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DIY Creativity Center (Toddler-Friendly & Baby-Proof)

All it took was one little trip to IKEA and the creativity center that I’ve been visualizing for months now is finally a reality.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the main components came to a pre-tax total of only $70.

 

 

 

It’s been up for two days and so far C has spent over an hour each morning parked here.  The best part is, it’s always his idea – all the pretty materials on display seem to beckon to him (just as I hoped they would).

 

 

This is C about 3 minutes after first laying eyes on his new set up – think he likes it?  He initially gravitated towards the crayons, letter stickers, and paints.  How could he not with ALL THOSE paint brushes? (A Wal-mart value pack we bought while on vacation for around $5.)

 

Next he took a small recess from painting and got out the play dough and accompanying tools.

Then the creative juices really got flowing and he perfected a new artistic process in which he first painted a toilet paper roll and then used said roll to apply paint to paper.  After that there was more open-ended crafting utilizing clothespins, pom poms, glue, sticky notes, stamps, and etc.  I think the pipe cleaners were the only materials not used.  I’d love for you to start a creativity center of your very own so click through for a complete break down of the components.

You may be wondering why there’s so much empty wall space between the top of the desk and all the supplies.  My goal was for C to be able to see everything and for 10 month old S to be able to reach none of it.  Also, I wanted to be able to use the magnetic board to display C’s creations (and to allow them to dry when necessary).  But, again, I didn’t want S to be able to get her hands on any of it.

 

The whole point here is for everything to be visible so that kids will see the supplies and want to use them.  So if you don’t have a baby or young toddler in the house then, by all means, put everything at a lower and more accessible height. (If you’re wondering, C is 2 1/2 and can reach the light switch at 45″ on his tip toes.  We hung the rail at 43″ and he’s able to take the storage containers on and off.)

 

There are four basic IKEA components to this set up.  We’ve had our LATT table for about a year now and it’s been just about the best twenty bucks we ever spent.  The rest of the items were newly purchased last weekend.  Here’s the list:

 

  1. LATT table & chairs set for $19.99
  2. BYGEL rail for $2.99
  3. 6 BYGEL storage containers for $.99/ea.
  4. SPONTAN magazine rack for $9.99
  5. SPONTAN magnetic board for $12.99
  6. EKBY 11″ deep shelf for $7.99
  7. EKBY shelf brackets for $10.00

 

In addition to the larger pieces, I used several small storage containers.  On the shelf I chose mason jars as well as a few small containers that I also picked up at IKEA.  I filled them with things I’d like C to see but have to ask to use (paint, markers, pipe cleaners, glue, stamps, and pom poms).

 

 

One of the things C seems to like best is a small baby food jar filled with an alphabet stamp set that I originally bought on etsy.

 

 

Since C can reach them, I filled the hanging containers with things he can’t get into too much trouble using unattended (crayons, paint brushes, play dough tools, sticky notes, hole punches, clothespins, and toilet paper rolls).  On the display board there’s a set of magnetic spice containers from IKEA that are handy for things like broken crayons and stickers.  The curved shelf brackets work well for clothespinning 3D art pieces to and there’s paper, drawing pads, and coloring books in the magazine rack mounted on the wall.

 

It’s basically everything a kiddo could ever need to get creative.  Speaking of which, it took me a while to decide if I wanted this to be an art center or a writing center.  In the end, I decided I didn’t really have to chose and deemed it a creativity center.  This isn’t just semantics – for now it contains letter stamps and stickers along with all the art goodies.  In the future, I have plans to rotate in more writing materials such as ruled paper, envelopes, and magazines for clipping out letters.

 

So what do you think?  Will you be installing a creativity center of your own anytime soon?

This post is part of MPMK’s “Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life”.  You can read all about it here, check out all of projects here, and join thousands of POYEL facebook group members here.

 

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessie June 2, 2011 at 4:33 am

This turned out so awesome! I can’t wait to do something like this for my daughter. Our IKEA opens next month, I can hardly wait.

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Abbie June 2, 2011 at 4:39 am

love this!

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Tereza June 2, 2011 at 4:52 am

Looks great! now time fro some fun, fun, fun!

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Ausmerican Housewife June 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

Oh yes, beloved Ikea goodies! One of these years when our babies are older (and when our babies survive the womb and birth -see my blog for our story) I’m gonna go bananas with a craft station like this!

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Lindsay June 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

You have some really great ideas here- thanks! My son just turned 2 and I like to foster independence when he’s creating, but without having total chaos. I love the spice jar magnets and the mason jars just out of reach. Perfect! I will definitely be borrowing these ideas!

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Mariah June 2, 2011 at 11:14 am

Lovely! I have been eyeing those magnetic tins for awhile. I love them with the large white board. I may need to use those in the shop :-)

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emily @morefromthemoorefamily June 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Love! It’s EXACTLY the kind of idea I have been needing for a corner of our family room. The cost is perfect (especially for a table and chairs?!?!)! Thanks for sharing!

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Melanie June 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm

This is SUCH a brilliant idea!! I am going to do this in my son’s room- so perfect!

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Jenae June 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I love it! What a great idea!!

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christine June 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm

hello, came across your blog somewhere recently and i’ve been loving your updates. especially ones where you pull other great things from other sources – like my own personal curator because i do not have a ton of time!! anyway, i’ve got a budding artiste (21 months) but still needs so much supervision, and a 6 year old soon-to-be first grader. i’ve been collecting various links for art centers/writing centers/reading nooks, etc. and wondering how i can make it suitable for both kids AND something that can grow with both of them over time. i think you’ve solved some of my issues! we are moving in one month (and closer to the local ikea too). I cannot wait, and I thank you for sharing all your secrets!

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Lauren June 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Such an awesome idea!! I am totally going to try to make something like this. Now, if only I could find the space. Its perfect!! Great work.

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Rich & Christen June 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Looks like so much fun! Great job! We got started on ours this week after your teaser, and have also been gathering ideas of what all I want to include. Going to be posting it tomorrow on my blog. Thank you so much for the final push in inspiration!!

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Mama Pea Pod June 2, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I love it! I am constantly reorganising our art table for the same problem you mentioned – making it accessible to big sister (almost 4) and out of little sister’s (almost 15 months) reach. It’s my biggest challenge at the moment! I thought I had it all figured out after yet another reorganisation on Tuesday, until this morning little sister learned how to climb up from the chair onto the table, and was sitting in the middle of it, helping herself to all of the out-of-reach goodies! It’s all the more challenging because big sister is small for her age, while little sister is super tall for her age, and a climber! (They are wearing some same-sized clothes already!)

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Curly Birds June 3, 2011 at 1:41 am

Love this idea – our art table needs a little updating and this is a great motivation. It is so hard to keep the space uncluttered – If only we had an Ikea close by!

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Jessica June 3, 2011 at 10:33 am

This looks fantastic! I love the white board and magnetic containers. Very inviting! I really like how the paper tubes are a part of the every day arsenal of art supplies.

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www.StarHughes.com June 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

This is SUCH a great idea!!! How much fun – I bet your little boy loves that! And a great thing to keep kids busy in the summer. I love it!
Star Hughes Living

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Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 June 3, 2011 at 7:19 pm

This is great…I gotta get to IKEA! It’s been AGES since I’ve been!

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Christie - Childhood 101 June 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm

It looks great and I love the magazine rack for holding paper, fabulous!

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Jennifer Dawn June 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Love this! Now I just need to come up with a place in my home to do this. :)

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Francine July 1, 2011 at 9:44 am

I’m so happy I found this post as I had a total “aha!” moment when I saw the shelf. We already have the table with bar and pots set up for our 2 year old, but I really needed a way to keep the supplies out of reach. They are currently on the floor under the table. We will be installing a shelf this weekend!

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Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy July 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Thank you for this amazing idea! I’m going to use it for our “preschool corner” this fall. I already have the table, so the whole thing will be less than $50 for me. Sweet!

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Liz Robertson August 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

this a brilliantly executed–i’m saving it for my baby’s future. but i don’t see one important thing: PAPERTOWELS AND HANDYWIPES.

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Colleen August 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

AMAZING! I have supplies all over the house….it’s really bad. I am so doing this when the kids go to the shore with their grandparents. What a great suprise!

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Rebecca October 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

This is wonderful! I love how you have managed to organize the chaos that can be toddler art! I love the way to display things and the magazine rack is a great option to store past art! Thanks for sharing!

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shannon October 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

This is EXACTLY what I’ve been working on for my kids, 5 and 2. I never thought about the magnet board, though, I might have to add it in. I just bought one today to use as a mail center..Anyway, thank you for posting what was in my head! It’s nice to have a visual. :)

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Anonymous January 6, 2012 at 12:27 am

OMG! What you created here is what has been on my mind for about two months now! I just didn’t know where to start. This is my first comment on any kind of website ever and I’m very grateful to have read about your blog on Parenting Magazine. Keep the post coming please, I’m hooked!

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Christina January 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

So cute! This is exactly the kind of idea I needed for my energetic 15 month old!

Christina
http://prayersandpeekaboo.blogspot.com/

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Constance February 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Can’t wait to do this… IKEA always has great finds!!

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Lindsey February 9, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Saw this on pinterest. Love it. I wish we had an Ikea closer… the closest one is about 3 hours away. Very nice!!

Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

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Stacy February 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm

FINALLY installing our creativity center in the playroom today! Thanks for your inspiration above, I can’t wait to show you pictures!

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Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Love your art center, love IKEA! I will put your ideas into work, but will have it all at a lower lever so it is easier for the children to reach on their own.
Thank you for sharing.

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corner kitchen table May 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Looks great! love this!

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Anonymous May 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Craft corners are such a delight for little ones. I’v had one up for about 2 years for my oldest daughter. Now that I have a 20month old things are getting a little too self serve, but we are working on that problem. Here’s a link to my craft area, also mostly furnished with ikea items. http://pinterest.com/pin/122512052332799453/
Here’s the “full” post: http://youcanspellthis.blogspot.ca/2008/12/house-tour-installment-one.html

Janie

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Michelle @ Ten June October 14, 2012 at 9:13 am

I love it! Looks like the perfect space for creativity. Any clue if Ikea has those magnetic spice tins still? I can’t seem to find them on their website.

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Lacie December 22, 2012 at 12:42 am

Is the LATT desk/chairs too small for a five year old?

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mpmk December 22, 2012 at 5:41 pm

It probably depends on the fiver year old. If they like sitting and doing things, it should hold up fine. If they’re more energetic it may not :).

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Aggie July 28, 2013 at 11:45 am

Wherendid you purchase the table?

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Emily August 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Fabulous! Just found your website and it totally inspired me to do this for my girls. Just about to put the magazine rack up. All planned, purchased and put together in a day! They absolutely love it and it is difficult to tear them away! We added a picture ledge too to pop some canvasses on, and a couple of 3D art frames. Thank you for a really great website. I can’t wait to see what else you will inspire me to do!

PS magnetic spice tins still at Ikea in UK. We just bought 6 yesterday!

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Heather September 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

So much for the kiddos, I’d love some of that stuff for MY craft area! My son is 2yrs and not really trustworthy with that kind of stuff. But I’ll be keeping this in mind for future, when we get into a house and actually have space!

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Lisa November 24, 2013 at 4:01 am

Hi there, I came across this post and have just completed a craft nook based on your ideas, thanks! We are so happy with it, and such a bargain with the various bits from Ikea. Will be checking out the rest of your site now :-) Ciao from Australia, Lisa.

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Laura February 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

How did you get the magnetic board to be white? Was it available for purchase or did you paint it?

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Steph (MPMK Founder) February 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm

It came that way from IKEA.

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Leeanne March 15, 2014 at 8:09 pm

sigh, alas I live in the antipodean country of New Zealand, no IKEA here :( most of the items are significantly more expensive here (no $19.99 table and chairs here I’m afraid!). Great ideas though. Now I need to make it applicable for 4 preschoolers without getting to crazy messy ;)

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Brittany May 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Love this setup – am trying to recreate as we redo a spare room into a playroom for my son! One question – I could not find the EKBY shelf brackets that you have – there are a ton of EKBY options, but I don’t see those ones (which I really like as the shelf lays at the BOTTOM not top of the bracket). Do you by chance recall the specific style that those were called? Any help would be great! Thanks, and keep the great ideas coming!

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Keri B June 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Very cool! I am working on a project very similar to this right now! I personalized her Latt Table and chairs with some coordinating paint on the wood, and put a piece of $10 clear acrylic from Home Depot (they carry a 18″x24″ piece) on the top, making easier clean up! Thank you!

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