Title:
Retrofit Shelf
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A retrofit shelf and method are disclosed for converting an existing towel bar, commonly found in a bathroom, into a storage platform. Versions of the retrofit shelf are configured to be universally useful with a plurality of support bar configurations in an unobtrusive and cost effective manner without the use of an adhesive. The retrofit shelf is configured to load the support bar with directional forces for which the support bar is designed to support.



Inventors:
Knepfle, Richard (Mason, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/763581
Publication Date:
12/18/2008
Filing Date:
06/15/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/250, 248/346.04
International Classes:
A47K5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080290057Railway Car Loading RackNovember, 2008Zupancich Sr. et al.
20090322194SAFETY CABINET WITH DRAWERDecember, 2009Backhaus et al.
20080296242MERCHANDISE DISPLAY APPARATUS AND METHODDecember, 2008Worden et al.
20060169654Multiple toothbrush holder apparatus and method for the prevention of bacterial growth in toothbrushesAugust, 2006Camacho-pantoja J. A.
20090293391PARTITIONS FOR CUBICLESDecember, 2009Devore
20080245811Merchandise dispensing apparatus providing theft deterrenceOctober, 2008Colelli et al.
20030062328Sports equipment holderApril, 2003Millard
20070102378Versatile display hook systemMay, 2007Innis
20070068885Product display and fronting assemblyMarch, 2007Busto et al.
20090001034Hook Device for Hanging SurfboardJanuary, 2009Hazan
20090001035DISPLAY RACK AND METHOD FOR SUPPORTING CONTAINERIZED PLANTSJanuary, 2009Mulholland et al.



Primary Examiner:
BARNETT, DEVIN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FROST BROWN TODD LLC (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A retrofit shelf comprising: a. a substantially planar tray having a front edge and a rearward edge, wherein the tray is configured to support and retain articles; b. a front support member, the front support member associated with the tray at about the front edge thereof, wherein the front support member is configured to engage a support bar; and c. a rear support member, the rear support member associated with the tray at about the rearward edge thereof, wherein the rear support member is configured to engage a wall.

2. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the first support member comprises a flange depending downward from the tray and an upper portion.

3. The retrofit shelf of claim 2, wherein the first flange and the upper portion define a channel configured to accept the support bar.

4. The retrofit shelf of claim 3, wherein the support member substantially encircles the support bar when engaged therewith such that the support member is resistant to frontward, rearward, and downward directional forces.

5. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the cooperation between the front support member and the rear support member provides load support for articles placed upon the tray in a direction for which the support bar was substantially designed.

6. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the direction is substantially downward.

7. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the front support member is rotatable about the support bar.

8. The retrofit shelf of claim 7, wherein the rear support member includes an upper flange portion configured to limit rotation of the tray about the support bar.

9. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the shelf is substantially universal for use with a plurality of support bars having a plurality of configurations.

10. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the shelf is a unitary construction.

11. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the shelf is extruded.

12. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the shelf is shorter than the length of the support bar such that the support bar is configured to retain an article.

13. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein the shelf is a wire frame.

14. The retrofit shelf of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the front support member is flexible and is configured to accept a plurality of support bars having varying configurations.

15. A method of retrofitting a support bar comprising the steps of: a. providing a retrofit shelf, the retrofit shelf comprising; i. a substantially planar tray having a front edge and a rearward edge, wherein the tray is configured to support and retain articles; ii. a front support member, the front support member associated with the tray at about the front edge thereof, wherein the front support member is configured to engage a support bar; and iii. a rear support member, the rear support member associated with the tray at about the rearward edge thereof, wherein the rear support member is configured to engage a wall; b. engaging the front support member with the support bar; c. rotating the tray about the support bar; d. engaging the rear support member with the wall; and e. placing at least one article upon the tray.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein the first support member is detachably coupled with the support bar.

17. The retrofit shelf of claim 14, wherein at least a portion of the front support member is flexible and is configured to accept a plurality of support bars having varying configurations.

18. The retrofit shelf of claim 14, wherein the shelf is a wire frame.

19. The retrofit shelf of claim 14, wherein the shelf is configured for use with a plurality of support bars having varying configurations.

20. The retrofit shelf of claim 14, wherein the support bar is a towel bar located in a shower.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates, in general, to shelving and, in particular, to shelving that may be used to retrofit towel bars, and the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The bathroom environment is such that in many instances additional shelving would be a great convenience for the placement of bottles, such as shampoos, and other bathing regimen products. With so many products on the market, it is not uncommon for families to quickly occupy all conventional shower or bath space. Trying to fit all of these products into the available space may clutter the bathroom and may cause consumers to be more selective than they would like as to which products they keep easily accessible or purchase.

A towel bar is often provided on the far wall of a shower for the placement of washcloths or towels. Although such bars are a very common design feature in many bathrooms, they often go unused by bathers who prefer to keep their towels away from the spray and moisture of the shower. Thus, the towel bar often goes unused while products are crammed into every other available space.

One version of a shelf adapted for use with a towel bar is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,870,907, to McKee, which discloses a shelf that can be installed on various lengths of existing towel bars using double-sided adhesive tape. In the moisture-rich environment of a shower the use of adhesives may be limited in both effectiveness and durable life. Additionally, consumers may be hesitant to apply such adhesives to shower walls if permanence or adhesive residue is undesirable. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 5,433,152, to Henry, uses an adhesive, is not a unitary construction, and the plurality of parts may make the shelf unextrudable and cost-prohibitive.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,827,849, to Vignale, discloses a shelf assembly that has a horizontal toiletry article supporting tray with wedge-shaped brackets formed as depending extensions of the left and right ends of the tray. The supporting tray of the '849 patent may be relatively expensive to produce and may be unextrudable. Additionally, the wedge-shaped brackets of the shelf may tend to push the towel bar away from the rear wall of the shower with a directional force the bar is not intended to bear. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,233,911, to Vignale, may be expensive to produce, may be unextrudable, and may be too obtrusive for conventional use.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,921,410, to Emery, discloses a multipurpose, mountable shelf, which is collapsible for transportation. The shelf of the '410 patent is a multi-part configuration, which makes the part unextrudable, and may make the product cost prohibitive to many consumers. Additionally, the wedges of the shelf may tend to push the towel bar away from the rear wall of the shower in a manner similar to the shelf of the '849 patent to Vignale.

It would therefore be advantageous to provide a retrofit shelf for a bar to create storage space. It would also be advantageous to provide a retrofit shelf for a towel bar in a bathroom that is cost effective, is easily fitted, is easily removed, is of simple construction, is not damaging to walls, does not require an adhesive, and is unobtrusive.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Provided are versions of a retrofit shelf including a substantially planar tray having a front edge and a rearward edge, where the tray is configured to support and retain articles. The shelf includes a front support member, the front support member being associated with the tray of the shelf at about the front edge thereof, where the front support member is configured to engage a support bar. The shelf includes a rear support member, the rear support member being associated with the tray at about the rearward edge thereof, where the rear support member is configured to engage a wall.

Provided are versions of a method of retrofitting a support bar including providing a retrofit shelf, engaging a front support member of the shelf with a support bar, rotating the shelf about the support bar, engaging a rear support member of the shelf with a wall, and placing at least one article upon the shelf.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention; it being understood, however, that this invention is not limited to the precise arrangements shown. In the drawings, like reference numerals refer to like elements in the several views. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one version of a retrofit shelf.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the retrofit shelf shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the retrofit shelf of FIG. 1 shown prior to placement on a wall mounted support bar.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the retrofit shelf of FIG. 1 shown fitted onto the wall mounted support bar of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Provided is a retrofit shelf for a bar, such as a wall mounted towel bar in a bathroom, that is configured to provide additional shelf space in an environment where space is often at a premium. The retrofit shelf may be fitted on a towel bar in a shower and may function to hold containers of shampoo, conditioner, rinses, soap, or the like. As discussed above, the conventional purpose of the shower towel bar is often useless as towels are generally soaked before the bather has even finished showering. Versions of the retrofit shelf convert this often useless fixture into a source of additional storage space.

As will be discussed in more detail, versions of the shelf are configured to retrofit a towel bar such that directional forces applied to the shelf during use are those for which the bar is designed to support. For example, most shower towel bars are designed to support downward directional forces from the weight of towels and other hanging articles. Versions of the shelf are configured for relatively simple installation and do not require the use of an adhesive on either the bar or a wall for secure placement. Versions of the retrofit shelf are configured with a unitary construction that is extrudable, cost effective, relatively easy to manufacture, and simple to assemble and install. It will be appreciated that such versions are described by way of example only and are not intended to be limiting.

With reference now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-2 illustrate one version of a shelf 10 for mounting on a towel bar 14 (shown in FIGS. 3-4) of the type normally found in a bathroom. In the illustrated version, the shelf 10 has an extrudable unitary construction and includes a tray 16 having a front support member 18 and a rear support member 20.

More specifically, the tray 16 is formed with long parallel front and rear edges 24, 26. Coupled therebetween are short end edges 28. The tray 16 is positionable in a horizontal or substantially horizontal orientation and may include ridges 30, to prevent container slippage, formed integrally with the tray 16. Together, the tray 16 and the ridges 30 may provide an upper support storage surface for objects and products normally associated with the bathroom and bathing.

Positioned on the rear edge 26 of the tray 16 is a rear support member 20 configured to abut a wall to prevent slippage or disengagement of the shelf 10 from the towel bar 14. The rear support member 20 may be perpendicular to the tray 16 and may include upwardly and downwardly depending portions. When the shelf 10 is fitted on the towel bar 14, the rear support member 20 may be parallel, substantially parallel, or adjacent to the wall.

At about the front edge 24 of the tray 16 is a front support member 18 that is associated with the towel bar 14. The front support member 18 is configured to engage the towel bar 14 between a flange 32 projecting generally downward from the tray 16 and an upper portion 34. The flange 32 and the upper portion 34 may define a channel 42 into which a towel bar 14 may be placed or otherwise secured or retained. In the illustrated version, the support member 18 is configured to resist forward, rearward, and downward motion of the shelf 10 once fitted onto the bar.

When the front support member 18 is engaged with the towel bar 14, the rearward portion 20 is configured to abut the wall such that rotational movement of the shelf 10 about the towel bar 14 is substantially limited or eliminated. In such a manner, by fitting the front support member 18 with the towel bar 14, and the rearward support member 20 with the wall, the shelf 10 may be used without an adhesive to provide a secure platform upon which relatively heavy articles may be placed. It will be appreciated that versions of the shelf 10 include configurations with a front support member 18 rotatable relative to a support bar, such as the towel bar 14, but substantially resistant to forward, rearward, and downward motion, and a spaced apart rear support 20 substantially resistant to rotation when in contact with a wall.

The front support member 18 may have any suitable design configured to associate the shelf 10 with a support bar. The flange 32 and the upper portion 34 of the front support member 18 may be configured to clasp about a support bar, retain a support bar, encircle a support bar, substantially encircle a support bar, grip a support bar, or the like. It will be appreciated that the front support member 18 may have any suitable length and shape of flange 32 and upper portion 34 where, for example, the upper portion 34 may have a downward curvature and the flange 32 may be elastically deformable such that the shelf 10 is configured to accept a broad range of support bars having varying configurations. Providing a flexible flange 32 and/or upper portion 34 permits various sized bars to be retained by the front support member 18 such that the shelf 10 is substantially universal.

It will be appreciated that the support member 18 is described by way of example only and is not limited to, and does not require, a flange 32 and/or upper portion 34. For example, components of the support member 18 may be flexible, curved, be of any suitable length, include a clasping member, permanently retain the bar, detachably couple with the bar, clip onto the bar from above or below, or the like.

Still referring to FIGS. 1-2, in the illustrated version the tray 16 is substantially planar and includes ridges 30 to reduce slippage of containers, or the like, when placed upon the shelf. Any suitable surface effect, such as surfaces that increase the coefficient of friction of the tray 16 and are also extrudable, may be provided. The rear edge 26 of the tray 16 is engaged with the rear support member 20.

In the illustrated version, the rear support member 20 is perpendicular to the tray 16 and is integrally constructed with the tray 16 such that the rear edge 26 is at about the midpoint of the rear support member 20. The rear support member 20 includes, by way of example only, an upper flange portion 38 and a lower flange portion 40 separated by the tray 16. The rear support member 20 is configured to run substantially parallel to a wall, adjacent a wall, or otherwise abut a wall such that rotation of the shelf 10 is prevented after the front support member 18 has been engaged with the support bar. For example, the front support member 18 may be engaged with a towel bar 14, as illustrated in FIG. 4, where the shelf is then rotated about the bar until the rear support member 20 engages the wall of the bathroom. In such a manner, the front support member 18 and the rear support member 20 may cooperate to secure the shelf 10 without requiring the use of adhesive to provide a secure storage platform. The rear support member 20 may have any suitable length or configuration that functions suitably as a stop in the described manner. A rear support member 20 with sufficient length may allow the shelf 10 to be used universally with a plurality of towel bars, or the like, having varying distances between the wall and the bar. For example, if a substantial gap is present between the wall and the bar, the rear support member 20 may not secure the shelf 10 until uppermost portions of the upper flange portion 38 come into contact with the wall. In such a situation, the tray 16 may not be horizontal and may angle downwardly from the bar to the wall. Providing a rear support member 20 with a length suitable to accommodate a wide range of gap sizes may make the shelf 10 useful with almost any towel bar. Additionally, the upper flange portion 38 may act as a protective guard to prevent articles placed on the shelf 10 from coming into contact with the wall.

As mentioned above, the cooperation between the front support member 18 and rear support member 20 is such that a towel bar bears the weight of the article placed upon the shelf 10 in primarily a downward direction, which is the direction of force towel bars are traditionally designed to support. For example, design and installation of towel bars may be such that the bar can support a substantial load in the downward direction, but may support only a minimal load when the bar is pushed away from the will. To harmonize with such construction, versions of the shelf 10 incorporate a front support member 18 and a rear support member 20 that apply a substantially downward force, in contrast to a force pushing the bar away from the wall, when supporting the load of containers, and the like. Such a configuration may increase the life of the towel bar and may decrease the likelihood that the bar is pushed out of the shower wall when heavy objects are placed upon the shelf.

Additionally, the configuration of the shelf 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 has a relatively low profile such that the shelf 10 may be used in bathrooms without making a substantial decorative statement. Versions of the shelf 10 having a relatively simple configuration with a minimum of components may be used in a wide variety of bathrooms while appealing to consumers without having to manufacture a broad catalog of shelves. Although any suitable color, shape, length, or configuration of shelf is contemplated, providing a universal shelf that is broadly applicable to a wide range of bathrooms, or the like, may reduce manufacturing costs with savings that can be passed on to the consumer. Similarly, to reduce costs, a consumer may purchase a single shelf that may be removed and used elsewhere as desired.

FIG. 4 illustrates one version of a shelf 10 engaged with a towel bar 14 such that articles can be supported thereon. It will be appreciated that the shelf 10 may have any suitable length where, as illustrated, a portion of the towel bar 14 may be left exposed such that an article 42, including washcloths, and the like, may be hung thereon.

FIG. 5 illustrates one version of a shelf 100 having a wire frame engaged with the towel bar 14. The wire frame shelf 100 is unobtrusive and, thus, may be more aesthetically pleasing in the bathroom environment. Additionally, a wire frame version may also diminish the likelihood that water or product will pool on the shelf.

In the illustrated version, a tray 116 is substantially planar and includes frame members 130 to support and to reduce slippage of containers, or the like, when placed upon the shelf. Any suitable frame members, such as wire frame members, may be provided that support products and prevent water from pooling. The frame members 130 are associated with an outer frame member 126 that defines the outer perimeter of the tray 116. In the illustrated version, the outer frame member 126 defines the perimeter of the tray 116 and also forms a rear support member 120.

In the illustrated version, the rear support member 120 is perpendicular to the tray 116 and is integrally formed with the tray 116. The rear support member 20 includes, by way of example only, an upper flange portion 138 and lower flange portions 140 formed from the outer frame member 126. The rear support member 120 is configured to run substantially parallel to a wall, adjacent a wall, or otherwise abut a wall such that rotation of the shelf 10 is prevented after the front portion 118 of the tray 116 has been engaged with the shelf 14. The front portion 118 and the rear support member 120 may cooperate to secure the shelf 100 without requiring the use of adhesive to provide a secure storage platform. The rear support member 120 may have any suitable length or configuration that functions suitably as a stop in the described manner including, for example, any suitable configuration and number of upper and lower flanges. A rear support member 120 with sufficient length may allow the shelf 100 to be used universally with a plurality of towel bars, or the like, having varying distances between the wall and the bar. For example, if a substantial gap is present between the wall and the bar, the rear support member 120 may not secure the shelf 110 until uppermost portions of the upper flange portion 138 come into contact with the wall. In such a situation, the tray 116 may not be horizontal and may angle downwardly from the bar to the wall. Providing a rear support member 120 with a length suitable to accommodate a wide range of gap sizes may make the shelf 100 useful with almost any towel bar.

Additionally, a retention member 142 may be provided that is coupled with the outer frame member 126 at, for example, opposite ends of the tray 116. The retention member 142 may be a unshaped frame member depending generally downward from the tray 116 and may be configured to retain washcloths, and the like. The retention member 142 may be configured to associate or couple with the towel bar 14, or other support member, to insure a good fit between the shelf 100 and the bathroom wall. The weight of the retention member 142, and also the weight on any articles placed upon the retention member 142, may advantageously draw the shelf 100 against the towel bar 14 and the wall in a secure manner. It will be appreciated that any suitable retention member is contemplated and may have any suitable configuration such as, for example, a wire frame, a shelf, a shower caddy, a towel holder, a bottle holder, a rack for holding cleansing articles, and/or combinations thereof.

It will be appreciated that shelves in accordance with versions described herein may be used in any suitable environment having a bar associated with a wall. Such environments include, but are not limited to, bathrooms, showers, business environments, retail environments, or the like. Components of the shelves, and the shelves themselves, are described by way of example only and may be interchangeable, adjustable, removable, of a unitary construction, of a wire frame construction of any suitable length, flexible, provided with texture, ornamental, colored, extruded, readily manufacturable, and/or cost effective, including combinations thereof.

Numerous benefits have been described which result from employing concepts of the invention. The foregoing description of one or more versions of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications, combinations, or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. The one or more versions, were chosen and described in order to best illustrate principles of the invention and its practical application to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to utilize the invention in various versions and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims appended hereto.