It’s a curse of parenthood that sometimes out kids have nicer things than we do. In my house, my office is in a perpetual state of crazy, while my daughter’s playroom — well, it’s still pretty crazy but there are at least pockets of good organization and one of these is her art area.
Nestled in the back corner of the room, next to the window, is an oasis of creativity I can only dream of for myself. Supplies are (relatively) well organized and accessible, making it easy for us to create together or even for her to do some things by herself at a moment’s notice.
The reason this is such a happy place is simple: Martha Stewart.
Or, more specifically, the Martha Stewart Living Stackable 9 Cube Organizer. I got mine, along with six canvas baskets that perfectly fit the shelves, at Home Depot, where the shelf currently runs $49.98 and the baskets are $6.98 a piece (we found two-packs in the clearance section that I think were about $10).
The shelf is made of particle board and seemed to weigh a ton (OK, almost 42 pounds) in the box but is easily scootable when assembled. Assembly is pretty quick and easy, even with a toddler trying to help, and only requires a screwdriver, and a hammer if you want to install the paperboard backings that are available for five of the cubbies (I opted against them). There’s also a mounting bracket you can use to mount the unit to the wall; we ended up using a hook and chain instead because our baseboards are so deep the enclosed bracket wouldn’t work.
Using the Shelf
There’s not much to say about this shelf, other than the it helpfully contains a lot of stuff. I stacked our baskets on one side of the shelf, leaving three open cubbies on one side. That allowed me to store extra paper that was to big to go into a basket and some other fun crafty things like modeling clay and the crayons and colored pencils that didn’t fit in the basket with the markers and other coloring supplies.
I tried to organize like things together, as you’re supposed to do, so there are baskets for:
- paint and paintbrushes
- stickers and stamps
- beads and pipe cleaners
- markers, pencils and crayons
- random project materials like paper towel tubes and bubble wrap
The final basket has some random busy box type items like tanagram shapes, and I’m planning to put projects from her Kiwi Crate subscription in there, thinking that if she comes across them on her own she might be more willing to do them than when I suggest it.
The durable canvas baskets have slip-in places for tags, which are still blank on mine because my daughter is a pre-reader. She has a really good memory, though, so as long as we put the baskets back where we got them she can find what she needs.
The shelf is 36 inches tall, and she’s taller than that, so I can store stuff on top and she can still get to it. Up there is a little tin with her scissors and tape, a box full of “clippings,” some more rubber stamps that happen to still be in the box they came in and a bit of sensory stuff I wasn’t quite sure what to do with.
All in all, I think this shelf was a great purchase. If I showed you the before picture, you would understand. We had stuff on and around a microwave cart, which came nowhere close to holding everything. Paint was somewhere else because I didn’t want her to be able to get into it by herself. (Now she potentially could, but she can’t see it, so that might slow her down a bit.)
Now everything is in the same area where it is used and there isn’t all the visual and actual clutter there was before. It’s a lot more fun to be in that space, and I think we’ve both been making more since we got the shelf organized than we were before. It’s easier to both get things out and to put them away, though you can see we still leave projects out on the table a lot!
Do you have a storage solution you can’t live without? We’d love to hear about it!