Recently I added wire shelving to my studio as a flat-file alternative.

I typically clean up my studio in January, organize supplies, and consider changes. I had a table with a stack of paper; a medley of unused watercolor paper, works in progress, sketches, and finished paintings. The pile had become relatively high, and I knew I had to find a better way.

The traditional method of storing large sheets of paper is a flat file cabinet, but I couldn’t justify the expense right now, plus I also wanted something manageable to move.

After searching, I found a wire shelving unit at my local Walmart. This unit has wire shelves that are 48″ wide by 24″ deep. 

On the third shelf up, there are full sheets of watercolor paper on the left and 1/2 sheets on the right. Lots of room!

This unit can be 72″ high, but I opted to keep it 36″ tall by not using the second set of corner posts. This gives each shelf about 6 – 7″ in height and is the perfect place to store paper and paintings in progress.  

Of course, there are a few disadvantages to this. The paper is not protected from light and dust. Plus, this takes up quite a bit of space but only a little more than my table. It’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but I like seeing my paper and paintings.    

If you’re interested in trying shelves like this, look for a shelving unit that is 24″ deep by at least 36″ wide, which is enough for a full sheet. (Mine is 48″L x 24″W x 36″H .) Here are some other features to look for:

  • Adjustable shelves with wire decking (some have particle board which can warp over time)
  • Shelves adjust in 1 1/2″ increments to give you options on shelf height. 
  • Easy rivet-lock assembly, no nuts or bolts, but I needed a rubber mallet. 
  • Assembles vertically or 2 side-by-side units (see photo on right). This means the corner posts come in two sections, so you can opt to keep it shorter and include all five shelves on one shorter section. 

On another studio storage note, I’ve been using the clear Art Bin Super Satchel boxes for over a year, and I still love them. I have labels on the outside, so I know what goes in each one (there’s a total of 14, so labels are necessary).  Inside some of the boxes are drawer organizers to keep things tidy.

The reason why these boxes work well for me is that everything has a home. Plus, since there is only so much room, I limit what I have. They have kept me organized for a year now!

These Super Satchel boxes are 15 x 14 x 3.5 inches (L x W x H). They have latches and carrying handles. I’ve found the best price at Joann, where they are currently on sale.

And now, my yearly studio clean-up is done. Time to get to work and make some messes!

The studio is less important than other things, like the burning desire to paint. If you don’t have this disease, you can’t catch it from a nice studio.