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Tinkering Space Interview: Megan Schiller

Maker Space interview with Megan Schiiler

Today I’m joined by Megan Schiller of The Art Pantry, as part of our ongoing series of inspiring conversations that center on how to set up creativity hubs, or tinkerspaces. If you’re scratching your head because you can’t figure out where to put your child’s art materials, want to turn your laundry room into an art zone, or tend to shift furniture to make room for creative supplies, these interviews are sure to give you food for thought.


Megan Schiller Bio
Megan Schiller is a creative parent with an impressive background in art education, who now runs an amazing online kid-friendly art store called The Art Pantry where she also consults families on how to set up their very own Art Pantry (check out her very generous giveaway at the end of this post). I’ve drooled over pictures of Megan’s child-friendly tinkering space in her Instagram feed and also on her blog, and I asked her if she’d be so kind to share it with us today. Yay! We’re in for treat. Enjoy this peek into Megan’s Art Pantry…

Can you tell us about your family?

I am so grateful to have such a loving family! My husband and I have two daughters (ages 2 and 5) and a very old dog (age 15). We live in a small home in an amazing community just north of San Francisco.

Tinkering Spaces Interview with Megan Schiller | TinkerLab.com

How would you describe your space?

Our art space is located in our sunroom, just off the living room. It was once a covered porch, so the wall between the living room and our art space is full of windows. This allows me to keep my eye on the girls, but still close the door so my toddler doesn’t run out covered in paint!

Tinkering Spaces Interview with Megan Schiller | TinkerLab.com

The space is about 100 square feet with most of the art supplies on one side, a reading area on the other and a table in the middle. We live in my Grandmother’s old home, who was also an artist. She used this same sunroom as her art studio, so I have a lot of memories creating art as a child in this room.

What’s the inspiration for your creative space?

My inspiration comes from the “ateliers” of Reggio Emilia preschools. While studying the Reggio Emilia approach in grad school, I was lucky enough to attend a study tour of these Italian schools. It was life changing and has shaped everything I have done in my career and as a parent. I am completely in awe of their approach to the use of art in early childhood education and have tried to set up our art space to reflect this.

Tinkering Spaces: Art Pantry Studio Tour | TinkerLab

I want my girls to view the materials as tools for exploration, investigation, construction and self-expression. I want them to be self-sufficient in this space and have free access to many of the materials. The rules are if they can reach it, they can use it without supervision. My 5 year old mostly has free access to everything, while my 2 year old can access markers, stamps, stickers, plastic scissors, paper, and sometimes paint!

If you had to be selective, what three things do you love most about your space?

The natural light, the open shelving, and the fact that it can be closed off, but still visible.

Tinkering Spaces: Art Pantry Studio Tour | TinkerLab

Do you have any tips for those of us who want to make our homes havens for making?

Create a dedicated art space somewhere in your home and make sure it is near a work surface (a desk, play table, or kitchen table). Make it inviting by keeping the materials organized and easy to access. If it gets too disorderly, store some of the materials away in a closet and rotate them often. If you have room for a lot of materials, choose a few to highlight every once in a while by putting out an “invitation to create.”

Tinkering Spaces: Art Pantry Studio Tour | TinkerLab

What five supplies are indispensable to you and your children at this moment?

My kids are big fans of the basics: markers, play dough, tempera paint, scissors, and tape.

Tinkering Spaces: Art Pantry Studio Tour | TinkerLab

Can you share a favorite tip for organizing your creative zone or for cleaning up after a creative session?

For messy projects, I am a huge proponent of using trays. They usually keep the mess contained in the tray and they can be moved out of reach if you need to save cleanup for later. We also use them for storing projects that extend over multiple days.

Tinkering Spaces: Art Pantry Studio Tour | TinkerLab

What do you wish for your children to remember about their childhood?

Great question! I hope they will remember an abundance of love, giggles, creativity, dancing, being in nature, and the feeling of playing deep in their imaginations.

Tinkering Spaces:: Art Pantry Studio Tour | TinkerLab

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’m so honored that you asked to interview me, Rachelle! I have been reading your blog for years and want to thank you for being such an inspiration. I am extremely passionate about helping people set up art spaces for kids and have recently started offering design services through The Art Pantry. I’d love to offer one of your readers an e-design package as a giveaway. I can’t wait to work with the lucky winner!

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Megan! 

Do you have an inspiring Tinkering Space to share?

If you have an art studio, maker space, or tinkering garage that you think our readers would be inspired by, we would love to hear about it! You can fill out this short form and we’ll be in touch.

More Tinkering Spaces

You can check out the rest of the TinkerSpaces in this series here. 


Giveaway!

Megan is offering one lucky reader her Art Pantry Design Services, to help you create an art space that’s inviting, organized, age appropriate, inspiring, and empowering. This service is valued between $125 and $500.

To enter: simply leave a comment on this post by Sunday, April 27 at 9 pm PST and the winner will be chosen by random number generator. This contest is open world-wide and you must be at least 18 years old to enter. 

Congratulations to Emily, winner of this giveaway!

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130 Comments

  1. What a lovely insight into a creative household! We are a home educating household in England with two similarly small daughters and I really appreciate your ideas. Off to hunt for some trays now!

    • I also love the tray idea, Jenny. The other night my 5-year old carried a project she was working on up to her bunk bed, and it kept all the parts in one spot.

  2. I would love to have a space with so much light! Being a parent of a child who attends a Reggio program, I love this. Still struggling in finding a way to incorporate materials in such a lovely manner in our town home with limited outdoor space.

  3. I’m inspired by Reggio Emilia & would love some help setting up our “atelier”~<3!

  4. Loved the interview! What a lovely service. We struggle ourselves in trynig to keep a balance between having the space to create but not having it take over our house! I loved Megan’s response to the question, “What do you wish for your children to remember about their childhood?”.. wish for the same for my own children.

    • Even with a designated art area, my kids still take their creations all over the house, but it’s helpful to have shelves or a spot where all the materials return. And I love Megan’s response to that question, too.

  5. Such a lovely space. I too hope to take on the Reggio teaching approach for my now 1 yr old daughter. Thank you for the tips and hope to continue gaining more ideas.

  6. So lovely, we are halfway there, but I’d love some input on getting our art space (dining room 🙂 more functional!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • How exciting that you’re well on your way to having a space set up! If you’d like to share your in-progress space with us, we’d love to post it for our readers to see and offer some ideas.

  7. Your space is so bright and inspiring! I tried to start a room of my own a few years ago because I took up painting. I’ve come close to organizing it many times, but seems it’s always upside down between my crafts or the boys’! Love your white magnetic wall units!!!

    • I’ve been there, Christina. Crafts have a way of taking over well-intended organization, don’t they?!!

  8. I love this and would be perfect to win, we are just extending our house to create a playroom and I am lost as to how to organise it. This article is great though, tomorrow I am going to get our craft boxes down and make them easier to access. Love the idea of what they can reach they can use.

  9. In awe! Such an amazing space for creativity! Would love to create that kind of space in our home as well!

  10. Gorgeous space. We definitely could use fresh ideas for our art space as our boys grow. And also with what to do with all of their creations!

  11. We are finishing our basemt and have a new table purchased from IKEA. I hope it is just the beginning of a wonderful creative space!

  12. I have a lot of kids and my kids have alot of cousins… Some homeschool some public school. Always appreciating inspiration and recommendations!

  13. So much inspiration here! The idea of a space for our little ones to create and work has appealed to me for a long time, but our home is small, and setting up the space just has not come naturally to me. With a new little one in the house having a space like this for our bigger one (4 years old) seems more important than ever. Off to explore Megan’s website now!

  14. Your space looks amazing and inviting. The light and brightness is the first thing that hits me when I look at your photos. We just moved into a new house and I hope to have many of the same elements that your space displays. Well done 🙂

  15. This is amazing! A challenge for people living in condo and apartments! I love art rooms!

  16. I’m moving very soon to a farmhouse with space for a playroom. This giveaway would be perfect!

  17. Love, Love, Love this space! As an artist and art teacher myself I’m always looking for ways to organize my art supplies and my daughters. Small spaces are challenging but you have given me some great ideas!

  18. Beautiful space and great suggestions. Love the give away, our art supplies are spilling out of the bookshelf and baskets I have for them and I have no clue how to make a dedicated art space in our house!

  19. Thx for this lovely interview !! I’m totally inspired by your ideas n would like to hav a makeover for the art place on my rental home . Would love to win this giveaway 🙂

  20. That would be so amazing! We have a little start but my artists are growing and our space needs to be maximized!

  21. I would love to win this. I am trying to organize our house to work better for us and am looking at where I can put a dedicated area like this.

  22. Love your creative and innovative ways to create an imagination/art area! I’m a kindergarten teacher who loves teaching art to my students. I think it would be wonderful to enhance my current art station in my classroom. In my 12 years of teaching I have found that art is the only curriculum area that truly allows each child to shine with their unique twist of style and creativity! Thank you for sharing your insight and eye for inspiring art. It is so refreshing to see simple, but thoughtfully designed and open ended approaches to art! Thanks for sharing your talents!

  23. I would love her help! I have 2 &1 year old boys who love creating art and I want to set up an art studio for them but need some guidance.

  24. Any ideas on how to protect carpet so a set of boys (3 & 4) can have some freedom with the fun art supplies?

    • Great question, Rachel. There are plenty of things you can use to cover the carpet (like a painters drop cloth, an old shower curtain, a stylish spillmat, etc. But if you are looking for a more permanent solution to leave out, I would suggest getting a cheap dark rug (either used or from Ikea, Target, etc), something that you like the look of, and layer it over your carpet. You can spot clean it, but you won’t have to worry about it getting ruined.

  25. Art is a wonderful way to explore the process of learning and self expression!
    Love your art room!!

  26. Oh I would LOVE help to design our garage conversion as an art friendly play space for the children. All I know is I’d like a table for them, a dedicated sewing desk for me so we can create together 🙂 and a sofa bed for my parents when they stay over occasionally and for us to read on! Otherwise I’m stumped at how best to design their space.

  27. This is so inspiring! Our art space needs so much help. We have the space luckily but can’t seem to find the time to reign in the increasingly frightening disaster in the storage closet. I’m constantly collecting inspiration and supplies but can’t find anything when I want it.

  28. What a beautiful, bright, clean area to play and create in. I love this series, I am naturally nosey and it is lovely to see how others try to make space in their home and hearts for art and crafts.

  29. What an inspiring space. I would love to create a dedicated creative space for my girls at home.

  30. Thanks so much, this is totally where we are at in my family and because we home educate our 3 tinker-loving kids we need to start thinking beyond the edges and boxes of our rooms and be more creative with our space to reflect our priorities, like a kid’s art space is more relevant to us than a formal dining area!

  31. Megan is responsible for instilling the love of art in my girls through the classes she used to offer. I love her space & know my girls would too!

    • Thanks, Whitney! You’re girls must be so old now. I’m so glad they have fallen in love with art and the creative process. Great to hear from you 🙂

  32. Our children always get really messy, in particular with rolling brushes on the table.. I might try the idea with trays as well so children have a dedicated space for mark-making.

  33. Great interview and wonderful blog. As an early childhood educator and mom I get lots of inspiration here.

  34. Such a beautiful, creative, and inviting reggio inspired art space! Love! I’m so inspired and want to set up a corner like this at our new house in the art studio — moving in three weeks and this would be a wonderful way to make that happen for my own two daughters.

  35. I love this idea! We’re planning a home renovation soon and I’m going to try to incorporate some of these ideas/techniques. I’m not *naturally* crafty so I like the idea of letting my kids run the show and work out of their imaginations. Great post!

  36. Thank you for the inspiration! We are embarking on transforming our toy room into a toddler craft room as we speak and this gives us lots if ideas. We kept finding our dining table covered in craft projects making it hard to eat dinner so this will be a wonderful solution to that problem and hopefully and excellent creative outlet for our daughter.

  37. I’m so inspired by this post. I’d love to have an area that was more inviting for our two budding artists.

  38. I love the art pantry idea. I have tried to set up some spaces in our home for my three year olds to access at will – I find it a little challenging but my girls love it. I would welcome some help to make it more useable for them.

  39. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I am a first time Grandmother and love doing things with my 2 year old grandson. Never had such a lot of time doing fun stuff with my children when they grew up. Thinking back to when they grew up it seems that there never was enough hours in a day to do what had to be done. I am truly amazed by all these Mothers with small children and what they are doing and achieving. Thank you to all of you who also find time to share.

  40. I’ve been struggling to create an art space for my 5yo (and for myself) for a while now. Would love the opportunity to be guided in this crazy but rewarding quest! Love this series, Rachel.

  41. The space looks amazing, and thank you so much for posting a series on creative spaces! One of my biggest hurdles in providing opportunities for my children to be creative is not having a good place where they can access their materials and clean up easily. So, thank you also for this give-a-way. I can’t imagine a single person who wouldn’t benefit from such a service. Thank you again!!

  42. An inspiring piece, and just in time (realistically…) to transform our art space before summer break starts!

  43. Fantastic inspiration! My daughter’s favorite place to shop is the craft store. It’s great to see how we organize our own “craft store” at home. Thank you!

  44. I also have a small home and in need of a way to fit in an art area for my busy 2 yr old boy. Your patio studio is great inspiration for our next house! And, I am off to find some trays for projects!

  45. What an amazing spot for creativity! Absolutely loved it. Would truly enjoy something like my kids.

  46. Love your philosophy AND your art space. I am 63 and have 6 children, 3 grandchildren. When my children were at home, we had a small wooden chest with 4 drawers that we kept all our art making supplies in. We all loved it! WOW–we would have had a ‘hey-day’ in your art space! I am in the process of building shelves for my art supplies…(I LOVE art journaling). Last night my granddaughter told her mom, ” I want to go to Nana’s at do a little painting…”
    Would be really grateful to win your help in organizing those art shelves!!

  47. Absolutely amazing and inspiring space. I’m mum of two little girls (4 years old and 7 months) we live in Wales and we have a space for art projects in our sunroom. Really lovely to read this interview. Thank you for the useful tips!

  48. What great inspiration! I never thought of making one creative corner in a house. After reading this, it is definitely happening very soon! Thank you so much for this post!

  49. I love this idea and your home art space is amazing! I would love help creating something similar in our home. Thanks!

  50. What a great space! I have 4 young ones (6, 5, 3, and 1) and our “art” space is all over the place- most of it hidden in an upstairs walk-in closet, but then it travels downstairs to our kitchen table … and stays there. I would love some guidance as to how to create a space that would fit in our apartment, and that we wouldn’t have to take upstairs and downstairs all the time!

  51. Loved that this was your grandmother’s space. I regularly tend three sweet grands and crafting and creative expressions are priorities for their time with me. Thanks for sharing your beautiful room, story and family.

  52. Trays are a great idea – I’m off to find ones big enough to contain a messy 3 year old! Any suggestions on a source for large trays? Thanks for the inspiration.

  53. This art space is so bright and fun. I could really use help organizing a space for my preschooler.

  54. Your art space is so beautiful and inviting! Would love to recreate something similiar at my home. 🙂

  55. What a lovely space!! Thanks for sharing photos of setup and shelving. The reading hammock chair looks so cozy and airy.

  56. Love your Art Space. You have inspired me make a dedicated art space in my classroom with accessible materials for the children . They will love it!

  57. I love the idea of having a dedicated creative kid space…but am unsure how to fit one into our limited space. We have a dining table that is where we eat, but is also our office and homeschool space and basically just ends up being a mess. Garage is not an option and we dont have a laundry room, as some others have mentioned. The kids share bedroom space, so I feel like I’m not sure how to carve out any significant “square footage” for a creative nook. Ideas?

  58. Love this, our art space is always so disorganised, so i think i will try the rotation advice!!!

  59. Omg this is my dream, never have i wanted to win something so much! Thank you for this post and thank you Tiff Hare for turning me on to tinker lab!

  60. Thanks for the inspiration! I’ll get the easel out again tomorrow. It’s been tucked away since a party we had. I’d love to win; I’d love help!

    Bee

  61. Your space is inspired!! I love the light and that you can keep an eye on your kids but give them the space to create!

  62. Thank you for this interview. Our art space is in desparate need of your organizational skills!!

  63. I love this space 🙂 and i agree that the windows and natural light and open art supplies are the best features. I have a 2 year old and 6mo old and currently we have art time on our patio or kitchen table. Thank you for sharing and for some great tips! “If you can reach it, you can use it” is brilliant.

  64. I love your ideas and your passion for empowering your children by immersing them in creative pursuits! I am working on creative spaces in our Library Learning Commons at our school to develop multiple literacies and support creativity. I’d love your help!

  65. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I love the rule “if you can reach it, you can use it.” So much of the art I do with my daughter is directed and closely supervised–it would be so wonderful to create a safe space where she could explore her creativity without me hovering. I am inspired! Thank you again!

    • We have the same “rule” as Megan, and it’s done wonders for building my children’s confidence with all sorts of materials.

  66. Thank you for sharing an insight into your gorgeous creative space for your girls. You’ve inspired me so much for my own two petals who are 3.5yo & 6yo. I would so love this generous giveaway 🙂

  67. We have way too many supplies. We would love to find a way to keep them within reach yet looking neat.

  68. I am a third grade teacher and would love some consultation on setting up an inspiration/ tinker area in my classroom. We are an arts integrated school so I try to get the creative juices flowing every day with my students.

  69. This post is so inspiring, thanks for sharing. I could use some help organizing our creative space.

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