Maximizing Your Game Room: Game Storage Shelving & Cabinets

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As I mentioned in my article, “Game Collecting: How the Internet Changed the Hobby“, gamers typically get carried away with accumulating all the games they can get their hands on in order to build an especially impressive collection that they can show off to their friends and the world.

This collecting habit can lead to a very messy gaming environment if extra effort is not made to organize your library with the proper storage furniture such as shelving and cabinets.

The Benefits of Shelving

  • Storing your library vertically can make a very good use of space
  • Open shelving allows your to show off your collection easily
  • You can also absorb the view of your meticulously organized sea of games at any given instant.
  • Adding cabinet doors (covered in detail later in this article) has similar benefits, but allows you to hide them when desired for cleaner presentation.
  • Making a larger investment in quality shelving may definitely enhance your collecting experience.

Sizing Up Your Collection’s Needs

  • A smaller collection may require as little as a single, 3 ft. shelf, while more expansive ones often require numerous shelves at 6 ft. or higher.
  • Don’t forger about what other non-game items, such as magazines and figures, may occupy your game room, if any at all.
  • You should plan for slightly larger shelves than your initial estimate as it leaves more room for growth.

Shelf Depth Is Important

  • The depth of a shelf is one of the most overlooked aspects of a shelf.
  • Typical shelves, and those most easily obtained are usually 10-12 in. in depth. Most boxed or encased games, regardless of format, are typically half of this size.
  • There would be a good amount of unused space on each shelf if the games were not multi-layered.
  • You might wish to use this leeway for alternate gaming items, such as handhelds, toys, accessories, etc.

CD Shelves for Minimalist Approach

  • If you don’t need extra space, CD shelves may be your simplest option
  • These common shelving are not much deeper than the CD cases they are designed for.
  • They often have adjustable shelves, so you could easily adapt them to hold DVD cases or vintage game boxes.
  • Just remember that non-game items typically cannot be held on such units without their own dedicated area or extra unit altogether. (Which will defeat the minimalist concept)

Keep the Weight of the Items in Mind

  • If you are like me and have a large collection of gaming magazines (see picture below) or other heavy items, you need solid, reinforced shelves.
  • Always be sure to place heavier items such as arcade sticks or magazines on the lower shelves, namely the bottom one.
  • The higher shelves, whether held by pegs or secured strongly, offer less resistance than that of the stable bottom shelf.
  • Pegged shelves generally offer 35-45 lbs of support at maximum (check instructions to be sure), but are susceptible to contorting.
  • If your shelf it tall, you may need some way of fastening the shelving unit to the wall to prevent the unit from tipping over.

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Taking It To Next Level With Cabinets

  • With cabinet doors on your shelves, the room that has a much more mature feel
  • The space seems instantly cleaner and more organized
  • With doors are shut, everything looks in place, even if things aren’t organized perfectly
  • The environment is more suitable for having guests over
  • You will win major points with your parents or significant other
  • While the cabinet picture below is not showing video games, the concepts can be applied the same way: shelving for boxes, cases, and extra consoles along with containers for extra controllers and cables.

How To Obtain Shelving & Cabinets

  • You can buy brand-new cabinets (Ikea, Target, etc)
  • You can build your own (mine are all hand-made, but not by me)
  • You can recycle older cabinets (from your kitchen, bathroom etc.) and paint or re-finish them and touch them up with some new hardware.

My Thoughts and Experiences

There is something about having cabinet doors covering up the array of items that is actually refreshing. It gives the room more consistent and clean feel.

When I was first married, my wife told me she didn’t want all my games sitting out in the open (whether they neatly on shelves or not). At first I was a bit upset because I liked showing off my collection. However, after we recently moved into our new house, I have some built-in cabinets in my office and media area in which I can hide my gaming collection. I have to say I wouldn’t go back to normal bookshelves again.

If I need to browse or show off my collection, it is easy as opening a few cabinet doors. I personally feel that it’s more of a thrill to open the doors and be welcomed to an array of games than seeing them every moment I’m in the room.

Obviously, these storage cabinets don’t need to be as elegant and expensive as those you might find in a newer kitchen or bathroom. Mine are very simple wood that has been painted with white paint. The hardware (handles and hinges) can actually make the biggest difference and give them the most personality.

Obviously cabinets aren’t something that everyone needs in their game room, but those of us that need to keep our rooms looking presentable to the general public, they can be quite beneficial.

Personally, I’m still working out all the organization for specific things like controllers and spare cables. I’ll have to work on a guide for all the specifics another time.

Note: I want to say a special thanks to SegaVega who helped me write some of this article a while ago.  

12 Comments

  1. Ramen Junkie says:

    I built a cabinet to hold games and one for consoles. Here’s a severely dated photo from at least 5 years ago.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lameazoid/337332911/

    Or there’s a link tot he flickr page if the image doesn’t show up.

  2. gnome says:

    Brilliant, though unfortunatelly useless in my case…

  3. The Apprentice says:

    Wow, perfect timing for me, I’m redoing my room over the next few days and this will be helpful. Nice article!

  4. Eric Milles says:

    I definitely agree, doors are a must if your room serves as more than just a game room. I should send a picture of my current cabinet because I do have multi-leveling you refer to in order to take advantage of the depth of average store-bought cabinets. I also use the same shoebox sized totes for controllers and memory cards. Awesome to keep everything on hand but under control.

    I was wondering if you could build on this article with some recommendations or links to various manufacturers. I am looking to redo my game room since one of my two cabinets was damaged in the move and I am really beyond the capacity of two now anyways. And I remember one of the hardest things the first time was finding decent cabinets that fit my requirements. Most available from Walmart or Home Depot are just too small. And the modular shelving units I found on the web were way overpriced because they used solid hardwood shelves. Finding a middle ground took forever.

    Also, what about shelves/cabinets for consoles? Do you have different recommendations for that? A couple extra requirements come into the mix for me: room for proper venting, power availability, cord management and a/v switching. I have a reasonable setup now using some Radio Shack a/v switch boxes, but they are chained together since each only has four switches and I have something like 12 consoles right now. Plus, they don’t support s-video or component video or anything fancy like that, so I have stuck with composite for all my systems to make things easier. Anyone found any premium solutions for some of these issues? Again I could provide pics of my current setup if anyone wanted to see where I’m at. It is a very reasonable setup for a few consoles (no more than 6 I’d say). I just need to scale it up a bit.

  5. MikeR says:

    Good effort for a very basic article, but all these tips are still a bit obvious, imho/no offense intended. You’ve started with a solid foundation here, but there is room for a *lot* more, like what EricM above has touched on.

    BTW, shelf sag is something that can be remedied with a bit of basic woodworking. Here’s a good resource for more information:
    http://www.woodsmith.com/files/issues/sample/sample-08-09.pdf

    It works wonders on the weak shelving found in the more ‘affordable’ furniture.

  6. Lucas says:

    Thanks for that link MikeR. I x3 cheap (very cheap) wallmart shelves that I bought for my collection and have noticed a degree of sagging which I find very annoying. I was hoping to figure out a way to solve the problem.

  7. Yacko says:

    An alternate viewpoint. If you are into collecting physical objects this works fine, but all the electronics and carts/CDs are aging – how long will they last? Will the collection survive your next move? What about a fire and/or water damage? What if it becomes too much to deal with and the floor sags? Can you find a sympathetic significant other if you carry this much baggage? Bwaa-haa-ha! I’ve probably got 5000 pounds of various computer paper myself. You know the drill, virtualize and scan the material. There are Emus and ROMs already, there has been some attempt at box art and instructions, some computer and game mags have been scanned, but far from complete. I would encourage scanning&ripping in general because you just can’t predict the future. DVD-ROMs are here and pretty stable and BluRay is sure to hit big (as in $2 single layer discs) in the next 12-18 months. What would you rather carry with you as you mature – 10,000 pounds of crap or 100 BD discs? Yeah, I know it’s fun to handle real things but at some point…it’s going to go. Also don’t forget the same attitude will also reduce any books, childrens books, comic books, pamphlets, advertising, magazines, catalogs and perhaps even board and card games to the virtual world.

  8. logan says:

    Hey “Yacko” you should change your name to WACKO. the idea of getting rid of all your books and putting them on BD is ridiculous…everyone would have terrible eye site from reading on a monitor. Great article Racketboy, keep it up!

    -ultrmax films

  9. racketboy says:

    Actually, Yacko, I think it’s an interesting idea. I actually implement that technique to a certain extent. Exploring the idea in an article might be an interesting change of perspective. If you are interested, maybe would could collaborate on it.

  10. ketsueki says:

    To make my play in cabinet i went to radioshack and bought (4) 3-Terminal Audio/video Wall Plates Catalog #: 40-990 installed them in the back of the cabinet and soldered them in paralell using Monster® SuperFlat 500-Ft. Mini Speaker Cable (Navajo White) Catalog #: 55011817 and bought (2) Monster HTS 950 PowerCenter™ with Clean Power™ Stage 1 Catalog #: 61-123 and mounted them in the back of the cabinet tossed a PC power supply with 4 140mm case fans that i installed in the side of the cabinet it doesnt look the prettiest but its functional and i spent alot more for the equipment i put in the cabinet that i did for the cabinet

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