Shelf to Order For A Seven-Year-Old Girl

How regular shelves from a big store just won't do!

Here's a classic example of a home-built simple shelf for a very special little girl.

I promised our daughter that as part of re-doing her room, I would build her a shelf above her bed. She sleeps on the upper bed of a bunkbed. Little did I realize the power of her imagination, nor the shelving requirements of a seven-year old.

She drew me the following picture:

"What's that?" I asked. "My new shelves" she replied. "Oh" I said. What was she thinking?

Well, it turns out that she had thought this through quite well. You see, the top 2 sections are for her Barbie dolls, and the space between them is for books, and the space underneath is for everything underneath (light, clock, non-Barbie dolls, art projects, etc.). Also, she had already decided the color, blue to match the room that we had just redone.

So, there I was, measuring with great accuracy Barbie dolls. Barbies sitting (do you have any idea how much Barbie's hair adds to her height?), Barbies standing, and even physically handicapped Barbie (lost her legs in a bizarre accident, don't ask). Well, as I got into the idea I began to realize that it's really quite a good one. The design is sound, and the shelf provides my daughter with space for the things important to her.

Here it is:

I decided to build the shelf out of blue MDF. Yes, I know that this isn't the same as real wood with a blue-tinted varnish, but MDF is cheaper and quicker. In this application, it definitely didn't make sense to invest the time and money in real wood. As a nod to my woodworking sensibilities, I fashioned simple pine edging to finish off the shelf. It adds a certain elegance that plain blue edging wouldn't. Also, I decided to build it using simple butt joints. I covered the screws with white caps, which stand out nicely against the blue. In order to mount the shelf on the wall, I installed keyhole fittings in routed spaces on the back. These allow me to bury the screws in the wall behind the shelf, and give it the appearance of "floating."

This shelf is a great example of unique design. Obviously you won't find anything like this in a store. Building it was simple, and didn't take very long. Of course, until I got around to completing it I noticed that my daughter was already losing interest in Barbie dolls!

Now I'm proud to say that the spaces hold some small baseball trophies, and the Barbie's have been relegated to our younger daughter on the lower bunk. The older one's still happy with the shelves, since they display the trophies quite nicely. My biggest worry now is what happens if her team wins the championship and she comes home with bigger trophies!

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