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Lovevery Montessori Toy Shelf Review: Worth It vs Dupes?

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The Lovevery Montessori Toy Shelf is over $450 all-in, but it’s unlike any other play shelf on the market.

When I saw this innovative product drop, I tried to purchase it, but it sold out faster than I could enter my credit card number. I was super bummed because toy storage is a huge pain point in my house and this looked like my knight in shining armor.

Thankfully, it’s now reliably in stock, and we’ve been using it for almost two years.

montessori play shelf receipt
My receipt

As you can see, I purchased this with my own money, and this is not a sponsored review. I have lots of thoughts, both good and bad, so grab your teacups 🍵.

montessori play shelf with toys on it

Overall Thoughts on the Lovevery Play Shelf

TL;DR: Sturdy, easy assembly, spacious but can get messy in the back, versatile shelf sizes – in the end, the Lovevery toy shelf is a worthwhile investment.

lovevery play shelf

And if you want a little more elaboration without reading the full post, here are the key takeaways:

  • Built to Last: This thing is solid as a rock, crafted from top-notch materials, and I swear, it’s built to outlive us all. Compared to other all-wood furniture out there, the price? A total steal, according to my woodworking husband.
  • Smooth Assembly: Usually, I dread putting furniture together. It’s like stepping into my own personal hell. But these assembly instructions? Surprisingly smooth sailing. My husband even chimed in, saying they’re the best he’s ever laid eyes on.
aaron putting together the lovevery montessori shelf
  • Aesthetics are on point: this thing looks beautiful, but the wood here is the same wood used on the Lovevery toys, so in the end, your playroom looks so chic!
  • Depth Isn’t Ideal: While the toy storage in the back is a game-changer, it does make the whole unit jut out from the wall more than I’d like.
back of lovevery toy shelf
  • Neatness Challenge: Trying to keep things tidy in the back is bit of a challenge. You toss stuff in, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Thank goodness for those white bins, though – they help, but underneath? It’s a bit of a hot mess.
  • Versatile Front Shelves: The shelves in the front are brilliant for switching up toys in a toy rotation. I love that they’re not your standard square cubbies. With their varying sizes, we can easily display all sorts of toys.
lovevery play shelf cubby sizes
  • Safety features: the edges are sanded and rounded, and the back has soft-close technology. It’s also very heavy and sturdy, so we didn’t have to worry about tipping or adding anti-tip features.
  • Worthwhile Investment: Overall? This toy shelf is totally worth it. We’ve tried a few others for our toy rotation needs, and let me tell you, this one takes the cake by a long shot.

Why is the Lovevery Shelf So Expensive?

I think we all drop our jaws at $450 for a play shelf because you go to Target or Amazon or see similarly-sized options for $150.

Plus, I was really skeptical as many companies slap the word “Montessori” on a product and hike the price up.

Let me break down why Lovevery’s shelf is so much more expensive.

my daughter sorting lovevery books with shelf in the  background
My daughter sorting Lovevery books with the Montessori toy shelf in the background

Solid Wood vs MDF

Almost all of the play shelves in the $150 price range aren’t made of solid wood. They’re made of MDF, which doesn’t hold as much weight, is vulnerable to heat, and is easy to damage.

We have an MDF play shelf in my daughter’s room, and it’s dinged up all over.

veras play shelf made of mdf
My daughter’s inexpensive cube toy shelf is dinged up and chipped all over. We bought it in 2021 – it only took about 2 years to look pretty beat up.

Just moving it from one wall to the other caused the whole shelf to wobble, and it now feels quite unsteady.

You can push the Lovevery shelf straight across your house and back again, and it’s not going to do a darn thing. It’s made of 100% FSC-certified Baltic birch, which isn’t cheap, especially since wood prices have skyrocketed post-COVID.

lovevery is solid wood

But beyond the fact that it’s solid wood, what impressed my husband the most was the craftsmanship. This thing is put together well.

We’ve had it for two years and there isn’t a scratch, a mark, a wobbly part, nothing. It’s like it’s brand new.

I know a lot of people think this is overpriced, and you can find shelving units for cheap.

But I don’t want to buy furniture that’s going to end up in a landfill in a few years. If that’s you, the Lovevery shelf is fantastic.

Hidden Toy Storage

The other big thing is none of the cheaper shelves have any hidden toy storage. That’s really what makes the Lovevery shelf stand out.

storage in the back of the lovevery toy shelf

In fact, I haven’t seen any shelves on the market with this design. It’s quite innovative!

Accessories

Finally, the Lovevery toy shelf comes with accessories. You get 2 wooden trays and 2 storage bins, which help keep toy pieces together.

wooden bins and plastic trays for lovevery shelf

If you purchased them elsewhere, the high-quality wooden trays would probably set you back $40-$50, and the storage bins are another $30, at least.

Lovevery vs Dupes

Honestly, there aren’t any “dupes” of the Lovevery shelf.

The closest dupes I could find are from a company called Bush Acres, sold on Etsy and Amazon. The quality doesn’t look as good as Lovevery, and the pricing isn’t all that different ($396 vs $400).

Plus, the back doesn’t open up on hinges like the Lovevery shelf – it’s a piece that you have to take off.

bush-acres-shelf
Bush Acres toy shelf

Your next best bet is to look at high-quality play shelves with no hidden storage, such as the ECR4Kids 5-Compartment Mobile Storage Cabinet.

We have a book display from ECR4Kids and have been really happy with it. I trust their quality – this is a solid choice.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Price
$400 + shipping and tax
$179.99 + tax
Compartments
1 large, 2 medium
2 medium, 3 small
Hidden Storage?
Material
FSC-certified Baltic birch
Birch plywood
Accessories
2 wooden trays + 2 storage bins
On wheels
Craftsmanship
10/10
7/10*
Ease of assembly
10/10
6/10**
Dimensions
20.5″D x 41″W x 23″H
13″D x 48″W x 24″H
Product weight
90 lb
43.7 lb
*17 Amazon reviews talk about receiving shelves with chips in the wood.
**Several Amazon reviews talk about incorrect assembly instructions at Step 6, resulting in unscrewing 4 screws and redoing them.

Ultimately, the ECR4Kids shelf gets the job done.

It’s not at the same caliber as the Lovevery shelf, but you can’t beat that price. Compared to other options on the market in the same price range, this is a bargain.

The last shelf I want to mention, due to sheer popularity, is the IKEA Kallax. It’s nothing like the Lovevery shelf, but if you just want a cheap shelf to display toys for a few years, it gets the job done.

Here’s a quick comparison:

Price
$400 + shipping and tax
$99.99 + delivery and tax
Compartments
1 large, 2 medium
8 small
Hidden Storage?
Material
FSC-certified Baltic birch
Particleboard
Accessories
2 wooden trays + 2 storage bins
Craftsmanship
10/10
8/10
Ease of assembly
10/10
10/10
Dimensions
20.5″D x 41″W x 23″H
15″D x 58″W x 30″H*
Product weight
90 lb
46 lb
*Rounded

My biggest issue with the IKEA unit is the particleboard, but if you’re on a tight budget or just need something for a few years, you literally can’t beat the price.

Lovevery vs DIY

You can buy the materials to make this playshelf, but according to my husband, who does woodworking frequently, it would cost you around $200 just for the wood.

The router required for the edges is a $200-300 tool, and we haven’t even factored in the time and effort required to put it together, let alone the hardware and accessories.

My husband is the first person to make a piece of furniture from scratch to save money (we’ve done it many times!), but for this one, he said it’s a better deal to purchase it.

Lovevery Play Shelf Assembly

The Lovevery play shelf assembly immediately blew us away.

The instructions are *chef’s kiss.*

lovevery play shelf instructions are awesome

The writing is clearly written by a fabulous copywriter whose native language is English, and the accompanying photos are clear.

I looked back at my photo time stamps, and we started assembly at 7:56pm and finished at 9:42pm.

The Lovevery website says it takes 2 people and one hour, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

My husband did this by himself, and I consistently slowed him down so I could take photos and videos of the process.

We also had our toddlers distracting us and needing things the whole time, but you probably will, too, to be fair. So if you’re basically going to watch your husband do the work like I did (love you, honey), I’d block off about 2 hours.

parts list
Everything is clearly labelled – it was amazing!

Toy Rotation with the Lovevery Play Shelf

One of the main reasons I wanted this Lovevery shelf is to facilitate toy rotation.

We have invested in Lovevery toys for years, and I wanted to get as much use out of them as possible.

toy rotation with the lovevery play shelf

Rotating toys on and off these shelves is a great way to keep your kiddos interested and focused. When they’re tired of a toy, you put it in the back of the unit and bring in a new one!

back of lovevery play shelf

The downside of this concept is we have a lot of Lovevery toys, and they don’t all fit in the shelf. Supposedly, the back can hold up to 6 play kits.

So, if you have a handful of Lovevery toy boxes, you’re still going to need some closet space for storage.

Additionally, it’s deep, so you basically have to stack toys on top of other toys.

Final Thoughts

If you want the best Montessori toy shelf on the market, this one from Lovevery is a slam dunk.

lovevery toy shelf is awesome

I can’t find a higher-quality, more useful design on the market. Plus, Lovevery’s shelf design is currently patent-pending, so it may end up being the only one after all.

If the toy storage in the back isn’t a must-have for you, and you’re willing to give up a few things, I recommend this shelf from ECR4Kids. It’s also made of birch and gets the job done.

Hope this helps, and make sure to check this article next: Lovevery Play Kits: An In-Depth Review (2024)

And get a look at more Montessori-style toy shelf options here: 15 Best Montessori Shelves for Beautiful Toy Displays

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