Not to put too fine a point on it, but we live in a small home. Two bedrooms, one bath. Maybe 832 square feet in the interior, once the wall volume is subtracted from the 24’x36′ footprint. Last year, we painted the entire home interior for the first time since moving in 18 years ago, save for the bathroom, which was done maybe 12 years ago. We took a week off work and did it ourselves, but the fine details took further weeks to polish. We conspicuously decided not to paint the Record Cell.
Doing so would have required another week of work just to prep the space. The walls are all but invisible in there. There are hand built CD racks that were once five feet high but have since been extended to nearly eight feet high. There are sundry bookshelves and two huge record racks that have 1,000 disc capacity. We waited for another time to paint that room, which was almost a moot point since only 10-15% of the walls were actually visible in the approximately 12′ x 12′ room.
A Change Is Gonna Come…
We have wanted to re-floor the home since moving in and in the next 4-6 weeks, this will finally be happening. The mixture of linoleum and berber carpeting was never likable, but now we are installing laminate wood flooring and finally need to move the contents of the Record Cell out of there to allow the work to happen. Before the flooring is to be installed, we will be taking another week off to:
- patch/paint the room ourselves
- get a crew in there to remove the popcorn ceiling and plaster and paint that
- move all of the small furnishings and china, etc. into a storage pod in the front yard
So-called “popcorn” ceiling texture is rampant across American homes due to its ease of application [it’s sprayed on] and its ability to gloss over numerous construction sins. The random texture makes the uneven qualities of the ceiling less noticeable. This is the time to make any and all changes once the estimated ton of contents were out of there. So I have been spending the last few weekends packing up all of the records/CDs/DVDs and taking them to our neighbor’s home, who graciously/naively offered their finished basement catch-all room to store the things I might not want in a humid storage container outside the house. Since I have spent many hours getting the contents next door, this seemed like a good time to discuss the storage of all of this music. A practical matter that every collector deals with.
The Early Days Of The Record Cell
Thirty years ago, I moved into a large, three-bedroom, two bath apartment. I slept in the smallest bedroom and the largest room was used for the music collection! My first [and most spacious] Record Cell. In 1993, I was only just a few years back into buying records. I had “gone CD” in 1985, and had traded in a lot of the record collection for CD trade value. But by 1990, I began to grasp that not everything would be coming out on the sliver disc. And I began buying records again. But in 1993, I had maybe half as many as I have now. I needed a storage system that was flexible and economical. I was never one of those people who if given $1000 would buy an exquisite shelving unit for $800 and be left with $200 to buy records with! I was always all about the software. So I needed a storage system that was sturdy, reasonably attractive, and above all, affordable. I was a Costco member at that time and they had chrome steel baker’s racks that were once very common but now are hard to find for some reason.
I bought two baker’s racks which were 16″ x 36″ x 80″, but don’t quote me on that height measurement. I’m estimating there. These had five shelves on them, the bottom four of which would be holding lots of records. But the racks has parallel wire welded vertically that would be a harsh surface to keep records on. I would need something else to protect the record bottoms. I thought about buying sheets of clear plastic lucite and cutting them down to size to fit on top of each rack, but then I would still need some bookend-like device to maintain the records vertically. I then came up with the notion of those plastic milk crates that were so useful for storing records.
These would hold the records up to prevent slumping. But if I used them in the normal fashion, I would have to pull a 50 lb crate of records off the rack any time I wanted to play a record. Tedious. I then realized that I could put the crates on the rack with the opening front side out instead facing upward. The record spines would protrude through the open face of the crate for easy access. Each crate held approximately 80 records and would fit three astride each shelf. The crates had interlock pins on two sides that interlocked and kept them from drifting and each crate at the end of a shelf would lop over the shelf edge by and inch or so. Perfectly acceptable. So I bought two of the racks, which were <$100 at the time, and 24 of the plastic milk crates. A dozen each in black and white. I would alternate the crate colors for a Ska-inspired checkerboard effect. The crates were <$5 each.
The two decked out racks had a potential to hold nearly 2000 12″ records. But not all of the crate contents would be records. I also had hundreds of laserdiscs. These would also get racked with the records. They would use maybe a fourth of the storage capacity. These racks moved on to our first home, and then to our second, third, and finally the home we live in now. They take up the space of an entire wall in the current Record Cell and here is a drawing of a full one to put it all across.
CD storage in the first Record Cell was down to those all-media cheap dowel racks that were everywhere, and affordable [back then]. I see that being made of wood, they cost a small fortune now! I had a dozen or so of them since they were only five or six shelves high. They held 250-300 CDs [as I recall] and at a certain point I needed more storage, once we were in our first home. Also, the Record Cell there was going to be a small bedroom that was a far cry from the master bedroom used in the apartment for media storage. I would need taller racks that didn’t waste so much wall space. At that same time, my friend chasinvictoria was consolidating his Condo of Mystery® after marrying and had a spare CD rack that was taller, and held at least 500 CDs. He named a price and I paid it; taking it home to replace two dowel racks. Wheels started turning.
I designed a plan to replicate the rack I had just bought using wood I would buy and cut myself from a building supply store. For a finish I rubbed tung oil into the wood. The store would provide a certain number of cuts for free on their panel saws, leaving me to make only a few cuts with a jigsaw to finish the job. I made three more of these racks and the cost of materials was modest; about $80 at that time. These replaced the dowel racks and used the space more efficiently in my second Record Cell. They came with us to another state and have been the racks ever since. But once we were in our current home, the drip feed of new acquisitions meant that I was running out of room to store the CDs I was still buying. A problem.
Growing The Racks
I realized a few years back that the current racks were only 66″ high. The walls were 84″ high. Space was being wasted. I then hit upon the idea of making rack extensions that I would screw into the tops of the existing racks that added four more rows of storage. Maxing out my wall-to-CD-storage ratios. Toppers for all four of my huge racks were finished by a year or two ago, but the reality was that I still have at least 500 CDs [mostly singles and legacy copies of albums I re-bought for bonus tracks] stored in cardboard CD boxes that hold 25 CDs which are stored off rack. Mostly on the top shelves of the record racks. It would be nice to have enough rack space to have everything accessible. Meanwhile, CDs were still getting bought and ended up being stacked precariously on the floor in the Record Cell! Something had to give.
Then, two years ago, I found a black 24″ x 24″ x 60″ spin rack at a tag sale for a pittance. But the unit was missing shelves and pins for half of its space. I was out of wall space, so a rack that could sit on the floor was paramount. I bought it thinking that getting replacements might be possible. It was not. I had to end up making the shelves myself earlier this year. I found the correct thickness of wood and sawed it down myself and applied black contact paper to it, ending up with shelves that looked very close to what the unit had, though the black melamine looked tighter than the adhesive vinyl, which tended to unpeel slightly on the sharp corners. But once the CDs were sitting on it, that took care of that problem. So four square feet of precious floor space in the Record Cell was finally the home to this, the latest CD rack. And the bitter irony was that, even with another 800 slots to fill, I still had at least 300 more CDs off rack that would not have a home for browsing. If I were to fill the spin rack, then I’d have no more “room to grow” the collection. So the 20 boxes of 500 discs off rack were still off rack. And I have 200 slots available for the inevitable growth to come.
As of yesterday, all of that music is sitting in my neighbor’s spare room. And the racks are currently bereft of music. We have about 50 CDs pulled that we were listening to and that is the music we have to listen to for the next one to two months. I have about a dozen records pulled that I might be digitizing for CD burning purposes during this period. Any music I am going to write about for that time had better one of the pulled CDs or otherwise on my 4TB media drive where the digitized records live or in my iTunes. So we’ll see how this goes for PPM. I don’t plan this blog very much at all. As if you couldn’t tell that from looking at it. usually, each new day brings a topic that was chosen sometime minutes before my lunch hour. So this has been my roundabout way of telling you that there might be larger gaps between publishing than usual here at PPM. Wish me luck.