I must admit I was rather reluctant to do anything with this area because, messy as it was, it worked. But I did sit and have a good think about parts of it that weren't working well and why, and I got Ebi-kun involved too, well it is his shelf! I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture but it is next to the fridge at the end of the kitchen and I am sat on the stairs to take the pictures, there isn't a great deal of space so it has to work hard.
I cleared everything off the shelves, before there were 4 buckets containing felt pens, pencil crayons, wax crayons and random things like rules and fancy pens. Ebi-kun very rarely used the wax crayons so I put them in a box and put the box on the bottom shelf. When I cleaned out the studio I found a box of 'fancy pens' glitter and gel types pens so I filled a bucket with them, left the pencils and pens. The fourth bucket I filled with the paint brushes and moved it down a shelf. We also have a tin of nice pencils which was in the cupboard, now he can reach them they get used more.
I re-organised the paper, we have one of fancy papers and one with coloured paper and then we have a draw in the dining area which has the bigger paper, I also have a big roll but keep that in the pantry as it won't fit here. Behind the paint brushes is the water pot and pallets for painting.
I got rid of the round box that we kept the playdoh cutters in, it was a pain in the butt and because it was round it didn't fit on the shelf properly. So I moved all the playdoh things into a box and put all the paints in another box. The white box had the origami paper.
This is my favourite part, Ebi-kun has LOADS of stickers so I filled one of the magnetic display boxes with them, the second with photo stickers and the third with soy rock crayons and the very bestist bit... the pens. If you look on the first picture you can see there is a big tub of pens but Ebi-kun rarely uses them so I asked why, he said that it was a pain getting the colour he wanted out of the box, you have to tip the whole lot out every time. So my solution...
I used the sticky velcro with the soft side on the pens and the rough on the fridge. This set of pens (from Muji) are lovely because of the range of shades for each colour.
And they look so pretty stuck on the fridge. Ebi-kun says that it is much better because he can pick the exact colours he needs easily and he has been using them much more.
I left the aprons hanging to the side and the bin (for plastics) won't fit anywhere else, we also have a box on the other side for recycled paper.
It was really worth taking the time to work out what was and wasn't working, the shelf looks so much better and is far more inviting and now I don't cringe when I come downstairs in the morning, those pens stuck on the fridge always make me smile.
I just want to add that I have always left art materials out on a shelf, even when ebi-kun was a baby, well from about 14 mths. From the start we would get out a mat to work on, put on a apron, get out the paper and then the crayons. To start with I would keep the crayons in a box, he could get them out but not out of the box so he would have to 'ask' me to help, this meant I knew that he wanted to draw and could keep an eye on him. We did have a few accidents where he wrote on the table but I showed him how to clean up (baby bum wipes are great for cleaning crayon). I also made sure from the offset that he cleaned up afterwards. We have never had a scribbling on the wall incident, I don't know if that is due to his nature or the way that art was introduced to him but I do believe that art materials should be available all the time for children of any age, you just need to be a bit savvy on how you leave them out.