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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.

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