Basics: Our Studio

Don’t you love getting a peek into other folks’ creative spaces? I do. There are so many ways to solve the problem of how to create an art space in your home. We’ve only had a dedicated art/craft area for about a year. Before that, I made do, sometimes more successfully than others. When my boys were small, I didn’t provide as many creative opportunities as I’d have liked, simply because the logistics got me down. (They’re 2 1/2 years apart; many of those early days, the logistics of keeping them both fed, clothed, and clean got me down.)

Because we have a galley kitchen, our dining room table is also where we eat, which meant art projects needed to be cleaned up within a set amount of time. For a while I had a small table and an easel in our spare room/office, and the carpet tells the tale of many creative encounters with paint and play dough. When the room got too crowded for an easel, I bought a roll of cork and nailed it into the wall and pinned paper onto it. The year we homeschooled, I carved out an area in our unfinished basement and set up a table; I simply had to bring jugs and bins of water downstairs whenever we did wet-on-wet watercolor painting, which wouldn’t have been so difficult if I hadn’t been very pregnant (and then slinging a newborn).

This is all to say that the perfect studio space is probably never going to be achieved in the typical family home, but we do the best we can with what we have on hand (and we don’t feel guilty when we see other people’s wonderful-looking studios!). It’s also to say, when we decided last year it was finally time to finish the basement, which had been the plan from the time we bought the house, I made sure we got an art/craft area down there, and a utility sink. The contractor seemed a bit confused at first–he assumed the middle area would be some sort of common room, right? Couch, TV, video console type of thing? Um, no.

From the bottom up: I chose a vinyl flooring, because who cares if something spills on it? Let it get messy. The walls are bright because of the one major flaw in this space (remember, nothing is going to be perfect)–it has no natural lighting. I have four ceiling lights, and I have daylight bulbs in all of them. This is good enough to fool my camera into thinking it’s outside, and I think it’s the best we can do in a basement. (Other rooms in the basement have windows, but this area does not.)

In the bottom left you can see the easel. Behind where I’m standing is the laundry area, with my beloved utility sink and a shelf that holds drying paintbrushes along with laundry detergent. I strung some line in there with some mini-clothespins. Some days bathing suits are drying there; other days, art projects. Behind the easel, near the table, is our Learning Tower. I coveted one of these from the time I first had a toddler, and we finally bought one last year. Since our table is counter height, this is perfect for her to join us at the art table.

Speaking of our table, it’s not only tall, it’s huge.

We (meaning mostly my husband) made it ourselves. I searched online and came across a table that looked much like this and cost a fortune. I said, Hey, can we make this? And he said, Sure. The ends are the nine-cubby shelf systems you can find in Home Depot or Lowe’s. We got two of those and a huge sheet of melamine for the top and put it all together. The top is about 72″ long and 40″ wide and everything wipes off melamine. You can buy stuff at the hardware store to seal the rough edges so they don’t cut anyone or snag on anything. If we ever move, we’ll have to take the whole thing apart.

But look at all the storage I get with this! This is where I store just about all of our art supplies–paints of all kinds, markers, paper, crayons, paint brushes, collage materials, odds and ends that might be useful, anything at all I’ve collected over the years, it’s here. I also keep my sewing and knitting books in these shelves. Yes, all of this is accessible to my toddler and it has been for the past year. (The scissors are kept on the table itself, so she has to ask for those.) Yes, she’s gone on some shelf-emptying sprees, but mostly minor, and she’s learned to respect the materials and ask for what she’d like to use, for the most part.

(You can also see what we sit on while we create–stools, because the table is higher than normal. And I love the black and white floor with the black stools and white table. Just do.)

On the far wall, did you see the ledge? That comes with the basement. It’s so useful.

The permanent markers are up there, as I haven’t introduced them to my toddler yet. The boys can reach them themselves, though.

Under the table is, well, a mess.

Yikes! This is where I keep my bins of yarn and bags of fabric, the painting boards, and any pads that are too big to fit in the cubbies. On the right you can see we have a narrow shelf right under the table surface, which is under quite a bit of duress right now. Originally I planned to keep my cutting mat and large metal rulers there, but I’ve added some watercolor pads, too. You can also see some loose felt under the table, left over from a recent sewing project (troll hats!). I haven’t found a place for it yet, since I seem to have acquired an awful lot of felt, too.

So that’s our studio. It’s not perfect, but I love it, and right after we finally finished the basement I dreamed that we had to move and in my dream, I was most upset at leaving the art/craft area behind. If you have a post that features your creative space, I’d love if you left a link to it!

5 thoughts on “Basics: Our Studio

  1. donna lee

    A dedicated creative space is such a luxury. We also eat on our dining room table so all craft/sewing projects had to be moved out of the way. Or else we ate on trays for a day or two, especially when we were in the middle of making some complicated Hallowe’en costumes.

    The orange color makes a statement that ‘We are creative here’ which is a wonderful thing to teach the kids.

  2. Suburbancorrespondent

    I, too, adore that black and White floor! I wish I could show you the studio the kids’ art teacher built onto her home. Beautiful space.

  3. Bells

    it’s a fantastic space. I love the bright walls, the mosaic flooring, the huge table – I just can’t imagine a more perfect creative space for you and the kids.

  4. Pingback: Cardboard Box Challenge | kids in the studio

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