I’ve mentioned before that our house is pretty small according today’s standards. Spaces need to do double-duty. For instance, we have a room that is about 8′ by 10′ and it serves as my office, the Ladyfriend’s closet, and the Babylady’s art studio.
Art studio you say? For many reasons I offer a resounding, of course! Art is important for children (well, for everyone), under-funded in public schools (if funded at all), and something we place a high value on in our family. The Babylady is also driven to create.
That being said, I still found myself hesitant to do art with her at home. It involved the complex process of her figuring out what kind of art she wanted to make, dragging it out of a closet to the living/dining room, and cleaning it up again before anyone could have a meal. It caused anxiety (for me) about paint and glitter glue on the furniture and ink stamps on the table. All of that, plus not having independent access to her supplies, meant she didn’t get to have much control over her creative process. Which wasn’t what I wanted for her.
I wanted her to have a full range of implements available to her at all (reasonable) times. I wanted her to have a variety of materials to use and space to display her favorites. Creativity gets squished out of so many kids so soon. I wanted her to have the tools, freedom, and confidence to create, as well as pride in her projects. I was inspired by the set up that dig this chick has for her two kids and set about creating a small nook in a shared room for her space. The entire space is about 4′ by 5′, with storage to the ceiling.
I realized before I even got going that it needed organization or I would quickly lose my mind. I wanted her to learn respect for what she has and to put things away. Ok, this probably has more to do with my love of the labeler, my deep-seated control freakiness, and that I’m Virgo-rising. Whatever. Everything has a place, ok? Can we leave it at that?
I went to IKEA. Again. You may remember the Bekvåm Stool turned play kitchen? Yep, there are some things IKEA just plain rocks at. Sure, you have to assemble. Some of it is of questionable quality. But, I gotta say… many items are sturdy, are easily added to most decor, and can work miracles in small spaces.
You could easily find suitable tables, chairs, etc at garage sales or thrift stores. Use your imagination. This is what worked for us to cram as much as possible into a small, but highly functional space.
- Sansad stool 2 at $19.99 each We chose this style as it allows for storage in the chair. One is full of stickers and the other is full of random paper for collages. They are actually sturdy enough that we can use them as a step stool for the high shelves.
- Sundvick table $39.99
- Måla Easel $14.99 She already had the easel.
- Måla Tabletop paper holder $6.99 Brilliantly, the paper holder slides exactly (and securely) to the end of the Sundvick table. Cool, right? I was beyond excited that I didn’t have to figure out how to attach it to the table.
- Måla Drawing paper roll 2 at $4.99 One for the table and one for the easel, if using.
- Bygel containers $0.99 (we used 9) We also used 2 larger bins that attach to the rail, but I couldn’t find them on the website. Their website is tricky that way. Many things in the store don’t make it on the website.
- Bygel rail 4 at $1.99 (21¾” length)
- Bygel S-hooks $0.99/5-pack For hanging things – the dust pan, an old camera she uses, some “binoculars” she made from toilet paper tubes and beads, etc.
- Bygel Wire Basket $1.99
- IKEA 365+ IHÄRDIG Spice jar $3.99/4-pack I initially thought I’d put glitter in them, but quickly realized that would be a disaster. She stores random bits of things in here.
- Blaska Dust pan/brush $1.99 To learn to pick up her own glitter (pretty please, let this happen soon…)
- Dokument Letter tray $8.99
Other items (non-IKEA)
- Assorted other bins to store toilet paper tubes, take out chopsticks, tape, glue, stamps, and other gathered supplies. I used several that we just happened to have around the house.
- Jars of your choosing. I used mostly canning jars, but also some other recycled jars.
- Magnet strip. I used one we had. But you could use something like this from IKEA. For hanging pictures or tidbits near table.
- Art supplies. She has feathers, sticky letters, glitter, colorful straws, wooden tongue depressors, googly eyes, colorful cotton balls, glitter cotton balls, bits of ribbon, beads, beading string, buttons, shredded paper, construction paper, plain paper, tissue paper, finger paint, watercolors, acrylic paint, chalk, crayons, creamy crayons, twisty crayons, markers, glitter glue, Elmer’s glue, glue sticks, scotch tape, painters tape, scissors, stencils, stickers, lots of random odds and ends for collage (old seed catalogs, ripped pages of books, scrapbook paper, etc), decoupage, stamps, beads, and more. Really? Anything can be art. She has bits of pine cones, dandelions, and small rocks. She has some of her own hair. Bits of her stuffed animals fur. Fabric and yarn scraps. I never know quite what to expect when I go looking around. But if you have a little container around, rest assured it will be filled with something deemed wonderful and magical.
What to do with the abundance of it all? We rotate art gallery-style in the hallway hung to a Dignitet wire (12.99) or in assorted inexpensive frames around her art station. Some favorites are saved. Some is used as wrapping paper. Others are given to adoring grandparents. A lot of it gets reused as collage material. Though, I’m not ashamed to say that I sneak a bit out to the recycle bin when she isn’t home. She is nothing if not prolific in her craft.
Go on. Give a kid a space to create and shine!