Even if you’re short on space or funds, you can create a fun and inviting creativity corner for your child for hours of fun and exploring!
Growing up, I had this amazing space in my parents’ basement that was all mine, a place where I could fully unleash my creativity.
That space was often transformed in my imagination, from a museum one day full of my own unique art made from repurposed McDonald’s takeout containers, to a doctor’s office with a variety of magazines in the waiting room area the next. My mom had set up a little table for me where I would have friends over to color, paint, and create beautiful masterpieces. Supplies were always in abundance and at my fingertips.
I want my own daughter to have a place like that, one where she can explore and create and experiment.
However, unlike growing up in the suburbs, where my family had an entire house, Sam, Eve, and I live in a 2+ bedroom, 1200 square-foot condo.
With urban living — particularly an expensive one like the Boston area — we just don’t have the luxury of that kind of space.
I’m fortunate that I have a dedicated space to do my own creative work. I also want Eve to have a space that’s her own for her to tap into her creativity and explore the way I was able to as a child.
While we have a basement, it is not remotely set up (or safe) for play. We could have done it in her bedroom, but I want her to have the freedom to play in other parts of the house and not just be relegated to that little space. At the same time, I also did not want my house overrun with children’s accouterments.
(Of course, if you have ever had a small child, this is nearly impossible despite all your best intentions.)
I wanted to create a space for Eve that would enable her to access different materials but still keep things clean and organized. (Or at least as much as I was willing to tidy it up because, hello, toddler!) I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money.
With a little bit of my own creativity and some frugalness, I was able to fashion a little creativity corner for Eve in the corner of our living room for less than $40.
Here is what I used to put it together (please note, this post contains affiliate links)
- Ikea EXPEDIT bookshelf*, cost: FREE (found it on the street)
- Small container white primer & paint in one: about $10 at our local hardware store
- Little table: $5 at Goodwill
- Blue chevron contact paper: $10.99 (for two rolls)
- Foam brush: $3 for set of three
- Chairs: $5 at a yard sale for 5 total chairs
*Ikea discontinued the EXPEDIT series — it’s now the KALLAX shelving unit and as of now retails new for $64.99
Want to make your own similar space? Here are a few tips to help you get started building your own creativity corner.
Get thrifty when building your child’s creative space
Hit up your local thrift store, check out the listings on Craigslist, and see if there are any yard sales going on in the area. I was really fortunate that one day when Sam and I were out for a walk I noticed one of our neighbors had left the EXPEDIT shelf on the street for the taking. It was black (I wanted something white) and rather beat up, but I knew I could work with it. Plus it’s hard to beat free! The little table we found out our local Goodwill (new it would have cost five times as much), the chairs I had purchased previously at a yard sale last spring and bought 5 of them for about the same price. The most expensive thing I purchased was the container of white primer, which I used to paint the bookcase and touch up the table.
Think up instead of out
When you’re limited on space, consider vertical space. I’m not a fan of too much towering furniture, but this is the tallast piece we have our living room, and it gave us much more flexibility. Plus it has the advantage of allowing me to store items that I don’t want Eve to access, such as the large containers of paint and glue. The other items that I want her to be able to access regularly are lower down and she can easily grab them when she wants. Just be sure to firmly secure tall pieces of furniture to the wall so that they don’t tip over onto your child should she try to scale it.
Channel your own creative thinking
After I found the bookshelf I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. While I found some fantastic IKEA hacks, I knew they wouldn’t work for our space. I also didn’t want to spend the money to replicate these designs. I used what I had to work with our space and kept my eyes open for things that would work with the space. For a special touch, I lined each shelf with pretty contact paper to make it a little more interesting visually.
Repurpose what you already have
Take a look around your home to see what you already have that you can utilize. Sure, matching storage containers look really cute, but if you already have a few unused one, save the money and use those. Your kids won’t care if you have a perfectly coordinated storage system. For example, the fabric cotainers on the bottom we already had and fit perfectly in the shelves. Plus they’re perfect for throwing in the random stuff that your child inevitably ends up pulling out
while they make a giant mess during the creative process.
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- The zen of creativity
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