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Studio Changes (Again)

by Jean Van't Hul
November 26, 2013

Our new art studio set-up with wall-mounted, fold-down tables from Ikea...

It's been a while since we've had any big changes in our art studio. Almost three years. 

And the truth is, we've been overdue for a change for a while now. The SANSAD tables were low—good for Daphne, but no longer for Maia unless she sits (which she rarely does), and definitely not for me. And, as someone noted recently in a comment, we often end up doing our family art at the kitchen table rather than the studio.

We have several good reasons for this:

Fabric Collage with Kids 20

  • The dining table easily fits several people around it
  • The natural light is a lot better
  • It's in our main living space and where we like to spend our time—near the kitchen, the living room, music, the sink (for washing up)
  • It's easy for kids to come and go between the arts and crafts activities at the table and other activities (reading, building, playing) nearby while remaining close to the family and the action
  • It's easy for me to go between household tasks (cooking, cleaning, etc) and the art activity, or to move on to cooking dinner while the kids continue making their playdough creations

If I'm honest with myself, we're just not going to stop using the kitchen table. It's a friendly, family gathering space where we do projects and activities together.

Toddler Art Group in the Studio

The art studio really had its heyday with the toddler art groups. It was great to have a dedicated art room for all those enthusiastic, messy toddlers and preschoolers.

Kids Art Sudio Space 5

But the studio has continued to serve as a place for kid-initiated art. The girls have free access to (most of*) the art supplies and know they can head back there any time to create.

When I think about it, I set out a fresh piece of paper and some oil pastels or paints, just as the simplest of invitations. No expectations attached. And one or both of the kids, and maybe a friend as well, might be attracted to the materials and their possibility while walking past and begin creating.

Kids Art Studio 10

But the studio is primarily for kid-initiated and directed art. Maia gets an idea for something she wants to build with popsicle sticks and heads there. Or she goes, looking for her animal print paper, and folds a village of origami houses. Daphne wants to paint a picture for our neighbor and heads back there on her own to begin. Sometimes the girls work side by side or even together, but more usually it's the space where creativity unfolds individually.

At first, when I was thinking about studio changes, I thought I wanted to make it our family art space and tried bringing in a big table. But the size and layout just didn't work for that. And I realized that we were all happy creating together at the kitchen table and there was no real reason to force a change.


So then I decided to find a work table solution that would fit the space and the growing kids, not to mention myself, while also fitting in to how we use the studio. I headed to Ikea to browse their showroom and came across a simple, wall-mounted, fold-down table that I thought might solve both the table problem and the light problem.

Harry helped me mount three side-by-side under the windows (in other words, he did all the work!). 

Kids Art Studio 7

It's perfect! The tables fold down flat against the wall and out of the way if necessary, yet they provide a substantial art-making surface right next to the natural light from the windows.

Kids Art Sudio Space 1

We've all made good use of them and are quite happy with this set-up. And it seems one that will remain viable for the foreseeable future. We have three BEKVAM step stools that double as chairs (for Maia and me) and step stools for kneeling or standing on (for Daphne and her friends). I may need to get a proper (higher) stool or two, as it doesn't seem quite ideal for the little ones. Although, frankly, they seemed both happy and productive.

*I still keep a few materials out of reach, including the printing ink, India ink, x-acto knives, and marbling kit.

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