Vinyl Apocalypse: the LP Shelving Dilemma

The three most traumatic events anyone can experience in life? The death of a loved one? A surprise audit by the IRS? Your entire LP collection purloined by a disgruntled ex-lover?

And, oh yes—moving.

As 2016 turned to 2017, my wife and I were forced to move from an apartment we wrongly assumed we'd never ever have to leave, which in New York City means a lot. Perhaps we were just a tad naïve?

In any case, moving meant not only throwing away shirts I hadn't worn since high school and deciding how many Led Zeppelin T-shirts was too many, but also packing up every last petroleum-based morsel of an ever-burgeoning collection of recorded music. LPs, CDs, SACDs, 78s, laserdiscs, boxes of cassettes and 7" 45s, the odd eight-track tape, a reel-to-reel or two, even a sizable crate of wax cylinders—if there's a physical-media sickness out there, I've got it bad.

After 14 hours of movers carrying boxes up and down stairs, the momentous task was complete, only hours before a full-blown blizzard paralyzed Gotham. But we were snug inside our new place, one entire bedroom filled to the ceiling with boxes of music.

One key concept to moving physical media you care about, even if it's just around the corner, is to invest in sturdy packing boxes. is a good choice. You'd be surprised how many dings and drops and near disasters can happen when movers, who've become exhausted and utterly disgusted with the seemingly endless piles of heavy, almost lethal LP boxes, begin to lose interest in the quality of their work.

After a suitable period of post-moving recovery, during which my wife avoided speaking to me as she gazed on the piles and wondered how she'd ever allowed this agglomeration to happen, the idea of organizing and buying new record shelves began to come to the fore.

In our old place we'd drafted bookshelves into service to bear loads they were never designed to handle—as evidenced by the telltale sag in their shelves. There were also custom-built shelving units for LPs and CDs that had admirably served their purpose but were now beginning to show their age. And, of course, there had always been boxes full of records—many of these boxed records had ended up stuffed into the bottom or top of closets.

When I actually saw my entire music collection in packing boxes, there was a moment of great relief, followed by a sense of clarity and order to my life that I'd rarely, if ever, felt before. But that soon passed, and having everything in boxes rapidly became maddening. Where's the Rameau? Where's the Coltrane?! In what box had I stuffed the James Brown?!?

Not only was it time for a purge—which, once I'd gotten into it, was actually easier than I'd imagined—it was also finally time to get all the LPs and CDs up on shelves for the first time ever. Having the entire collection organized and easily accessible seemed a bit dreamy, but I thought I should at least try.

After some online research, ably assisted by Jana Dagdagan, Stereophile's editorial coordinator, I found a very helpful feature on shelving at That led me to two local manufacturers whose products could not be more different. While based in Brooklyn, both also ship to anywhere in the US and, potentially, the world, depending on how keen you are to pay the shipping costs.


I first visited Elias Didaskalou, of Urbangreen Furniture, which he and a partner founded in 2011. The tall, laid-back Didaskalou was a lawyer by trade, and Urbangreen is a full-service furniture and design company capable of doing custom woodwork for private homes and businesses: cabinets, furniture, built-ins, stairways, and entire room interiors. Urbangreen has made everything from bunk beds to the inside cabinetry of the Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop, in Dumbo, Brooklyn, but got into making LP shelves only a few years ago.

"We have the know-how and we play LP records ourselves, so with my partner, we thought about it beforehand and saw that there was a gap in the market. So we said, why not? and people embraced it. Everybody loves having storage for their LPs."

Didaskalou lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, close to his factory, and says that he "partakes in the design but I'm not the designer per se." With 15 employees, the Urbangreen shop is bustling, and their use of nontoxic materials means that it doesn't have the clearly unhealthy odors of an auto-body shop where cars are painted. Didaskalou is very proud that all the woods Urbangreen uses are from verified renewable resources, that the finishes have very low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, and that any upholstery is free of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). In other words, if your baby or dog wanders into the listening room and chews on the LP shelves, it won't die or permanently damage its nervous system.


"We use locally sourced solids and plywoods, and all our finishes are water-based, durable, and formaldehyde free. Our glues are nontoxic," Didaskalou says. "Sustainable because if it turns up in a landfill in a couple of years, it doesn't do much for the environment, my customers, or myself."

The Urbangreen aesthetic is less about art than about what works—their website calls it "an elegant mesh of form and function." The LP shelves themselves are sturdy and utilitarian. The individual media cubes (from $99, depending on finish) are modular and can easily be moved or adapted to different spaces. Cubes with a door ($159) or adjustable legs ($169) are also available and they're all available in 24 different colors, from fuchsia to turquoise. Everything Urbangreen builds is also available in maple, cherry, or walnut finishes. The company has a showroom in Manhattan at 236 E. 78th Street, and one in Sunset Park, at the factory. Most products, which do not require any assembly, are shipped from the factory within 10 days of being ordered; custom jobs take longer to complete.


Allen Fant's picture

Nice coverage and interesting products- RB.
which locations of apt(s) did you guys move? Why?

Otherwise, I would like to read about a company in similar form that makes CD storage wares. Happy Listening!

ednazarko's picture

I had one of those album collections that meant it took 20 minutes or more to decide what to put on the turntable next, and went through several different storage strategies. The real problem I eventually had though wasn't how to store them... it was how to have a house that could survive them.

A new construction house we bought in the Maryland suburbs (in the 90s) was built to the county's minimum construction specs. Our record collection did permanent damage to the floor - including to the floor supports - in our family room that eventually required some very creative repair and remediation so that stuff didn't fall off our shelves when someone walked across the room. Got to where people felt uncomfortable and nervous standing in the room when someone walked across it.

I'll say this for digital music, it's never going to cause me to pay thousands of dollars to a carpenter to fix my floors. My LP collection now lives in its lovely racks on the concrete basement floor.