By Nicole Tinkham
We’ve heard countless stories of artists using their KITCHENS as an art studio. As comical as it may seem to work this way, it’s not very practical. An artist needs (and deserves) a designated area to create. Not only is having an art room or area to create convenient but it can also help the artist stay organized, get the creative juices flowing, become focused and productive, and eliminate distractions. Plus it’ll keep the frustration of family members at bay. For some reason non-artists just don’t seem to understand the struggle of having so many different supplies and no place to put them! We know you’re looking for a solution to finally have the space to create and we’re hoping we can help without you having to buy a second house just for your art supplies! Here are our top 6 tricks for making room to create.
1. Choose the space
Before we even begin, we already know what you’re saying (or thinking). You don’t have space to work on your art, right? That’s the whole reason why you’re reading this blog! But hear us out. You may not have the space now but we can possibly change that. Close your eyes and imagine that your house or apartment is completely empty. Every bedroom, living room, and closet has absolutely nothing in it. You are working with a blank slate. Where would you put your art room? Is there a certain room with fabulous windows? A huge closet? Really think about this.
Also think outside the box. If turning a full room into an art room isn’t possible, what about part of the room? What about splitting your living room in half? You can achieve this with room dividers or a curtain. Do you have an area outside where you can work on your art? A lanai or porch? Be sure to think of every possible way you can make this work.
Be sure the space provides enough room. You need at least room for an art table or easel and for you to walk around. We’ll go over how to save space by getting organized next but for now just make sure you have enough room for the basics.
2. Get organized
Now that you have your space picked out, it’s time to move onto the next phase: organizing. Keep in mind that this whole process takes time and the getting organized part will most likely be your largest, most difficult and time consuming task. You’ll be going through ALL of your art supplies one at a time and placing them in one of the following piles.
Pile #1: Keep- These are the things you don’t have to think twice about. You use these things fairly regularly and they absolutely need to be in your art space no matter what.
Pile #2: Give away- These are the things that are perfectly fine to use but you have no use for them. Maybe you’ve been collecting fun yarn but never picked up knitting. Or started a collection of buttons for projects but never once touched them. We know how difficult it is to get rid of these so don’t let them go to waste! Think about your artsy friends. Could they get use out of your give away items? Could you donate them to a school? Giving them a good home should put your mind at ease.
Pile #3: Trash- These are items that really can’t be used for much. Torn paper, too small to use scrap fabric, and empty paint tubes need to be thrown out.
When you have some items that you know you should get rid of but have a hard time parting with, remember what you’re doing this for. Getting organized and clearing the clutter will allow you more space to create your work area. It will all be worth it when you’re finished.
Here are a few resources that can help STORE your art supplies:
3. Rolling art cart
A mobile cart is KEY for when you don’t have much room to work with. Look for a small cart (so it doesn’t get in the way) with shelves or drawers. You can load it up with all the supplies you need for a project (say oil painting essentials) and when you aren’t working on that project anymore, just roll it away! It can either go off to the side or in a closet. This prevents you from having massive cabinets and storage for everything. Of course not everything will fit on your art cart which is why we’ll also explain how you can make the most of wall and closet space.
4. Wall and closet space
Why do we love wall and closet storage? Because it doesn’t take up extra room in your work area! The closet can be a great way to store scrap fabric as you can hang it from pant hangers and keep them nice and organized. You can also use over the door shoe organizers to store smaller supplies. Shelving units are another option for a closet. Whatever you choose, be sure it aligns with the supplies you have.
When it comes to the wall, pegboards work wonders for hanging scissors and various bins and cups (which can store smaller supplies). Another little trick we love is using a magnetic strip (like the kind used to hang knives in the kitchen) to hang anything metal like scissors. Floating shelves also provide storage without taking up floor space.
5. Minimal furniture
When trying to save space, you’ll want to stay away from bulky furniture. This includes large bookcases, file cabinets, and big heavy desks. Think about what you absolutely need in order to create. Do you work on an easel or desk? Do you normally create large pieces or small? If you need a large flat work area, look for a desk or table you can easily move out of the way if you need to. You may be able to find one that you can adjust and make smaller for when you aren’t working on a large project. Many artists have a stool in their art room as opposed to a bulky chair and that’s great. A stool can easily be moved or slid under a desk to make more room when needed.
6. Art bins for projects
If you’re working on a few different projects at once all with many different pieces and supplies involved, we suggest using plastic bins to store all components of the project. This way you don’t have pieces of projects scattered around everywhere. When transitioning to the next project, simply place all the supplies you were using in the bin, set it aside or in the closet and move onto the next project. When you go back to that project, everything will be right there for you.
Artists face so many struggles but not having space to create shouldn’t hold you back. The tips in this blog may not solve all of your space issues but it could at least help. It takes a lot of time and thought to put together an art area that actually works for you. Don’t expect it to magically come together overnight. But the organization will be well worth it in the end. Not only will it give you more space but it’ll also give you an overview of what you actually have (bet you’ll find some things you forgot about!) as well as make it easier for you to find everything. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. Leave a COMMENT below and tell us a little about your art studio/area.