We do a lot of art and craft in our home. In our previous home, we did all our painting and crafting at the dining table (you can view our dining room tour here), and our art supplies were stashed in various places around the home. Our markers and colour pencils were stored in enamel cups that were held up by a magnetic Grundtal magnetic knife rack, while our paints and other materials were stored in a Raskog trolley:
However, I longed for a dedicated space where the kids had room to create, where we didn't need to rush through projects and ensure that we clean up the table before a meal. So after we shifted into our new home, we opted to transform the area between the bedrooms into an art studio, which was to double up as a games room. It was a bare, empty space, so we had free reign when it came to designing and planning!
The most important piece of furniture in any art studio is the work surface. We needed a table that could fit all four kids, yet allow for enough elbow room. Having a table at a lower height would help in terms of allowing the younger kids to access the table easily, yet there was no ready-made table that fit our criteria in terms of both size and height.
We browsed the huge range of tabletops available at IKEA, and decided to use two Linnmon table tops in birch effect. The Linnmon range is available in a few colours and sizes, and we went with the one that measured 120 x 60 cm. This way, we could combine two table tops to form a square table measuring 120 x 120 cm, and each kid could sit at one side of the square table and not have to jostle for elbow room. The fibreboard top is hardwearing, and perfect for an art table, since stains can be easily wiped clean.
The tabletops were joined together with metal plates and wood screws (available at hardware shops). We used two Trofast frames as the base of the table, arranged perpendicular to the tabletops and attached again using metal plates and wood screws. These frames are narrower than the tabletops, so that allowed for leg room, while providing storage under the table.
Having storage under the table was extremely useful! We could either slot in Trofast storage boxes of varying sizes to contain various materials (eg. I use one bin to hold random recyclables that they can use for crafting, such as egg trays, bits of cardboard and toilet paper rolls)...
... or we could just slot in bigger items into the space within the storage unit, such as their work trays and the trash bin.
We use both Smula trays and Klack trays as work trays (the former are smaller so they are used for the younger kids). Both are large enough to hold a piece of drawing block paper, and using trays minimizes clean up, as we only need to wash the trays once in a while. These are also useful when it comes to messy work such as working with clay, as well as when the kids work with beads, since everything is contained within the tray.
Once the table was set up, we encountered another challenge: appropriate seating. Using the Trofast frames meant that the table was taller than a regular child's table, so the regular child-sized chairs would not work for the younger kids.
The Mammut children's chair (his is all colourful because he decorated it with washi tape!) was perfect for Junior J's height, but I had to find something taller for Lil J and Small J. However, most regular stools were too high, while the step-stools were too low. In the end I found a simple solution: we bought the tallest Trofast storage boxes available, and flipped them over to use them as stools! (PS: These come with HUGE stickers that are really hard to remove. We discovered that spraying some WD40 removed the sticky residue easily!)
An art studio needs plenty of storage space, so we reused our old Raskog trolley to store paper, paints and other art materials:
On a side note: I really love this trolley since it's so durable and versatile. We have three of these trolleys, and our beige Raskog trolley has been used as a mobile library in the boys' room previously...
... and is currently being used as a bedside table and diaper caddy! (It now comes in red brown as well as black!)
Trolley aside, we needed a space to hang up their art aprons/bibs. I wanted easy to install hooks since we already had to drill up a few things and didn't want to have to drill more stuff, so we went with these cheerful, colourful Losjon hooks.
The hooks were a breeze to fix up: all you have to do is peel off the adhesive backings, and stick them on! The hooks were positioned lower down, so that even the toddler could hang up his own bib.
And to add interest, we wrapped twine around the Losjon hooks (this idea was from IKEA Hackers), and that also provided an alternative display area for small pieces of artwork by the kids.
Speaking of display, we set up a gallery wall using Articulate Gallery frames, as well Fiskbo frames. These come in various sizes and colours, and I love how affordable they are!
One of the issues I have with our current home is the awkward positioning of the electrical sockets. All the sockets are placed right smack in the middle of the wall, where they cannot be hidden behind low shelves. I tried blocking the sockets using a Skurar plant pot filled with twigs (where we could hang some of their crafty creations), but as you can see, it didn't work!
In the end, I framed up a piece of wrapping paper using a large Fiskbo frame, and propped it over the socket. This way, we could easily access the socket if we needed it, but meanwhile it wasn't glaring at us in the face!
And finally, those storage units are Besta frames (in white stained oak effect) and Hanviken doors (in either white for the bottom, or white stained oak effect for the top). We use them to store both art materials, as well as all our games (since we use the art table for playing games as well)! I love how we can mix and match all sorts of colours and patterns to come up with a storage solution that works. We also use Besta frames for our TV bench and media storage both in our old and current homes (you can see some photos here), since they are so versatile.
You might have recently read about IKEA's Democratic Design process, which is to make design for everyone. There are five aspects to Democratic Design:
1. Form: This deals with how innovative the design is, as well as aspects such as easy handling and ergonomics.
2. Quality: This is in terms of durability, child safety and resistance to wear and tear and humidity.
3. Function: This deals with the flexibility, adaptability and relevance of the product in daily life.
4. Low Price: Product affordability, as well as lowering the cost of maintenance and packaging.
5. Sustainability: The use of recyclable materials that are environmentally friendly, and products that reduce energy consumption.
Good furniture design is really about a balance of all these five aspects, but what I particularly love about IKEA products is their functionality and adaptability. It is this aspect that has made putting this art studio together so much easier, and at a much lower cost than if we were to hire a carpenter to custom-build our furniture. The kids are really enjoying this space, since it works so well for us, and it's going to be a space filled with happy memories!
Disclaimer: This post is written in collaboration with IKEA. We were given a gift card to purchase some of the aforementioned items in this post, and no monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.