Pretty and Practical Art Studio Storage

I recently completed a flurry of art projects. After congratulating myself on my productivity, I turned around to look look at my home studio, and wondered, "Who made this huge mess?

art studio organization vintage shelving
Upcycled art studio shelving unit.
Project and photo by Susan Borgen.

I know very few mixed-media artists who create without making a mess. On the other hand, most artists I know are always on the lookout for pretty and practical art studio storage.

Here is one of my favorite studio storage ideas: Susan Borgen's how-to on turning an old storage bin into an adorable cabinet/shelving unit, from the Fall 2012 issue of Studios magazine.

art studio organization
The bin "before."
Photo by Susan Borgen.

Although this metal produce bin had seen better days, Susan transformed it into useful home studio storage, using a little spray paint, an inexpensive vinyl picnic tablecloth, magnets, and tin cans.  

Its lid has become a bulletin board by adding handmade magnets. The shelves in the door hold magazines and fabric-embellished metal cans that corral markers, colored pencils, and paintbrushes.

Vintage planters and tins filled with rubber stamps, tubes of paint, paper, scissors, and more, reside on three tiers lined with a pretty floral vinyl tablecloth.

Here's how she did it:


  • 1 can spray paint
  • Sandpaper
  • Fine steel wool
  • High-filtration face mask
  • Patterned vinyl tablecloth
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Cotton swabs
  • Spray-mount adhesive
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels


Caution: Wear a high-filtration mask when sanding any vintage piece.

1. Use sandpaper to remove any loose paint on the exterior and interior, being careful not to disturb the vintage decal.

2. Lightly rub the surface with fine sandpaper and wipe with a damp rag to remove any remaining dust.

art studio organization by arbie goodfellow
Arbie Goodfellow organizes art supplies in
vintage knicknacks. You can see her studio in
Summer 2013.

(Photo by the artist)

3. With a cotton swab, apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly over the decal.

4. In a well-ventilated area, apply two coats of spray paint in short, even strokes. When the paint is dry, use a damp paper towel to wipe off the petroleum jelly and reveal the decal.

5. Measure the back and sides of each shelf and cut out pieces of the patterned vinyl tablecloth to fit.

6. Lightly coat the back of each piece with spray glue and apply them to the cabinet's interior, being sure to smooth out any wrinkles. 

You can see more creative shelving solutions for your art and craft studio in the Summer 2013 issue of Studios magazine.

P.S. What have you upcycled in your studio? Do you have any clever ideas to share? I bet you do! Leave a comment below.


Art Business, Blog


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