Steeped in nostalgia: The baby shelf conundrum

I can vividly remember a trip my mom and I took to a local antique shop some time during my sophomore or junior year of college. As we browsed through the narrow aisles and dusty shelves, stacked bottom to top with dishes, books and decades-old knick-knacks that always seem to find their way to this type of residence, I came across a display case filled with objects whose identical cousins used to stare back at me from my own toy box. My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets and even a handful of Happy Meal toys (the old transformer ones that changed from tiny hamburgers and fries into dinosaurs) were all sitting there, just waiting for some nice person who decided they were worth something to come along and take them home. Seeing such familiar objects mixed among cups and saucers from my grandparents’ days hit me in two very distinct ways: First, it made me feel old (the same kind of old I felt when I first saw reruns of Home Improvement and Full House on Nick at Nite); and second, it made me feel incredibly nostalgic for the things of my youth. Every stuffed animal, Barbie doll, puzzle and plaything that I used to love came flooding back to my mind. If I hadn’t been a 20-year-old college girl at the time who was trying to convince herself that she was, in fact, a bona fide grownup, I might have dug through my parents’ basement and hauled a half dozen boxes of toys back to my apartment by the end of the weekend. Growing up is hard business.

But here’s where it gets fun again. With the beanette now very much on her way, I’ve started thinking back to special things I loved as a kid that might be just as fitting for our 2011 baby as they were a quarter-century ago. This Peter Rabbit tea set from my wee years definitely fits the bill. I lo-o-oved this thing when I was little. Plenty of water-in-lieu-of-tea parties were had, and despite all the clinking of cups, every piece of the set has magically remained unscathed. Seriously, not a chip in sight!

I’m definitely planning to incorporate this bit of bunny love into the Bean’s room, but I’m still not sure where/what to do with it. I saw Sarah Richardson frame some snazzy plates on an episode of her show a while back, so I’m thinking about that for the bigger dishes. But the set itself definitely needs a safe, sound and out-of-reach-of-a-rambunctious-baby’s-curious-hands spot until she’s old enough to know the difference between a tea cup and ball (and how they’re meant to be utilized). Perhaps floating shelves are in order? Or a baby-approved bookshelf that can hold her breakables up top and her safe-to-throw-and-chew-on things below?

Before I settle on something, I’ve been doing lots of browsing on Pinterest for baby shelf ideas (have I mentioned before how I love, love, love this site?!?!). Here are a few of my faves:

A bookshelf and a tree. Have you ever seen anything cuter? Unfortunately the hefty price tag makes this gem of a piece a no-can-do by a long shot, but I haven’t given up on finding something similar for a fraction of the cost. Photo found here.

These cube guys might be a handy choice. I do so love a shelf with space for basket storage, and it would be a long while before the Bean could go-go-Gadget her arms up to the top shelves. Photo found here.

Floating shelves like these from Young House Love might be a good fit. There isn’t much room for storage, but her breakables would have plenty of space. Photo found here

And this one I love because … Ha! Just kidding. I’m sure our little lady will have no need for this caliber of shelvery until she’s well past the throwing-her-mom’s-favorite-tea-set age (unless she takes after her dad, in which case the book-buying gene might send her there much sooner). Photo found here

So that’s where I am now: stuck between a shelf and a hard place. Thankfully I still have a few months left to ponder this design/function dilemma. In the meantime, I’ll be happily pinning away.

What are your favorite storage solutions for the pretty things you want the world to see but not to touch? Any baby room shelving ideas to share? And in the spirit of nostalgia, what childhood keepsakes have you/will you pass on to your kiddos? Do tell!



  1. says

    Have you considered shadow box options for the tea set? I like the cube shelfs for books and stuff and floating shelves to display. You sound like you are having fun recalling your childhood with having a bean in the oven. I loved Peter Rabbit and Holly Hobby. Have a Great Weekend – enjoyed the post:)

    • says

      Yeah, I’m with you. I’m thinking that doing cube shelves and floating shelves might be the way to go. Great idea with the shadow box option. I’m definitely going to think about that one. Hope you have a great weekend, too!

    • says

      So cute! I bet Emma’s room is adorable! I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled for a sale. Target’s a major go-to for me, especially when they’re super awesome and mark stuff down!

    • says

      Thanks, Laine! We did have lovely tea parties back in the day, didn’t we? :) Ten dollars at IKEA sounds like a great deal for floating shelves. Thanks for passing along the link!

      Hope all is well with you and your little family. Henry is beyond adorable!

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