Video: Fantastic (and Free) Art Room Storage Solutions

art room storage 
As art teachers, we are familiar with the ‘art’ of saving anything and everything because, “we might be able to use it later!” For example, I recently used mini-cupcake containers left over from a school celebration to keep acrylic paint fresh for weeks! In today’s video, I’ll share how you can transform recyclables into easy storage solutions for a variety of art supplies. The containers’ sizes work perfectly, plus they’re free! If you’d like, you can “pretty” yours up with labels like I did. It feels good to be resourceful!


How do you use recyclables in the art room?

What is your most genius “up-cycling” discovery?

What is your favorite type of container to use and save?


Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek


Alecia is an elementary art teacher in central Iowa who is passionate about teaching and reaching her students with an innovative and meaningful arts education.


  • smoons

    Folgers plastic coffee canisters – trash buckets for tables. Pringles cans – perfect for paintbrush storage

    • Alecia Eggers

      Love those ideas!

  • Hester Dean Menier

    I use the 4 pack holders that pop or bottled coffee come in, as a glue bottle holders. 4 bottles in a carrier, makes it easy for one student to pick up and go. If I tape the bottom, I can usually get 2 years out of each one.

  • Matthew Martinez

    I sometimes use old tissue boxes with the tops removed as containers of supplies for group desks.

  • Sheri L. Van Duyn

    I am using dressing containers for a beading project along with the square Gerber plastic food containers to store femo clay. Both stack nicely, do not take up a lot of space and are working great.

    • Alecia Eggers

      Stacking is key!

  • Hannah Hill

    I’m really looking for a way to store posters and prints in my future classroom without rolling them. Does anyone have any genius ideas? Thank you!

    • Alecia Eggers

      I have a metal poster storage cabinet. The drawers are thin and easily roll out to accommodate placing posters flat within. I would imagine if you search for classroom organization, furniture and storage on a site like Blick there would be a few choices for you!

    • jamie

      I just the giant plastic storage bags and hangers. I put the poster in and hang them in my closet.

    • Amy

      I’ve used a shower rod and pant hangers with clips. You can sort the posters into groups and label the hangers.

    • Diane in Chicago

      They are on the bottom shelf of my huge drying rack, protected by a sheet of plastic. No, they are not easy to get to or sort through, but they are flat and safe. I have a list of what’s there so I know when I have a resource so I don’t have to dig through and see what we have. I inherited a lot of posters.

    • Joelle Dulaney

      Laminate them and cut them into puzzle shapes and store in smaller spaces like drawers or bins. When it is time to put up the posters have students who are done with their work early do the puzzles and hang them for you using velcro tabs. I generally post new posters based on the topic we are about to cover and often post two next to each other, so that we can do compare and contrast about our topic. So also label the bags they are in by topic so you can tell students to get the two posters about shape. If students are elementary, you could number them and tell them to get a certain two number poster bags. Of course if you are having them put two together at the same time make sure they are not at the same table, because they will get mixed together. I came up with this idea by accident when I had some water damage to posters that were on the floor. I was trimming them and trying to figure where else to put them other than on the floor in the large box they came in that was also soaked and I noticed some art puzzles that were out. I have some flat storage (some including large flat boxes from poster orders and “throw-aways” from elementary teachers who order “big books”, but try to save that for student work and supplies to keep them neat and free from dust (and water, now).

  • Kris Boydstun

    I save lids from any plastic container. They are great small pallets for mixing colors. So much paint has been wasted because kids mix huge batches of odd colors that no one else wants to use.

    • Alecia Eggers

      That’s an excellent solution!

  • I started recycling containers soon after realizing how expensive storage containers are for are supplies! I went to Facebook and asked friends and family to save me all types of plastic containers with lids for when we do our paper mache projects (both for the actual project but mostly for the glue) and of course, paint storage. My favorite thing though is the small red or green Folger’s coffee containers that hold my colored pencils by color. They are all in a tub similar to those that busboys use to clean tables at restaurants.

  • Jane Gravois

    rectangular tofu containers for water and tall yogurt containers for markers, pencils and brushes are my most used containers….also the styrofam vege trays for colored pencils and rolling out printing ink.

  • Erin Green

    My favorite container is the rectangle containers of baby wipes! I use them for everything…my kindergarten classes pass them along to me when they’re empty. They’re great with or without the lids. No holes for pencils, markers or crayons to fall through like baskets.

  • Pingback: 15 Things Nobody Tells You About Becoming an Art Teacher | The Art of Ed()

  • Toby

    I work with the greatest staff who helps me out by bringing me “stuff” all the time!
    I receive large salad to go containers with black strong plastic bottoms and clear tops. They are great for paint, storage of small cut paper, yarn scraps, etc.
    Small tangerine and peach cardboard crates for strong storage (great size for creating Louise Nevelson inspired projects). Small jewelry type boxes for storage or sculpture, small butter containers for water…. Lids for mixing palates, large animal cracker or cheese curl containers for yarn –rolled in to balls for our weaving projects…easy to see colors and for a class to borrow to work on in the classroom too.
    Plastic microwave trays with various compartments, great to keep kindergarten paint colors from mixing together. Bakery hinged containers large ones great as see through stacking containers. Plastic coffee containers for various storage and just the right size for washing brushes. Frosting containers for clear glaze for each table.
    That’s just the storage stuff… I receive so much other stuff for classes and art club too! They are the greatest!!! They love helping out too!

  • Lynn Goff

    My custodian is an angel in disguise. She saves the individual applesauce cups for me and I use them for just about everything imaginable from paint (which gets stored in muffin tins) to beads etc. etc. etc. She also saves me the Styrofoam breakfast trays which I use for about a billion things. They usually are very lightly soiled so they are easy to rinse off and put into action for their second life! There is nothing more wonderful than a good relationship with your school custodians! A small gift of thanks from time to time goes a long way to telling them you really appreciate their efforts on the school behalf!

  • Pingback: Set Up Your TAB Room in 7 Easy Steps | The Art of Ed()

  • andrea

    Hi Alecia! How do you manage the colored pencils when they are organized by color? Do the students just come up and grab what they need as they are working? I’ve been trying to figure this out for a few months and am just not sure how to prevent chaos at the colored pencil station.

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hi Andrea,

      Yes – you have it right! The students come up and grab the colored pencils they need and then return them when they are done with them. I encourage my students to find a system that works for them: taking a few at a time and returning them periodically, or taking all that they need and returning at the end of class. It is expected that they go straight to the materials shelf, and straight back, no pit stops in between. If they can’t handle the back and forth, I pull a selection of colored pencils, or their color choices are left to the mercy of what their neighbors pick. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Deborah

    My materials like erasers, markers and sharpies walk out the door. How do you give them access to materials without that happening? I don’t have a storage room, just 1 cabinet and some open shelves in the classroom. (its a small classroom and school)

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hi Deborah,

      I actually have an assigned job each week that requires that we count the supplies – whether they are in their table baskets, or smaller containers for each use. If trust is still an issue, with an assigned job, I would count them yourself! These articles might also be helpful for you! and – you could do something similar with your “mobile” supplies :) – hope that helps!

    • Andrea Raines

      I hide sharpies in my desk, and keep the caps when students borrow one. This prevents you having to spend time counting at the beginning and end of every class, and discourages disappearances :)

  • Pingback: 3 Ways to Use Memes in the Art Room | The Art of Ed()

  • Pingback: 5 Fantastic Lessons that Work On or Off a Cart | The Art of Ed()