Now that we are a family of five, my husband and I have come to realize that we need to simplify our lives. One major part of this is that we will no longer give gifts just for the sake of giving. Our focus is now giving experiences, keepsakes, or things our children need. It's sort of our own variation of the want|need|wear|read trend. Our oldest child, Ezri, has shown a huge interest in art this past year, and her supplies have taken over our dining room table. Last Christmas, we decided to gift her a creative space of her own to paint, draw, craft...whatever her little heart desires!
I decided the best place in our house was to set aside a corner of my home office just for her. It's on the first floor, just off the living room, has excellent natural light, and can be closed off from her younger brothers to keep them safe from choking hazards such as beads and other small items. There's also a bathroom nearby so Ezri can easily wash the paint off her hands without getting it all over the house! She often creates right along side me while I'm working at my desk. I like to think we serve as inspiration for each other as we work!
The only major purchase we made for this room was the art table. I considered repurposing an older coffee table or something similar, but I came across this table on sale and jumped on it. I'm glad I did, it's absolutely perfect for Ezri! It came with a roll of paper, two benches, and cups that set into the table itself. That feature alone was worth it! They are a godsend for preventing spills.
Fact: art supplies are messy. Paint, glitter, glue, markers...finding a a way to organize it all was not easy! I wanted Ezri to be able to reach what she needed herself while also having a place for everything. A couple wire baskets were perfect for holding all her paints. We used a Smiling Tree wooden crate for sketchbooks, paper, and other commonly used products. A rolling supply cart (an Aldi score!) holds the rest, including colored pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, rulers, erasers, etc. It also adds some much needed color to the space.
DISPLAYING HER MASTERPIECES
I repurposed a piece of wall decor with hooks and clothespins to both display her art and hang her painting apron/smocks. I intend to add more space for displaying her work, but for now this does the job.
After I had all of this put together, it was time to stock the room!! One challenge I found was that supplies commonly geared towards children were of such poor quality, but I also did not want to spend a lot on a six-year-old's art projects. I came across two brands that I absolutely fell in love with: Kids Made Modern and Ooly.
A friend suggested this line to me, and I have to say I am forever indebted to her for it! The best part? The have a line of items available exclusively at Target! This has extra-convenient considering we've had to restock a few items already! Of course while we were there, Ezri chose a few new items to add to her arsenal as well. A few of our favorites:
- Tip Proof Paints TIP. PROOF. No further explanation needed.
- Paint Brushes These brushes are great quality and perfect for little hands!
- Heavy Weight Mixed Paper Excellent weight paper for almost any medium.
- Crazy Crayons Because regular crayons can be so boring!
BONUS: Kids Made Modern has generously provided our readers with 20% off your purchase! Use code SMILINGTREETOYS at checkout (expires 2.28.18)!!
As you can imagine, I spent a few too many hours on Pinterest searching for organization ideas while planning this room. This is where I first came across Ooly, and O.M.G. you guys. This company makes some seriously cool art supplies for kids (okay...adults too)! I had a hard time deciding which items to get first, and several more are on Ezri's wish list (that will take care of Valentine's Day, Easter, her birthday....!)
- Oil Pastel Twisty Stix I loooooved pastels when I was younger. I wanted to share this with my daughter, but they can be SO messy. Enter Ooly's Twisty Stix! All the fun without the mess.
- Magic Puffy Pens These are sort of like gel pens, but when heat is applied, the color "puffs"! The kids were mezmorized watching their normal pictures grow into 3D creations!
- Chunkies Paint Sticks Another one for a mess-free win! Paint, only neater :)
- 3D Colorables Ezri loves painting and coloring objects rather than just paper. These are inflatable, so she colors them first, we inflate, and volia, 3D unicorn (or sword, or crown, or butterfly...you get the picture)!
DOUBLE BONUS: Ooly also provided a discount code! Use code WELCOME at checkout to take 15% off!!
Last but not least, we added a little decor to tie the whole space together. The first purchase I made was a Smiling Tree "Create" wooden bunting. I also found this "Girls Rule the World" piece of artwork on clearance at Target that looks great just above the wire baskets. In the end, the supplies, storage pieces, and of course her artwork serve as decor themselves. Although the floor in this room is tile and can be cleaned easily, I still wanted to protect it from spills. For this purpose I bought a couple of inexpensive vinyl tablecloths with cute animal prints to cover the floor under the table. Mission complete!
It's been almost a month now since we finished the space. I would still like to incorporate additional shelving and I have a few other ideas, but for now it's been working great! Ezri and her friends spend every spare minute they have in her new art room, and she has even allowed her brother to bring in a few of his coloring books too. I love knowing she has an outlet for expressing her creativity and exploring new things, especially during these long Minnesota winters when kids tend to get cabin fever or spend wayyyy too much time in front of a screen. I see her and her brothers using this space for many years to come!
Here's the video of Ezri "opening" this gift :) You can see just how excited she was!