Setting Up Your Studio

Margaret Riley

The last child has left the house and you have a guest room and an extra room. Yours! All yours! So where do you start? A true painter wants inspiration and items close at hand. Make sure your walls are painted and ready to go. (I chose white since I work with color all day.) It might be fun to choose a theme for curtains, wall hangings, etc. (I chose Wizard of Oz but have had floral and Elvis in the past.) Decide if you want a TV to watch videos or your favorite painting TV show and install it before putting furniture in place. The TV can be mounted on the wall to free up painting space.

Counter space:

You can purchase cinder blocks cheap to stack and put a counter top on (precut Formica® counters are available in various sizes). Or you can place a couple folding tables against one wall. Trust me….you’ll want some counter space! I even have a rolling food cart that is a great asset to my studio.

File cabinet:

If you like to go to garage sales, you can find one inexpensive and paint it. There are metal file cabinets and wood cabinets. Start right off with a filing system: patterns (holidays, shapes, flowers, landscape), photos for painting, pattern packets, magazines, books, etc.


You can always purchase a new desk or search in a second hand store. My hubby made mine and it is portable to move closer to my window for natural lighting. An L-shaped desk is extremely nice as your computer can set on one section while you paint on the other section. 


This is where you will want to put in a little extra money. Consider purchasing an office chair on rollers (might want to put a mat under it if on carpeting) and be sure it is comfortable for you. Sit in every chair at the store and get the right one. Or if you can get one in great shape at a garage sale or a second-hand store, make sure it is the one you want.

If the chair has arms on it, make sure it slides under your desk. I have two extra chairs in my studio in case I have a friend that wants to come paint with me!!


I switched out my ceiling lamp for a type of track light thus giving me more lighting across the studio. I purchased a lamp for my painting desk that focuses directly onto my painting surface. 


Any type of computer works so you can look up references when stumped about a product, research a subject, or chat with fellow artists.


You don’t have to have an expensive one! Just find one that will work for you. If you scan and email items, be sure it does that. Shop around until you find the perfect one at a great price!


If you have a landline phone and use it, be sure to install a line into your room. But these days most people have a cell phone. It would be nice to install a plastic holder on the side of a shelving unit or a cabinet that is adjacent to your painting area so that you won’t add a splash of paint to your cell phone.

Shelves and/or cabinets:


No matter what you choose to store your paints and supplies, be sure you can organize it all. Plastic storage tubs and fabric cubes are great to hold supplies. And even having a specific container for paints close to your desk (or on your desk) would be a great asset.


On your painting table you should consider having: brush basin (something to hold water), paper towel (maybe have a dispenser that sits on your painting table), brush caddy (an old coffee cup, mason jar, etc.), palette paper or foam disposable plates, and possibly some newspapers or freezer paper (butcher paper) to cover your surface if you wish. A clipboard or a bulletin board is nice to hold your instructions and photo of the project you are working on.

If you have a closet, add a shelving unit or have shelves installed. You will be amazed on how much stuff you need to “keep out of sight”.

Some people only have a space in their bedroom or dining room. Purchase a folding screen to make it all yours! Be inventive where ever you decide to paint. Just create and know you can paint, paint, paint!

Now stand at your door….take a deep breath….exhale! Walk over to the chair, sit down, and admire! You may begin painting now and enjoy!!!

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  • Kirby Elizabeth Manning on

    I love the organization of the Art Room. I’ve been wondering where to find the wall racks that hold paint. All great ideas for organizing.

  • Margaret Riley on

    In response to Cindy…I store my bottles in a wall rack (actually 6 of them!!!) that are mounted right in front of my painting area. I believe I purchased them from and they are on Etsy, too. In a prior studio, I stored my paints in a wood lingerie chest, which worked out great right beside my painting area.

  • Wendy on

    Great to see your blog thx to Gretchen!
    Looks like you’re still going strong with your creative gifts! Very impressive!
    Blessings to you and Sherm!?

  • Cindy on

    Nice craft room Margaret. What are you using to store your bottles of paint in. Your paint area looks nice and neatly organized.

  • phyllis spaw on

    How inspiring is this! Thank you for sharing this wonderful article!!!

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