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Art Room 

click to enlarge The Baker family - MATTHEW THORSEN
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  • The Baker family

When they moved here from Colorado four and a half years ago, Brenda Baker and her husband, Tom, knew they wanted their new home to have a designated space for creating art. Brenda, the front office manager at Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne, is a painter and a strong believer in art as a means of expression (and entertainment — the Bakers don't own a television).

The family of five found the ideal spot in their St. George home: a third-floor room with vaulted ceilings, ample windows and a skylight. The built-in tables on one side of the room were the perfect place for a drawing station. The Bakers added a large farmhouse table for painting projects.

Built-in bookshelves are stocked with plenty of supplies — acrylics, watercolors, yarn, beads, modeling wax and lots of blank paper for letting the imagination run wild. "I'm just so not into coloring books," Baker explains. Lately, the kids have been cutting out little paper shapes to hang on mobiles, she says. During the holidays, they used wax to make their own candles.

click to enlarge Cleo and Zoey Baker - MATTHEW THORSEN
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  • Cleo and Zoey Baker

Baker only lets her kids break out the paints when she's there to supervise. She acknowledges that things often get messy anyway — the room's aging carpet is now covered with paint and glue — but that's just part of the creative process.

Art Room Tips!

Let it go: The Bakers weren't wild about the existing carpet in the art room, but rather than replace it, they decided to let it get dirty. They also allow the kids to draw on one of the walls.

Organize: Brenda Baker recommends keeping supplies in "modular containers that are labeled" so kids know what belongs in each of them. Keeping supplies at a child's eye level also makes it easier for young artists to help put things away, she says. At her house, finished work gets stacked in big bins, which Baker weeds through occasionally (sans kids), saving only special pieces of art.

Spread the wealth: Baker also keeps stacks of paper and tubs of markers and colored pencils downstairs in a small annex off the kitchen, so her kids can do projects at the kitchen table.photos:

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