March 12, 2013

Building Their Bookshelf

The way physical space affect human behavior fascinates me.  Grocery stores are experts at this, using the physical layout of the store to maximize profits.  Last week, I learned how to change the physical space of a bookshelf to help my kids.

Normal bookshelves are not particularly friendly for small hands.  It's impossible to see the covers, and there's an amount of fine dexterity required that makes taking books out (or putting them back!) frustrating.

Then I visited a friend, who'd made a horizonal book rack out of a shipping pallet, like this.  Genius.  Pure Genius. Easy to see the books.  Easy to grab them.  Easy to put back.  Easy to riffle through.

This had to happen at my house.  But I didn't have a shipping pallet handy, or a saw.  But, I did have an old shelf with no purpose hanging out in the closet.

The Old Shelf

So, I stripped out the pegs and took apart the wood.  That took more effort than I'd care to admit, and I'm not sure the butter knife will recover.  Anyway, at this point, it looked really ugly.  I also learned that this wood was laminated, not stained, so sanding and refinished wasn't an option.  Humbug.  Oh well.  The kids were going to put dings in it anyway, right?

The Shelf, Disassembled

Thankfully, I had someone smart look at my pieces, and she suggested fabric.  Bracket screws went into the wood, followed by the sewn lining, followed by thumb tacks to pull it all together. 

The best part of this project, though?  All those books are down where the kiddos can see them, face-out, without a bunch of other spines to fiddle with.  Sure enough, books that are easy to grab get grabbed often.  I'm happy the shelf turned out, but even happier that we're reading more because of a simple change in the space around us.

Much thanks to the creativity of the woman who sparked this project, and the one who helped me finish it.

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