Designing your Dream Art Room

As an art teacher in a larger school district, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many different art rooms. I have seen some amazing art rooms that were clearly designed by an art teacher with students in mind. Then there are those rooms you walk into and you ask yourself, “Who designed this and what were they thinking?” Yes, those are the art rooms with only one sink.

Each art room is unique in its size, shape, number of sinks and storage space. Since art teachers are creative people, we make our art rooms (or our carts) work for us and our students.

What if you had the opportunity to design your dream art room?

My dear friend and fellow art teacher, Lindsay, has the opportunity to meet with architects to help design the new art rooms for the middle and high school where she teaches. As a first year teacher, she asked me for my advice. She asked me, “What space or things do you have in your art room currently that you couldn’t live without?” My immediate response was five sinks. (Yes, I have five!) I also included a large drying rack, lots of cabinet and counter space, a separate clay area with a kiln and vent. The list could go on and on.


After our conversation about designing our dream art rooms, I got to thinking, why not ask the AOE readers what they like or dislike about their classroom? Lindsay and I need your help! We would like your input, imagination, and expertise.

Imagine you get to design your own art room…

What things or space would you include in your dream art room?

Any words of advice for Lindsay if you’ve already been through this process?  

Feel free to link photos, comment and DREAM…

Thanks Everyone!

Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • Amy Hartman

    I had this same opportunity when my school remodeled. I can pass along room photos if that helps. I had the architects incorporate 4 skylights, a wall set up for multiple computer stations, 2 double student sinks and 1 teacher height sink, ventilation for the kiln, LOTS of storage, and built in flat files, a seperate teacher work space/storage area with cut out areas at the sink area to maintain view of the classroom. 

    • I never would have thought to add skylights in a classroom.  Love the seperate teacher work station- what a great idea.  Photos would be fantastic!  You can send them to  Thanks Amy!

    • Aida

      I would love to see that photos too!

    • PJ

      Can you send pics. Our school is going to remodel and I get to have some imput. Is there anything that doesn’t work in your new space?

  • kiara

    I am a new teacher with a JOB so I can’t complain…HOWEVER my room does not have a sink. I use a bucket. :(

    • I hear you- hopefully someday you can have a room with a sink!

  • Emily Ann Bakke

    I feel your pain! I also do not have a sink. I wash brushes in the custodial closet after school. Dump dirty water cups into a 5 gallon bucket, and refill from a clean water bucket. And use lots and lots of baby wipes for kids to clean their hands. One wipe per kid (usually), they clean their hands first, then wipe off the table. Baby wipes for art class were on the student supply lists so kids brought them in at the beginning of the year. But to be honest, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I just have to be totally prepared for painting lessons. And using wipes makes hand cleaning go more quickly than lining up at a sink.

    • Emily Ann- it seems as though you do a fabulous job accomodating for not having a sink.  That’s a lot of baby wipes- at least your tables get cleaned daily.  It’s also nice your students donate them.

    • Melanie

       This is exactly what I do! At first I felt bad about using so many baby wipes but I really couldn’t think of a better solution and it makes clean up so easy with the lack of sink and all…I always get them with my budget money/my own pocket but I will definitely try to get them on the supply list for next year…

      • How fitting- I just talked about this in the “Ask Jessica Anything” column in our weekly email- Here is my take on the “no sink” or “few sinks” issue:
        My suggestion is to dampen rags (ask your custodian for clean rags) and put them in the center of each table. Have students wipe their fingers on the damp rags, and then at the end of class, use the same rag to wipe off the table. If you put a few on each table, most students won’t have to wait. Rinse, ring out, and repeat for each class throughout the day, or use new rags for each class. Send them to the custodian to be washed at the end of the day. I have to think the amount of energy it takes to wash these rags is better than using 1000 paper towels each day. You can add a little soap to them, too, if you are worried about things not getting clean enough or germs. Usually I would only be painting with 1 or two classes so it wasn’t a big deal.
        I hope this helps!

  • Dawn

    Love my large drying rack, peninsula sinks, tile floor, kiln room, storage room, display space facing hall, framing table, sky light, fire exit. Miss having  real windows, acoustical panels, drainage in floor, flat files.

    • I also have a fire exit/exterior door in my classroom and it comes in very handy!

  • My school just finished building a new ECE building, so I got to move into a brand new classroom this year.  I did not get to make any major design decisions, although the architects did share their plans with me during the two years that the building was in progress.  I asked them to add in a wall that has a “sink trough” with 6 faucets.  It is built at 4-year-old height so there is no need for stools and the little ones can wash up with ease.  I also asked for a large teacher height sink to be put in on the same wall. The piping is there but the sink has not been installed yet.  

    I love that my new classroom is on the top floor and in the corner of the building, so I have floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides of the room.  The natural light is wonderful and our view is breathtaking with a large tree just outside the window. The kids call my classroom The Treehouse : ) 

    A connected storage closet was built into my room as well. I love the storage space but am awaiting shelving.  Right now I have piles of supplies everywhere-yikes!  

    They also built a small bathroom into my classroom. It is a two stall bathroom with a sink.  This feature is very nice with ECE students who need to go potty frequently.  They also put mini porcelain toilets in the bathroom which are the perfect height for my students.  It is hard for me to use them though. 

    What I have yet to figure out is the best way to layout the furniture in my classroom. It is basically a large open square.  I’d love to see ideas from others about ways to creatively use furniture to section off the room in a functional and attractive manner.

    • FoxinSmocks- Your treehouse sounds like a very fun and creative place to make are in.  I love the idea of a “sink tough” and a bathroom inside your classroom. 

  • Tami Eveslage

    I would love to have five sinks…but I’d take just one rather than my row of buckets…

  • Lwdevin

    I also had an art room with no sink- I was outside the building in a portable with buckets. Thank goodness the custodians were SUPER and would change out my water whenever I needed it. Sine then, we have built a new school and let me tell you- the first thing on my list was a sink. I got FOUR and grin every time I look at them. I ran into the office to tell everyone I washed something in my sink the first time I used one!

    I was also very lucky and was included in the design process. While I did not get everything on my list, I was so pleased to have them listen to me and try to accomodate everything that I can’t complain at all. (BTW- don’t know if this is allowed- delete if not-Woolwich Central School in Maine- Rick Malm was the architect)

    Please advocate for yourself and don’t feel bad about being a pain in the neck for them- you have to live with the room- they don’t. Be strong in what you want.

    I am very pleased with a walk-in closet with shelves on two walls and flat file on the third wall. I have a separate kiln closet- actually it’s pretty large so I can roll my big drying cart inside when not in use. Plenty of room for a set of shelves in there, too- but I don’t have them yet. I also got a built-in digital projector/interactive white board- pretty amazing! One thing I wanted to spend money on- tables. I ordered the really good science tables with a chem-shield top. They will last FOREVER. I also ordered stools instead of chairs and the students seem to really like them. They are also easier to stack, etc if you have to get them out of the way. 

    Now- here is some amazing stuff that I didn’t have anything to do with but LOVE. I have a sliding glass door to a courtyard area where we can go outside to draw,etc. Woo-Hoo- it is lovely. I also have these things called solatubes(sp?). They are tubes down from the roof that bring in real sunlight to the room that you can adjust if you want. LOVE them. They also gave me a row of spotlights that I can adjust for doing still life set-ups. And a beautiful display area in the hall for 3-d display.

    One thing that I am still figuring out how to use is a wall of cubbies that aren’t quite the right size for art paper and other materials. They are working but it is a puzzle to figure out. I would definitely make sure the architects know the size of your materials before they make any non-adjustable built-ins for you.

    Have fun- such an exciting thing to experience!!!

  • Liz

    Any suggestions for an art room that is shared with another special class?