Review of the Babyletto Bookshelf: The Book Falls too Far from the Tree

Sometimes even the most savvy of parents (and clearly you are already savvy since you're reading this blog) get taken in by something that seems cute but really fails to perform even very basic functions. Today is the story of one of these times...
Cute, right?

When setting up the nursery for our first child, we had trouble finding ways to add splashes of fun and color in a room that was too small for much clutter but also sparse (given the amazing custom-installed closets eliminating the need for dressers). Knowing also that books would be a key feature in our little one's life, we were quickly entranced with the babyletto Spruce Tree Bookcase.

Given that the babyletto Hudson Crib came highly recommended by the Baby Bargains Book (and looked impressive sitting in the nursery) and that their bookcase was a third the price of similar alternatives, we were IN.

It's true, assembling furniture with a newborn around is not for the faint of heart, however...

Bookcase Bottoms Should Not Be Round

The bottom of the bookcase was not flat. LET ME BE CLEAR. It's not that it wasn't level, it was NOT FLAT. It was instead rounded, making it rather difficult to stand up or support the weight of, you know, books. I guess they assumed that it would be entirely supported by the brackets they provided but that seems awfully optimistic.
...Strike 1...

Bookcases Should be Made for Floors as They Are

Like many folks living in old buildings, or medium-aged buildings, our floors are also not quite level. Had the folks at babyletto been on top of this and provided some kind of leveling mechanism, the problem with the bottom of the bookcase being round would have been mitigated. Unfortunately, we were left with a situation where even IF we'd just had some weird manufacturing error, there was no way to set up the bookcase to safely hold things. Plenty of furniture around the house has shims for leveling, but something designed for cute appearance should do better.
...Strike 2...

An Aside: Power Tools and my Awesome Wife

Undeterred, we went to work, purchasing T-Nut Furniture Levelers, an extra large drill bit, and finding time between not sleeping and cleaning up from our constantly pooping newborn to do some light carpentry. And by "we," I really mean my wife. Anything requiring a screwdriver or wrench, I'm your guy. All other tools, and especially power tools, are trusted only to her. Here you will see her a mere three-weeks post C-section going to town to make this freaking bookcase stand.
Pretty awesome, eh?

Bookcases Should be Made for Walls as They Are

So, to their credit, babyletto did supply brackets to attach the bookcase to the wall (we're not huge on obsessive baby-proofing, but we're 100% on attaching furniture to the wall). The babyletto engineers (rightfully) assumed the bookcase will be pushed up directly against the wall as it has no back and the wall would be the only thing preventing books from falling down the back.

However, the included brackets were very short. As a result, the bookcase makes no ability to leave space for a baseboard. So out came the drill again as we affixed longer curtain-rod brackets to the back. Lest you think I'm being unfair, other furniture manufacturers, such as Ikea, provide a space for a baseboard (see below).

The Ikea Billy bookcase, with space in the back for a baseboard;
still letting the back of the bookcase rest against the wall
(though without leveling feet as well).

Babyletto failing to anticipate a common household architectural feature...
...Strike three...

Bookcases Should Hold Books

Undeterred (and because we didn't know there'd be a baseball theme to a write-up 3 years later), we did not stop at strike three. But at least we have a cute bookcase, right? 

Turns out, shelves at irregular angles are hard to use. Some books only fit in some places, some places are too small to fit most any book, Moreover, the shelves were pretty shallow.

Put all that together and books frequently fell off in droves.
...Strike, uh... Four?

Kallax, a Bookcase that Works as a Bookcase!

Note the tree decals allowed us to keep the
general theme
Once it was time to do some re-engineering of the room for baby #2, we'd finally had it with the Spruce. For the same floor space, we got the Kallax at IKEA. It offered significantly more ease to build, brackets to secure properly to the wall, and tons of additional storage (including room for toys!). It will also grow with the kids as their desires (and the room decor) change. 

We stuck with white (and added accented inner shelves for some color and to give the bookcase a back), but it comes in many colors. Once they're a bit older and have decorating opinions of their own, we can easily add/remove various decals for additional (flexible) fun.

So there you have it. babyletto makes a great crib (we even bought a second of the same for baby #2), the chair you see is theirs too, but the bookcase is a strong Do Not Buy.

And once again, it's Ikea with the win.
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