Looking for ways to organize kids arts and craft supplies?
That was my goal this year… and fast forward 6 months and I still hadn’t done anything.
The piles of plastic tubs in my closet and a laundry basket filled with paint containers finally got to me once the kids came home for the summer.
Our creativity level was at a ZERO because everything was so disorganized and the kids couldn’t access anything independently... so they didn’t bother to create.
We needed an intervention.
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It hadn’t always been this bad. We had a decent set up for awhile (you can see it here)... nothing fancy, but it worked. Last Fall we moved to a new house and once I’d unpacked all four kids’ rooms… there was no more energy for extra things like craft cupboards. There also wasn’t a good place that just “called” to me as a smart spot for craft storage.
So I did nothing.
This summer, a local organizer (Trish at BeeOrganizedSFBay) contacted me about helping me redo or update a craft closet. I laughed… and was a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn’t have a craft closet… it was more like a craft hole of darkness and disorganization. I almost said no… because it sounded like a lot of work. The idea of sorting through my stuff seemed overwhelming to me. I also had to let go of my ego and humble myself a bit… I hate letting people help me.
Sometimes though, you need to say YES to help.
Not everyone gets to have a professional organizer to help them put together a craft closet, but if you’re at all like me, I love a good makeover. I love seeing things transform from dysfunctional to awesome and functional. You can learn a lot from my experience!
Today here are three things I hope to accomplish with this post:
1. Inspire you to make a creative and organized space in your house that will encourage you and your kids to create.
2. Share some of the wisdom I learned directly and indirectly from working with an awesome professional organizer (Trish at BeeOrganizedSFBay).
3. Give you a detailed overview of what I include in my arts & crafts closet and how it is stored!
So... How do I get started with organizing my arts & craft closet?
Here are the 5 things you need to do:
1) SORT your materials by type
2) EDIT your materials
3) PLAN out your space, be realistic.
4) USE the right materials!
5) STOCK up!
Now let's dive into them!
You might have a closet, cupboard, shelf… or even a rolling cart, suitcase, or bag. It doesn’t matter. You still start your craft space update the same way no matter what you are using. Here are the five things you need to do to get started on a craft organization update!
1) SORT your materials by type
You can’t reorganize your craft space and make it work for you if you don’t know what you have. So take it ALL out.
I like to spread my stuff all around a room in my house. This is THE ULTIMATE sorting activity for kids if they want to join in. It also gets them really excited for the finished organization project… since all of a sudden they can actually see everything you have! They may want to try it all out too.
Once you have everything out, group the same things together. Markers in one spot, paint in another… and even sort things within groups. For example, I have a gazillion things of paint… so we sorted them by type and by size.
If it is overwhelming to have your little kids helping with this, no worries, no judgement, I get it… this is a great time to pull out NETFLIX and let kids catch up on some favorite shows for an hour.
2) EDIT your materials
“Edit” is organizer speak for get rid of what you don’t need or what doesn’t work.
Think about your goals for your craft storage area. Do you want it to look a certain way? Are your current materials working for you or do you need to update them? For example, do you have a gazillion broken crayons, stickers that are half-used, and markers that no longer work?
You may want to donate the crayons and buy some that work better, or decide how you plan to store what you do have. Do you have any empty paint bottles you can clean out and recycle? Are you using the hundreds of foam stickers that a friend dropped off? If not, it is ok to give them away or find a new home for them! You don’t have to keep every tiny bottle of glitter glue or every watercolor set you got from a craft subscription box.
Have kids help you! My kids love to be marker and pen testers and sort the ones that work from the ones that don't.
“Owning less is better than organizing more.”
― Joshua Becker, Clutterfree with Kids
The less you have, the easier it will be to keep things under control!
You also want to be realistic with what you are going to store.
For example, if you hate painting or glitter… you don’t have to store it. It is ok to let your kids create with materials at other places. You don’t have to have a craft space that looks like a craft store and buy everything.
3) PLAN out your space, be realistic.
For me, this started with pinning different ideas on Pinterest, saving ideas on Instagram, and then meeting with my organizer and talking. Having someone else to talk to can help you be more realistic. They can let you know if your ideas are actually do-able.
One of Trish’s tips is to “be realistic about the amount of space that you have.”
If you don’t have space for a craft room or closet, make sure you edit down what you have to fit your space. You can use a smaller space and then just replace materials as you go through them and have less backstock (organizer speak for “backup materials”).
If you host events a lot like me, you may want to dedicate a larger space for craft materials BUT you may need to sacrifice something. For example, I sacrificed having a coat closet. My friend Days with Grey sacrificed some space in her playroom. In my old house I sacrificed a lot of kitchen cabinet space and garage space. Food is less important to me than craft materials. LOL. Everyone will be different.
BE CREATIVE with how you use your space.
For example, we counseled with different closet organizers and finally created our own plan for shelving in a really odd shaped closet. My husband went to Home Depot, bought a saw, cut shelves to fit, and voila! We had cool shelves in our closet on a wall that a bunch of closet guys told us could never be used!
4) USE the right materials!
Gather your craft storage containers. This can include gathering all the baskets and plastic containers you already have at your house, or may include going to buy a few new things.
Make a list of the items you will be storing and try and think through containers for each sort of item. It is ok to put containers within containers too to keep things separated. It's ok to put something in a container... hate it, dump it out... and start all over again!
The goal is to make it functional/practical for you!
Trish, my awesome organizer, went to several stores and brought several giant bags filled with different types of containers, baskets, and bins for me to try out. This was one of my favorite parts of having her help me --- I hate shopping for organizing materials because I get so overwhelmed in big stores! We also used some buckets I already had. We tried different items in different buckets until we found the right fit.
Remember - You don’t need to buy anything new to organize your craft closet.
But you can, especially if your current system is not working for you.
Think about it as an investment.
If you can SEE everything that you have and it is organized in a way that you will use it more, you may be like me and actually save money once it is in a better system… because you won’t randomly buy googly eyes or puffy paint at the store anymore… unsure if you already have them at home. You will know everything that you have.
Here are a few of my favorite organizing containers that Trish introduced me to and how I am using them:
- Lazy Susan
I am using these Lazy Susans for markers, dot markers, and different types of glue. Kids can spin them around to grab what they need and then return them easily without needing to pull anything out or open a drawer.
- Paper Organizer
I usually keep paper in different stacks or in different plastic tubs. Having paper easily visible in these acrylic letter tray shelves and sorted by color makes it really easy for kids (and me) to see what we need and access it. I am a paper hoarder to being able to see what I have will also help me to buy less paper.
- Small Storage Bin with Handles
I like these four small storage bins better than having one big bin because they are easier for kids to grab and pull out. If I have four groups working, I can give each group a bin of paint.
You can also store smaller items within the containers by adding in buckets or smaller storage containers.
I like storing my paintbrushes (brush facing up) in little containers that are easy to pull out and sorting them by style type.
Divided Storage Bin with Handles
A storage bin that is divided is great for storing items that go together than you want to keep organized. For this one, I keep my glue guns in one section and then my gluesticks in the other.
Trish taught me that you can keep like items together so that they feel less cluttered by grouping them and putting a rubber band around them. Then, when you're going to use the materials, you don't have to take all of the gluesticks (or whatever you're using).
- Large Handled Storage Baskets
These handled storage baskets are so cool! I love using them for lightweight items. ** If you put too much in them or items that are too heavy, the handles will break.
I am using them for light weight tape, stickers, and foam paintbrushes. They are so easy for little kids to pull out.
- Extra Large Multi-Purpose Bins (White)
These large bins were my favorite for haphazard items or items that I didn't necessarily want to see... or items that needed a little more containing.
I have one for pipe cleaners, two for sensory play materials (shells, rocks, fake flowers, etc.), one for coloring books/stencils/poster making materials, and two for backstock materials (extra craft sticks, etc. that I can use to refill other smaller bins).
Square Tote with Dividers
I use this tote for loose parts and sparkly things. It is easy to carry around or close up and put up high where the kids can't get it.
I keep a tight reign on loose parts and sparkly things so that they don't end up all over my house. I can also easily pull out individual sections for kids to use.
I have several other types of loose parts items in my backstock and sensory play materials that I can rotate into this tote as well.
Many creative mamas that I know keep these items in pretty jars, which I love. I prefer to keep them more tucked away and less visible and then bring them out on and off.
Thin Metal Mesh Storage Bins with Handles
I love these on my top shelves for important "mom" supplies (sharp adult scissors)... or supplies I don't want the kids to have full access to (pom poms). These mesh bins were only $7 each at Target and sturdy! They're actually for shoes but work great for craft materials.
Elfa Door Storage system
Trish suggested an Elfa system and at first I was skeptical. Once I discovered that it had a gift wrap setting though, I was sold! The gift wrap section was perfect for storing my craft paper!
There are additional bins you can buy to snap on the door system as well. We made one for kids "grab and go" materials- scissors, crayons, colored pencils, and markers. I added some little buckets inside the container to keep the different items separate.
The kids love this door system! I love that I have easy access to materials that I used to have to dig through a drawer or a plastic bucket for.
At the bottom of the closet, we put large baskets for science materials (vinegar, baking soda, hair gel, shaving cream, etc) and other large bulky supplies and backstock.
Here are our "before" pics if you want to see where we started!
5) Stock up!
Back to school time is a great time to find deals on craft materials and school supplies. If you notice any holes in your craft supplies stash... especially if the items you're missing are ones your kids love to use, take this time to stock up!
Here are some of our thoughts on things to include in your craft cupboard and answers to some questions.
MUST HAVE CRAFT SUPPLIES
What are your "must have" craft supplies for people that don't have very much space?
** I'm compiling all of the arts & crafts materials I recommend here in our Amazon store.
These items don't take a ton of space! You could store all of them in a suitcase even and stick it under a bed!
- Clear Con-Tact paper
- Loose parts- googly eyes, sequins, jewels
- Liquid water colors
- Paint brushes
- Painters tape
- Paper roll (white paper and craft paper)
- Pom poms
- Salad spinner
- Washable paint
- White glue
COMPREHENSIVE CRAFT SUPPLIES LIST
What craft supplies are in your craft closet?
I'm working to put all of these materials in our Amazon store for your easy purchase here.
Here's what we have:
- Acrylic paint (not washable- good for wood projects)
- Canvases (different sizes)
- Coffee filters
- Liquid watercolors
- Paint brushes (rollers, small brushes, foam brushes)
- Paint Palettes
- Salad spinner
- Washable tempera paint
- Water cups
- Clear Con-Tact Paper
- Craft punches
- Colored Pencils
- Do-a-dot markers
- Glitter glue
- Glue gun & sticks
- Glue sticks
- Hole Punchers
- Markers (Washable markers, Paint markers, Sharpies)
- Paper (white & colored cardstock & white computer paper)
- Scissors (for kids and grown ups)
- Stamp sets
- Tape (washi tape, electrical tape, painters tape, clear tape)
- White glue
- Craft sticks
- Googly eyes
- Pipe cleaners
- Pom poms
- Baking soda
- Hair gel
- Shaving cream
Sensory play materials
- Black beans
- Dried Split Peas
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Rice (dried)
- Squeeze bottles
- Tiny CAT6 trucks
- White beans
You can read more about our sensory play materials & activities here.
- Craft paper roll (brown and white)
- Recycling bin (paper rolls, pieces of cardboard, etc)
- Tape (painters tape)
For clean up
- Dyson Cordless stick vacuum
- Magic eraser
- Baby wipes
Materials around the house
Some materials don't stay in my craft cupboard because I might use them for art and cooking too, so they stay in their primary spot.
- Cookie cutters (stays with my baking stuff)
- Food coloring (stays with my baking stuff)
- Bubble wrap (stays with my gift wrap)
If you made it all the way through this post, you get a gold star!
Can you tell I like talking about this topic? I'm sure there are some things we forgot to share, but hopefully this overview helps you get started with a craft organization update... or it just reinforces what you already know!
Did we miss anything? Do you have any other questions about our craft closet update?
Do you have any tips that you've found useful?! Share with us!
What specific products did you use in your Craft Closet Update?
For those that have asked -- Below is a list of the exact products we used in my closet. I have linked to similar Amazon versions above, many that are less expensive. All of the containers we used in our closet are from The Container Store and Target.
Linus Large Kitchen Bins - clear
Linus 11" Divided Turntable - clear (lazy susan)
Linus Cube storage bins - clear
Large Plastic Storage Bin w/ Handles- clear
Linus Small Pantry Bins - clear
Linus Medium Kitchen Bins - clear
Elfa Overdoor System
Elfa Utility Gift Wrap Rack - white
Like-It Landscape Letter Tray - clear
Large Handled Storage Basket - clear
Square Smart Store Tote
Small Smart Store inserts
Large Divided Freezer Bin - clear
Linus Large Kitchen Bins - white
Made By Design White Metal Shoe baskets
If you like this post, you may like some of our other posts about organization:
- Keeping Your House Organized with Kids
- Kid Approved Toy Storage
- 3 Ways to Get Kids to Clean up with Less Frustration
Disclosure: Trish at BeeOrganizedSFBay donated her time and expertise to help me get my craft closet organized! All materials and storage containers were purchased by me! I already had all of these craft materials so we didn't need to purchase ANY craft materials to fill my closet, LOL. Like I've said before, I am a craft supplies hoarder.