Over the years I have owned various amounts of music. I think I bought my first cassette tape sometime in 1985, and before that I had gathered a small home-brewed collection of stuff copied off my dad’s vinyl. And I’ve always been down with music organization. Even when I was 14 years old with only a dozen or so tapes to my name, I still invested in those little wooden crates which I carefully repainted to my liking.
As my cassette collection plateaued and my CD collection grew, I bought various crates, racks and shelves to stay the onslaught of thin plastic cases. For most of the 90’s, this regular rotation of storage vehicles wasn’t terribly inconvenient and I rather enjoyed proudly displaying my impeccable musical taste to anyone who visited my humble abode. But, alas, there came a time when the display became an eyesore. Perhaps not so much an eyesore as much as visual clutter in the context of my cozy (read: small) apartment spaces. Growing amounts of actual furniture left little space for CD racks and shelves. It was time to simplify.
I had a few particular things I wanted to achieve with my new CD organization system. First and foremost, I wanted the collection to be easily accessible. The CD sleeves/inserts had to accompany the CDs so that I could reference them when needed. Lastly, I wanted a dignified, simple, modular and accessible storage solution for my empty CD cases.
An Easily Accessible Collection
I remembered a friend who had displayed her CD cases out on a shelf but stored the actual CDs and sleeves in binders. Binders!, I thought. Of course! A few bucks later, I had binders in which to transfer my CDs. Whereas my friend had been using each binder pocket to store both a CD and its sleeve/booklet, I chose to reserve the top pockets for sleeves and slip the associated CD in the bottom pocket below the sleeve. The reason for this was two-fold. Some CD booklets are rather thick, and this prevented sliding a CD behind them. Additionally, many of my CDs have great artwork screen printed on them, and I didn’t want that hidden.
This method naturally cuts the binder’s storage capacity in half, but I think it’s well worth the tradeoff in presentational value and consistency. In addition, I left an empty page every 5 pages for future expansion.
Storing the Skeletons
I was still left with all of my CD cases to deal with. For a while they remained on display, which defied the very reason I had adopted the binder system. Then we moved, and they spent months in a nondescript cardboard box. Though they were out of sight, I felt bad about putting them in the same storage caste as my mothballed GI Joe collection and Christmas decorations. This was still part of my music collection, albeit the remnants. It was not the dignified solution I wanted for them. Though they would not be on display, I still felt it was important to keep them organized in some fashion, not just piled in a box..
Fueled by the promise of a new year of clutterless living, I resolved to find a storage solution I could live with. I had looked at various storage cabinets and other furniture-like pieces that would keep the cases well-organized but behind closed doors. The problem was that none of them were scaleable or modular. I knew I would surely outgrow the storage space eventually, and then what? Buy another cabinet? That would put me right back at the beginning.
No, I had to think smaller. Of course the idea of shoebox-size boxes had crossed my mind many times, but there was always a hitch when I came across something along those lines. Either the container was too expensive, too ugly, or not suited for CDs. With the opening of the IKEA store in nearby Frisco last year, I should have known that the my perfect box would have been just a short drive away. Alas, it took me a few months to investigate IKEA’s offerings and finally come across the KASSETT box. At an affordable $6.99 a pair and a capacity of 23 CDs each, it is my ideal solution. They can be arranged to fit in a variety of spaces, and are attractive enough to be stored out in the open if desired.
Everything In Its Right Place
Now that I’ve achieved this state of Zen, I can move on to loftier goals, like lying on beds of nails and fasting for 6 months at a time. Aside from a few hiccups in the system (like figuring out the best way to integrate CD artwork from sleeveless digipaks) and ongoing organization (ah, the joys of alphabetizing a collection), this system is really working for me. My visual space is less cluttered, I don’t feel guilty about where my jewel cases are stored, and I can easily look through all my CDs. Mission accomplished!