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How To Set Up A Kids Art Space That Builds Creative Confidence & Independence


Megan Schiller, from the Art Pantry, shares her top 5 tips on how to set up a kids art space that builds creative confidence and independence.

How to Set up a Kids Art Space
Photo by Megan Schiller

Updated June 2021

All kids are creative, right? But many of them lose confidence in their natural creative abilities at some point in their youth.

As a mom, former preschool teacher, and art teacher, I believe that all kids have the potential to grow up feeling confident in their creativity.

If young kids are given access to creative materials along with a little guidance, they can learn to use these artistic tools in their own unique way to support whatever passions and interests they may have.  They can learn to independently use creative materials to become self-sufficient makers and innovative thinkers.

Megan Schiller
How to Set Up a Kids Art Space
Photo by Megan Schiller

In my work, I help parents and teachers set up art spaces that invite kids to use the materials spontaneously, whenever inspiration strikes. A child might need to decompress from school or might suddenly decide to make a bed for a doll while playing with friends. Whatever the need may be, the key is for kids to become comfortable using their art supplies, independently, as an extension of their play.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to set up an art space that builds creative confidence and independence.

How to Set Up a Kids Art Space

Kids Art Space - Make it easily accessible
Photo by Megan Schiller

1. Make It Easily Accessible

Help your kids gain creative independence by having some familiar materials always accessible. Kids often forget about things they can’t see.

If you keep supplies out in the open and easily accessible, then they will get used more often and will allow for spontaneous art making. If your kids have to ask permission every time they want to make something, it can stifle their creativity. Make sure to go over the rules with your kids and let them know you trust them (even if you’re not so sure!). Maybe they will surprise you as they gain a sense of autonomy and responsibility.

Kids Art Space for Independent Art Space Makers and Innovative thinkers
Photo by Megan Schiller

2. Mix It Up

It might sound strange, but a kids art space isn’t just for art. Think of it more as a workshop, where your kids can use their art materials to enhance other types of play.

Don’t be afraid to mix toys and art supplies together in the same space. Plastic toys are easy to clean if they happen to become covered in paint or glue, so I usually start with those.

Kids Art Space - Mix it up
Photo by Megan Schiller

Sometimes I include wooden blocks or play kitchen items to use with play-dough.

At our house we often keep dolls in our studio and my girls end up using the art supplies to make accessories for them. Art making becomes woven into their imaginative play, which can keep them engaged for long periods of time.

Kids Art Space - It's all about containers
Photo by Megan Schiller

3. It’s All About The Containers

Take some time to find containers that fit your space well and keep your supplies organized.

It will take some effort to find ones to suit your needs, but it will be well worth it! With this kind of organization, your kids can easily find the supplies they need and then just as easily put them away when they’re finished (with a little encouragement!). New shelf organizers, bins, and art caddies can be surprisingly expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you can find great containers at second-hand shops and discount stores.

Kids Art Space - Let kids display their work
Photo by Megan Schiller

4. Let Kids Display Their Work

When setting up your kids art space, don’t forget to include areas for drying, storing, and displaying art that your children can access themselves.

We use a small shoe rack on a low shelf for drying art and a large tray for storing finished art when dry. When it fills up, we go through the artwork together and save our favorites. One of my favorite ways to display art is to hang a strand of twine on the wall and use clothespins to clip the art to the twine.

Displaying children’s art shows them that their work is valued and helps build confidence. It also acts as a reminder of how they are growing and learning new skills. Try to find a display area at your children’s eye level so they can spontaneously showcase their work on their own.

Kids Art Space - Invitations to Create
Photo by Megan Schiller

5. Keep Your Kids Engaged With Invitations To Create

Even when kids have independent access to a well-stocked art space, they can sometimes find themselves at a loss for what to do.

If you notice a decline in excitement with their art supplies, or you see your kids reverting back to using only their favorite materials, try setting out Invitations To Create. When your kids aren’t around, choose a few neglected materials and display them on the table in a simple, inviting way. Then see what happens when they come across this alluring prompt.

I like to set something up at night when my kids are asleep so they will discover it in the morning. They are curious and excited that I took the time to arrange these items in a thoughtful way and they immediately sit down and start exploring the materials. This almost always leads them to gather more items from the shelf and is a great way to jump start a creative session with a fresh perspective.

Need help setting up your own art space?

I’m dedicated to helping more kids have access to creative tools and materials. So if you want help setting up an creative space in your home, I’m here for you!

  • My online course, Art Pantry Design Camp, will guide you through the process of setting up an organized and inviting space for your kids (no matter your budget or the size of your space!).

Design Camp is a 5 week course with step-by-step instructions, clickable product lists, videos, group accountability, inspiration, and support. I guide you through the process and answer every question that comes up for you!`

More Resources for Setting Up Your Art Space

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How To Set Up A Kids Art Space That Builds Creative Confidence & Independence


  • Reply
    Lianna Marie
    January 7, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Hi Megan Schiller
    Great Article !
    Thank You :)

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    In case you’re ever wondering if you’re making a difference, you are! Quite simply, your blog post today has inspired me to make my soapmaking supply room / sewing room into an Arts & Crafts studio for my 6 year old homeschooled twin girls. Currently all of our art supplies are spread out through the house and have to be gathered up and transferred into the kitchen. This is a great opportunity for my imaginative little girls to spontaneously create and be responsible for their clean-up (sometimes with assistance). Thanks so much for this post! It isn’t just a great idea but really a game changer for my family!

    • Reply
      megan @ The Art Pantry
      January 8, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Patricia,
      This is Megan, the author of the post. It makes my day to hear that! Good luck in getting your arts and crafts room set up for your girls.

  • Reply
    Sutton Rockwood
    January 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Megan-

    I’m curious about one of the items in your photo – it looks like a small white display shelf, under the window. Do you know where it was purchased? My daughter makes millions little sculptures and I am looking for a way that she can display them.

    Thank you for the ideas!

    • Reply
      Megan @ The Art Pantry
      January 11, 2017 at 1:39 am

      Hi Sutton,
      I got the display shelf at an antique fair and painted it white, but I’ve seen similar ones at craft stores. Maybe even Etsy or ebay would have something like it.

      Good luck!


      • Reply
        Sutton Rockwood
        January 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        Thank you!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Hi Megan! Where did you get the cups holding the paintbrushes, etc, featured in the third photo? And are they magnetic? Thanks– great post!

  • Reply
    Amy @ These Wild Acres
    January 11, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Just gorgeous! Very inspiring :D

  • Reply
    January 23, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Hi! My babygirl is 18 months. Is too early to create an art space for her?

  • Reply
    Kids Dentist Helper Shivaun
    February 7, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Beautiful art room Megan, my kids also love drawing and painting, we have a special area in our home where they get to be creative and hang their artwork, not as neat and organized as yours though. Impressive!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Hi Megan, where are cups holding brushes and magnetic board from? :)

  • Reply
    Rachel Whiteley
    March 4, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Your art space it’s beautiful! I have tried to create an art space but our house is super small and only my daughter (the most creative one) regularly accesses and seeks out the supplies which are in the kitchen (on the table and on open shelves under the desk space that holds our microwave) and I have some stored in a cupboard in our living room. It’s been frustrating to come up with a way to store things and a space for creating. Yesterday we brought an extra table into our living room to do painting projects and have also done easel painting in our garage. Any tips? Hoping for an art space when we move in a year or two but need something now.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Megan,
    Thanks for such a wonderful and thorough post! I’m a fan of your blog now. I’ve been in search of resources to encourage art with my toddler boys. Your ideas are invaluable! Would you mind sharing the source for your striped blue table cloth in your picture? Is it plastic? Thanks!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Thanks. We are planning to set up an part of our laundry room(it’s huge) as an art space for our girls and this gave me some good things to consider.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    I just love your ideas! I have been working on our homeschool room and creating it into a good space for art for my kids. I just made a crayon organizer out of a tree this week!
    I posted about it here:
    I love to read your website! Thank you for all of the ideas!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Hi – Can you tell me where you found the white wall mounted storage containers for the scissors ect? I like the idea and would like to try something in our kids play room. Thanks

    • Reply
      Rachel Withers
      November 24, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Megan from The Art Pantry (who wrote this guest post) has some links to her favorite products for organizing an art space. I believe the Urbio link might be what you’re looking for.

      Best wishes,
      Rachel (Editorial Manager for The Artful Parent)

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