Arwen’s art spaces



Arwen is a lucky four year old with some amazing kid-friendly art spaces in her home. Her mom, Kayte, e-mailed me these photos in response to my request. I asked if I could post them here to share with all of you and, lucky us, she granted me permission.

Now, I have to admit that I have complete art space envy right now. Of Arwen’s art spaces as well as of some of the others linked to in the comments from the other day. There are so many beautiful ones! And I almost didn’t post this because I don’t want to foster the idea that you have to have such an amazing well-stocked art space in order to encourage regular art making in your home. You all know that, right? A simple table (even the dining table), some paper, and a few supplies are all you really need.

But… Arwen’s art spaces are too great not to share. I think Kayte has set up some pretty ingenious solutions to storing art supplies while keeping everything accessible. I especially like the wall hung paper holder she sewed, the tape dispenser solution she came up with, and the over-the-door shoe holder she uses to house various art supplies.

Kayte is an avid crafter with a degree in education is a former product designer for a paper craft company. She re-arranged her craft room and her home a couple of years ago to accommodate Arwen’s growing art needs, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education as well as her own Montessori background.

From here on I’m pasting Kayte’s words and descriptions.


Your comments about
encouraging creativity and ownership really resonate with me. I could
not agree more and we have given our daughter Arwen, who is now four and
a half, free access to supplies since before her second birthday. In
our house we have a dedicated art room, but also have a few other niches
throughout the house which also foster the ‘create on demand’ urge all
at her own pace.

Here is my daughter’s side of
our main art room…


Access to supplies:
At the table there is a collection of buckets, from the dollar section
at target and the like, to hold supplies. I love this system for several
reasons. It is easy to keep organized (even the youngest visitor puts
the supplies back naturally without suggestion), easy to transport to
any room in the house or even outside, and they easy to switch out (we
have a fabric bin of out of rotation cans) when we want to use something
else. The window sill next to the table allows for storage off the
creating surface. You’ll notice I am big fan of using window sills in
our house.  We have buckets that contain: glue, scissors, rulers,
crayola thin markers, crayola fat markers, Bruynzel even fatter markers,
colored pencils, watercolor pencils, gel sticks, do a dot markers,
wikki sticks, a variety of different brand, shape material crayons,
chalk, glitter glue, and a few I am sure I am forgetting.


Paper is available to her from
her chair. I searched all over for a paper holder that would hold a
variety of sizes. Short of spending $500 at a school supply store I
could not find a system that would work and not take up too much space,
so I opted to sew a hanging system holds several types and sizes of
paper that hangs on the wall.


The bulk of her other supplies
are on the wall in a combination of elfa and Ikea system. 

There are
removable drawers for stationery (mail creating is huge at our house),
collage materials, paints (tempera and water color), stickers, clay
(traditional and model magic), rubber stamps and ink pads, notebooks and
bound specialty paper.  

One the top surface of the Ikea
unit is a bin for scraps and her masking tape. I used a large Ikea paper
roll holder ($6)  and wrapping paper tubes to make a tape dispenser
(since they are so pricey- I’d rather spend the money on tape!) Plus
there is a bucket for postage stamps and a small index card holder where
she loves to write and file things.


One the next shelf up has trays
with blank books (hardback and soft back in several sizes), shrinky dink
paper and other speciality papers, and a tray holding old cloth diapers
we use for paint brush cleaning with a small white tray for her to drop
dirty rubber stamps into. I take the tray and wash them when it’s full.
Next is a orange and clear round bucket. It is our “okay to glue it”
bucket. And is one of the most beloved things in the room. I introduced
it to her about 2.5 along with elmer’s glue topped with – “tap n glue”
top. In it are buttons, feathers, random wooden pieces, cotton balls,
sequins, gems ,etc… in nicely divided areas. I try to refresh this
often and I think that has helped keep the interest for over 2 years. It
is very popular with my daughter’s friends and we have twice given a
similar bucket with glue as birthday gifts. And just to the right is our
bin of out of rotation buckets. Sometimes I rotate them to spark
interest but Arwen often changes them out herself. 

The shelves actually go to the
ceiling and house my craft and art supplies.


Other things in the room: The
closet houses a good bit of my craft supplies and fabric, but the doors
do offer access for Arwen to ribbons, trims, pipe cleaners, popsicle
sticks and some other tools and glues.


You may notice the absence
of a standing easel. Instead of we have two folding table top easels.
Originally I got them because of the lack of space of a standard one but
now love the flexibility. They move to any room or outside easily.  We
store them in a tall skinny cabinet in the kitchen so they are easily
accessible, though in the winter we keep them set up in our kitchen
window sill (which either houses seedlings and our butterfly lab during
the other three seasons). We have two for painting sessions with mom,
friends or on  occasion, two paintings at once.


When the weather is warmer
they go outside a lot. 


We have a similar window sill
in our living room. It houses a small paper roll and crayons and markers
so drawing can be done in this room at will as well. We also keep a set
of either crayon rocks or unwrapped crayons since it is adjacent to our
homemade discovery box (filled with things from outside) that inspires
lots of rubbings. 

I am always amazed at
the comments from moms who visit our house for the first time,
especially when Arwen was younger, balking at the access to markers in
our living room. I truly believe Susan Striker’s philosophy that when
provided with paper and appropriate art surfaces, children never have
the need to write on walls or furniture. Arwen has never done it.  
We also have a chalkboard wall
in our kitchen along with two drawers children can access anytime. One
filled with play dough, cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc..and one with
finger paint tubes and large format finger paint paper. 
I try to keep specific craft
projects and defined art projects off the table in her art room and
instead present those at our dining room or at the kitchen counter (with
the help of our learning tower). I think this reinforces that her table
is for her art as she decides to experience it and more importantly
have complete ownership of it.


I think every room at
except the bathroom has at the very least a bucket of crayons and a
notebook, just in case the drawing mood strikes. But our current
favorite “room ” to draw isn’t our art room, the kitchen, the living
room, or any other room with supplies at the ready, it is our vine
covered fort in the backyard.      

Okay, it’s me again. Aren’t the art spaces in Kayte and Arwen’s home amazing?! I want to have a playdate in their house! I’m also inspired to overhaul our own art spaces…

Related Posts


  • Reply
    annette standrod
    July 16, 2010 at 7:23 am

    I am very interested in the fabric hanging system. is there a tutorial for it with a list of supplies?
    [email protected]

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I LOVE it! I needed some inspiration to get my stuff organized again.
    (But I will say, my 2yo has plenty access to paper and will color on the walls, table, and floor next to the paper. :-S Striker just got lucky.)

  • Reply
    Dawn Lange
    July 16, 2010 at 8:05 am

    That is awesome. I especially love the ribbon holder and the paper holder. She could probably sell those paper holders on Etsy!! Too bad we don’t have window sills. Someday….

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Yep – me too. My two year old likes to claim any surface as his canvas but my four year-old always stuck to the paper (or box or whatever the ‘allowed’ canvas’ was.)
    I’m inspired too!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I would love the tutorial of the fabric paper hanging system.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Seriously brilliant and sooooo inspiring, thanks for sharing!!!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Beautiful! I’m in awe. I just wish I had even half that amount of space to work with :)

  • Reply
    Christina @ Spoonfed
    July 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I used to get the exact same comments about art supplies when my daughter was young. We set up her first art space shortly after she turned 1, and even then she had free access to (washable) crayons and markers. Not once did she color anywhere inappropriate. Maybe we just got lucky, but I do think that early free access make it less taboo.
    In the comments the other day, I described our art studio (and I hope to provide pictures soon), but one of the things I mentioned was a canvas tiered magazine rack that we use for paper. It looks almost exactly like the one Kayte made, except it’s longer and has more pockets. It really is the handiest thing.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Kayte just offered to write up a simple tutorial for us next week. I want to make one, too!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I can’t wait to see the pics. Where did you get your canvas magazine rack?

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Maia had access to washable crayons, markers, and paper when she turned one as well. She hasn’t drawn on the walls or furniture a lot, but I certainly can’t say never!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Very inspiring and so organized! That ikea organizer is cool! We have something similar made in fabric and embroidery but has lesser number of pockets.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    i’d like some info on the brand of the bucket with dividers she uses for collage materials! i still haven’t found a way to store those that i’m happy with yet!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I think the shoe holder at the door with art material was a fantastic idea!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    oh i love this! thank you for sharing. i can’t wait for when we move back to the u.s. and i can invest more in my son’s more permanent art space. for now we have baskets for different media and they follow us around the house. but, i can’t wait to have more space and hopefully an art room one day with lots of shelves, nooks, and crannies like arwen’s! lucky girl!

  • Reply
    Crystal Tannehill
    July 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    What beautiful spaces! I’m jealous!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Thank you for everyone’s kind words. :)

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Well our art room is our third bedroom. Which means when we have guests (and most of our family lives far, far away and when they come they often stay for a while) my husband and I sleep on an air mattress in our family room. :) And since there isn’t room for my sewing machine in my craft room anymore, it lives in the corner of our dining room (on a cart from IKEA with a cute fabric cover).

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    should say I add the glues to the larger side in the top and the eyes and feathers to the larger side in the bottom.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Our bucket is actually repurposed from a baby shower gift–it held several Parent’s brand bath toys and wash clothes.
    However when we have given similar buckets as gifts I get these from Joanns (for $6 with their standard coupon)
    The 6 dividers shown in the bottom are actually two sections of 3. I split them between the top and bottom. I fill all six small compartments with sequins, gems, wooden what nots, etc..In the top I add a bottle of glue and glue stick to the larger side and in the bottom I add feathers and sheets of self-adhesive wiggly eyes.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Love it. Bear has had access to art supplies since she was 1 as well. Never had a problem. The only thing is she loves to stamp up and down her arms, but she did ask and I did give permission. lol. We have an art space, but after seeing this, I am going to try to change it up a bit. We don’t have wide windowsills though:(. Can’t wait for that tutorial. Our paper ends up all askew on the shelves.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Kayte, do you have a blog? Will you be sending the tutorial Jean’s way?

  • Reply
    July 17, 2010 at 8:29 am

    well, then, maybe my kid is particularly “bad”. lol. I’ll even cover the entire table in paper, and he’ll turn around and color on the chair, or even go UNDER the table and color it!! Unless I’m sitting right there supervising every move, which I do, but can’t always do. He always has had access to art supplies, esp with an older brother around. Except I have the drawing things in containers he can’t open, but his brother can. He can bring me the container and I’ll get out what he needs, so I can supervise.

  • Reply
    sherri/the claw
    July 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I love what Kayte has done. We don’t have much room, bu this post really inspired me to better organize our art storage. Here is the post on it…
    I just love your blog!

  • Reply
    Halley's Mommy
    November 19, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    where did u purchase your folding table easels? i am having a hard time finding one for my daughter that isn’t complicated or too “adult”. yours looks simply designed and nice. help?
    also… did u make the holder u have your ribbon (or is that tape) stored on? we have ours attached inside a bookshelf, but i’m thinking of making a stand for it like yours so we can move it to table/floor/etc.

  • Reply
    Halley's Mommy
    November 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    ok… scratch that on my tape/ribbon holder question. I re-read and darn it if it isn’t Ikea! do you know we used to live 20 minutes from 2 ikea stores (one north, one south) and now we would have to drive for 5 hours just to see one of those big blue box bandits?! omg… don’t get me started about how people like to ignore the midwest when they develop their “conquer america” expansion plans. lol
    still would like to know how to locate a similar easel though… if u have a moment. ;)

  • Reply
    February 18, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Such an inspiring home! Wanted to let Kayte know I loved her idea for an “okay to glue it” box. We recently used it as a gift, just like she suggested, with a SnapWare container full of goodies. I linked to this post in mine.
    I wanted to somehow compile a little list of your collage posts, Jean, to include with the gift but didn’t have time. Maybe I’ll do that on the next collage box we give, if I can figure out a good way to “give” blog posts! :)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.