Way back when Shana did my introduction post, a number of you mamas wrote in requesting kids’ play or art corner ideas for small spaces – and it just so happened I was working on exactly that project to corral my 4 year old’s burgeoning art supply collection! Also, craft supplies seem to get exponentially smaller the older the kids get, which is bad news for my curious and mobile ankle biter. So what’s the game plan to keep pom-poms, marker caps and pony beads out of baby sister’s esophagus? Isolation and containment for craft time! In the nicest way possible.

The Solutions:

I found this vintage secretary on Craiglist, painted the inside a pretty turquoise and switched out the knobs to fancy her up. She’s very petite (the desk, the kid’s gonna be Cam-tall by like 5th grade!) so she fits in a corner nook of the dining room that was just dead space, and when the desk ledge is shut, basically takes up no room. Big sister can just pull up a dining chair when she’s working on something,  so no need to store an extra chair. My favorite part? High shelves she can’t reach (yet) in a lockable cabinet – great for strong-willed kids that think “it’s time to brush teeth and get jammies on” means “crack open the finger paints and see how high water beads can bounce”. Supplies are strategically placed based on a combination of how much I trust her to use them/clean up without direct supervision and size of items that the baby would find delicious were they to be conveniently dropped on the floor. The drawers hide the massive Tupperware bucket of crayons and markers plus coloring books, construction paper, puzzles and board games. In a few years, it will be a sweet homework spot for a laptop or whatever new-fangled technology the kids are using then.

As much as I love the idea of vintage, the reality is rickety and a little whiffy if I’m honest. (Pro tip – to get funk out of old furniture: vinegar, sun and dryer sheets.) So I put together some brand new options for storing kids’ art and craft supplies or toys that’s perfect for small spaces. Many of the moms noted that the play corners lived in their dining rooms like mine does, so I tried to find desks, tables, and shelves that don’t scream “playroom” in all caps.

TheMomEdit_Kids-Art-Corneridea 1:

If you’re working with a small corner or nook in a dining room or family room, the secretary & shelves combo is a perfect fit. I love how the bottom storage keeps messier supplies or toys hidden so you can put the cooler ones out for display on top of the cabinet or on the upper shelves. Tiny craft items or art supplies look great in sturdy glass containers on higher-up open storage shelves (I used a combination of mason and jam jars).

Secretary cabinet: Threshold Secretary Desk (also in black)

Shelves: Modern Wall Shelf – these are so simple but so cute. They come in bright, happy turquoise, coral and red, but also sleek white if you want a more sophisticated look.

idea 2:

Got a little more horizontal wall space but not floor space? The ladder desk and bookcase modules offer lots of open shelf storage, and supplies can easily be contained in baskets that fit the room this play corner lives in. A great alternative is a small writing desk with shelves mounted above – check the boutique at the end for some fun picks, including what I’m using in my home office (aka tiny corner of the bedroom).

Ladder desk and bookcase: Little Sloane Leaning Desk – comes in a handful of neutral colors, including navy! If you have a lot of wall space, customize by adding more bookcase units for storage.

Also those with more horizontal space – check out these genius art & craft tables with hidden storage that could totally pass as a little buffet table in the dining room.

idea 3:

The fold-down desk and supply cart is just right for the smallest spaces. I was seriously considering this desk for my home office. It takes up such little space, and folds right back into an unobtrusive box on the wall when arts & crafts time is over. After you fold the desk up, roll the storage cart back underneath against the wall.

Desk: Fold-out Convertible Desk – this will hold a small laptop or tablet, paper and small supplies even when closed.

Storage cart: RASKOG Utility Cart

Like these ideas but want different colors, finishes or styles? Check out the play corner boutique, where I put all my favorites.

Shop Play Corners


Can you picture any of these art & play corner ideas working in your home, or do you have a different solution entirely that I didn’t cover? I’m interested to hear (and see pictures!) of what works at your house!




  1. This is great. I was actually debating emailing you guys and asking about something like this, but actually, for me! We are very low on space, but I’m desperately trying to figure out how to set up a space to keep out some scrapbooking supplies so I can work on my son’s baby book (yeah, he’ll be 4 in September). I feel like I might be able to make something like this work even in our bedroom. Thank you!

    • So happy it was helpful, Jessica! I was in the same position – working from home at the dining room table wasn’t cutting it – I’m so much happier to have my own tiny space where I can shut the door! Also impressed that you’re working on the baby book! My 4 yo’s stopped getting updated @ 1 year, and the 7 mo old’s? Umm….

  2. Love this post! I actually have a secretary very similar to yours that I’m planning to spruce up. However, I am not that crafty and haven’t painted furniture before. Do you have any tips on how you did yours? To sand or not to sand? Use primer? How do you paint the wood on the inside of the glass cabinets – without dismantling the whole thing? Like I said, not crafty :-/

    • Hey Tina! I would definitely sand and then prime with something like Kilz that will block odors and stains. Sand again lightly, then you can paint! There will be little strips of molding holding the glass inside the cabinets – carefully take that out with a tiny screwdriver and then you can paint the fretwork. You can do it! Can’t wait to see pictures of your finished secretary. Go girl!

Leave a Reply