Sunday, June 3, 2012

Garage Art Studio

I've mentioned before that our summers are brutal. Our backyard gets full sun 12 hours a day with 100+ degree temps most of the summer. We have all manner of biting and stinging insects flying/crawling/creeping around out there. And because we back up to a horse pasture, there's no wind break for the frequent 25+ mph winds.

I'm of the opinion that playing in and with nature is vitally important for healthy kids (and adults), but the elements were really putting a damper on our outdoor art time. I tried my hardest to find ways around it, canopies and curtains and such, but we were ending up frustrated more often than not after spending a while trying to create out there.

So we decided to turn our attached 2-car garage into an art studio for summer (and possibly beyond). It was previously being used to house our minivan, out of season/size clothes and toys, holiday decor, tools, and tons of stuff we kept meaning to sell/give away/toss. We relegated the minivan to the driveway and sold or donated everything we weren't regularly using. The storage was trickier. We had no other place to store these things, so they'd need to stay in there. Many of the tools and stacks of bins are dangerous for a toddler and soon-to-be-toddler to be wandering among, and we couldn't afford enclosed cabinets. So we arranged everything onto the metal shelves along the walls and hid the storage cheaply.

We screwed eye hooks into the corners of the walls, ran masonry line through them, cut plastic sheeting to size and poked holes along the top edge of it, and hung the sheeting from the line with shower curtain rings. All told, it cost us $25. The sheeting hangs heavily and keeps the kids away from danger, but it's easy for us to slide aside to access the things we need.

To further set the scene, we:
  • set up a sturdy handmedown kitchen table and chairs.
  • laid out some handmedown interlocking foam mats for floor activities (can be used for a safe place for the baby as he gets older, too).
  • put a handmedown accordion-folding baby gate along the front of the garage to keep stray animals from wandering in while we play.
  • moved Margaret's sensory table in.
  • moved her art supplies in, as well as some other items to make our art time more convenient and comfortable.

The TV was an extra being stored in the garage already. It has a DVD player attached, so we use it to listen to music.
The giant stack-o-cans doesn't live in there, it just hadn't been carried in yet.
The door in the back opens to our back yard, so she can freely come and go to the swingset, patio, and yard as she pleases while we're out here.

We hang her artwork from the sheeting with clothespins to make things brighter and more festive!
The giant TV doesn't work and will be hauled off eventually. The carpet is waiting to be laid inside.

The tub on top is for paint brushes and other things that need to be taken inside and washed.

Top: clothespins for hanging art, baby monitor to use if he's napping, rags
Middle: tablecloth for picnics and canvas drop cloth for messy liquid projects
Bottom: play shoes for me and Meg

Her outdoor art supply cabinet was moved into the studio.
Top: Special paints and things
Middle: Tools
Bottom: Tempera paint

The last week that we've been using this studio has been incredible! We're spending 2-3 hours a day out here, creating, playing, and exploring. We eat lunch and snack in the studio most days or people watch our neighbors doing yard work and biking and coming and going. It's without a doubt the best "renovation" project we've undertaken to date.



Emily@Little Forever Family said...

You are such an amazing mom! I feel so blessed to know you, and love all of your clever ideas!

Laura Ingalls wannabe said...

Emily, you're so sweet! Thanks for the love and know that the admiration definitely goes both ways. :D

Hilda said...

What a great idea! It looks beautiful. I like how you've hidden your storage. We did a similar thing in our basement (hung a sheet from the ceiling to hide our storage bins) but I love how you hang artwork on it.

The Iowa Farmer's Wife said...

WOW! What a great idea! Now if I just had a garage... :) Thank you so much for sharing on The Sunday Showcase!