An art space reorg

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Last week I helped a friend rework her family's art space. She wanted the art supplies to be accessible and appealing to her four children, ages 4 through 9. While she valued art and creativity, and had lots of art materials, she was feeling overwhelmed by the state of her art cupboard and art space. I went over for a couple of hours one morning and helped her work on organizing, purging, and brainstorming.


Here's a before photo of the art cupboard, the kitchen table, and the walls and windows that were covered with kids' paintings. The cupboard was bursting at the seams and piles of old artwork, homework, and other papers were piled up on the front ledge, making it inaccessible.


Here's a before shot of the interior, which was crammed full of art supplies as well as other items such as cookbooks, tablecloths, and a dozen or so bottles of sunscreen and bug spray.

ArtSpaceReOrg_01  ArtSpaceReOrg_09

Our first task was to clear out the cupboard completely and then sort through the materials to decide what was to go back in, what we should toss, and what should be stored elsewhere.

We moved the cookbooks and the sunblock. The piles of artwork were sorted through and a couple pieces by each child were selected to hang up on bulletin boards behind the table. The rest were moved to the kids' art bins in the basement. We went through and tossed many old, used up, or redundant art supplies. And the non-kid friendly supplies were moved to the basement.

ArtSpaceReOrg_16  ArtSpaceReOrg_13

Here are the after shots, inside and out. The art supplies are now attractively organized and easily accessible. The biggest change was essentially decluttering the space and turning the emphasis from storing art supplies to using art supplies. Extra materials or infrequently used materials are now stored in the basement.

This cabinet is meant to get the kids making art.

Crayons, markers, dot painters, and colored pencils are in view and inviting in labeled green cups. The children can easily grab a cup to take to the table. Papers are below as is a tub of playdough and playdough tools (the entire tub can be pulled out and brought to the table). Tempera paints, brushes, and cups are kept together in the large drawer. Tools such as scissors, stapler, glue, and tape are all reachable behind one door. Materials that are to be used with adult supervision, such as sharpies, are on the high shelf.


The last thing we did as part of our art space reorg was to clean up the table and set out some paints and paper to greet the kids when they came home from school.


The kids were excited! They painted with the materials that were set out and also were inspired to use some of the newly-accessible materials from the cupboard. Success!

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  1. Lisa F. says

    awesome! I love projects like this, and it’s so much easier with a friend.

  2. Marnee says

    Oh I need you to come to my place…the problem for me in no basement so nowhere else to keep the etra supplies. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous…you’ve inspired me.

  3. says

    I just did the same thing with our art space(blog post finished last night). It has made such a difference. I tossed what we didn’t use and made everything much sleeker and more accessible. We are back to creating art every day

  4. Bobbi says

    Nice job Jean! I’m curious to see how well it stays organized, and if the kids put things back where they belong so it stays usable for them.

  5. Rachel says

    thank you for loving our friend jean! the space looks awesome. and i appreciate what you said about the space needs to be more about getting the kids to do art and less about storage… makes me want to go back to my art cabinet and ponder a bit….

  6. [email protected] says

    As the recipient I’ll say a hugh THANK YOU! My kids have pulled out art supplies daily since….and when i asked them to put them away they first looked at me, “huh???” (it was always something i had to do b/c it was so cluttered)….but, not any more:) They put them away and were excited to know where to find them the next day! Thanks Jean….and now, off to the throw stuff out that went to the basement:)

  7. says

    I need you to come to my house and help me! I have TOO MANY art supplies and have a hard time editing them down. :(

  8. says

    Give it a try! We use our dining room for art all the time and then just clean off the table before eating. I love sitting around the table there together and creating!

  9. says

    That looks so great! Your comment about changing it from ‘storage’ to ‘use’ struck a chord for me. I love that cupboard too…

  10. Sharon says

    My mom has the exact same cupboard and has had it as long as I can remember. You used all that space well, great job!

  11. adriennew says

    That looks wonderful!! I think it just does so much to encourage art! What do you suggest for limited space? I’d like to make our supplies more accessible for the kids, but I don’t have a cupboard near our kitchen table.