Cleaning Up My Home Theater Clutter

My home theater room had gotten out of control. I’d long since run out of enough shelving space to hold my entire movie collection, and had allowed stacks of new discs to pile up all around me. The room was an unsightly mess, and I’d been reluctant to do anything about it for entirely foolish reasons (mostly laziness). Finally, I decided to take action before the clutter overwhelmed and swallowed me whole, which was beginning to seem like a very real possibility.

Honestly, things had gotten ridiculous. My shelves were piled high with discs practically touching the ceiling.

Additional storage beneath my projector was filled two rows deep, with more on the backside of what you see here:

After I ran out of shelf space, I took to tossing newer discs wherever I had a free spot. These wobbly towers sat on my desk, ready to topple at any moment. And yes, that plastic bin beneath them was filled with Blu-rays as well.

More discs could be found in stacks on my floor, and even behind my chair. If I ever wanted to watch a specific movie, I’d have to dig through the clutter just to locate the disc, and retrieving it may have meant pulling everything else off a shelf just to get to it. This was clearly unacceptable.

In an earlier series of blog posts, our writer E. documented how he dealt with a similar problem by ripping all of his movies to a media server HTPC. While that may have worked out for him, I couldn’t make that leap. I’m too attached to the physical disc collection.

I’ve long threatened to move my Blu-ray (and HD DVD – I don’t segregate the high-def formats) collection to DiscSox storage sleeves. Unlike other types of disc sleeves and binders, the nice thing about DiscSox is that they allow you to retain the original case art with each disc, while getting rid of the bulky keepcase itself. Each HiDef Pro sleeve will hold two discs, the artwork, and any printed inserts.

This is a tremendous space savings. I had previously moved the majority of my DVD collection into DiscSox DVD sleeves, but resisted doing the same for Blu-ray and HD DVD, because I’m proud of my high-def collection and really wanted to keep those discs on display. Unfortunately, enough got to be enough, and I had to make the transition.

Once you have the sleeves, where do you put them? MMDesigns (the company behind DiscSox) also sells a number of storage trays, binders, cases and even cabinets. Recently, the company added a new line of decorative cases and trunks. I opted for the Leather DVD Case, which will officially hold 300 HiDef Pro sleeves. I used every last one of them. It turns out that the 300 count is a conservative number. There’s really still enough space inside to fit some more discs, so I’ve ordered another 25 pack of sleeves.

I spent the long weekend pulling my Blu-rays and HD DVDs out of their cases and putting them in the DiscSox sleeves. This took a very long time, but was well worth the effort. However, doing so forced me to make some painful choices. I always planned to keep any discs in special packaging on my shelves. Initially, this included keepcases with slipcovers. Unfortunately, I soon realized that wasn’t a realistic option. I needed to clear those out as well. I had no problem pulling out slipcovers that have the same artwork as the cases beneath, but I wanted to save slipcovers with unique artwork. Even that got to be too much, and I had to put those discs in the sleeves as well.

While I own well more than 300 high-def discs in my collection, filling this case substantially reduced the clutter in my room. My shelves are still full, but I no longer have discs climbing to the ceiling or stacked in piles on my desk or floor. What remain on the shelves now are those discs in genuinely special packaging, such as SteelBooks and metal cases, Digibooks, and box sets.

At the moment, my Criterion Collection discs also remain in their original cases. Because Criterion releases have their own special case design, their larger artwork will not fit in the HiDef Pro sleeves, yet are awkwardly small for the DVD-sized DiscSox. Nonetheless, I think that I’m going to have to bite the bullet and order some DVD sleeves to put them in.

Now that I’ve gotten this far, I’m still left with one big question: What do I do with all the empty cases?

I have no room to store these, yet I’m afraid that I’ll need them if (or when) I want to sell some of these discs in the future.


  1. besch64

    I’m not sure I could ever do what you did. I love my movie packaging. I think I’d let discs pile up forever before I could get myself to do something about it.

    And as for your Criterion discs, you have to leave those in their original packaging!

    Hey Josh, if you don’t mind me asking, I’m a pretty big slipcover fetishist, and I’m wondering if it would be possible for you to let me take some off your hands for. That is, if you haven’t discarded them already.

    • I feel the same way.I have an OCD-like connection to my movie packaging collection, but even I’ve been contemplating going this route. There’s just not enough room. It pains me to say it, but my movies may end up in binders or something like this soon.

  2. I made an even harder plunge to get rid of clutter – I started selling stuff! Here is my reasoning:

    I currently have around 400 Blu-Rays, 50 HD-DVDs, about 150 DVDs, and about 50 laserdiscs. That is rougly 650 movies / tv shows / whatever. Now, how often do I watch movies? If I were to watch one disc a day, it would take me about a year and a half to get through everything. But that is just not the case – it sometimes takes me two or three days to get through a movie – because I have a horrible attention span, and I also have to make time for TV shows I like, gaming, being social, and other hobbies.

    Here is something I have started doing – if I get a movie on Blu-Ray, I get rid of the DVD. If I get a movie in 3D, I get rid of the regular Blu-Ray. If I end up buying a boxed set, I get rid of my individual discs (the exceptions to the boxed set rules are Harry Potter, because I have the trunk of the first 5 movies, the ultimate editions of the first two, and a british import of the first one, because I am a nerd who looks for the differences between The Sorceror’s Stone and The Philosopher’s Stone).

    This helped me get rid of about 40 or so discs. The next stage is going to be harder for me – getting rid of discs that have been sitting unopened on the shelves for years, or movies I have only watched once. As a collector, this is tough, but I need to get rid of some clutter, and finance my hobby. Doing some mental math, I realized that, if I just did one unopened item a day (that would be tough, some are boxed sets), it would take me about two months just to go through all of that. That does not include time to watch bonus features.

    So, in a nutshell, my goal is to get rid of duplicates, and, as tough as it may be, start getting rid of discs that I will never watch or will never watch again.

  3. Mike Attebery

    Josh, I used Discsox after you recommended them to me two summers ago. That project was an enormous pain in the ass, but I’m so glad I did it. I have all of my HD discs in Discsox on a shelf in our hallway. Put all my DVDs in leather binders (that also hold the cover art), and all those fit perfectly in a hall closet. Feel much more civilized now. Once I started tossing those plastic cases I wished I had done it years ago. They just hold dust and take up room that could be filled with more movies. It’s a laborious process though. Now, as soon as a title arrives I put it in a sleeve and toss the case immediately. Just got a new order of sleeves on Tuesday actually.

  4. Jason

    I was shrewd enough to convince “she who must be obeyed” that I not only needed a dedicated home theater but also a media room. I was able to claim a guest bedroom in the basement which is just off of the home theater to serve that purpose. All of our books, movies and cds are in dressers that line the walls and items that should be displayed are on shelves above the dressers. My friends refer to it as the library. But there is a strict no-rental policy.

  5. I have a shelf running 6 shelves high that will hold about 500 and my original shelf that will hold about 400. My music is stored in “Kool Krates” on top of my original storage with roughly 600+ cds. I don’t ever save the slipcovers. They are a waste of trees.

    • I just check stuff out in DVD Profiler. If they have the movie over a month, I start getting really anal with them. I’ve gotten all my movies back since I started doing that. That reminds me, I got a friend that I got to get anal with.

  6. i tip my hat to you for doing this. however, i dont think i could make the plunge like many others have said. once my two 8ft tall media storage shelfs were filled less prominent titles were transitioned to the book shelf. i foresee getting more full storage in the future.

  7. Baked waker

    It may seem weird, but I want to roll around in bed on all those hi def cases, indecent proposal-style.

  8. I had my DVD collection in sleeves, but about a year ago I put them all back in the cases. I wanted to keep the cases, so I bought two rotating tower shelves that are awesome. They don’t take up much space at all and each one can hold like 500 DVDs or 700+ Blu-rays. There’s seven shelves on each of the four sides. I have my entire collection mixed, but I love the set-up. Plus there’s room on top for big stuff like the Ben Hur box set and Planet of the Apes collection. The only downside is the shelves are over $200, but it’s well worth it in my opinion. I’m actually considering getting a third one.

  9. I picked up the Discsox nock offs from the Disney Movie Rewards. Do not get them. They are NOT the same. The sleeves are way oversize too.

    I still use some of the sleeves for my Disney Treasures DVD sets but nothing else.

    I switched to the real Discsox and loved them!
    In the end though, “She who must be obeyed” wanted the blurays back in the original minus the slip covers, and back in the entertainment center. I added a few more shelves and they look nice, but we are running out of room again.
    I keep all the slipcovers in my computer room closet.

    You could always sell the cases on craigslist, ebay, or the classifieds on this site.

    I gave the Discsox to my Mom & Dad several months ago and they are still sitting unused. I may reclaim them soon.

    • The Disney Treasures are in tins, aren’t they? I saw your pictures, but I just don’t get how you are fitting them in sleeves – at least, not how you are fitting them in sleeves and saving space.

      • EM

        I presume he’s dispensing with the tins. When you open up the tin, there’s a normal multidisc case inside, complete with cover insert.

      • Sorry for the delayed reply.
        I have ALL of the Disney Tin collections except the Real Life Adventures and the ZORO sets.

        The tins are in my closet where my slipcovers also live and the movies are in the Disney sleeves. I also moved some of the Disney 2 disk sets like TRON (Original) and Swiss Family Robinson to these sleeves.

        They do take up way less space in these sleeves/tray than the tins did.

        • But those tins are awesome and very well made. If I had a collection like yours I’d want to put all my other stuff in sleeves, but create special shelving just to show off the tin collection.

          • I had forgotten that the tins had regular DVD cases in them. I don’t have any of my own, but I borrow my brother’s from time to time. He has them all. Agreed, the tins are definately awesome, but if you are trying to save space, sometimes you just gotta make tough decisions. I was looking at doing something, but am actually in the process of moving at the moment. In the old place, there just wasn’t enough room to put another shelf, and the ones I had were almost full. I am in a temporary place now, until I can find me someplace permanate, but I may look at condensing eventually.

  10. August Lehe

    When you get old, simple problems become obsessions! Like do you store a Criterion Blu Ray edition of The Lady Vanishes with your other Hitchcock films or with other Criterion titles? Stuff like that drives me NUTS!

  11. August Lehe

    I don’t suppose OPPO or somebody of comparable quality is planning a 50 or 100 Blu Ray disc carousel.

    Of course it wouldn’t hold an entire collection but maybe just our favorites, plus a Criterion Collection.

    Then our empty boxes could become Home Theatre Lobby ‘Art,’ keeping the popcorn popper company!

  12. Kman

    I noticed that most of youguys seem to be talking about collections less than 1000. After I hit something around 2000, there simply is no choice but to go digital, so you might want to think about this now, unless you plan on ‘unliking’ certain films so you can maintain a constant number. Though digital can be scary (recently lost- then restored a folder with about 700 hours of TV shows)it can’t be beat for size (and there’s no ‘rental issues’ – Friends can have whatever they want)

    • Josh Zyber

      I can’t even fathom how long it would take to rip that much content to a digital server. What do you do when you buy a new movie, immediately tear it out of the packaging and rip it, even if you won’t watch it anytime soon? Or do you not buy discs at all anymore, and only download from the internet?

    • I honestly cannot fathom a collection of more than 1000 movies. I’ve made this argument before – if you have that many movies, how long does it take you to watch them all? If you have movies that you have never opened, or have been sitting on the shelf several years that you haven’t watched since you bought it, its probably time to start selling stuff off. I’ve got about 500 myself, and am debating if I want to start selling some off, because i have too many that have just been sitting on the shelf way too long. Off the top of my head, I can think of wanting to sell Happy Feet and Monster House – those were two of the first discs I ever bought on Blu-Ray, but absolutely suck. Also looking at selling off my Bond movies, as I am expecting the mega-box set here in a few months. I Robot and Close Encounters of the Third Kind I haven’t even opened yet, and probably never will.