Lovevery Montessori Play Shelf Review: Is it worth $400 vs Dupes?!?

Wondering if the Lovevery Montessori play shelf is worth it? In short, yes! After having the toy shelf + looking at lovevery shelf dupes with hidden storage I'm happy to say with 100% confidence the price is justified and it's as good as it looks online!

In this review, I'll walk you through the cost vs competitors, key features, and my personal likes and dislikes to help you decide if it's the right choice for your family!

What is the Lovevery Montessori Play shelf?

The Lovevery Montessori play shelf was released in 2021. It's made from FSC certified baltic birch and features a beautiful montessori aligned design.

The shelf has two sections that sit nearly on the floor, making it an infant friendly option to display toys, a large shelf section above it, and a deep top section that I've found perfect for larger toy or activity trays.

What makes this shelf particularly unique is the hidden storage in the back.

Cost

The Montessori Playshelf by Lovevery costs $400 plus $25 for shipping to the contiguous US and $75 shipping and handling to Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Is it a bummer to pay $400 and then still pay for shipping? Yes.

But I also get it. The package does literally way about 100 lbs, and that's NOT an exaggeration.

Truthfully, I think it's fair especially when you factor in their carbon neutral shipping, look at competitors and the quality of the shelf itself which I'll dive deeper into in this post.

First let's talk really briefly about carbon neutral shipping.

Carbon neutral shipping:

Lovevery is deeply committed to taking care of our planet and creating a brand parents can be proud to introduce their children too.

In November 2020, they joined the Climate Collaborative to help scale solutions to reverse the impacts of climate change. They've made commitments to increase energy efficiency, remove commodity-driven deforestation from supply chains, reduce the climate impact of packaging, responsible engagement in climate policy, and reduce the climate impact of transportation.

In April 2021 they became members of the SME Climate Hub and pledged to reduce their emissions, achieve net zero emissions, and disclosure their progress annually.

And in July 2021 they joined the New Zero by 2030 Commitment with over 1500+ businesses, committed to reducing emissions wherever possible and using verified offsets, emphasizing carbon removal projects, to balance emissions that cannot be eliminated.

You can track their progress and read more about their commitments here.

Key features:

  • 2-in-1 shelf with hidden storage (can fit up to 6 Lovevery play kits)
  • Montessori-inspired design of limited choices
  • Includes 2 Wooden Trays and 2 Storage Bins
  • 100% FSC-certified Baltic birch
  • Includes all the hardware AND tools you need to assemble
  • Soft-close hinge to protect child’s fingers
  • Top siding to prevent items from sliding off
  • Toe kick to prevent toys from rolling under or little arms getting wedged – this is huge! As baby often goes over to the shelf and plays with the items on the bottom for himself, I could 100% see him getting wedged under there.
  • Rounded edges for added safety
  • Easy clean: just wipe it down with a slightly soapy damp cloth.
  • BILT video technology for easier assembly with audible and zoomable directions

Specs:

The Lovevery Montessori Playshelf is made from 100% FSC-certified Baltic birch plywood and weighs 90 lbs.

Despite it's heavy weight, I've found it quite easy to slide around on our floors once constructed.

  • Outer shelf (total footprint in the room!): 41”L x 23”H x 20.5”D
  • Rear toy box: 40”L x 20“H x 9”D
  • Front Shelf: 40”L x 20“H x 9.5”D

If you click here you can actually use augmented reality to view the play shelf in your space!

Biggest disappointment:

While this won't bother most people and there are EASY work arounds, I will say my biggest disappointment is the size of the activity trays. It's my hope they leave one the current size, and swap the other for a slightly large one in the future.

With my toddler, I'll use worksheet activities with 3D hands on materials sometimes. While a standard sheet of paper easily fits inside the shelf, it does not fit in the tray; nor do some of their toys fit in the trays perfectly. Since we use the worksheets with 3D materials, it'd be nice if they fit in a tray together.

My current workarounds are as follows:
  • Rotate the paper 90 degrees in the tray so the top of the sheet rests against the back of the shelf
  • Use the top part of the shelf with a larger tray which also blocks access to the hidden storage
  • Use a cup on the top part of the shelf with supplies inside

I hope they leave one this smaller size but then do a tray that's a smidge bigger in the future to fit a standard sheet of paper, which will also cover some of their toys too.

For instance, the counting box in the Lovevery Free Spirit Play Kit (pictured above far left on the mid shelf), not all the slides fit on top, it'd be nice if the box fit in the tray and the sheets could fit in there too for easy access.

Biggest Concern Before Buying: Will my toddler just pull everything out of the hidden storage?!

The hidden storage does not have a lock on it, so before getting the shelf my biggest concern was whether or not my toddler would pull all of her toys out of the hidden storage compartment. I'm happy to report this has never happened and I'm no longer concerned!

First, I typically keep stuff on top of the shelf that really limits access to the storage panel.

Second, if she does open it, she typically only takes from the storage bins that rest in the back panel.

Third, the storage is quite deep so even if she wanted to take everything out, I don't think she'll be able to reach the bottom for a few years.

If this does become a problem for you for whatever reason, I'd suggest checking out my toy rotation video as I touch on this! In short though: my daughter did this briefly with our previous toy rotation set up, and then quickly got over it. Incorporating heri n toy rotation and having her help clean up before we moved onto the next thing helped resolve it fairly quickly.

Easy of Build:

Honestly this was the easy piece of furniture I've ever assembled of it's complexity. And I've assembled A LOT of furniture in my day.

The written instructions in the booklet were super easy, and if you need to zoom in for a better look, or prefer audio instructions, you can download the BILT app for a digital walk through allowing you to zoom in.

This is particularly helpful for the Cam Locks. If you've never worked with a Cam Lock before they can be a little weird. Basically they need to be aligned with the opening towards where the Cam dowel will be inserted, then you twist to lock it into place.

Accurate marketing:

They say it should take about an hour to assemble with two people. I found the only time I needed a second person was when installing the hinged lid. Essentially assembling it on my own took about an hour.

Again, I assemble a lot of furniture so it may take others longer, but truthfully our IKEA play kitchen took me just as long to set up as this.

Along with the hardware for assembly, they also include a screwdriver which I've never seen before and it's a really good one. Personally, I still used our power drill for most of it (even though they recommend not to), but there were a few areas I did need the screwdriver specifically and it was REALLY nice to have.

Price + Spec Comparison To Competitors

Obviously there are plenty of shelves out there for literally every price point and if you want to look at more montessori shelves for toys + books click here!

But this was the ONLY shelf that featured the open face with hidden storage like Lovevery.

Biggest differences:

  • The competitor comes in two lengths: 41″ (like Lovevery's) and 31″
  • Design: Lovevery features a soft close hinge in the back and no seams or anything exposed, whereas the competitor is a piece of wood that comes off fully and can snip little fingers. The Etsy one also use a slotted finger joint design where you can see how the pieces fit together from the outside (see video). Lovevery's also has the top edging to prevent items from sliding off and a toe kick to prevent items from sliding under.
  • The Etsy one does not include storage bins, play trays, or assembly tools like Lovevery does
That's right, the price is not a significant difference!

The 41″ Etsy option actually is priced at $399.95, so just .05 less than Lovevery's! And just like Lovevery they charge $75 for shipping to Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii; however they ship free in the continental US whereas Lovevery charges $25.

Now with that said, the Etsy shop does run a “10% off” sale quite often, bringing the price down to $359.95.

But keep in mind, you get the storage bins perfectly fitted for Lovevery's to really maximize the usable storage in the back, plus 2 wooden activity trays, which is nice given the unique depth of these shelves and would likely cost around $40 if not more to purchase on your own.

Like Lovevery, they use Baltic birch wood (don't know if Etsy's is FSC-certified).

The reason I'd personally go with Lovevery: the seams, accessories, lid closure and edging, and the toe kick.

If I'm spending $400 on a shelf, it better look like a $400 shelf and I just cannot get past the slotted finger joint design personally.

Plus, from a safety perspective, I like that the storage lid on Lovevery's is attached with a soft close hinge to keep little fingers safe; the competitor's fully comes off and I just don't feel comfortable with kids ripping that off.

The other safety feature is the toe kick. With a baby around, I really like that when he goes for his toys on the bottom shelf, he is met with just the toys. He can't slide his little arm and get wedged underneath and I don't have to fish toys out from under it like our other shelf.

The other noteworthy thing: I could not find the Etsy return or warranty policy.

Return Policy + Warranty

Due to the products size and weight returns are not accepted, but they do offer a 2 year limited warranty for replacements parts free of charge.

Personally, I've never returned a large piece of furniture like this. I always tape out where I plan to put something to make sure it fits in myspace first. So the “no refunds” policy is not a big deal in my opinion, especially given that they let you use augmented reality to see the shelf in your home before buying AND will cover any defects. At that point, what do you need a return policy for?

NOTE: The augmented reality is true to size. I show how it fits over out playroom shelf perfectly in the video above!

Final thoughts:

Yes, I do think the $400 montessori play shelf with hidden storage is worth it personally.

It's high quality, matches competitor pricing, comes with accessories, and has well thought out safety features.

As someone who lives in an old home with very limited and small closet space, the hidden storage is honestly so valuable.

While it is deep, the compact size makes it perfect for most spaces and sets parents up for success with montessori at home. I also love that even once kids outgrow it as a playshelf, the timeless design can work in a bedroom for more storage/display or as a table in an awkward short hallway or something.

Montessori Baby Toys For 0-6 Months Montessori Gift Ideas 6-12 Months  |   Montessori Gift Guide For 1 Year Old to 2 Year Olds  |  Ultimate Gift Guide Of Montessori Toys For 2 to 3 Year Olds  |  Montessori + Waldorf Gifts For 3 to 4 Year Olds | Birthdays + Christmas Gift Ideas! | Montessori Shelves: Books + Toys

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