January 1, 2008

Revisiting The DT Checklist: Milk Crate Wall - DONE

milk crate tower in the nursery

Well, the ol' DT checklist is pretty much complete, or at least the kids' room is in ready-to-receive shape. [The kid, not so much, she's been kind of a stressed out, wigged out basket case the last couple of weeks, but more on that later.]

I think the end is in sight for the crib front for that Juddy bed, but it won't be necessary for a couple of months, at least; we'll use the Bugaboo bassinet instead.

The cube tower is done and painted. And as you can see, the big toy & book storage solution is in place: a dozen extra-large milk crates, zip-tied together in all their authentic, industrial glory, and rubber-strapped to the wall.

Baby stuff like boardbooks and blocks and squishy toys on the bottom, big girl books up higher, where the baby can't reach them. Then the stuff that needs a grown-up's help--and that's not too heavy, or in heavy rotation--goes up top.

The kid helped organize things, actually, which felt important for buy-in. We'll probably rejigger the books to eliminate some of that sag; it looks kind of ghetto to me.

It's funny, when I was at the hardware store kicking around for safety strap solutions, the college student helping me was like, "Oh yeah, I have some of those." If I'd had milk crates in some cheapo phase of my life, I might not take such a liking to them now, but frankly, I think they're just beautiful, essentialist, industrial products. And they look right nice stacked up next to the steel tool cart/changing table.

Price-wise, milk crates might be a moneysaver only if you steal them [or get the generic square ones from The Container Store, where they're only $10/ea. And they have colors.] Our 19-inch rectangular Rehrig Pacific crates were about $14 apiece via Melmat. Shipping ran about $30/3 crates, which put the whole wall at around $300. Actually, that's pretty cheap. It would've been another $100-150 if I'd gone ahead with my idea to have the crates hot-stamped with a kid-related logo of some kind. Think about that...

property of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc.

Though we really like the milk crates, and their self-supporting simplicity is unbeatable, I'm kind of disappointed that we won't be making a Judd-like cantilevered stack of Coca-Cola trays like the ones down the street at the farmer's market [above]. That pattern reminds me of the mashrabiya latticework window screens in Islamic architecture, or Jean Nouvel's insanely great Institut du Monde Arabe building in Paris--or of the radiator cover I'm staring at right now. I'd love to see these crates on the wall somehow/where, just not now/here.


You haven't hit the big time until you've built a futon rack out of milk crates.

Have you thought about getting wood cut to fit the base of the milk crates that you plan to put the books in? Might get rid of the sag.

[interesting idea. this morning, the kid and I tried redistributing books and puzzles, moving the heavier things toward the edges where there's more vertical support. If it doesn't work, maybe a stiffer base is next. my guess is, the square ones don't have the span, so they wouldn't have this problem. -ed.]

You could also rearrange them so a couple rows are in a running bond pattern. The corners of the crates below will support the center of the long span above it. Of course, that would tangle up the lines a bit and the whole setup wouldn't be so sleek. But on the plus side, you could have some cool cantilever action.

[hmm, running bond... cantilevers... I like that. Then there's this post from BLDGBLOG about extreme blockstacking. I see a v2.0 in the kids' near future! -ed.]

As we've been reorganizing the shelves for a while, the sag got more pronounced, so I'm off to the hardware store to take Shannon's advice and line each crate with a thin piece of wood or mdf, haven't decided yet.

we tested it with a book, and it dramatically improves the sag

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