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Organizing CDs

Martha Stewart Living, April 1999

The selection of storage units made just for compact discs has improved greatly in recent years, and you'll find a large assortment at housewares and furniture stores. But there are plenty of other ways to store your CDs.

As you search for the perfect system, one of the most basic things to consider is whether you would like the collection to be on view. If the room you'll be storing them in is sleek and modern or quite casual, or if the area is devoted exclusively to home entertainment, they'll fit right in. However, in a more traditional or formal setting, you might prefer to keep them out of sight.

Whatever you choose, stacking cases or placing one row in front of another are bad ideas: You need to be able to take out one disc without moving any others, and to read the spine of every disc.

A large collection requires a generous amount of space, such as several shelves or drawers. You may devote some room in an existing piece of furniture, such as an armoire or bookshelf, to the CDs, as long as the shelves aren't too tall or the drawers too deep, in which case the CDs would look out of place, and you would be wasting valuable storage space. You might be better off buying a cabinet or chest of drawers, new or vintage, just for this purpose.

Take a jewel box -- the plastic case most CDs come in -- along when shopping to make sure it will fit. When storing your collection in a stationary piece of furniture, it should be near the stereo and easy to access. Stooping or stretching to reach your CDs will quickly become tiresome. If it is too dark in the cabinet or drawer to read the labels easily, install a light in the area, or stash a small flashlight alongside the discs.

Small bins, baskets, and boxes made of materials like wire, metal, cardboard, wood, wicker, and plastic can be found at organizing and housewares stores. They can be used for smaller collections or for organizing larger collections. They look neat and stylish on an open shelf, and they're mobile, which is handy if you have a CD player in more than one room in the house. Even if you have the perfect shelving system for your discs, it's a good idea to have one or two small bins for new CDs or current favorites, the ones you're playing frequently at any given time.

Minimalists can do away with the jewel boxes altogether, and slip their discs and the liner notes into plastic sleeves in flip-though albums made specifically for discs, which take up almost no space at all.

Comments (15)

  • katym6 12 Nov, 2008

    i'm pretty sure most people use iPods now....

  • Molly454 10 Nov, 2008

    Our JVC CD player (mentioned in previous comment) has a remote control with it so we can also shuffle thru songs we don't like, or we can program it to just play jazz or country or rock and roll or classical etc.. or just Christmas Music.. or all BUT Christmas music. As we listen to our music on random we look at each other when a song comes on that we haven't heard in ions and our eyes light up.. WOW.. we forgot about that song... this way we don't get stuck on just one cd or forget others.

  • Molly454 10 Nov, 2008

    I have a JVC CD Carousel that holds 200 CD's. It's like a Jukebox. It will play continuosly or randomly hooked up to our surround sound system. The CD jackets are filed in a small book so when a given CD comes up I can crosscheck it and look at the jacket cover, or I can quickly find the CD I want to listen to in the book, push the button for it on the player and wallah. I also put them on our IPOD for travel.

  • kasiacevedo 9 Nov, 2008

    First Published: April 1999?! I'm all for recycling, but geez! This is pre-Y2K!

  • jo68 9 Nov, 2008

    I am very ancient I guess because I have many original LP's which I gave to our 16yr.old grandson who wants a turntable, but I miss all those beautiful LP covers. As I collect interesting wicker baskets with lids I use them to store my CD's and enjoy their cases too. An old wicker picnic basket fits my collection of CD's

  • citypixie 9 Nov, 2008

    I put an extraordinary effort into transferring my CDs into iTunes for my iPod, but I kept my CDs (as well as backups of all of the files in compressed formats) because you can never be too careful with data stored on a computer. I store my alphabetically sorted CDs in CD sleeves and store the sleeves in utilitarian-looking plain cardboard 3-ring binders. I have a few empty sleeves in each binder to accommodate new CDs and back up CDs for my iTunes collection as I acquire new mp3 files.

  • marthavisitor1 9 Nov, 2008

    I'd like to mention that it is better for a CD to be stored vertical than horizontal in it's hard case.

  • iamMargie 9 Nov, 2008

    For those of you that only listen to your ipods, believe it or not there still many of us that do listen (and still purchase CDs). Just because you prefer to store your music in your ipod, there are many of us that still prefer to listen to our CDs. I guess that makes us ancient or not with it?

  • kasiacevedo 9 Nov, 2008

    First Published: April 1999?! I'm all for recycling, but geez! This is pre-Y2K!

  • kasiacevedo 9 Nov, 2008

    First Published: April 1999?! I'm all for recycling, but geez! This is pre-Y2K!

  • kasiacevedo 9 Nov, 2008

    Funny, with the dawn of the MP3 player, we don't even have many CDs anymore. Oh wait, this information is almost TEN years old!!!

  • myloverdoverandme 8 Nov, 2008

    Instead of baskets, I used plastic storage with cover. Nice and tidy and dust free.

  • alibee5 8 Nov, 2008

    Our place is soo small, I've had to become very ingenious with our storage space. We have bookcase shelving under the tv stand which accommodates probably 2/3 of our cd's...but for the rest, we use low rectangular baskets with handles on the end. Each basket holds two rows of cd's very neatly, and since we have a small living room, the cd basket fits neatly under a side chair and is easily retrieved for a closer look. You can also sort by genre...i have a smaller one just for jazz.

  • m1193 8 Nov, 2008

    THIS IS A GREAT IDEA. CAN'T WAIT TO TRY IT.

  • SOMERSIZING 20 Aug, 2008

    WOW! WISH I WOULD HAVE FOUND THIS MUCH SOONER, LIKE WHEN WE MOVED INTO THIS HOUSE WITH VERY LITTLE STORAGE. BUT NOW THAT I HAVE FOUND IT, YOU CAN BET THIS IDEA WILL BE PUT TO GOOD USE. PRINTER HERE I COME.