Look at any art supplies catalog and you'll get the impression you'll need to spend a king's ransom to store your paints, mediums, papers and brushes. A rolling taboret and a flat file together can cost as much or more as a top quality leather sofa! Cheapskate that I am, I see no reason to spend exorbitant sums on studio furnishings when there are much more wallet-friendly ways to house art stuff.
Taborets start roughly around $100 but can run as much as a few thousand. Flat files are very expensive -- usually several hundred dollars, often considerably more. Sure, these items would be nice to have, but they're not necessary. Consider these low cost alternatives:
Instead of a rolling taboret, buy a rolling utility cart. I found a terrific utility cart at Ikea for just $49 -- about half the cost of a small taboret. It houses all my paints and mediums very nicely, is extremely sturdy, and rolls easily and quietly. (It's also a gorgeous shade of turquoise, my favorite color!) Besides Ikea, you can find very affordable utility carts at major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sams Club, Costco as well as discount stores and Amazon. Secondhand stores and thrift shops can be sources, too.
If a utility cart isn't an option, you could also use one of those rolling TV carts that were popular before flat screen models were introduced. You may even have one of these carts gathering dust in your basement or garage. If its shelves lack sides, use plastic shoe boxes or similar containers from a dollar store to hold your supplies. Secure the boxes to the shelves with double sided tape like that used for installing vinyl flooring.
Paper storage can be a challenge in the studio if you're storing full- or half- size watercolor sheets. They take up huge amounts of space when stored flat. My paper storage consists of a sheet of MDF spanning two file cabinets, with "layers" of additional MDF panels stacked on top of the first one. Each MDF panel is supported by a pair of 2x4s trimmed to the depth of the file cabinets plus an inch or so: 25 inches total. The cost -- excluding the file cabinets -- was about $25. That included the small fee Home Depot charged to cut the MDF panels to size.
Another way to store papers is hanging them. Clip your papers together with jumbo size binder clips, and suspend the clips from hooks installed on the wall. This method works great if you have an abundance of wall space. The only cost involved is the price of the binder clips and wall hooks, which can be had for less than $10. Besides papers you can hang large plastic stencils this way, too.
Have you found thrifty ways to create studio storage? Please share your tips. This is a problem almost all artists wrestle with, so your input will be welcomed. Just click on the "Comments/No comments" link below. We'd love to hear from you!
Text and image ©2014 Lynn Edwards