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From cluttered to classy, organized art canvas storage

Art canvas storage and art supplies corner for an artist’s studio

Since moving in to a new apartment a few months ago, I have not had a functional space to paint and to store canvas.

My art supplies have been stored in tool boxes, my canvas has been leaning against a wall, and I have always had to make a temporary space to work in (and then put it all away again when I am done).

Here’s how it looks “before”
Art studio - before
Art studio - before

This has been a big obstacle to my painting hobby.

I did some research on art canvas storage shelves and found that most were very expensive and took up too much space (the average art canvas storage shelf is about $900).

So I found the IKEA HEJNE shelf and got to planning!

During the planning stage, I realized now would be a good time to bring in some permanent art supply storage but I didn’t like the look of the white and grey SKÅDIS pegboard accessories.

So I decided to unite the HEJNE and SKÅDIS parts into one matching key corner of my mini artist studio.

IKEA items used:
  • 3 x HEJNE post (2 pack) | $5.50 CAD per 2 pack = $16.50 CAD
  • 5 x HEJNE shelf (2 pack) | $9 CAD per 2 pack = $45 CAD
  • 1 x OBSERVATÖR cross-brace | $5.99 CAD
  • 2 x SKÅDIS Pegboard (“wood” 30 x 22″)| $23.99 CAD each = $47.98 CAD
  • 2 x SKÅDIS Roll holder| $5 CAD each = $10 CAD
  • 5 x SKÅDIS Shelf | $8 CAD each = $40 CAD
  • 4 x SKÅDIS Container (cup) | $5 CAD = $20 CAD
  • 1 x SKÅDIS Hook (5 pack) | $4.50 CAD
  • 2 x SKÅDIS Clip (2 pack) | $4 CAD = $8 CAD
  • 1 x SKÅDIS Container with lid (3pack) | $16 CAD
  • 2 x SKÅDIS Letter holder | $5 CAD each = $10 CAD
  • 22 x SKÅDIS Tool holder | $3 CAD each = $66 CAD
  • 1 x SKÅDIS Hook (2 pack) | $3.50 CAD
Other materials and tools: 
  • Wood stain (for shelf pieces): Varathane “Early American” wood stain | $16.47 CAD
  • House paint primer (for shelf posts): Behr All-In-One Primer & Sealer – white | $17.97 CAD
  • House paint (for shelf posts): Behr Intior Flat – black | $18.97 CAD
  • Spray paint (for pegboard accessories): Rust-oleum Universal – matte farmhouse black | $14.97 CAD
  • Paint roller/brushes (already owned)
  • 4 screws that don’t come with the SKADIS pegboards (already owned)
  • Level (already owned)
  • Screwdriver (already owned)
  • Sandpaper (500 grit) (already owned)
  • Measuring tape (already owned)

Art Canvas Storage Rack:

Step 1: Planning

I considered several different building material options for the canvas shelving.

While the finished shelf looks like a normal bookshelf/storage shelf, it actually needs to be able to load canvas via the sides, not the front.

The front of the shelf could be closed off but I like leaving it open to see my work in progress at a glance.

So unlike the IVAR shelving system (which has build in bracer bars on the shelf ends), I needed the sides of the shelving unit to only be braced by the shelves themselves to allow canvas to easily load directly on/off the shelf from the side and to allow canvas to hang out the ends. This is why the HEJNE line was the right fit.

Step 2: Stain the Shelves

I didn’t do any sanding or treatment on the shelves because I wanted the rough grain to come through for a slightly more industrial look and the shelves were not in bad shape.

HEJNE stain - art canvas storage

I applied a single coat of the Varathane “Early American” wood stain to all 10 shelves. There was plenty of stain left over for future projects.

Step 3: Prime and Paint the Shelf Posts

The HEJNE line is one of the cheapest shelving options so some aspects are not as polished.

HEJNE stain - art canvas storage

An important step with the shelf posts was to clear out the pre-drilled holes before priming/painting. There was lots of wood still partially attached so I put a screw driver all the way through the hole to break up and remove this wood.

In some cases small parts of wood would splinter off around the hole which would have removed paint if I had already painted it. After this, I applied 2 coats of the primer and 2 coats of the flat black paint.

Step 4: Build the Shelving Unit

It didn’t take long to put it all together. I used the level to ensure everything was aligned well and then added the OBSERVATÖR cross-brace.

HEJNE stained - art canvas storage
HEJNE as art canvas storage rack
Step 5: Mount the Pegboard

I was surprised that the SKÅDIS pegboard does not come with the screws required to mount it on the wall. But I had 4 screws on hand and carefully used a measuring tape and level to mount both boards on the wall.

Hacking IKEA SKADIS for art supplies
Step 6: Sand and Paint the Accessories

Since IKEA’s SKÅDIS accessories are finished with a thick semi-glossy polymer, I choose a high quality spray paint to maximize the coverage and hold.

SKADIS accessories

In addition, I lightly sanded each accessory to give the spray paint a rougher surface to hold on to.

SKADIS accessories - sprayed

I did not sand every inch or worry about making it even since the paint just needs something scuffed up a bit to help it hold. I used a fine grit (500 grit) sandpaper to avoid deep, visible scuffs.

SKADIS accessories - sprayed

Once sandpaper-ed, I coated the accessories with “Rust-oleum Universal – matte farmhouse black” spray paint evenly on all sides. The accessories required a second coat to get full coverage.

Step 7: Put it all Together

Finally, once the accessories were fully dry, I got to putting them all together with my art supplies!

Hacking IKEA SKADIS for art supplies
Hacking IKEA SKADIS for art supplies
COST

Shelf parts (including paint): $120.90

Pegboard (including paint): $240.95  

TOTAL COST: $361.85

The total cost of $373.85 (which covers both a canvas storage shelf and a vertical art supply/tool storage solution) is a fantastic deal compared to the average cost of a store-bought canvas storage shelving unit of $900.

In addition, I was able to paint and style the hack to my taste to upgrade the space further. Adding in my easel, art supplies, KALLAX cube shelf, KULLABERG chair, and some black curtains to the window completes my artist studio.

Here’s a reminder of how it was …

before artist studio

And after!

HEJNE art canvas storage

Again, before.

artist studio before

And after.

artist studio - after
HEJNE art canvas storage

TIME

  • Staining the shelf pieces: 1.5 hours
  • Priming and painting the shelf posts: 3 hours
  • Building the shelf: 30 minutes
  • Mounting the pegboard on the wall: 30 minutes
  • Spray painting the peg board accessories: 2 hours
  • Mounting the accessories: 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME (not including paint drying times): 8 hours

What do you like most about the hack?

I love that this artist corner and canvas shelf gives me the functional space to create art and store my supplies and canvas effectively. It was really important to me that the aesthetic of the space fit well with the rest of my apartment so I love that it has been customized and is enjoyable to look at daily.

What was the hardest part about this hack?

Painting and waiting for paint to dry.

What to pay special attention to?

Keep your vision/plan flexible. Keep things in the original packaging until you need it so you can return it if you don’t end up using it. There were about $60 worth of purchases that I ended up returning since the project evolved in different directions with each stage.

Looking back, would you have done it differently?

Only 2 small things I would do differently:

  • I only needed to buy 4 (instead of 5) of the HEJNE 2-pack shelf pieces since I ended up using only 7 of the 10 shelf pieces I stained. This would have saved me $5.50 on one of the HEJNE shelf 2packs.
  • I probably didn’t need to prime the shelf posts and could have simply done 3 coats (instead of 2) of the flat black house paint. This would have saved me $17.97 on the primer.

Friends and family have commented on the look of the shelf and are always impressed by the contrasting black posts and wood stained shelves.

SKADIS for art supplies
HEJNE art canvas storage

Everyone has agreed the pegboard and shelf is a big upgrade from the canvases leaning against the wall and various toolboxes for art supply storage.

My partner and I love the visual and functional upgrade to the space!

~ by Alexander Black