The CD storage problem: what’s a music hoarder to do?

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CDs © by eddie.welker, used under Creative Commons license.
Hey Homies,

My partners and I have a huge music collection that includes tons of CDs, vinyl and cassettes. I’ve been begging freecycle for CD towers, but nobody seems to have them around anymore, and even if I got some, they really only solve the CD storage problem. What’s a music hoarder to do?

We’re also on a really, really, tight basically nonexistent budget. We are a handy bunch and are pretty good at building projects, but still can’t think anything up that allows for collection expansion, and easy access. Any ideas? I’d love the help. Thanks so much!

Offbeat love,

Homies, we know you have brilliant CD storage solutions. Bonus points for links to pictures!

Comments on The CD storage problem: what’s a music hoarder to do?

  1. I don’t know if your building allows it, but my first thought was using long nails and some wood planks (think 1-2″ thick) to make very think shelves. Line up a row of nails, set the wood on top of them so that it forms a shelf, and then line the CDs against the wall so people can admire your collection. Depending on how much wall space you have you could line the walls with these shelves.

    Bonus: in festive times use the nails or shelves to help you hang Christmas light chains!

    edit: You could also paint the wood in crazy colors and have it complement your wall or any art nearby!

  2. My boyfriend and I had this problem when we moved in to our new apartment last year. He is a music junky and I am a book hoarder and our living room was a disaster. We also had been using a $10 TV cart that I had owned since my dorm days, and frankly we wanted to feel a little more grown up. The solution we came up with? An old dresser that we got for free from a relative. It’s long and just the right height to put our TV, dvd player, and stereo on, and has drawers the perfect depth for all of our media. It’s also great for the semi-organizer in me. One drawer has vinyl, one has dvd’s, a few have cd’s. So far, it’s worked great for us!

  3. Ugh- we have this problem, too. We’ve had a cd holder that we bought at IKEA oh, 7 years ago and it won’t be with us much longer. We also have a smaller wooden bookcase. I might try looking in second hand shops for such a thing. Or maybe an unfinished wood shop might actually have something still?

  4. I know it’s like heresy to some people, but we just got rid of all the cases and put the discs in a binder. And honestly, tapes and vinyl are cute and kitchy, but why use so much precious space with them? Make something cool out of them or chuck ’em (after you rip the music).

      • Speaking as the former roommate of an audiophile, ripping the audio off a vinyl is ALMOST as good as listening to the vinyl. It is definitely much more rich and authentic than a studio recording, even a remaster. We did double blind audio tests to check this one week. Beatles remastered vs unmastered vs ripped vinyl vs vinyl. It ended up being an audible difference between unmastered and mastered and either vinyl or studio cut, but the vinyls were fairly comparable, and we couldn’t tell the difference most of the time. For the less magnificent albums (like kid’s albums or ones you keep for sentimental value rather than the listening or monetary value of), you can rip and turn the vinyls into bowls or something else useful and it won’t be a real loss, then you get to see your favorite kid’s album every day. For storage, we used an Ikea Expedit bookshelf, which you might be able to Craigslist.

      • I am willing to concede a case could be made for vinyl for the collectors willing to put up with the inconvenience, but ditch the cassettes. As a child of the 80s, I grew up on cassettes and frankly, they’re terrible. Inconvenient. Bad sound quality. Prone to stretching and breakage.

        I’ll be honest, now that music is readily available as audio files I can access from the cloud, even CDs seem clunky and a pain to use to me. All of mine are in folders and the folders live inside a cabinet, not easily accessible, but still there in case I should need them for back up.

    • As an Audiophile I would never describe vinyl as kitchey. There are many recordings with amazing sound engineering that will never be on CD.

  5. My fiancé and I store our CDs and DVDs in those cd books meant for the car. You can get ones that hold 200+ per book. We have the cases in a box or three in the basement. Then the books just go on the shelves in our media cabinet. We don’t currently have a solution for his vinyl collection (he used to DJ, so there’s a lot) but we used to have them in one of those cube bookshelves from target. I’m as much a book hoarder as he is a vinyl hoarder, so my books took over the bookshelf.

    Freecycle is good, but keep an eye out on Craigslist too; they have a free/curb alert section.

  6. I was so hoping to have this done before someone asked this question, but oh well. I have 100+ CDs, and refuse to give them up, put them in binders, in storage, anything (though, they have just been sitting in the box they were moved in for the past couple years). But soon! Soon, I will attach 3M strips to the back of each of them, and attach them to the piece of plywood I bought, and then nail those babies up. TA-DA! CD wall art that still lets you grab the discs out and/or the case off the wall! I dunno when I’m gonna have time to do it, but I’m aiming for the next couple weeks. Rest assured there will be pictures!

  7. Hey, it’s not really inovative but the thrift store I worked at this summer always had a TON of interesting variations on the theme of “CD tower”, often including some wall-mounted varieties, and for dirt cheap. They were just one of those items we literally never ran out of. Take a gander through your local thrift store, you might find something usefull!

  8. right now all of ours are stored in diaper boxes, lol. we’re renting at the moment. i think we’re going to have to do some sort of custom build when we buy. we have SO many CDs and are starting to collect vinyl too (i agree with the commenter who said tapes and vinyl are cute and kitschy but a waste of space as far as tapes, but there really is something about music, mastered for vinyl and recorded on it, that’s different and seriously awesome). i’m the handy one, so it’ll be me doing it. lol

    • Oh, and regarding options for other-than-CD storage (since you said that was a big concern), all my cassettes are stored a drawer of a pretty dresser in my living room. CDs, too, since I don’t access my music as much as I access my movies.

  9. In my apartment, we have several tall (like 6′) bookcases with adjustable shelves. One for cds, one for dvds and vinyl, and several for books and other miscellaneous things.

  10. i think for affordability (it could even be done for free if you know where to look), ease of construction, and adjustability you might want to look into the “board and cinder block” style of shelving.

    my eyeballing it in my head measurements say that you could do a double-cinderblock height with wide (or two) boards for vinyl and bricks and 2×6 for cds. using bricks as the height adjusters would give you a lot of leeway in shelf sizes too.

    not the most “finished” looking, but i think they can look pretty badass.

  11. I’ve got a similar problem with DVDs. Between my husband’s collection and mine (with many TV series and box sets) we might have close to 1200 DVDs. The CD/ DVD books have proved to be unsatisfactory because, although they hold quite a bit, they are nearly impossible to keep organized. In addition there’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” issue. We hope to rip everything but the stuff worth displaying onto hard drives soon, but I’m looking for interim solutions.

  12. When hubby and I were living in a unit that didn’t have much storage space, we used bookcases for our DVDs and books which we put in the living room. We put the DVDs and books which we didn’t mind people seeing (and the stuff “display worthy”) at eye level, and the stuff which we didn’t seem too care too much about at the bottom.
    To make it look as if it was less of a cheap storage system for our stuff, and more of a display of our personal tastes, I ended up putting photo frames, knick-knacks and other small items on the shelves with the books and DVDs.

  13. I saw someplace many moons ago a shower curtain that was covered in CD sized pockets. Leaving the disc’s usable, I was unable to find it on my recent search, but it should be easy enough to construct. You may even be able to make many of them and hang them from ceiling to floor in your hall way or all over your home, either alphabetically or by color or any other organizing pattern you would like. If you make the pockets slightly larger you should be able to accommodate the CD cases too!

  14. I know it’s not very pretty, or even easy to display, but since my books are overflowing the bookshelf my husband and I have put all of our cds and dvd into one of those big cloth binders you can get at the store. It takes up less space and you can always put the inserts in there as well.

  15. My husband and I keep our cds in folders with sleeves for discs. I just pulled the papers out of the jewel cases and slipped them into the sleeves with the cds. You can organize the folders according to genre. I even put the cds in alphabetically by artist. They take up a lot less room now.

  16. If you have a spare wall & want all of your CD cases to be visible, something like this might be a good idea:
    They used simple brackets & Ikea countertops but I’m sure you could figure out a more affordable wood solution.

    Or if you don’t mind them being hidden, an IKEA Expedit shelving unit:
    would work paired with baskets for storing cases.

    Either option would allow you to use some shelves for vinyls or books or whatever else you are wishing to store/display.

  17. My folks have a HUGE CD collection. What my Dad did was to create a criss-cross type shelving system that takes up one of the walls in their bedroom. It’s similar to some wine rack designs and depending on the width of the boards and how big you make each of the holes I’m sure you could adapt it to whatever size you need for Cd’s, vinyl, DVDs and even books. I’ve thought about doing this myself, and if you need to be able to move it I’m sure you could build it as a slide together type system. Kind of like in this pic

  18. I can’t imagine not having the cases for my cds. I spent years (and a lot of money) collecting the albums and I like the visual aspect. I’m in the same boat in terms of figuring out a storage solution, and I’ve decided to do a long shelf running along a wall in my office/guestroom, close to the ceiling so it’s out of the way but still accessible by standing on the bed.

  19. I know that you said you don’t have much of a budget now, so this might not help, but I store my cds in several Ikea Benno cd towers. They’re $40 each, and they say they hold 180 cds but since many of my cds are in jewel cases I can fit about twice that on each shelf. I like them because they look really classy when strung together in multiples or lined up with bookshelves in matching veneer. They come in a half dozen colors and stains, and they fit cds and dvds perfectly because they’re half as deep as a normal bookshelf.

  20. An old ikea item, but maybe still available…? I think it’s a magazine holder, but it looks like a V or check mark made out of aluminum. Very cheap in price. You could get (or make) a bunch of them for cd storage on your walls. Similar idea to @Lisa suggestion I guess

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