Maintaining a record collection in your home can be a brilliant decorative move — but it can also come with a lot of anxiety. Don't even get us started on grappling with whether or not you're a legit collector (thanks, Whole Foods, for trying to sell vinyl to health food shoppers and making the whole thing look so surface-level). The more important part of having a record collection is making sure it's properly maintained so your efforts don't completely go to waste over time. We spoke with Kate Koeppel — founder of Koeppel Design, a San Francisco-based company that creates products to protect your records and keep them organized and stylish — about how to deal with your physical music.
1. Choose the right location for your record storage.
Most important to maintaining the health of your collection is selecting a spot that is away from direct sunlight and far from heating vents. "Sunlight will fade the outer paper jackets over time, and too much heat will warp and damage your records," Koeppel warns. "The same goes for cold, damp, or humid conditions as well, so keep your records in a moderate environment, and they'll keep you happy for decades to come!"
2. But keep your records accessible.
You'll want to still make sure you find a spot that's easy to access, which can be a difficult dance, depending on your space, and the location of your windows. However, keep in mind that the less accessible, the less you'll actually listen to your records. "I always recommend keeping a small selection of records in a place that is easy to see, in your favorite listening space, so you'll be reminded to listen to them," Koeppel advises. "Our Gold LP Block is a great way to show off your favorite record, and it is also a great visual reminder to listen to the music you love."
3. Don’t keep your records under pressure.
"For great playback, records need to be stored upright, and never stacked on top of each other," says Koeppel. "Records need a little space between them, and shouldn't be compressed because it will damage the records."
4. Keep hands and records clean.
"Records are notorious for attracting dust, as well as the oils from your fingers. Dust will lead to crackling sounds as the needle hits the dust, and can be annoying, but can also damage your records and needle. Make a habit of handling your records with clean hands and hold at the edges or the label — never the surface where the grooves are. You can use a very soft record brush to gently wipe dust from the grooves, but just make sure to wipe the brush clean each time you use it," Koeppel says.
5. Keep them organized!
Deciding how you want to organize your records is a personal choice — some people go alphabetical, while others go by genre. Regardless, says Koeppel, "Picking a system and sticking to it will make it easy to listen to records more frequently, and you'll always be able to find the record you're in the mood for. I always have a stack of records that I call 'feel good' records — just a few albums that are my go-to mood-boosting records I can reach for quickly for a midday boost when I need it."
6. Add records to your daily routine.
Koeppel likes to create a practice around listening to records — whether it's part of your morning routine, or evening wind-down — which she feels can help develop "good lifelong record habits" of "pulling out a record, listening, and putting each one away in the proper place when you're done."
Leonora Epstein is Hunker's Senior Director of Content. She has previously served as Executive Editor at HelloGiggles and as BuzzFeed's Deputy Editorial Director. She is the co-author of "X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story" (Abrams, 2014). Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.