days that the clothing storage he made for the girls' closet sucks and he has to do it again--when I finally get up the nerve (or gall), I'm going to point him back to this post.

Abby said...

i LOVE these shelves!! I am soon needing something in Lily's room...I'm sending her changing table (which I never use for changing diapers, but have used for shelf space) to the new Barefoot location when it opens. I've just been bugging Scott about what I'm going to use for shelves when it's gone. But....we're not so handy.

ms. mep said...

My boys and I just spent the week at my parents' house where I read Bub some of my childhood books. Some Sweet Pickles titles and a book called Hands, Hands, Fingers Thumb were his favorites. My eyes will be peeled for used SP books from now on.

As ever, I am so impressed with your creative solutions. The shelves are beautiful and I envy cosmo his tidy, peaceful room.