Physical Space

Makeover Your Art Room to Start the New Year with a Fresh Inspiring Space

old classroom

Who doesn’t love a makeover with a good before and after? Makeovers are the perfect blend of creativity and practicality—every art teacher’s dream! Start the new year with an art room refresh to provide the novelty you and your students need to reengage in learning and creating. It’s time to make your art room dreams a reality and breathe new life into your teaching space so it continues to be the creative sanctuary where masterpieces come to life. 

Watch AOEU’s newest mini-series, Art Room Makeover, on YouTube to gain tons of inspiration! If you desire a massive cleanout, we have the decluttering motivation you’ll need. If you need simple and budget-friendly DIY projects for the art room, we have several we can’t wait to show you! If you need some smiles, we have art teacher humor and silly antics from the Community Engagement Team that will get you laughing in no time.

Subscribe and turn your notifications on so you don’t miss future episodes and enter below for an opportunity for YOU to win big for your art room!


As you likely know from curating and maintaining your own art room and from watching the video above, keeping your space vibrant and conducive to creativity takes work. With a busy art teacher schedule and a long list of responsibilities and roles, cleaning and caring for your studio can easily drop too low on the priority list. The hardest part can be figuring out where to start to get back on track! 

Follow this simple outline for an inspirational art room makeover you can tackle with intentionality:

  1. Start with the basics.
  2. Upgrade the displays.
  3. Cover a wall.
  4. Overhaul a specific area.

Mix and match ideas from each section to put together a custom art room makeover plan. There’s a little something for every art room, no matter the time constraints, DIY skill level, or budget.

shelf decor

1. Start with the basics.

Organization is the backbone of a well-functioning art classroom. It helps create a harmonious and productive atmosphere for you and your students. Begin by thoroughly examining your space, reevaluating your storage solutions, and carefully assessing your existing resources. Think of the seemingly simple upgrades you’ve always wanted to implement. 

Add one of these four foundational systems to your plan:

  1. Functional Storage
    It’s time to sort through your forgotten cabinets and closets and make your art room storage work for you. Diligently label and organize your art supplies, materials, and tools. Establish designated areas for everything so you have ready access to what you need when you need it.
  2. Flexible Seating
    Adaptable seating allows for easy reconfiguration for various projects and group activities. It gives students the freedom to choose their ideal workspace. Design an inviting, flexible art room to keep learning dynamic and interactive for your students.
  3. Art Supply Caddies
    Storing frequently used supplies within arm’s reach of your working artists enables your students to take ownership of their creative process. Place crayons, markers, scissors, glue, and other frequently used materials at their tables. Find a caddy that works for you with the video below!
  4. Engaging Stations
    Set up stations to support your daily art room needs. Consider a sketchbook station, Supply Shack, or early finisher area. Another option is to take a page from the choice-based art approach and set up medium-specific centers.

2. Upgrade the displays.

How you showcase your students’ work significantly affects how they perceive themselves as artists. Implement interactive and visually engaging displays to celebrate their art and encourage dialogue and appreciation. By intentionally upgrading your displays, you create an inspiring and professional art environment that instills a sense of pride and accomplishment in your students. This small change can profoundly impact your art room’s atmosphere.


Add one of these four display ideas to your plan:

  1. Revolving Exhibit
    Set up an exhibition space that allows you and your students to swap out artwork quickly like in the video below. Invest in opening picture frames, framed or matted plastic sheet protectors, or a clipboard gallery wall for a rotating display. Make it easy to change things up!
  2. Portable Showcase
    Switch up where you display masterpieces as easily as you swap out artwork. Furnish your room with an easel or mobile display panel. Move it around the room to catch different lighting and angles. Roll it down to the main lobby when the school opens for games, shows, or other events. Keep students guessing where their art will show up next!
  3. Ceiling Display
    Remember to look up! Hang pipe cleaner mobiles and paper sculptures from the ceiling to create a captivating visual experience. Use ceiling tiles as a canvas for students to create artwork on to add more permanent color overhead. Get permission from your administration and maintenance team to ensure you adhere to building safety policies. 
  4. Gallery Lighting
    Invest in adjustable track lighting to highlight featured artwork and create a gallery-like atmosphere in your room. Again, be sure to clear this update with your administration and maintenance team.

3. Cover a wall.

The walls of your art room are for more than aesthetics. They are a dynamic tool to enhance your students’ learning experience. Reimagine “wasted” wall space and transform it into informative and interactive spaces where students can collaborate, share ideas, and contribute to the artistic atmosphere. Turning your art room walls into educational resources creates an environment that sparks curiosity and encourages your students to be active participants.

Add one of these four wall ideas to your plan:

  1. Artist Spotlight
    Feature student artwork along with the artists that inspired them. Incorporate technology and add context by adding QR code-accessible artist statements or Artist Bios, like the ones hosted in FLEX Curriculum.
  2. Collaborative Mural
    Turn an entire wall into an ever-changing canvas for you and your students. Paint the wall with chalkboard paint and let students sketch, draw, and write on it. Students can share thoughts, ideas, doodles, patterns, illustrations, and more.
  3. Interactive Art History
    Create an interactive timeline of art history with images, facts, and artist quotes. Paint a timeline on the wall and attach magnets or clips along it. Hang printed and laminated elements to help students engage with art history as they walk around your room.
  4. Sensory Puzzle
    Dedicate an entire wall to be a DIY sensory area with textured, touchable elements. Include components like sequined fabric, plastic building bricks, or magnets for students to manipulate and arrange.

sensory wall

4. Overhaul a specific area.

Your makeover doesn’t have to be large-scale to have a big impact. Select a designated corner to strategically focus on. Consider your specific goals and how to tailor this space to meet them. By concentrating all of your energy on a single corner, you can tackle your room a little bit at a time within a realistic timeframe and budget. 

Add one of these four ideas to your plan:

  1. Critique Corner
    Curate a space for self-reflection, peer critiques, and drafting artist statements. Hang student works in progress for feedback. Consider including different seating options, writing tools, and writing surfaces to encourage open dialogue about art in a way that’s comfortable for as many students as possible.
  2. Cozy Nook
    Design a pleasant reading corner with art books, soft seating, and plenty of natural light. This can be a safe spot for students to unwind or find artistic inspiration. 
  3. Studio Space
    Set up a corner of your art room to be a mini photography or recording studio for students to document their work and creative processes. Alternately, inspire your students by making the space into a personal artmaking corner to invest in your well-being and model artistic growth.
  4. Art Garden
    If you have outdoor space, develop a mini sculpture garden featuring students’ 3D creations. Take your students to this spot for en plein aire painting or nature inspiration. Simulate a space like this indoors in a sunny corner of your room filled with potted plants.

Renovate your art room to create an environment that nurtures creativity and inspires the next generation of artists. AOEU’s new makeover series is packed with even more ways to create a classroom to reflect your unique art teacher style while encouraging students to explore, experiment, and discover. Watch the videos, get inspired, and whip up a plan that tackles four areas: the basics like organization, displays to easily showcase recent student work, a wall transformation, and a new classroom corner. Whether your changes are small or large, your students will see and appreciate the investment of time and energy you are making in their learning. Let the makeover begin!

What is your favorite spot in your art room?

Which makeover idea inspires you to transform your space?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Mariana VanDerMolen

Mariana VanDerMolen, an elementary art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys teaching for creativity, with a focus on ELL and therapy in a process-based art room.

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