A reader recently emailed me and asked if I would share how I organize our art supplies and which art supplies are our favorites. I am constantly trying to find new ways that really work to organize our supplies, so I was so happy to write this post. Plus, it totally motivated me to clean everything up for pics : ) Thank you Alexa! Your questions really helped me shape things up around here. A post of my favorite must have art supplies is coming soon!
For starters, I totally love mason jars. We have tons of them and put everything from beads to golf tees to googley eyes in them. If it’s a collection, it goes in a jar. Mason jars are great because they are really sturdy and with two toddlers around I don’t worry too much that they will break. They are also clear, which is my number one important factor for storing art supplies. If I can’t see it, I won’t use it, so I stick with clear on everything I can. We buy our mason jars in bulk at Michaels with the 40% off coupon or on Amazon.
I also love these low plastic trays from Ikea for 3 dollars! They come with lids, but I keep them open for paints and glues, which I seem to accumulate a million of and practically none of them work, but that’s another story. I love that they fit perfectly in the Expedit, which you can see below. They are really shallow, which is perfect for bottles of different sizes. I used to have my paints in a closed box but it was such a mess and I couldn’t tell what the heck was going on in there. These plastic trays works great for us!
We have a bunch of colorful baskets that are filled with different random supplies, like cardboard cutouts, tiles, blocks, etc. Since we live in Southern California, we are able to keep our supplies outside in the backyard under an overhang. I host art play groups and art classes in our backyard so I like everything to look colorful and inviting. I think I picked these yellow baskets up at World Market and some of the others I got at Home Goods over the years.
The dollar store has become my total bff. They always have little clear tubs and containers for…well…a dollar. It seems no matter how many I buy we still need more. I put anything that doesn’t fit in a jar in clear containers. Clear, clear, clear. I can’t say it enough. It’s taken me years to figure this out. I like to know where everything is and be able to stare at all my supplies for inspiration. You never know what project may be lurking in each container.
I store our ribbons and duct tape in open baskets so everything is easy to grab, since I’m usually frantically wrapping something five minutes before I’m supposed to be at a birthday party. All of our supplies are stored in an Expedit from Ikea. I LOVE Expedits. They come in all different sizes and variations so if you don’t have room or don’t have need for such a big one, you can go with a four cubby one or even a tall strip of five cubbies. They come in different colors too. My biggest challenge has been with oversized papers. I recently started putting them in a large plastic shallow tub which is working out pretty well but it’s still kind of a pain because I have no place to put it. If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below. I’m thinking maybe a standing poster holder from a teacher supply store may be a better fit so I can lean it up against the wall.
Unfortunately, I haven’t quite figured out the top of the Expedit situation where I keep wrapping paper, paint holders and a few random things. It kind of always looks a mess, but I use that stuff all the time and have no other space for it. As you can see, I still have a few closed baskets. They aren’t ideal but they’re good for things like smocks, tarps and table clothes. At some point I will replace them with clear tubs. If you are a label person than you can easily label any of these things. I’m not that organized and I’m always changing things around, so labels don’t work for us.
I try to keep the things that my girls can play with towards the bottom. I love that they can navigate through the supplies to find what they are looking for. This is really important to me. The other day my oldest found some white tiles and markers and totally set herself up with a coloring station, something I never would have thought of! She drew and drew and then wiped the tiles clean over and over while I cleaned. That’s exactly the kind of thinking and decision making I want to foster with all this art stuff. She even helped clean up!