how to create a coffee table art kit

How to create a coffee table art kit - some ideas and examples of how to create a mini studio you can use when you're watching Netflix :)

Having your own art studio is unusual. However, not having one is not a reason not to make art!

It’s fantastic of course to have a place you can go and make a mess with paints and printing and trying this and experimenting with that, then walk away and leave it there. No tidying. No disturbing of carefully-arranged-but-not-yet-stuck-down-parts so that people can eat at the table.

But if you have the much more common scenario involving the dining table, or a patch of floor somewhere, or the coffee table, you can still play and experiment.

Which is why I came up with the Coffee Table Art Kit.

It’s pretty much what it suggests; a pared down version of what I have in the studio that lives on, or under, the coffee table and is ever ready for creative emergencies and doodling in front of back to back episodes of New Girl.

How to create a coffee table art kit {Tara Leaver}

These are the basic components. Of course you can add and remove things according to your preferences, but if you’re just starting out, either with art generally, or with having a ‘go to’ kit to hand, these are the things I’d recommend to begin with. The index cards are left over from the ICAD project, and are great for doodling or trying out ideas without fear of ruining anything. {Mine are lined; plain would be better.}

They really are just a few basics, and several of them are likely to be already in your home, even if you haven’t started buying art materials yet. A kit could comprise of a biro, a pencil, a sharpener, an eraser and some printer paper, with a book to lean on.

Other items you could include:

  • collage papers {which don’t have to be fancy; you can cut and tear up magazines and junk mail and use the insides of business envelopes}
  • scissors
  • a glue stick
  • pastels {I recommend oil pastels because the dust of soft pastels goes everywhere and this is supposed to be about fun, not about cleaning}
  • stamps and stamping inks
  • felt tip pens

You can have it all spread out while you’re using it, and then easily and quickly put it all in a box or a basket to store under, on, or near the coffee table.


This could also be a fun project to do with kids, especially if they are always wanting to use your precious art supplies. You could take them to buy some inexpensive basics, maybe throw in some fun stuff like stickers and scented pens or stamps, and you could each have a shoebox {which could be decorated ~ so many possibilities!} with your name on, ready to be pulled out whenever someone has a creative urge.

Kids love having their own things, especially when they have siblings, and it could be a nice way to spend time together, choosing what will go in the boxes, decorating them, and using them together on rainy Saturday afternoons.

I love this idea because it’s so simple but can expand in any direction {although not across the whole room, obviously}.

What would you include? Do you already have your own version of the Coffee Table Art Kit? If you have any exciting new art supplies please share in the comments!

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  • Nicole says:

    Hey Tara,
    this is indeed a wonderful idea for Kids. The sister of my godchild will get 5 next week and I think that your post might have gotten me some wonderful idea :)
    I have a similar kit like the one in this wonderful Picture (love the photo-writing combinantion btw!!) and put it in a fancy washbag (perfect bag size for all this)…it’s funny that when I am in a café waiting for a friend and get out the washbag, there are always people giving me strange glances until I take out the pens ^^ …
    Have a lovely sunday!

  • great post, Tara, I’ve shared it on my FB page :)

  • Michelle Saleeba says:

    Pinned it! Great idea thanks

  • Hi Tara, love your coffee table idea, and sharing my version of it… It’s a small kitchen trolley from IKEA (Molger), birch wood, light, and got two shelves. (The wheels can be locked too.) I can fit my favourite things on it and wheel it about to keep me company on my lounge, or my sunny front room, or if I want to stay in bed and catch a dream, it’s all ready for me. Love the sharing on your website, it’s so affirming. Cheers, Mairim.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Mairim, that trolley idea is so sensible! I know there’s a gorgeous aqua Ikea trolley that many artists love. Really so much more practical than the tall stools I drag around! And the idea of ‘catching a dream’ – just love that! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Cheryl says:

    Great idea. I was thinking of doing this but wasn’t sure what to put in it. Thanks for the help! :)

  • marcella wachtel says:

    Dear Tara,this came in my mail just as I am packing for a trip overseas; The ‘portable studio ‘ kit is a great suggestion; AND I still have time to run out to pick up some oil pastels to round out my kit for my room inNY. I have also put a small sketchpad, pen and three colored pencils in a manila envelope for the long flight. (three because those are all that are left after a whirlwind visit from grandkids),
    Thanks for great ideas, inspiration and impetus toward a goal.

  • Patricia Dibsdale says:

    As i live alone after my husband passed away I use part of my bedroom as an art corner. I have one of those TV tables to work on and a tea trolly beside it with equipment on. Im in aflat but its easy to close the bedroom door and not have to pack things away. Thankyou for inspiring ideas.Tara.

    • Tara says:

      Sounds like a great set up Patricia! Tea trolleys are much better served as art supply storage, I think. ;) Thank you for stopping by!

  • Dianne says:

    What exactly is a wash bag? I’m thinking it must be a British expression as I’m not familiar with it in Canada. Love all the ideas for the kits. I have lots of materials in plastic bins available for my grandchildren at the cottage. They love that.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Dianne – it’s a little {or large!} zip up bag, often water resistant/waterproof, that you use to carry your toiletries when you travel. I’m intrigued to know what you’d call it in Canada!

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