Making a Creative Art Space

I’ve always been one that hates a mess of art supplies, so I have kept them tucked away high out of reach to prevent any disasters. I’m just not a crafty mommy…it is a stretch. What resulted was very infrequent art projects because of my own shortsightedness. I’ve learned that when things are not accessible or clearly visible for littles ones, they are rarely played with. Low and behold, I have a 4 year old daughter that loves crafty art projects!

Recently, I was inspired (thanks to Playful Learning & Not Just Cute) to arrange a little art center in an organized fashion that could be easily accessible for the kids to explore and inspire creativity to their hearts content. I have been so thrilled with the results! We arranged our new set up on a little kids’ table and stocked it with the following supplies:

Storage rack ($4.99 from IKEA) – storing construction paper, doodle books, watercolors, child scissors, glue, stickers
Metal plant pots (.79 each from IKEA) – markers, crayons, and colored pencils
Art smock (full body bib from IKEA) - hanging from nail on wall
Art boxes (basic pencil boxes) – one box is holding paints, another is storing an assortment of fun texture items (fabric scraps, felt, popcorn, beans, beads, and buttons)

I am planning to add this stamp set in their Christmas stockings! It is a simple enough arrangement that the kids can easily clean up after themselves and can engage with the supplies freely.

My four year old had made a collection of a dozen different works of art within an hour and keeps going back for more!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

33 Responses to Making a Creative Art Space

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  2. Cassie September 4, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    I also have a kid-friendly art corner, and it has been such a blessing to my artistic 4 year old. It can be an incredible learning experience for children to be given a variety of materials and the freedom to explore and try new ideas! We used a small, cheap coffee table, and the kids are more comfortable sitting at it than a big table with chairs. We have a 3 drawer organizer with basics (crayons, etc) in the top, stamps and other supplies in the middle, and the bottom drawer is full of random scraps- my daughters favorite!! I dont put all of our supplies in the middle drawer- I keep most put away and rotate them out every few weeks, keeping them all exciting. For the “scrap” drawer, there are paper plates, pieces of foil, scraps of construction paper left over from when I make teaching activities, plastic lids, scraps of fabric left over from my crafts, etc. Anything I see around the house that is “leftover” goes in the drawer. She has come up with the most creative products using thungs that I would normallu throw away!

  3. Cheri November 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    We have a five see-through drawer organizer on rollers filled with art supplies. Since my now 6-year old has always loved to create and our apartment was getting full we had to think of something! Each drawer in the roller is designated for a certain kind of art, with the top drawer containing works in progress. The other drawers hold markers / pencils, then the playdough drawer, then stamps and watercolor, then the bottom drawer is for my 3 year old. When he was 2 and wanting to play with his sister’s supplies we told him that the things he could play with were in that drawer (easy for him to reach). He did abide by that … and asked when he wanted to play with playdough or watercolor (then we’d sit down with him and let him experiment). It helped us reinforce that she needs to go to that top drawer first to see if there is something that needs to be finished before she started a new project. Glue and scissors were up on a shelf, but easy to bring down when she needed them. Oh, and we were able to use the top of the drawer roller to display some of her bigger creations. It’s worked out real nice. We have it in the corner of the eating area because they use the kitchen table (cleanable table and floor?) for their art area. And, if we ever have guests over it is easy to roll it into another room and out of sight.

  4. stacy October 26, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    hi, could you please repost the link to the IKEA storage? These are great idea. Thank you,.

  5. Nola October 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Just wondering what you do with the stamps. I haven’t found a good way to not get them super messy. Stamp ink all over hands and also they don’t seem to dry for me. How do stamps dry (the part you stamp with) it seems to take weeks before they are dried out enough to put away without a mess. I must be doing something wrong.

    • Iluvchoklit August 15, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      Just stamp them on a folded damp paper towel – can even use a very small amt of dish soap. Cleaning them prevents bleeding colors.

  6. Bethany October 23, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    What a nice way to use a small space! I’ve found that my 4-year-old tends to just scatter her toys around when too many are available, so I’ve put her art supplies up in a tub in her closet (which we bring down when she wants to use them). It would be nice to have a table set up, though, for her to use when she makes her projects.

  7. Jen S October 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I am just curious how you keep your LO out of the stuff he shouldn’t be using. My kids are 3.5 and 21 months and i feel like if I left out markers/scissors/etc. that it would be all over the place b/c they try to get into anything and everything the minute my back is turned. But. I love the idea b/c my 3.5 year old loves to color and we don’t do it often since i feel like I have to be right there.

  8. Judy@Savoring Today October 22, 2011 at 5:44 am #

    Our youngest is 16 now, all three of our kids are creative. However, when they were young I only let them do projects that were “neat” and rearranged the Christmas tree ornaments once they were done hanging the few I allowed. I am grateful that didn’t last long and I got over my house being “just so”. They had play time with their own sculpey, made gifts, designed their own rooms, and when we remodeled our home, an entire room was designated the “art room”. Yes, it was messy, they learned to clean. Yes, there was always a project in process, they learned to finish. Yes, there was paint on the walls and sculpey in the carpet, we learned to enjoy their creativity above all else. Art and music will form synapses in the brain that will benefit every area of learning.

    Another mom helped me see beyond “let them” to “encourage them”, once they were a little older, 8 or 9 we stopped buying “kid” materials and let them work with professional paints, clay, etc., by the time they were in high school, their work showed their experience — our oldest daughter in college art classes by the time she was 16 and illustrating books for a local author.

    You just never know what will come of it, the freedom to explore and create. Enjoy the process :D

  9. Ambritt October 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    One thing that I do is take pictures of my son’s artwork, date it and keep a folder of all the pics. Then I’m going to create a photo book online with all the pictures. It’s so hard to throw away his creations so I’m hoping this will be a good solution!

  10. Erin October 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    This is so cute Lindsay! I love it. We have those stamps and all three of my girls (they are 6, 3 and 19 months) love and use them. If you have the money it’s worth it to get an extra melissa and doug stamp pad as well. Arts and crafts are definitely a favorite in our house. My 3 three year old was asking to watercolor before we had even had breakfast this morning!

  11. Abby October 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Lindsey, I love that you use this as a learning opportunity for your son! I think so many parents just think things have to be avoided with a little one. I just don’t think it occurs to them that a 2 year old (or in my case an 18 month old) can learn to handle things properly & carefully.

    I’m dying to do something like this for my 18 month old daughter. I’m thinking it could be a little premature. Alot still ends up in her mouth. :o ) Maybe I’ll put together and art bucket I can get out from time to time and do stuff with her.

    Okay, question, what do you do with art work? Does it have an expiration date in your house? We have a fair amount of it floating around our house from my step-daughter. It usually “lives” until it’s accidently & neglectfully destroyed in the toy box or the drawers in her closet. I really want to come up with a way to preserve & remember my kids’ creations before my younger daughter starts making more. Any creative ideas?

    • Nola October 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

      At my house we basically take the projects and do a few things with them first- put on the fridge, send to family members (long distance relatives eg. grandparents) in the mail with a letter, use part for the front of a card etc. There might be a few left over, which I help the kids go through and discard if we can, or file the rest in a file folder in my filing cabinet for later. Projects they are still working on but can’t finish that day are in a “current project drawer” but I am soon hoping to change this to a box for each of them on a shelf. Once the projects left over on the fridge are there a while, they are taken down. Good ones (eg. favourites of them or me, ones that show a new skill etc. are put into a 3 ring binder in plastic sheet protectors. I also try to label the child’s name, age and date/season if I don’t remember on it (best to do this when they are first done). So then we get a collection of about 10-20 a year. If its super important but can’t be put in a binder, I take a photo. I haven’t yet put those into the binder, but I hope to. You can even spread a bunch of projects out on the table and take a photo of them all. Every once in a while I go through the filing cabinet and take out some of those too and add to the binder, but mostly the good ones get mailed away or on the fridge and later the binder. Sometimes I do take ones out of the binder if we are getting too many that year or the same type of thing.

      I hope that helps. I love seeing the development over the years eg. first sribble lines to drawing circles to starting to draw faces/people to people that get more detailed and look more like real people in our family etc to starting to add some writing and labelling etc. Its really neat to see.

    • Lindsay October 24, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      Currently I post the all on a bulletin board next to the art center. On a semi regular basis we sit down together and go through them. I then let her choose which are here favorites and we move them to a three ring binder. The rest are disposed of. I like the idea of just taking photos of the art work in the future.

  12. Sharon October 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm #


    I think you have inspired me to take a trip to Ikea. You frequently make references to items you’ve obtained there and I have only been there a handful of times. Quite honestly, the store overwhelms me. :o ) Sharon

    • Abby October 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      Sharon, have you tried the Conatiner Store? I’ve actually never been to Ikea … only because there’s not one near me. But the Conatiner Store has tons of organizey stuff (not furniture like Ikea does though). Just a little less overwhelming thought. :o )

  13. Amanda @ Not Just Cute October 21, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Thanks for sharing the link. It’s so fun to see these ideas take action in people’s homes! So glad it’s working out for you. Here’s to hours of more art fun for your kiddos!

  14. Stephanie October 21, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Great post! I too have struggled with this, I like crafts, but I don’t like the mess of it all with kids. This is something I have been working on, and we have created an art and craft area with a table that a renter left behind in our rental. I like FREE. I also had a tote–from the cleaning area of Walmart–that has different sections to it… it wasn’t big enough for spray bottles to fit into so we turned it into the art supply holder. In the different sections there are crayons/markers/glue/kid sissors/pencils/erasers etc. The funny part is that the kiddos school uses the same ones at each table. It is also nice that it has a handle and I can pick it all up when younger cousins are around. :)

    • Stephanie October 21, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      And the tote is a fun green, which the kids like. :)

  15. Tracey M. October 21, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    I love this! I’d love to create an area like this. Love the inspiration it provides. We keep the coloring books out and paper for my son and I’m amazed at how often he’ll turn to that before anything else. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Lorilee @ Loving Simple October 21, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    this is cute. I also struggle with not being crafty. We dance on the line with art projects being more fun than mess … or more mess than the fun was worth.

  17. rae October 21, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    i worked as a teaching artist for many years and one of my jobs was to help classroom teachers create art centers in their rooms. they were always amazed at how easy it was and how much the children enjoyed it. so glad you’ve been inspired to create one in your home! there is so much learning that happens when children create works of art!

    • Sharon October 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      So, in your opinion, what are the basic necessities for an in-home art center? I, too, am a Mommy who lacks vision in the creativity realm. I tell my friends “I don’t create, I replicate”.

      • Abby October 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

        I know with my 9 year old step-daughter, there are some art things she likes doing more than others. Then there are some that I want her doing with supervision (i.e. painting) and not whenever she wants to in her room alone. :o ) So her art station consists of scrapbooking stuff (paper, scissors, stickers, stamps, glue, glitter). She also likes to draw so I make sure she’s got a plethora of pens, markers & crayons & an art book or paper.

  18. Ellen October 21, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    This is really great, Lindsay. I have recently tried to gather more art supplies and make them accessible to my almost-4-year-old, who tends to be quietly thoughtful and artistic.

    The problem I’ve run into is how to make the supplies readily accessible to her, but keep them still somewhat guarded from my 2-year-old, who is much more rambunctious and likely to run with scissors, color everywhere with markers, dump the glue, etc. Even sharpened colored pencils are dangerous if a little one is running around with a handful of them, points-up!

    Does anyone here have ideas or experiences to help manage this? I expect it will be an issue for a while around here, as we hope that the Lord will continue to add to our family and we’ll have little ones for several years to come.

    • Autumn October 21, 2011 at 5:30 am #

      What we did when we set up our art/craft center was use this storage unit from Ikea: (just the taller one). We put markers, scissors, glue, and anything else we didn’t want the younger child to reach on the middle/upper drawers and everything else on the lower ones. You can buy shelves to use in place of the drawers, so we put shelves on the very top and filled those with out board games and puzzles. We’ve had it for 1.5 years now and it’s worked out great.

    • Lindsay October 21, 2011 at 6:25 am #

      I would just encourage you to use it as a training opportunity for your 2 year old. My little guy may not be as adventurous as you describe, but we have talked about being careful with the supplies, and he is not allowed to use the markers and paints at this stage without my supervision. He has free access to the colored pencils and crayons but he knows they cannot be used on the walls, etc. The colored pencils we have are really thick chunky versions so they are hardly sharp at the ends. All supplies are to be kept at the table in our house. It may take a bit of work to train our children in this way, but I think it will be worth it.

    • Nola October 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      I keep out certain things accessible, and others I do not. Eg. for us, crayons and paper and colouring books are very accessible. Those don’t present an issue for us, at least not big ones. I have occasionally had crayon on the wall, but I get it off easily, and they learn after a few times teaching them. But everyone has their own idea of what is okay and what is not and different personality kids. So what I do with the other stuff that I don’t see as okay to have out all the time, like when going through the stage where children are exploring a lot this can be done with a cupboard that the older one can only reach, or with child proof safety locking things (those plastic things you push down on to open the door…my older child could do them and the younger couldn’t at a certain stage, and by the time she could, it was no longer an issue for us). But every family is different, and has different kids and abilities/stages. Its constantly changing too, adding to the fun! I find I go through stages of one thing working and then something changes and I have to set up a new system. Eg. right now I have small parts toys in the basement near the computer and my kids play with them on the floor. They are not currently contained in any child proof way since both are at the age past putting them in their mouth etc. But I am going to have a baby and therefore that will no longer work for us. I’ll either have to contain the baby when I am here or the toys. I’ll figure out what works best for us.

      Oh by the way I try to just add it into my routine using the stuff that is not out all the time eg. paints. I just write it on my calendar or wait for someone to ask and try to make the time for it.

  19. Lacey Wilcox October 21, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    This is great! Have you ever had any luck with your kids using an easel? Just curious because I found an adorable one a few days ago that was decently priced. I love the organization here, and I think the stamps are such a great idea!! Do you put anything under the table to keep messes from the floor?

    • Lindsay October 21, 2011 at 6:30 am #

      No, I have never really desired an easel, knowing how much space it can consume. A quality easel definitely can be expensive too. I thought this art center would be a good frugal alternative and can be easily stored away when we have company and such (and don’t prefer all the kids to get into it, you know). An easel certainly is a good option if you get one for an affordable rate. I don’t use anything on the floor under the table, but then again I have hard wood floors and we only use washable art supplies, so any clean up is really easy.

  20. Nichole October 21, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    Perfect! I want my own!

  21. Katie@Gluten-Free Food Storage October 21, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    My 4yo and 3 yo would love this. My 2 yo would probably color all over the walls, floor, etc.

  22. Lecia October 21, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    Love this idea. We have craft supplies where our daughter Hope can reach them and she entertains herself for long periods. She has become very creative.