Organizing kids’ art supplies

We keep our kids’ art supplies in our dining room. (I say dining room, but really, in these new-fangled open-concept houses, it’s our kitchen table area?) We always have, actually!

It’s probably the hardest-working area of our house because IT IS USED CONSTANTLY and not always (i.e. ever) put away properly, so it requires Big Mommy Clean-Outs every few months or so.

I have learned, however, to limit the chaos.

They have their own small hutch dedicated to craft supplies. While they have half of the main hutch, too, they are not allowed to put ANY of their art crap (I mean “lovely enriching art supplies”) on the “main hutch” or the built-in computer desk. Like if they put a marker there because they’re too lazy to put it where it goes, I’m like DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, SIR/MA’AM.

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}
Unstaged, hence the crumbs still on the table.

However … look a few feet to the (*quickly makes an L with her hands because she’ll never completely learn*) LEFT of the main hutch, and you’ll see this hot mess …

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

Playing cards. Popsicle sticks. A stuffed animal. Game console. Random pumpkin-shaped candle from Halloween (???). Jar of scrap metal our son is hoarding (also ???). Paint-splattered “palette” a.k.a. tin plate. Printer paper. Sticker book. Lots of used paper. Volcano-making kit.


Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

Oh. That’s how …

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

The craft cabinet I’d lovingly organized has … has been in an accident, it seems. The kids shoved too much stuff inside, carelessly, and now it has no room so they just dump their stuff on top, and … and I think I’m having a mild stroke.

This cabinet drove me crazy for SEVERAL WEEKS while the pile continued to grow. I just never seemed to have the time and/or patience to tackle it. I didn’t even bother to ask the kids to clean it (haaaaaaa) because I knew I planned on filling at least one or two garbage bags, and their idea of cleaning it would be to re-stack the mess. (Ahem … they get that from their father.)

So this past Sunday, I attacked it. Not for the kids, necessary — for ME. I couldn’t handle having a dump-zone in my “dining room” any longer.

Now for the soothing “after” pictures …

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

Once I’d cleared out two garbage bags worth of stuff (more on that in a minute), we actually had room for all of the bins to fit WITHOUT CRAMMING THEM IN. Miracle of all miracles, right?!

Their main art hutches holds the bulk of their supplies, divided into clear bins and clear shoeboxes so they can just take out what they need (in theory):

  • Crayons
  • Coloured pencils
  • Markers
  • Stamps + ink
  • Foam shapes
  • Gluegun + bottled glue + gluesticks
  • Paints + brushes
  • Rainbow Loom supplies + elastics
  • Stickers
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Their sewing kits

One of the changes I made this time around was to dedicate a drawer in the main hutch to the “basics” they use every single day:

  • Scissors
  • Tape dispenser + tape gun
  • Stapler
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Sharpeners.

I think this is going to make a big difference because they were always rifling through their cabinet to find this stuff, and now it’s in one place.

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

I also made the decision to donate ALL OF THE COLOURING BOOKS. Yes, ALL OF THEM.

We had an obscene amount — this drawer used to be filled with them — because I’d toss the $1 ones into my cart at Michaels whenever I saw a character/TV show/movie/theme I thought they’d like.

Well, newsflash: they don’t use colouring books. They draw their own pictures, and that’s how I prefer it anyway.

This drawer is now dedicated to all of their drawing supplies:

  • Printer paper
  • Sketchbooks + blank scrapbooks, etc.
  • Drawing books

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

The cabinet that didn’t change much was what I refer to as the “sometimes stuff” i.e. the messier supplies or supplies that are rarely used …

  • Glitter glue (*shudder*)
  • Play-Doh + accessories
  • Moon Sand
  • Plastic capes/smocks
  • Jars of googly eyes, buttons, etc.

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

The other drawer that didn’t really change is their “school” drawer with homework supplies.

  • Looseleaf paper
  • Empty duotangs + scribblers
  • Workbooks + Sudoku
  • Sight word printables + spelling lists
Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}
Don’t mind the paint smears. I’m lazy when I paint around drawers.

Seems like a lot of stuff, so HOW did I fill two garbage bags?

One bag was filled with colouring books, which I’m donating to our old preschool. (They usually print colouring pages off for the kids, so I think they can use these practically-new books.)

The other bag was positively bursting with …

  • Coloured sand (all of it — it’s been a nightmare when certain unnamed children sneak it into their rooms and pour it all over their carpet.)
  • Half-finished projects mostly made from fun foam (They’ll never miss ’em)
  • Art that isn’t worth hanging and was just shoved back in the cabinet out of laziness
  • Dried-up markers
  • The random pumpkin candle
  • Mostly-used colouring books
  • Stickers books. *shudder*
  • Anything I deemed “junk” as my patience waned

And now … ahhhh … I can actually look at that corner without cringing …

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

The great art mess has been tamed … for now.

Organizing kids' art supplies {Heather's Handmade Life}

Remember of this good feeling in a couple of months when we’re once again overrun with “art crap” piling up.


2 Comments on “Organizing kids’ art supplies

    • I love that idea! We don’t have a single door on our main level we could use for that, unfortunately. Unless we used the bathroom door, ha!


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