A certain Swedish furniture company has a line of bookcases that are pretty popular. They're made of particle board, in sizes to fit any apartment, and at prices anyone can afford. It's not a bad way to store your books. Really. I should know as I have more than a couple of them, complete with extension units to stretch all the way to the ceiling. Please, don't tell...

But they're cheap. And ubiquitous. Which makes them super cheap and easy to find on Craigslist.  But by that point they're sort of falling apart.

Part of their popularity stems from the fact that, for the price, they're not terrible. Like a box of mac and cheese.  But for a little more we could all do so much better....  Though these bookshelves do hold your books. And so long as you play the game and spend 25% more to have them NOT be white, they don't look too bad.

I'd love to buy all my furniture while I wander around SoHo, but sadly my monocle was crushed when they delivered my last case of yacht wax, so until I get that fixed, I'm relegated to other options.

Crate & Barrel and its ilk have some options.  But whoever is making it won't bike over to my place and take measurements.  There's also lots of great work made throughout Brooklyn, but that is pretty expensive - as great work should be.  (Actually, truth be told, most of what I have I bought used and like a lot, but it would be great if it were possible to get a customized piece that is simple, sophisticated, and affordable.)

I want to make a better option.  Here are the features I plan to include...

  • Shelves can be added or removed, but the spacing between the shelves is fixed. Likely about 10".
  • It will be all open.
  • A wooden and metal frame will mount on the wall, and the shelves will cantilever out.
  • The materials will be relatively inexpensive (e.g. furniture-grade plywood and conduit), but the wood will be considerably stronger than particle board (with hardwood covering any unsightly plywood edges).
  • The finish on the wood will be simple, elegant, and durable.
  • The whole piece will hang from a concealed French cleat, and the placement of the cleat can be adjusted to account for the wavy and bowed walls common in old apartments that make arranging anything difficult.
  • Design and installation will be included in the price.

I'm begining a prototype that will be used as a kitchen storage system. It should be finished early 2011. I could see this also being used as a wall-mounted closet system, with the appropriate supports to hold a closet bar about 10" out from the wall, complete with shelving above, shoe racks below, and all that.  It would also be great for store fixtures.

It will cost more than the Swedish alternatives, but will be a much better value (and I can only assume will have a considerably higher resale value, should you - surprise! - be moving again and can't take it with you...).

More details soon...