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My children are lucky boys. They have so many toys, books, games and DVDs we have to come up with creative ways of storing them. My biggest personal vice is treating them to sets of books. They have absolute favourites, and sometimes can end up with piles of them all over the floor that then get stood on and the covers get absolutely wrecked. So, I decided a nice attractive wall mounted book shelf might be the solution as ideally I wanted to put the more expensive books out of reach where I could get them down when they wanted them and then put them back. Boys being boys, they found a solution to this by clambering up onto the sofa bed in their bedroom, standing on the back of the sofa and hauling themselves up using the clothes hooks underneath the shelves. Not being designed for this purpose, I recommend siting this bookshelf either at a height where they can reach it safely, or somewhere that will be difficult to climb up. The set was ordered online from the early learning centre, and at the time we bought it, was available in a green option which is what we went for. I try and avoid the boy/girl stereotype of either pink or blue where possible, but these are the only options you can choose between if you purchase one now. The set was completely flat packed, and although the instructions were reasonable we had a couple of minor traumas identifying some of the bits, so it was assembled wrong, we had to take some of it apart, and then do it properly. I would say assembly is really for 2 people as it was rather tricky to hold the bits in position and screw it together. It was also a lot easier using an electric screwdriver rather than a manual one as there were so many screws to tighten. We also had a little trouble getting holes in the wall in the right places to hang the book shelf. It sits on screw heads, and it is definitely a case of measure twice, drill once to get it right as they sit at the back of the narrow vertical sections on the top half of the book shelf. There are 3 shelves all together. As a book shelf, it is ok but not great as you do not have a lot of space for storing larger books. They can only fit on the top shelf, or the left hand side of the middle shelf where height is not restricted. Another restriction is you need book-ends to hold books up on the top shelf. This came with a lovely set with the letters a and z, but they are fairly bulky and take up a lot of room themselves, and also they are not that good at holding too many books up in my opinion and we have had a shower of books a few times when the kids have helped themselves. We tend to use the drawers for storing little nick nacks, and the right hand side shelves are so small we display small items here, like little trucks my mum bought them with their name on, and some wooden initial letters, and a little wooden ship. Overall, I have been quite impressed with the weight of books that this thing holds up. (Touch wood now, as I bet it falls off the wall overnight now I said that. ) I find it is very attractive for a child's room, and it also is not so babyish that I need to replace it in the next couple of years. I will need to upgrade at some stage, but this is more because it just does not solve our book storage problem entirely which is a real shame. The only thing that has failed on it is that 2 of the coat hooks have been pulled off by the kids climbing up and holding onto it, which I can really understand. They were strong enough for me to hang some of their sun hats and small items like that on, but I don't feel you could have got away with hanging something like a school bag on there as it is only screwed into the wood. After a couple of years of use, there is very little in the way of chipping to the paint or other signs of normal wear and tear. It is not perfect, but it helps to keep some items out of the way and from getting lost or damaged, and you can co-ordinate this item with other pieces of furniture from the early learning centre to have the room matching. The dimensions of this piece are: - depth: 16 cm - width: 69.5 cm - height: 47 cm It costs £40. It co-ordinates with a set of 3 wooden stacking storage boxes at £50, a free standing book shelf at £80, and a desk and chair set for £75. Not cheap if you wanted to co-ordinate the whole room.
In my never ending quest for storage solutions I bought these Early Learning Centre shelves, also available in Mothercare for £32. I wanted something for my youngest daughter's bedroom that would be at reachable height and where she could put the smaller items that seemed to be permanently on the floor, such as hairbrushes, hair slides and her collection of jewellery. As you can see from the picture they consist of three shelves with 4 hooks at the bottom, some removable flower-shaped bookends and 2 small box drawers. The whole thing is painted in suitably girlie fashion with little flower details, predictably there's also a boy version in blue. Initial impressions of this item were, I have to say, pretty poor due to the fact that when they say "self assembly" here, really they mean "build it yourself". Every small piece of this item, including the 5 small pieces that make up the drawers had to be put together. This, it turned out, was a surprisingly long task with fairly poor instructions and left me wishing no one had ever invented the flat pack or, indeed, the ever present alun key; there were 5 small screws for each bookend alone. The quality of the pieces you put together didn't look that great either, however once assembled it does actually look fairly good - the photo is very representative of what you get. Attaching the item to the wall (we made sure we chose a supporting wall), was almost as tricky as the assembly - there are two small screw holes and no obvious way of working out where to drill, we ended up making a template. Once assembled and installed we were, it has to be said, more pleased with the item than we thought we were going to be. At 16cm deep it doesn't jut out too far, but is perfect for smaller items. It's only 69cm long and 47cm high so doesn't take up too much space but does contain smaller books and also a few of my daughter's more precious items such as her first Lego model and a photo frame she made one rainy afternoon, very nicely. The two small drawers are perfect for her hair accessories and, as intended she can reach everything. The design means there are lots of little nooks and crannies which is perfect for the bits and bobs that needed a place to be - I'm working towards having a "place for everything" in my home. I'm not sure having the book ends at the top shelf was necessarily the best idea - they are pretty well the same width as the shelf and quite heavy and I do worry she will pull them onto her head, but the pegs (which are larger than they appear at the bottom) are surprisingly useful for hanging up smaller drawstring bags and the like, and thus far we have had no mishaps with the shelves which my daughter loved it on sight and was quite keen to use it. Overall this item isn't the best quality piece of furniture I have ever seen - "Tidy Books" or Pin Toy wooden items are much better made in my experience and the finish and fit of the pieces of this could be a lot better, however it's still a useful and attractive item. I would recommend it - there's also a matching bookshelf, despite the frustrating build, as for it does what it is designed for quite well, though we have been careful not to overload it as I don't think it would bear up to too much stuff. When all is said and done, my daughter thinks these shelves are great, and they've made her room slightly more tidy than it was before she had them, and that, ultimately, is all that matters to me.