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Organize Your LPs DIY Style

Do you have a pile(s) of vinyl record albums sitting in a corner? Or maybe a small army of milk crates filled with albums is your current organizational style. Isn't it annoying to keep moving albums and crates around trying to find the right one?

Have I got a solution for you!

Get your tunes under the needle in minutes and make a cool conversation piece in one afternoon. Bonus: It's SUPER easy.

So much better than a pile of milk crates, right?

What You'll Need:

  • IKEA Expedit or Kallax (*No IKEA? Try Craigslist, VarageSale, Facebook Marketplace, or your local thrift store. I got ours for a steal on Craigslist.)

  • Glue

  • Vinyl stick-on letters in various sizes - white works best (*You can find these at craft stores or office supply stores.)

  • Ruler

  • Newspaper or drop cloth (something that can get gluey)

  • About 30 records that are scratched beyond repair or simply unwanted, but they MUST have the cardboard album cover (*Salvation Army thrift stores can be a mecca for these.)

  • A dustcloth and/or Clorox wipes

  • Your awesome record collection

Commence DIY-ing!

You've got your supplies, some tunes, and a DIY attitude.

I've got your step-by-step guide:

Step One - Decisions, Decisions

First you need to decide HOW you want your LP collection organized.

By genre?

By artist’s last name?

By album name and/or date of release? (No worries. It's okay if you're that person.)

By most to least favorite?

If you have a current membership to Overthinkers Anonymous, join the club.

My tip? Just pick an option you would probably see in a library or record store and go with it.

I ultimately decided to organize most records alphabetically except for some genres I knew I listen to more for the genre then the artist (e.g. Jazz, Classical, etc.)

Once that is decided, start making piles for each section you'll have.

Since I was doing mostly alphabetical I started out with stacks like: A-C, D-G, etc. so I could organize in phases instead of having 26+ piles to try to sort into.

Step Two - Preparing the Dividers

When picking out some records that are either scratched beyond repair or you just plain don’t care for, make sure they have cardboard sleeves.

I didn’t have any such non-desireables so I made a trip down to the local Salvation Army thrift store and stocked up. On a daily basis they are only $0.50/record, but sometimes I can catch them on sale for $0.25/record when they have an overabundance.

The trick is finding enough records that you don’t want to KEEP! I came home with a number of…ahem…extras. Hehe.

Prep these records by wiping down both the record and the sleeve with your dustcloth.

However, if your thrift store records were like mine you're going to want to use Clorox Wipes. Talk about yuck!

Step Three - Measure, Glue, Rub, Repeat

From your decision in step one, determine how many dividers you will need.

For each divider, decide how far out you want your divider to stick out from your organized rows of records.

(See the lettered record dividers sticking out in the finished picture above? How far do you want those sticking out of their sleeves?)

Mine worked out great at about 2.75″ from the sleeve to the widest part of the record.

Glue time!!

Make sure you are on a surface you don’t mind getting a little gluey (I put some newspaper down on the carpet).

For each divider, glue both the inside of the sleeve and the outside of at least one side of the record. Make sure NOT to get glue on that 2.75″ of record that will be sticking out of the sleeve.

Glue on at least one side of the record (minus the area you want to stick out) AND inside the cardboard sleeve.

This glue task reminded me of all the time I spent as a kid letting glue dry on my hand just so I could peel it off. You know you did it too – or wanted to. LOL.

After you spread out some glue, put the record inside the sleeve.

Measure to make sure you have your 2.75″ (or whatever you decided) outside of the sleeve.

Then lay your gluey record/sleeve sandwich on your work surface and give it a good rub down to help the glue stick.

Now just repeat 26+ times for however many dividers you decided to make.

**You could even make your own ‘working song’ to keep your mojo moving (think Sheldon & Penny making Penny Blossoms on The Big Bang Theory).

Step Four - Sticker Time!

Time to get your stickers together and make your labels happen.

I used 1.25″ white vinyl stickers that I knew my mother had been 'saving' for years, which was perfect for the look I wanted.

If you or a handy relative (hehe) don’t have any on hand, take a record with you to the craft or office supply store and play with different sizes to see what you like.

Crafter + word nerd = this was my favorite part of the project. Hah!

I would strongly advise doing a pre-sticking assessment of your letter 'inventory.'

In other words, make sure you have enough letters for any extra dividers that you want.

(It could save you an annoying extra trip to the store in the middle of your project mojo!)

When all was said and done, I had 26 dividers with one letter each (A-Z), as well as five more: "Classical," "Jazz/Blues," "X-mas," "Kids," and "Opera."

Guess who DIDN'T assess her sticker 'inventory' before starting? *cough, me, cough*

Soooo...use a little MacGyver magic and sometimes you can make it work.

I was one ‘S’ short of finishing my dividers when I noticed the $ stickers. *Ding, ding, ding!

A few snips of the scissors later...voila! *Cue MacGyver theme song.*

Step Five - Clean & Alphabetize

Now that you created your dividers, you just need to clean your albums (because when's the last time THAT happened?) and get them organized.

I didn’t actually start this project with the ‘cleaning’ step in mind, but I had NO IDEA how dusty record jackets get until I was rubbing the albums to make the glue stick and looked at my hands. Yuck!

Grab a soft cloth or some Clorox wipes (those thrift store records often need serious cleaning). Then, start to alphabetizing your records into the Expedit/Kallax and simply wipe down each album as you place them behind your new dividers.

You can also take this opportunity to see how many albums you have that don’t have the inner vinyl sleeve so you can get some more. Those inner sleeves really help protect the grooves!

Step Six - Take a Picture!

Don't forget to take a picture of your final result.

I was SO excited to take the "TaDa" picture!

After a year of living in our home with boxed up records and multiple years before that of an organized but giant pile of hard to access records, this just made me SO happy.

Since I completed this project we use our albums so much more because we can actually find what we’re in the mood for!!

*Bonus Step - What About Little Record Albums?

Personally, I had a number of 45s (small records) that would have gotten lost amidst the 33s (large records). If you do too, find something around the house that would make a neat pair of bookends and simply set them on top of your Expedit/Kallax.

I actually used some gorgeous classic Winnie-the-Pooh bookends my mother-in-law had given me but I hadn't found a good use for yet.

The bookends worked beautifully and were actually quite appropriate since most of my smaller albums are children’s songs and/or stories.

Enjoy & Share!

I hope this step-by-step helps you better enjoy your vinyl collection as well.

I would LOVE to see what you did with your own collection!

Share a picture of your own stash or tell me about it in the comments.

(Even if it's just a big stack in the corner. Hey, that's organizing too, right?!)

Happy treasure hunting!

- H

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Loves good books, silliness, hearty laughs, hugs, a cool glass of elderberry lemonade, new rain smell, classic theme songs, and all things creative or funky  

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