Physical Space

Art Teacher Cribs: Curate Spaces to Boost Your Mood and Mental Health

rainbow art room

Level with us—can you name your next design project off the top of your head? Your visual nature and the 40+ hours you spend in your classroom each week are a great excuse to invest in decor that makes you happy in the name of self-care.

We are in need of more well-designed spaces than ever. The World Health Organization reports that anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide within the last few years. One fun way to offset the rise in mental health concerns is to “return to paying attention to the design of interior spaces.” Thoughtful interior design choices can evoke positive emotions, reduce stress, and enhance productivity. Learn how to harness your creative intuition to curate environments while boosting your mood and mental health.

Draw inspiration from the art teacher cribs featured below to reimagine the spaces you live and teach in.

Check out fun home and classroom tours and gain studio space ideas, artsy decor inspiration, organizational tips, and more with AOEU’s YouTube series, Art Teacher Cribs. Step inside art teachers’ homes and classrooms across the country and see why art teacher energy is unique! Our super fun classrooms often serve as student sanctuaries. This joy carries over into art teachers’ homes where there is a perfect blend of quirky and aesthetic. Kick off the series with Jennifer Hamilton’s rainbow home and classroom below.

Browse these simple tips to help you design a home and classroom to prioritize mental health and well-being.

1. Focus on aesthetics and functionality.

Strike a balance between form and function to craft spaces that look good and serve your daily needs. A well-designed, functional space contributes to mental well-being by reducing stress and enhancing productivity. Sarah Tucker broke out of “the idea that you ‘have to’ have certain rooms in your house” and converted her dining room into a cozy study and reading nook. Seamlessly integrate practical considerations into your decor to set up spaces where you and your students can thrive.

white office
Image courtesy of Sarah Tucker

Make your spaces more functional without sacrificing the aesthetic with these tips:

  • Install additional shelving to maximize vertical space to showcase your art and decor.
  • Sort through your home and classroom clutter and organize your spaces for increased practicality and productivity.
  • Incorporate aesthetic hooks, hangers, and bins to turn functional spaces into attractive displays.
  • Choose lighting fixtures with a creative flair to create a warm and inviting ambiance.
  • Ditch what spaces were “meant” for and make them into areas that fit your needs.

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2. Rely on color psychology to mindfully add a dash of brilliance.

Colors hold unique emotional associations and influence mood, perception, energy levels, and productivity. When infusing color into your spaces, consider the impact each hue and shade brings. Katie Jarvis’ favorite space in her home is her closet because “the bright, fun colors and patterns remind her of summer vacation.” Mindfully selecting colors that align with your personality and an area’s intended purpose allows you to curate a whole atmosphere.

rainbow closet
Image courtesy of Katie Jarvis

Follow these four steps to add color to your spaces with ease:

  1. Explore color psychology and choose hues that align with the atmosphere you desire.
  2. Develop a cohesive color palette to ensure a balanced look.
  3. Play with patterns and textures in your chosen colors to add depth and visual interest.
  4. Periodically reassess how your color choices impact your mood and well-being and adjust as needed.

rainbow art room
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3. Mix natural elements and textures for added comfort.

Bringing the outdoors in can enhance well-being. Nature has a positive impact on mental health and reduces anxiety, depression, and loneliness while increasing happiness. Meg takes advantage of this strategy by lining her home studio with a “growing collection of handmade mugs” and a “little jungle making its way across [the] ceiling.” Add natural elements to your living and teaching spaces to connect with nature and promote relaxation and tranquility.

plant corner
Image courtesy of Meg

Add more natural elements to your indoor spaces with the ideas below:

  • Maximize natural light by using light-colored or light-filtering curtains or blinds.
  • Opt for furniture made from natural materials like wood, rattan, or bamboo for an organic touch.
  • Choose houseplants that thrive in your space’s conditions to improve air quality.
  • Select textiles made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or wool to provide warmth and a natural tactile element.

hanging nature
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4. Integrate personal touches for maximum happiness.

Inject a dose of personal flair into your spaces by adding meaningful touches that reflect your unique identity. Kayla Koslow set up a home art studio “completely dedicated to her creative brain” with “anything and everything she loves.” Similarly, Allison filled her studio with “all the little things that make her who she is,” including card collections that remind her of her childhood, student notes, photos, gifts, and artwork. Personal items like these infuse personality into your surroundings and encourage feelings of joy!

rainbow studio
Image courtesy of Kayla Koslow

Let your art teacher personality shine through in your decor with the suggestions below:

happy corner
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5. Share your intentional spaces with others to spread joy.

Your thoughtfully designed spaces have the potential to be vibrant hubs of collective well-being that foster connection. Now an inviting shade of green, the pass-through window that initially drew Rachel Poddoll to her house made her home “a welcoming spot for guests, just as she imagined it would.” April Ryan designed a game and craft room where her family “gets to show off their collection of figures,” play games, and spend quality time together. When you extend the invitation for others to experience the beauty you’ve created, you start a ripple effect of joy that enriches the lives of others and reinforces a sense of community.

Image courtesy of April Ryan

Plan an event to share your home and classroom with others like the five below:

  1. Set up board games or video game stations for a fun and interactive evening with friends.
  2. Host themed dinner parties where you showcase your culinary skills and a visually appealing table setting.
  3. Invite your community for a Family Fun Art Night, where everyone explores their creativity.
  4. Host open studio hours during your next art show to ignite artmaking.
  5. Facilitate a Gallery Night Fundraiser where you guide the community on a tour of student artwork and stories.

art show
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Caring about and curating beautiful and practical surroundings has the power to boost your mood and enhance your mental health. By prioritizing functionality, embracing color psychology, incorporating natural elements, and infusing personal touches, you can turn your home and art room into sanctuaries of well-being. Why keep all of these benefits to yourself? Share your carefully curated spaces with friends, family, and your school community for a truly transformative experience that sparks joy and connection. 

Which design tip are you most excited to try in your home or art room?

How do you promote well-being in your art teacher cribs?

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 current AOEU Writer. She enjoys teaching for creativity, with a focus on ELL and therapy in a process-based art room.

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