Evolution of the Art Table

How the art table changes over a week

Over the course of a week, our art table gets worked pretty hard. 

Yours too?

My kids begin almost every morning with some kind of making that may involve markers, colored pencils, tape, glue, or paint. And then there’s the occasional snack or meal that go along with art-making when my girls are too busy to stop the magic for food.

I thought it might be fun to take a look at how the table evolves throughout the week.

Here we go…

Evolution of the Art Table: See how a child's craft table changes over the course of a week.


I’m attracted to the fresh start of clean, brown craft paper. Even though the surface of our art table is covered with paint stains, I find that the paper covering gives my children (and me) more freedom to drip paint, and along with that comes peace of mind.

It’s also a fresh, clean surface to start the week. Very inviting!!

I’m often asked about our craft paper — I pick it up at our hardware store and you can also find this craft paper on Amazon, (Amazon links) or something similar in some craft stores.

Ah, isn’t that clean table-top lovely?!


A few days later, the table is covered with dry paint drips, watercolor splits, and pencil marks. My kids sometimes take this as an opportunity to use the craft paper itself as inspiration for new pieces of art.

Evolution of the Art Table: See how a child's craft table changes over the course of a week.

At some point we deem that the soaked/torn/dirty craft paper has served us well and we roll it up to recycle.


With the paper off the table, we’re happy with this inspiring new surface and then spend a day or two with dry media like markers, stickers, and crayons.

Evolution of the Art Table: See how a child's craft table changes over the course of a week.

And breakfast. That’s important too.


Finally, we’re ready to get back to painting and otherwise mucky art, so I recover the table and make it an inviting scene once again.

Notice Friday’s Flower Collages are now up on the wall for us to enjoy.

Evolution of the Art Table: See how a child's craft table changes over the course of a week.

Tools for an art space evolution:

Craft paper to cover the table.

Blue tape, for taping paper to the table.

Not shown here, we cover the table with oil cloth when painting with drippy watercolors. You can find this in hardware stores, usually sold by the foot, or online.

How does your art table transform across a week? And do you cover your art table with paper?

If you liked this post, check out How to Organize a Self-Serve Art Space.

*this post contains affiliate links


    • Thank you so much, Lisa! It’s been a work in progress, and it’s finally at a point that it works really well for my kids.

  1. It was fun to see the craft table change! When we do remember to put paper down, I like to reuse it once it’s all “messed up.” We cut it up to use as collage pieces, or as a background for more art, or however we can. Using it to make envelopes would be a fun use for it as well. What grandparent wouldn’t love getting a crafty envelope with a nice letter or some kid art inside?

    • Hi Tina,
      Of course, that’s a GREAT idea to reuse the paper too. It’s the perfect weight for a heavy-duty mailer and I’m definitely going to save it next time for some oversized envelopes. You’re brilliant.

      • I love it when people tell me I’m brilliant :0)

  2. Where is your table from?? I’ve been looking everywhere for a kids table that is big enough to hold art projects for a couple kids… yours looks perfect. Would you share where you found it?

    • Hi Megan,

      It’s the large Carolina craft table from Pottery Barn. They have a smaller one that seats two children comfortably, and this one seats at least four. The chairs that come with it are sturdy enough for adults. It’s not the cheapest table out there, but it’s durable and I think worth the investment. And it happens to be on sale at the moment… http://goo.gl/Ue43y


  3. Oh my, I have a lot to learn from you. Thank you for the inspiration — from your gorgeous room to your crafty suggestions!

    • Haha, Amy! I have a lot to learn from you too. Your recent Yahoo article was the talk at our dinner table last night. Could you hear us talking about you?

  4. Your posts are always such a source of creative inspiration. I love reading them. Also love the space you’ve set up for your children. Our art table doubles as the dining table which means everything must be cleaned up … nearly! :o) Thanks for sharing.

    • Susan, this made me laugh because despite having this dedicated space, our dining table also doubles as a craft table. Before I cleaned the table up, my 2-year old carried a bunch of supplies over to our dining table. I asked her about it and she told me that her art table was “a great big mess.” Thanks for the comment 🙂

      • How funny! Sounds like my 5 & 7 yr olds … it’s easier to move to another area in the house than to clean up where they were. Apart from that, my boys just love being in the company of others so the table in the main living area makes the most sense … to them anyway! 😮

  5. Where did you get the flower pictures that the kiddos are putting stickers on? So pretty!

    • Hi Melissa,
      I hand-drew those with a Sharpie. Thanks so much — maybe I should post one as a downloadable image?

  6. Local Silicon Valley mom, just wondering what hardware store and if you have any other local favorites?

    • Hi Tai, I found it at Home Depot, but I would imagine that any large hardware store would carry it. I’d check first with smaller stores as I haven’t seen it at ours! One of my favorite small hardware stores is ACE in Palo Alto — the people who work there are so knowledgeable and always eager to help.

  7. I remember the butcher paper covering our desks in art class in high school very fondly…I really should put it on my son’s art table!

    • Jessica,
      You know what? Maybe it’s a school thing — I never thought of that. I always covered tables in my teaching days, so it must have stuck! There you go.

  8. Gorgeous room! It’s perfect!

    Our kitchen table doubles as our art table, and we’ve been covering it in butcher paper for a few weeks now. My son just loves it! His current theme is drawing all kinds of animals from different places around the world. Recently, he’s done an ocean/coral reef, African savanna, rainforest, “bug’s world”, Antarctica, and we’re in mid-farm scene at the moment. So fun!

    We’ve gotten rolls of art paper at ikea, but I could use some that is a little wider. Will have to look at Home Depot. Thanks for the suggestion!

    🙂 Lauren

  9. Hi Rachelle, I get your blog in my reader, but I had to pop it out and really spend some time reading and looking at this post because you just have one of the loveliest spaces. I just love looking at every detail. I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a stalker- I am really just inspired by bright, open creative spaces.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Chrissy!

      You are soooo kind. I’m sorry it took me a while to respond — it’s been a crazy time over here at Casa Doorley. I post these photos to inspire, so look as long as you like! Have a great weekend.


  10. I love this little glimpse into your days, and I especially love to get a glimpse of your beautiful home.
    Our art table is also our dining table so it is always covered in a clear vinyl table cloth so spills wipe up easily.

    • I’m so glad that you mentioned the vinyl tablecloth. You’re right — they clean up so easily!! And thank you for the sweet comment — our home is full of a lot of frustrating points and it’s nice to focus on the parts that make me happy.

  11. Its wonderful see how the art table evolves during the week. I love all the pictures, are so inviting and beautiful… but I found really pretty all those numbers! About your question, I have to say that curiously sometimes I cover the art table with paper and it remains covered for a long time, like if it was collecting some proposals or histories… paint, markers, glue… It’s a resource I use repeatedly at school, and it works (and rocks) at home too!

    • Angaleta — I love the numbers too. The history of all the specks and marks fascinates me and I’m so glad that you brought this up. xx

  12. Hi Rachelle,

    Happy Spring. Have been wanting to try some wooden blocks painting. Do you just get a big piece of wood and cut them up yourself?

    The Elmer paint markers are brilliant!

    Another question about art space is if you have any suggestion as far as having an art space that would work for crawler baby and a preschooler? Egan has been crawling , climbing and standing and probably will be walking in a month or so….he is super curious with everything around him and grab and throw things multiple times a day….I wonder how I can make it work for him as well as Eiya who is turning 4 this June.

    • Hi Sheau,
      The wood comes from various places. The smaller pieces in these photos are from RAFT and the larger one is a wooden tray that we found at a second-hand store. I have had the lumber yard cut wood for me, and I’ll build my own frames with 1×2’s…that’s another option. Simpler, but more costly, is to pick up wood panels at the art store.

      As for your second question, I just realized that Egan must almost be one! Congratulations! For this short window of chaos with a toddler who will want to pull everything off the table, I wouldn’t sweat perfecting the space too much. One thing that worked for me was to pull all of our artsy projects up to the dining table, and another was to only work at the low table when the baby was napping. Beyond that, put all of the markers/stamps/sequins/glue up on a high shelf where you and/or Eiya can reach them.

      And finally, to comfort Egan’s curiosity, sit him down in the middle of a large piece of paper and a crayon or marker, and see if he’s interested in making marks. Or set up an edible painting project by placing a piece of paper on his high chair along with some pudding or colorful yogurt.


  13. Hi,

    What a great idea! Love the craft table. I actually just bought this table for my daughters last week and my oldest (3) is in heaven! My youngest (1) just wants to take everything off it 🙂

    I have a question about the doll house in the picture. I recently bought my daughters a doll house at a yard sale but am having a hard time finding cute furniture to go inside. Where did you get yours if you don’t mind my asking?


    • Hi Michelle,
      It’s such a great table. I fell in love with Plan Toys dollhouse furniture because it’s sturdy, wooden, and sustainable. It’s also pricey and I kept my eye on ebay for sales on gently used furniture. I ended up with a huge lot that included something for every room, for about $30. It’s also easy to find via Amazon. Hope this helps!

  14. i cover my craft tables with $2 plastic tableclothes & then put in my washing machine after use. last for ages.
    my table/s are 2 x second hand ikea melltorp tables, 125 x 75cm , which i use either seperately with 2-4 chairs/children or join together as 1 x “square ” table for up to 8 children.
    i also have a second hand ikea mammut rectangle table & 4 stools, which i use with the younger kids.
    i also made/painted one wall into a huge blue chalkboard using plaster of paris, cheap white wall paint & aqua acrylic paint.
    i dont know how to send photos

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