Organizing Art Supplies: Day One

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…


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

organizing shelvesAfter 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.

organizing the kitchenI 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. 

organizing art cabinetI’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?

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  1. Ours still gets messy regularly, but I borrowed an idea I saw in someone’s else’s home back before I had kids. We have an antique dresser that was in our guest room and never used and rarely seen. I moved it into our breakfast nook (where we eat all our meals and the girls and I sit for art projects and homework) and made it our craft station. I have shoe boxes to sort different materials (stickers, glue, paint, tp and pt tubes, etc.), a section for paper, an area for science-y type experiment materials. The top drawer has the hole punches and stapler and tape and other miscellanea. The top has works in progress, an organizer with markers and pencils, another organizer for crayons. I like having everything close-by for projects and homework. And it’s easy enough to clean off the top for a neater look.

    • Thanks for sharing this idea, Amanda. The kitchen is a great place for setting up a home studio. If we had room in ours, I’m sure I’d do the same. Everyone tends to congregate there and meals can easily trail off into projects.

  2. oooh, please post the website/contact info for your organizer friend– I am searching for someone like this!
    Thanks! Jessica

    • Hi Jessica! Jillian will be thrilled to know that there’s an interest in her services. She’s also a mom and is pulling her website together. I can send you her details once she’s ready to take clients. 

      • Thanks Rachelle, we are about to have another baby in our teeny house, and I could definitely use some help! Please let her know that I’d love to speak with her if/when she’s interested!

        • Jessica!!! OMG – congratulations to you guys. I’ll send you an email to connect you and Jillian — she is amazing.

  3. I need major help in this area….probably need to just make the time! Everything is in my basement all over the place (yikes!) You are so fortunate to have a friend that can help you with organization….of course part of it is just throwing half of it away so you can find everything. Thanks for sharing this!

    • You’re so right, Melissa. It’s all about time, which is why I’ve put it off for so long. Other things always took precedent and I’d poke away at it slowly here and there. It helps to have the pressure of someone standing beside me to actually make me do the hard work of pitching the random junk I’ve collected. No more stuff!

  4. This looks really wonderful!

    • Thanks 🙂 Slowly but surely!

  5. Couldn’t help but notice your nice clean kitchen floor!  we keep our art supplies in the dining area hutch – similar to yours solutions.  Things have migrated and I need to organize again though!

    • Oh, Ann, I’m cursed with a WHITE kitchen floor!! Whoever thought of inventing such a thing?! I must sweep it at least 3 times a day and my 16 month old constantly points at our floors in horror until I pick the dust balls up. Oh, and “dust ball” is part of her limited vocabulary. That should clear things up!

  6. Love this post. I am thinking to reorganize Eiya’s art space in our tiny dining area. 

    • We set up our studio in the dining area and it’s working for us! And Sheau, I haven’t forgotten our play date — I’ll send you a message 😉

  7. Space limitations? – Yes! Too much stuff? – Yes! Have I succeeded….? – Still working on it!

    • Ha! We’re in the same boat then. It’ll be a good journey for both of us then. Now that I’ve purged so much stuff, I can see how much better my life will be when all the loose parts are in someone else’s hands!

  8. love this, rachelle! thanks for the peek… reorganizing our art spaces and storage is a big “to do” of mine for the new year. maybe i can enlist my own neighbor-friend-jackpot (you!) for advice? 😉

    • Jen, I would love more than anything to help you out…although I’m hardly seasoned at this. May be best to wait a few months for the knowledge to seep into my brain a bit more 🙂

  9. YES! This is just what we need. We are in our new home (real project fixer upper!) and we want to create spaces that work and are streamlined and organised. Perfect.

    • Awesome, Chelle. I’m so glad that we can muddle through this together! Look forward to hearing about your progress too.

  10. Great idea. I will try the same at my place. Presently I have just stacked everything in a shelf which is unreachable for my daughter. Awaiting part 2

    • That sounds like a great place to start, Mansi — you have to pay attention to what your needs are and how you might like to use your space. I’m awaiting part 2 as well 🙂

  11. So glad you initiated this subject, Rachelle! It’s been a constant challenge for me too. I keep organizing as often as possible and yet – within just couple of days – it’s all over the place again! I think organizing kid’s art space and art supply is a growth area for most of the moms. 
    I agree with you that when art space is not organized, we tend to not use all those nice stuff that we keep buying. I’ll read this series with eagerness!

    • I’m so glad to hear that you’re with me, Rashmie! I’m also glad that you mentioned how kids’ art spaces and supplies are a growth area for most moms. I need to remind myself that my kids are growing, their interests change, the things we do change, and as a result our space/s will change and grow too. I feel like I’m constantly adapting to whatever new stage we’re in, and it’s a good reminder that I’m not totally flailing at keeping it all together 🙂

  12. And hey, the new look here is ravishing and refreshing! Your blog DOES look so organized. Now, this is another space I need to spring-clean 🙂

    • And thanks for this lovely feedback!! A clean blog is a clean mind. 🙂

  13. This is so timely, Rachelle! (I guess organizing kids’ art, crafts, etc supplies is always a timely subject). I used to store paper and stickers in the drawers in the family room. They got barely any use that way. So instead I found a small basket and assembled all the stickers and various paper bits in it (3×5 cards, 4×6 cards, cut up cardboard, remains of used manila folders, cut to dif sizes, etc) Next to the basket there are two containers – one for crayons and another – for markers (my son prefers not to touch paint, if he can help it). Of course, not everything in the basket gets used, but only stickers and papers that are up front and visible. But every time I tidy up his little table, I quickly shuffle the papers and stickers 🙂

  14. Brilliant timing to read this, as I am on the brink of tackling my girls’ drawing cupboard in our sitting room. Just blogged about ‘the problem’ and am hoping a triumphant ‘and here is my solution’ post is on the way. That all depends on my plan working, of course. Thank you for the links as well.

    • I’m so glad to hear that I’m not in this alone! Cleaning and tackling junk is so draining, but I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. Can’t wait to check out your post.

  15. Great job! I love how you got your little ones involved. I have been sharing my messy spaces for a while and have found it very motivating. Can’t wait to see more of your new series.

    • Thanks very much. If I want to get anything done, I find that I have to include the kids. It’s not always my first choice, but the benefit is that my 3 year old now says things like, “we have too much stuff. let’s give this away!.” That’s a huge surprise!

    • I love both of these posts and your simple 4-step plan is so similar to the way I’ve been tackling these projects. The big thing for me has been purging — OMG, we have so much stuff! And it’s been a great release and mind cleanse to let so much of it go. I had no idea how much it was holding me back! I’m glad to have an expert like you here to help me find the way!

  16. Thank you sooo much for this idea ! I have triplets and toys and art supplies ALL over.  Moving the art supplies to the kitchen is such a great idea.  I can fir it in one of the larger cabinets and I can manage when and where the paints ..etc are used.

  17. I have to agree with the comment above. Your kitchen floor looks incredibly clean, I am jealous!! 😉

    It is always pleasing to find so many people so interested in art, which is of course our passion at Pullingers.com. We are launching a blog soon – so just out surfing the web, picking up ideas and gaining inspiration! So thank you very much for being inspiring!!

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