Organize a Self-Serve Creativity Zone

slime

“The drive to master our environment is a basic human characteristic from the beginning — from birth.”

--Jack P. Shonkoff, Harvard University (From Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky. New York: Harper Collins, 2010).

Do you have self-serve spaces in your home that are dedicated to creativity, art, science, and tinkering? Today I’m sharing our creative zone, the space where most of our art and creative explorations take place.

The key to this space is that it’s all self-serve. I jump in and participate, of course, but my kids know where everything is and it’s all accesible to their little hands. And they’re capable of cleaning it up when they’re ready to move on to the next thing.

We live in a small home, and I’m not suggesting that our plan will work for everyone, but the general spirit of it is something that I think we can all stand behind: when children can execute on their own ideas, it builds their confidence and encourages curiosity and a thirst for knowledge.

My objective is to give my children room to take charge of this space in order to test and follow through on their big ideas.

This space has moved all over our house, but for now it’s in our dining room space, just off the kitchen. It’s perfect for us because the light is the best in the house and there’s room for our self-serve art supply furniture. The table and chairs (Pottery Barn) are sturdy, meaning that grown-ups can comfortably sit in them and there’s plenty of natural and artificial light.

In order to execute on their ideas, children need to have access to creative materials, so all of ours are stored on low shelves where my kids can find them (and then, theoretically, put them away). Having a garbage can (Ikea) in the space is also key to keeping it neat. I don’t know why it took me so long to get a waste basket for this area!

Not all of our creative materials are stored here: I keep less-often-used materials like bottles of paint and play dough tools in a closet and the garage. I also introduce new materials when my children seem to tire of what’s in the space — maybe once a week. This week our table is consumed with a big batch of slime! If you’re interested, you can watch our video tutorial on how to make slime here.

There’s a letter writing center on top of one of the book shelves, which includes envelopes, cards, small homemade booklets, string + tape (both in action at the moment), a stapler, art dice, compass, and an address stamper. Next to this is a 3-tiered dessert tray, repurposed to hold collage materials and stamps.

Beneath this shelf is storage for clean recycled materials (including a phone book that just arrived — I can’t believe they still make these!), sketchbooks, a magnifying glass, and this hammering activity.

Next to the shelf is a unit of drawers, and one of them is dedicated to my kids and their creative pursuits. It’s filled with various tapes, extra clear tape (we race through this stuff), scissors, hole punchers, extra scissors (because mine constantly walk away, like socks in the laundry), my card readers, and a few other odds and ends. This drawer is in flux, but for now it’s working for us.

The other day I set out this invitation of pre-cut paper and a bowl of stickers to greet my kids when they woke up. So simple and it took me three minutes to arrange it. When my kids saw the table, their imaginations turned on and they got right to work, dreaming up all sorts of possibilities as they pulled various materials out to help them realize their visions.

More Creative Zone Inspiration

Organize your Art Station

New Creative Studio Corner

Art Supply Organization

Organizing Art Supplies: Day One

Organizing Art Supplies: Day Two

Organizing Art Supplies: Pantry Labels

Art Table in the Living Room

What are your self-serve tips and tricks?

If you have a picture of your space, you’re welcome to add it to a comment (be sure that it’s smaller than 500 px wide). 

If you like what you see here, we’d love to have you join our 7000+ member community on Facebook.


Organize Your Art Station

plate tray collage materials :: tinkerlab.com

Is your furniture constantly moving around your house, or are you the kind of person who finds the right place for something and it rarely moves?

Me, I’m a mover. My furniture may as well have wheels underneath it thanks to all moving it does.

And now I have one more excuse to rearrange my home…

My littlest is officially a toddler and I can finally get rid of the portable crib, rattles, baby carriers, and boxes upon boxes of baby clothes. It’s been bittersweet, but I’m happy to regain some space and  enjoy a less cluttered home because of it.

The process of designing and redesigning our creative spaces has been going on for some time now. As my children change, we’ve shifted things around to accomodate our current needs. The creative zone has moved all over the house in search of the best light or to be closer to the kitchen so that I can chat with my kids while washing dishes.

I’ve purged our cabinets and consolidated materials that came into my house quicker than I could classify them, but I’m starting to see the light.

If you’d like to take a peek at the various organizing iterations, here’s a look-see.

New Creative Studio Corner

Art Supply Organization

Organizing Art Supplies: Day One

Organizing Art Supplies: Day Two

Organizing Art Supplies: Pantry Labels

Art Table in the Living Room

Check back next time for a look at our new + improved self-serve art station.


Other Updates:

I’m working with Art.com, and they have a Pinterest page! Be sure to follow them for good home decorating ideas. And, hint hint, they have a big shopping spree giveaway coming up that you won’t want to miss.

Subscribe to our mailing list if you haven’t already. I’m planning to send out monthly newsletters (No more than that…promise. And if I do, go ahead and drop me) with fun creativity ideas that you won’t want to miss.

 

If you like what you see here, we’d love to have you join our 7000+ member community on Facebook.


Organizing Art Supplies: Pantry Labels

pantry label

I know you probably come here for projects to work on with your kids, and I have loads of ideas for you, but I got a burst of energy from a “pantry organization” search on Pinterest (see, poking around online is not a waste of your time!), and got busy sorting my pantry.

Very busy.

The “before” pictures are incredibly embarrassing blury, and I’m sure I’ll share them one day, but for today I thought you might like to see some of the labels and baskets that corale our food stuff.

“Play Food” is where I store our bags of Cloud Dough, Gluten-free Cloud Dough, Beans, Gum Drops, Gummy Bears, and other art-related food things. Click on any of those links to connect with related projects! It’s so helpful to have it all in one go-to spot.

My crafty Fiskateer friend, Angela, sent me a sweet Fiskars corner lever punch that I’ve been using to embellish almost everything, and I added a little bit o’ Tinkerlab font to make these feel extra personal to me.

The best part of this project may be tossing all the outdated food and things we never eat, and making space for the foods we love. I’m already planning our next meal (buttermilk pancakes), which I rarely do at the end of the night.

Halleluja for organizing! Too bad it took me so long to jump on this wagon.

If you’d like to see the the rest of this new series on how we’re organizing our art supplies, pop over to one of these pages:

Organizing Art Supplies: Day One

Organizing Art Supplies: Day Two

How do you organize your pantry? Any tips for keeping it tidy?

 

Organizing Art Supplies: Day Two

coatclosetbefore

This is the second edition of a new series where I’m sharing my messy spaces and process of organizing as I strive to build a more beautiful, accesible, and relaxing space for living and creating (here’s the first post). My friend and professional organizer, Jillian, is spearheading this project — it helps to have company — and this week we tackled so many things: art supplies, coat closet, office supplies, and toy bins. I’ve taken at least three trips to the thrift store (sad…I’ve lost count…shows you how badly I needed to go through this!) and I’ve learned so much about myself and my home along the way!

For our first project, we tackled these catch-all drawers that are home to mailing supplies and office materials. Now everything has a home. Ah, breathing sigh of relief. If you’re planning to join me with your own urge to purge, I recommend beginning in a small area like this. It won’t overwhelm you and you’ll have results in super-quick-no-time. The strategy, really, is to toss/donate/sell anything that you won’t use or have duplicates of. And it helped that I already had the drawer sorters. You’ll need little boxes or sorters to keep small things in their own tidy areas.

I realize now that I’ve been cleaning and organizing AROUND my clutter, which takes so much time and effort. Effort to clean, effort to find things, effort to put things away. It boils down to the plain fact that we have too much stuff, so this first step has been all about clearing the clutter. And once the clutter is gone we’ll have room to dream up fun ways to maximize our space.

Here’s a good example:

Eeek! Overstuffed coat closet!

If your first thought isn’t “Horror,” it could very well be, “you live in California; Why on earth do you have so many winter coats?!”

The same closet, looking down. This may actually be the worse view of the two.

We use the closet for a lot things, but it’s time to clear it out so we can find the best way to use it. Jillian suggested that once it’s empty it would be a great place to it to store our art-making supplies, which is why I’ve been pinning all of these fab art storage closets. Yes to that!

I think N overheard this conversation because the next day she and her entourage set up shop in the now almost-empty closet. They sat there in their self-proclaimed art studio, happily tinkering away with newly-found rolls of paper and markers. This process is hard and time-consuming, but I can already see that it’s worth it!

Have you been inspired to purge? What do you do with all that stuff?

Are you challenged by space limitations? Do you struggle with having too much stuff? Have you succeeded at paring things down, and have a space that inspires you?

Organizing Art Supplies: Day One

baby glues buttons

This is the first in a new series where I’ll expose my messy spaces to share my process of creating a more beautiful, accesible, and relaxing space for creating. I hit the friend jackpot, and have a new friend, Jillian, who happens to also be a professional organizer! You’ll hear more about her soon! She’s amazing, and has been coming over to my house once a week to help me purge, organize, and rethink how I’m using the spaces of my home. I usually share all the goodness of my home, not the messy hidey-holes, so — BIG BREATH — here we go…

Ack!

Look at that mess! Rolls of contact paper, shaving cream, reams of paper, stamps we never use because they’re hidden away…

After she left my house yesterday I was inspired to tackle a half-baked idea I once had to store art supplies in the kitchen. It made sense at the time — we have these huge sheets of drawing paper that fit perfectly on this wide, deep shelf, but then more art materials joined the paper. And before I knew it the shelves were a mish-mash of supplies. A junky catch-all that I never opened, except to pull paper out of on an almost daily basis. So, during Baby R’s nap, N and I tackled the shelves. She loved pulling everything out, I loved pitching things we barely used, and when Baby R woke up, she enjoyed discovering a world of new toys and art supplies in the excavated stash.

I moved the paper to other places, cleared a whole shelf off for kitchen stuff that filled up my almost non-existent counter-tops, and stored the whittled down art supplies on the bottom shelf. I’m sure that Jillian will eventually help me move them out of the kitchen, but for now I’m loving this cleaner, easy-to-navigate space. 

I’m fascinated by the various ways people sort and organize their homes. If you are too, I have a few Pinterest boards that might interest you:

You might also like to check out this new series of interviews on Tinkering Spaces:

How do you organize your materials?

Are you challenged by space limitations? Do you struggle with having too much stuff? Have you succeeded at paring things down, and have a space that inspires you?