Virginia Woolf was right. If you want to unleash your creative spirit, it helps to have a home art room of your own, be it a revamped bedroom or a tiny closet you’ve dutifully transformed. Though setting up an art studio at home can feel like more of a “someday” aspiration than an attainable goal—especially if you’re working on a tight budget—it’s actually easier to implement than you think. In this guide, learn how to set up an art studio at home, no matter what kind of space (or budget) you have.
What Do You Need for an In-Home Art Studio?
Truthfully, you don’t need much to set up an in-home art studio. Basically, it comes down to two core components: a space and organization for your materials. Plus, you’ll also need to think about your ideal budget for the space.
Your first step in setting up a home art studio is finding a space you can claim as your own. Maybe the space is a guest room that’s mostly unused, a portion of your laundry room, a mudroom, a corner in your garage, or even a backyard shed that’s just collecting junk.
If nothing stands out as a potential room for your art studio DIY project, think beyond the scope of a traditional space. Consider:
- Converting a closet
- Installing a fold-down table that you can hide away when you aren’t using it
- Using a basement or attic
No matter how small the space, you just need a dedicated area where you can easily access your art supplies, spread out your materials, and get inspired.
Organization is key for any home art studio setup. Part of the appeal of setting up an art studio in your home is to have all your materials organized and accessible in one central location. So, you’ll need some sort of system to keep your supplies neat and orderly.
“I recommend using a combination of open and closed storage,” says Liz Toombs, interior designer for PDR Interiors. “Open storage options allow for easy access to items that you use the most, while the rest can be tucked away in closed storage.”
To further organize, use baskets or opaque containers to hide knick-knacks, trinkets, creative supplies, or other items you wish to conceal. Just make sure they’re clearly labeled so that you never have to go on the hunt for something specific. Use open shelves to display your visually pleasing items, says Toombs. If you simply do not have enough space for storing everything, keep just the absolute essentials in your studio space, and allocate another part of your home for more storage.
Before you get too far along in your art studio DIY project, it’s also smart to think about your budget. Even in a small space, you may need some essentials—like a desk, lamp, or an easel—and in addition, you may want to allot some funds for customizing your space with paint, shelving, storage bins, and other decorations.
How to Make an Art Studio In a Small Space
It’s easy enough to create a home art room if you have a spare bedroom or entire garage that you can convert into your studio. But what if you live in a small space or are limited to a strict budget?
“When on a budget, it’s important to get creative and have rooms and spaces in your home that serve multiple purposes,” notes Caroline Grant, an interior designer for Dekar Design. “Build a custom desk within a space of your home that can be disguised as a console table, or employ pocket cabinet doors that can be opened and closed to hide or reveal leg space for the desk.”
Another option is to consider a backyard shed or greenhouse, which you can buy premade at most home improvement stores and then assemble yourself (you’ll just need to bring in a portable AC/heater).
Still stumped? Consider creating a small studio workspace in a walk-in or medium-sized closet.
“If you’re transforming a closet, simply remove the doors, add a desk—[standing desks are great space savers]—and then install wall-to-wall shelves above. If you have the space, wall-mount a task lamp as a sconce to keep the desk space clear,” says interior designer Anne Hepfer.
Ultimately, everyone has options—even in a shoebox apartment. Just think as creatively about the actual space as the work you do inside said space.
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Considerations for Setting Up an Art Studio
While the only necessities you need for an art studio DIY is a space and some organization, there are several other factors that play into your setup. Make sure to think about the following things in regard to your specific art style and preferences.
Lighting is a vital component of creating art, so it’s essential that your home art studio setup is equipped with good light. The best light is natural light (without direct harsh sunlight), but because that isn’t always possible to achieve in a small space—especially if you use a closet or a garage—you may want to invest in a daylight lamp or daylight simulation bulbs, which imitate natural light.
Access to a Slop Sink or Running Water
For many artists, having access to running water or a slop sink is essential. While your kitchen or bathroom sink can work in a pinch, it can be helpful to have a dedicated slop sink, so you don’t have to worry about project debris dirtying the sink or clogging the drain.
Sufficient Work Surface
Even in a small space, you’ll want to make sure you have a sufficient work surface, whether you prefer to work on an easel, a table, or the floor. If you can’t spread out your materials appropriately, the space won’t work well for you.
Ventilation is important if you work with anything that produces heavy fumes or dust. So if you are an oil painter or woodworker, for example, you should pick a space that has access to fresh air. And really, fresh air is good for any artist, so if you have the option of a well-ventilated space (no matter your preferred medium), take advantage of it.
Tips for Your Home Art Studio
Beyond simply having an in-home art studio, you should aim to make it feel true to you. Below, find some tips for transforming your space into your ideal creative outlet.
Change Up the Wall Color
“It’s so important to have a working space you love and that is your sanctuary. The right space makes it easier to work while breeding creativity,” says Toombs. “Style does not have to be sacrificed for function in a home studio.”
Start by choosing a paint color that will stimulate your creative energy. Toombs says to choose a neutral, but inspiring, color—one that’s not too dark or too bright. She says, “Paint that is too bright can make you feel wired, which can lead to trouble focusing. Dark paint can make you feel tired instead of alert and ready to work. Your goal is to find a color you love in a tone that is muted enough to foster positive workflow.”
Add Creative Touches
Next, add creative touches throughout your space that will inspire you further. Maybe it’s wall art that you’ve created yourself, a beautiful tapestry you picked up on sale, framed accolades, awards, or photos, or a one-of-a-kind piece you found at the local thrift shop.
You can also personalize your DIY studio space with a fun rug, plants, curtains, a cozy chair (if you have the room), and lighting. Wall-mounted lighting is often ideal for small spaces. In addition to sconces, consider self-hung chandeliers and standing floor lamps. One more tip? When in doubt, choose white linen lampshades—the most likely to put off the kind of soft, ambient light that won’t distract you from your work.
Customize Your Storage
You already know that storage is essential when setting up an art studio in a small space. If you’re on a budget, affordable freestanding shelving units are pretty easy to come by, especially if you’re keen on thrifting or using second-hand apps like Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp. Even if the shelving unit isn’t the prettiest (like a worn-out wooden shelf or a metal filing cabinet), you can flex your creative prowess and give it a makeover.
“If you have an old cabinet that you would like to refresh, it can be painted with electrostatic paint for a new look. When it comes to choosing a color, you can go bold to bring happiness into your office, or you can choose a color that blends well with your walls and other furniture,” says Toombs.
The bottom line is that however tiny or humble your studio space, you can customize it in a way that both expresses your creativity and invites you to harness it into your work. Best of all? It’s all yours. So get going!
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