My Small Studio? Does that mean I can only do small art?

How do you organize a small studio?

Are artists limited by the size of their studio?

Hunting for a material is a time waster. So… Is IKEA my Friend?

Is it possible for artists to make decent art from a small ten by eleven foot studio? I am sure my studio is the smallest in the world. At least, it feels like it! I have to walk sideways around my worktable to get something across the room. Also, any art over 36 inches is a miraculous feat.

How to build a small studio

Every wall in my studio has a variety of storage cabinets purchased from my dearest friend of small spaces, IKEA. This company is teaching Americans how we can function in small spaces. IKEA’s successful marketing idea was developed to suit the European style of living. Most people in large European cities do not own homes. Apartments or condos are the common fare where every spare space is utilitarian. IKEA becomes their friend. And mine too.

I equipped my studio from a small 9 by 10 foot bedroom.

I found a way to organize this mess of art, supplies and have a work area to create.

I needed a place to store art materials, canvases, and the hundreds of other things artists collect. These include paper, collage materials, pads and more pads of tracing paper, watercolor paper, Bristol paper, newsprint paper, specialty papers, illustration board, and boards to mount my watercolor paper. Are you getting the idea? Obviously, artists need surfaces to create and the walls of the studio do not cut it!

We hired a carpenter to build a vertical file storage box similar to what I had in my school classroom. It works really great and only takes up 36×30 inches. It sits in a corner. The vertical spaces are changeable since the partitions are removable. The flat top holds my large bed printer and a bookcase. (Artists are serious art book collectors and would rather die than give up our library.)

A vertical file works well for pad and canvas storage. It has removable wall sections and the top platform holds my printer.

What about the accumulation of your art materials?

One thing I hate to do is to waste time by rummaging through stuff to find what I need at the moment.

YAAY IKEA, Drum roll !

  • Narrow drawers are easy to stock with flat thing like pencil boxes and gouache sets.
  • One wall of the room holds cabinets for smaller storage plus a vertical bookcase
  • Cheap plastic bins hold acrylic tube paints
  • Plastic dollar store baskets hold other painting materials.

IKEA narrow drawer cabinet holds all my sketching materials, and other art supplies. The bottom two drawers hold stencils, collage miscellanies.

Organize by categories of materials just like an art supply catalog lists their products by type.

Have you tried small bins to organize your materials by type? 
     Adhesives, tools, tape, decorative scissors,
     and whatever.                                     

The bookcase at the left corner has bins for craft things like tools, adhesives, tapes, all clearly labeled with wooden tags.

Time is the artist’s friend. We use TIME to get art done, not to look for a material.


I found these bins discarded at the curb at a neighbor’s house.

Below, are the shelves behind my work table. They are all within easy reach. The bulletin board flips up to get to the spray cans on the top shelf. It is hinged from the top and has a white board market calendar and not space plus a small bulletin board. More books are stored at the bottom.

I work at a sturdy 48 inch table that I ordered online from Wayfair. It has a faux marble table top and is easy to clean.

A flip up bulletin board hides spray cans.

Gesso, gel medium, pencils, brushes.

Turntable with tools, plaster model of my hand just for fun

More books.

Draw a floor plan of your art space. Measure the walls and research storage options on line.

I hope the ideas in this blog will help artists who live in smaller spaces who sadly think there is no space to continue making art. Use your artist’s creativity to design your space. Observe all the places that are ‘air’ and ask, “Can I use this area to build a studio?”. My first studio was on a card cable in a corner of my bedroom. It really can be done.