How to plan a small art studio at home

5 tips to plan an art studio at home

On this episode of the Art with Soul podcast, join me for a chatty, slightly rambling discussion on my art studio makeover. I’m sharing a few tips and suggestions on how you can plan out your own art studio at home, with a lot more suggestions and resources included in the shownotes.

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If you do a quick search on how to organize an art studio, you’ll get suggestions on everything from where to set up a small art studio at home, to what kind of furniture you need, to ideas for decorating your studio. And most of these are the same ideas — go vertical, use bins and organizers, and hide your supplies behind a curtain. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure you’ve read them dozens of times.

To be fair, there aren’t too many out-of-the-box ideas on how you can create an art studio at home, and even fewer ideas for small bedroom art studio ideas, especially if said bedroom will be a multi-functional space. And I will admit that this information can certainly be useful when you’re trying to plan out your at-home art studio. But what I find sorely missing in everything that I’ve found online, is how to actually sit down and plan things out — the nitty-gritties of turning all the ideas and inspiration into designing an art studio that will work for you — for your space, for any constraints you may have to work around, and that suits the kind of art you like to make.

Since I didn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to create it — and to share it with you! As I plan my own small art studio makeover, I’m going to take you behind the scenes into the nuts and bolts of the planning process, with actionable tips and tricks and ideas that will help you to plan out and design, or reorganize, your very own art studio at home.

5 tips for planning your art studio at home

1. Curate your art studio inspiration

If you’re just setting up an art studio, as a first step, I would recommend setting up a Pinterest board to curate some art studio inspiration. Look for storage ideas, studio tours and makeovers, and pin all of the interesting ideas that you come across. At this stage, you can just go wild! You can also take a look at my art room ideas Pinterest board for inspiration.

Once you’re ready to start the designing and planning process, set aside an afternoon or two {depending on how much inspiration you’ve gathered!} and curate your images down to no more than 10. These should be ideas that you can use or adapt easily for your own space.

Doing this will help you avoid the overwhelm of browsing through hundreds of images trying to find ideas that you can actually use. Tightly curating your inspiration will also help you to make clear plans and look up the products you may need to buy, repurpose, or DIY.

2. Do a quick purge + take an inventory of your art supplies

As artists, we often tend to hoard supplies, as well as embellishments and collage fodder. It’s a good idea to go through your pile of collage scraps {you know you save all of them!} and toss the ones that are too tiny or too uninteresting to ever make it into your art. It’s ok. You’ll survive. I promise!

Over time, most of us artists and creatives also tend to accumulate a whole bunch of supplies. We experiment with new materials that sounded interesting, or develop new loves especially if we play with mixed media. It’s inevitable that some supplies will end up being unloved and unused, not to mention paints that have dried on you, stamp pads that don’t work any more and stamps or stencils that make you go meh. Toss the paints and supplies that have dried out or expired; give the stamps or stencils that you don’t love anymore to artist friends, and if you have supplies that you tried and didn’t like, or know you’re never really going to use, give those away too.

art supply storage system on the wall

And then take a quick inventory of your art supplies, and start thinking of how you can best store them. If you mainly work with watercolors, for example, you may find a small bin to store all your watercolor palettes and boxes and a small box for watersoluble crayons works great for you. If you use mainly acrylics, you may need shelves to store your bottles of paint. But if you have a lot of heavy bodied paints or paint tubes, you could consider hanging them up too.

The point is, when you have a broad inventory of your art supplies, you can quickly see what kinds of storage solutions will help you neatly organize and store your supplies while also maximizing your space. This step will also help you better curate your art studio inspiration

3. Set up a project planning worksheet

You will need a central place to organize all of your ideas, keep track of your to-do lists and all the moving parts of a studio makeover, make any notes, and quickly jot down ideas. I use a page in Notion where I’ve added all of the curated images for my small bedroom art studio, as well as a running list of the things I think I will need for my studio.

As I get closer to the actual makeover, I will start adding links to any furniture or storage solutions I need to buy for my art room, or any DIY projects that I can do to prettify my space.

You can do all of your planning in a notebook if you prefer, or use a Google sheet, Evernote or any other note taking app, or the Notes app on your phone combined with an album in your camera roll where you can have your rightly curated studio inspiration.

This will be invaluable as you’re bound to come up with ideas just as you’re ready to fall asleep {only me?}. It will also be a handy place where you can throw in links, notes, to-dos, measurements, etc. and have everything in one handy place.

4. Take some measurements

Look around at the space you have available and start measuring how much space you actually have. It’s easy to say “go vertical” with your storage, but if you’re short like me, you need to know just how high you can realistically go. Spaces can also look smaller — or bigger — than they really are, so it’s not enough to just know the size of your room. You need to account for the space you will need to leave so that the doors and windows open. If you’re using a multi-purpose room, that will also impact how much space you have available.

Measure not just the wall space, but also the depth of the shelves or cabinets that you want in your room. For example, when I rejigged my wall storage, I knew I did not want a very deep cabinet, because it would quickly look overwhelming in my tiny art studio. I also knew most of what I wanted to store in there — from paint tubes to tiny canvases and brush stands, and I measured everything. That helped me determine how deep my cabinets should be {6 inches, if you’re wondering} and also at what heights I should put in shelves so that I could make the best use of the space.

That level of granularity is what I’m aiming for when I start measuring.

5. Plan your storage and organization

Once you have an inventory of your supplies and you know the space you have available for your home art studio, you can start the planning process. Would you prefer drawers or cabinets? Do you want open shelves or closed cabinets or a mix? How much table space do you need? All of these are questions you should consider carefully, and the answers will vary based on your art practice, the amount of space you have, your stash of supplies, and more.

As I’m planning my studio makeover, for example, I know I need a more table space, where I can set out sketchbooks and papers to dry. I also need some free shelf space where I can store all of the projects I’m working on at any given time, as I tend to work on multiple projects and rotate between them. And since I find it difficult to access the under-the-table cabinet that I have on my art table, I’m looking at organizing everything there into storage bins, baskets, and boxes so that it makes it easier to quickly access what I need.

I also know that my art studio will double up as a home office and a guest room for the rare occasions when we have overnight guests, which will impact how I plan my space. It rules out the possibility of a central table and therefore cuts down how much wall space I have available for use, because I need to keep the center of the room clear so we can put a fold-out bed when needed.

All of these nitty-gritty details need to be ironed out before you actually start buying, making, or moving things around your studio.

Would you like to see my studio space?

You can take a look at my current art studio set up here —the only change is that instead of the floating shelves that housed my paints, I got my husband to build me a set of wall cabinets, which makes the place look a lot neater!

And here’s the link to artist Kelly Rae Robert’s studio that I mentioned on the podcast.

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I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?

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