Look at Art Studio Organization a Different Way

9 Jan 2013

There's a great scene at the beginning of the movie "James and the Giant Peach." (Actually, there are a lot of wonderful scenes, but this one is key to the story.) James and his parents are on the beach looking at cloud formations and when James doesn't perceive something his parents see, they tell him to "try looking at it another way."

low-cost art studio storage solutions
A tall bookcase turned on its side holds repurposed containers in Rebecca Aranyi's art studio. (Photo by Rebecca Aranyi)
Later in the story, James remembers this advice and it saves him and his friends. Now, I don't think I've seen this film in at least six years. But that phrase sticks with me. Not only can looking at something from a different point of view help you in relationships, work, and life in general, butto meit is the essence of being creative. Creative people are able to take what they see, re-envision, and reinvent.

This ability to reinvent is essential to the artist and (unless she has thousands of dollars to spend on furniture and storage components) to her home studio.

Since January is the time of year when many of us decide it's time to get organized or at least clear out some of the clutter, I thought I'd give you some ideas for creating economical art studio storage simply by looking at things another way. 

Using the Winter 2012 issue of Studios magazine for inspiration, I was immediately struck by the cover image. Debee Ruiz's gorgeous storage unit must be high-end and expensive, I thought. Not so! Debee found the pieces separately at a thrift shop for cheap, painted them, and added new (unmatched) knobs to the drawers. The white paint unifies the components and serves as a backdrop for Debee's colorful supplies.

thrift store art studio storage
Debee Ruiz saw the potential in two disparate pieces
of thrift store furniture. White paint and funky mismatched knobs created a functional, stylish unit. (Photo by Debee Ruiz)

Rebecca Aranyi also sees potential art studio organization and furniture in the unconventional. The tall, narrow bookcases she liked wouldn't fit under her slanted ceilings, so she turned them on their sides to make cubbies.

Then, she looked at burlap coffee bags and saw storage potential, cutting them up and stitching them into 10" x 13" x 10" containers for patterns and yarn.

Here are some other unusual ways artists from this issue of Studios reinvent art studio storage:

  • Fabric-covered Priority Mail® boxes store patterns and thread.
  • A metal cutlery drainer attached to a worktable holds heating tools.
  • Skeins of yarn are piled in a vintage wagon.

You're a creative person. Why not bring some of that creativity to bear on your craft room? The next time you need storage containers or furniture, consider some items you already have, and try looking at them another way. You may be surprised at what you already have that will make artful, stylish, studio organization.

For more ideas on how to organize your space, be sure to get your copy of Studios Winter 2012. Eager to get started? You can download Studios right now!

P.S. What is the most unusual item you've ever reimagined for studio storage, organization, or furniture. Share your ideas below.


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Studios Winter 2012

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Jam-packed with the insider information and stylish instruction Studios is known for, Studios Winter 2012 is sure to spark that inspiration you've been seeking- inside and outside your own studio!

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Studios Winter 2012 Digital Edition

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Comments

DAnna5 wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 10:11 AM

I use my grandmother's metal hooiser cabinet to store craft supplies...and I use the front and sides as a magnet board.  I also collect picnic baskets which can hold seldom used supplies and can be stacked.

JoAnnS@3 wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 11:28 AM

I made a storage for ribbon from inexpensive ( really cheap) plastic gutter, cut to 30", screwed to wall in 4 sections. Added end caps. I have lots of ribbons.The units tilt forward perfectly, I can roll out needed amount or take roll out of tray.

wandrwho wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 12:18 PM

One of my favorite storage items is the clear plastic vinyl bags that hold comforters, sheets, and throws.  I have my family and friends saving them for me when new items are bought. It's wonderful for fabrics, yarns, lace. The small ones hold thread and sewing supplies as well as jewelry supplies. Stamps, inks, crayons, markers...ideas are endless! They can be stacked or hung and easy to see at a glance!  Start saving these cool containers and see what uses you can think of!!

kerrydi wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 5:14 PM

JoAnnS@3 What a great idea and I have a lot of plastic gutter to use.  We bought it to make the top of our fence slippery so our cat couldn't get over the top of the fence and out into the wilderness.  Didn't work-she was too agile.  Now she isn't interested in going over the fence-8 years later.

My husband goes to the flea market all the time.  He brought home wooden DVD stands.  They have rods and are perfect for my Stampin Up cases, ribbon rolls, and punches.  I have three of them about 2 ft. wide by 2.5 ft, on my desk.  I have all my current Stampin Up at hand while I am scrappin or card making.  When I saw them I told him they were mine.  He said, "No they are for DVD's.  Repurposing-I won when I told him what a unit would cost him to do the same thing for me.

kerrydi wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 5:21 PM

Love the gutter idea.  My backyard has a small pile of it.  I will use it for my miscellaneous ribbon.

I'm a Stampin Up Demonstrator and wanted to keep my current supplies on my desk.  My husband came home from the flea market with three wooden DVD holders.  I took one look at the rods and said, "Those are mine."  They hold my current stamp cases, ribbon, and punches. Even the newly designed punches.  Repurposing happens when you have a need and see things differently. Wish I had a photo to post.  Maybe later.  What I love most about my units is I never have to dust as there are no shelves.

Lynn Curtis wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 7:04 PM

I am a painter, and hung up a couple of clear vinyl shoe holders ( the kind with about 16 open topped pockets and grommeted holes for hanging flat against the wall) side by side. on my studio wall. I store tubes of paint in them, which keeps the paint easy to see and get to. I organize them by color (various yellows, blues, etc.) and when I'm REALLY organized, I organize them by transparent, semi-opaque, and opaque. They even hold the 8 oz. jars of acrylic paint

laraejen wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 7:22 PM

This isn't so new anymore but I use old cigar boxes, jam and jelly jars, tea tins, and decorative storage photo boxes. A couple of years ago I designed my studio to be in 1/2 of my living area ( I live in 650sq.feet) purchased 2 white storage units at Fred Meyer on sale and topped them with a cubby cabinet. Everything is white and I backed the glass doors with vellum paper. It is a beautiful space to live in as well as create. Friends are always amazed at my storage and organization capabilities and I am very proud of my art and the studio that I designed that fits my needs.

laraejen wrote
on 9 Jan 2013 7:23 PM

This isn't so new anymore but I use old cigar boxes, jam and jelly jars, tea tins, and decorative storage photo boxes. A couple of years ago I designed my studio to be in 1/2 of my living area ( I live in 650sq.feet) purchased 2 white storage units at Fred Meyer on sale and topped them with a cubby cabinet. Everything is white and I backed the glass doors with vellum paper. It is a beautiful space to live in as well as create. Friends are always amazed at my storage and organization capabilities and I am very proud of my art and the studio that I designed that fits my needs.

ctutt wrote
on 10 Jan 2013 10:36 AM

I fitted a big scrapbook [which came from a yard sale] with 11"x14" envelopes to store my collage materials. The envelopes are marked with either colors [Red/Orange, Blue/Green etc] or patterns [Floral, Animal, Maps, etc.] When it gets too bulky I will add some more spacers.

The scrapbook goes on a wooden shelf unit along with plastic bins that hold beads and ribbon. I also use plastic clear 3-drawer rolling tabourets for art supplies - easy to see what I need without rummaging through stuff.

suslyn wrote
on 12 Jan 2013 7:56 AM

We bought two DVD towers and my husband drilled holes to add shelves (and stabilizers, thin springy rods) between the two.Looks like one unit. Originally, they were for my paperbacks (ever notice how "bookshelves" are too deep to be good storage for paperbacks?). But when we moved there wasn't enough space for all of them. In my craft room there are two towers with shelves inbetween. There are 2 more towers side by side (no shelves). I have labeled yogurt buckets (not small) on in the towers.

We used to live in a studio apt. There was no "hidden" storage. I wrapped a box (like a dress box) with some pretty fabric-like paper and put it in the gap between the top of a cabinet and the ceiling. Looked nice and I always knew what is was.

There's more. None of it is as pretty as Karen's room (@ Sew Many Ways), but it's functional. We also anticipate yet another move. So there's not much reason to try to coordinate it all when we don't know what the new space will be like.

mpizzazz wrote
on 22 Jan 2013 6:18 PM

I wanted a quick (and cheap) way to make narrow shelves to store my wood mounted rubber stamps out in the open. Leftover window trim had been sitting under the stairs for years. I cut it into 5-3' lengths,  turned the flat side up and used small L brackets to mount it on the wall above a tall chest. They hold tons of stamps and used wasted wall space.