my kitchen table summer centerpiece

So…some of you asked…Yes, the boys got haircuts. They always request a summer buzz. In fact, the way I got my 6 year old to comply with his annual pictures was by telling him that I wouldn’t cut his hair until after pictures. I really like his longer layers, but it’s summer and it gets HOT in Oklahoma.

Over a year ago, I picked up an old bread pan when I was in Kansas for Craft Weekend. I really like the rusty metal and wanted to leave it. However, I haven’t put the pan to use in the last year because of that rust. Everything I wanted to use it for was related to my kids. And, well, I don’t want them getting scratched on rusty old metal. So, I finally decided to clean it up and add some paint.

First, I sanded it down. When sanding rusted metal make sure to follow directions. After I sanded it down, I added some paint that is effective for metal & rust. I wanted to use the pan to hold creative supplies in my kitchen, but did not want the bottom to scratch up my table. Then added some felt floor pads.

Then added some supplies.

I’ve been leaving this out on our kitchen table during the day. It has helped ward off the “I’m bored”s. The kids just come and go – together and alone – to draw, paint, and create. Usually it starts with one kid.

Eventually another one or two will join the first.

And it typically ends with all four gathered around the table, quiet and concentrating on their masterpieces.

Leaving markers and glue out for free grabs would not work in every home, but it is working great in our home. The kids hang up their pictures in their room, they give them to family members and even mail some to friends. I enjoy the quiet breaks in the day, but I relish seeing them create on their own.

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  • Sara Torbett - Great idea! I’m thinking I need a version of this for myself throughout the day too… 😉

  • Danielle - Lovely idea! We currently have all the fun kids crafty stuff in an assortment of milk glass bowls/vases. As soon as you display these same everyday things in a different way the creativity starts up all over again. Love with your storage solution that you can pick it up in one shot & move it out of the way when needed… perfect!

  • sarah - so great! gosh, i wish i had the summers off! we just don’t have time in the day for this; and our weekends are so busy. but i’m glad to see your kiddos being creative.

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - Great idea for re-purposing some pretty junk into some pretty and useful junk for the kiddo’s. Love this idea!

  • Margaret - I’ve been wanting to do a similar thing on our kitchen table. I always keep art supplies available on the bottom bookshelf, but something like this would be much more pleasing to the eyes 🙂

  • Claudia - Great idea and how beautiful that you inspire your children by having the tools they need neat and ready. 🙂

  • Karen Davis - JUST found out seconds ago that we’re headed to OKC after being stationed in Korea for the last 3 years… we leave January 2013 to make our way out to your neck of the woods…and the first thought I thought, was, “Oh my, I’m going to be SO close to my favorite blogger” YAY! 🙂 oh the blessings they are flowing today…and I keep praying that you’ll receive news soon about your little one!

  • Amy - I have always wanted one of those old bread pans but couldn’t think of what I’d use it for! Thank you for the fun idea and now I can buy one! 🙂

  • elizabeth - what a great and very usefull project! i love that because you are creative, it ends up being something that inspires the same for your children. thanks for sharing!

  • Annie - Great idea, beautiful photos!

  • Katey W - Great idea! (we have a similar system and love it as well) And I just love how two are lefty and two are righty in the last photo. 🙂

  • Julie @ PushingTwigs - How old is your daughter? Isn’t she two? My 2-year-old is a boy and he would have markers and paint everywhere…I have to gate off the room where the older kids do anything with drawing implements of any kind. Or maybe I’m too much of a helicopter mom…ugh.

    I love what you did with the centerpiece. Wish I could do that and not worry about having my entire house re-decorated 😉

  • the whyte house - first thought…”legs are dangling above him!!” forgot you had firecrackers leg shot on the wall! hahaha!
    i have a mini loaf pan that i adore for this reason, too. i like to stock up on spiral notebooks when they’re on sale so the kids papers stay in one area, not fly every which way around the house. i get the occasional page ripper-outter-er, but for the most part, they stay in the notebook! 🙂

  • Casey - this is a great idea! I have to do something similar for here, school summer vacation doesn’t start here until the end of June but we’ve had a lot of rainy days this spring. And my kids always say they’re bored…

  • Krista Lund - love this idea! i am going out on maternity leave in july and plan to take my 2 daughters out of daycare to stay home with me and this would be perfect for them!!!

  • Pretty Posies by mrs wright - I love the way they came out! Perfect idea for crafty supplies ( :

  • Jenny - love that pan! What a cool find! we also leave markers, crayon, glue, etc out. We use some cute little tin buckets from the Target dollar bin. My kids love art supplies and creating things for people and it definitely helps with the day to day! 😉

  • Suzanne - love the bread pan! what a cute storage idea for craft supplies – way cuter than my plastic bins… I really need some good thrifting time!! Have a great day!

  • Corrie Anne - Fun!! And a really cute centerpiece! 🙂

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love the boy’s haircuts! Very, very cute.

  • Shannon - I’ve always wanted one of those for that exact same reason. I love the idea of having the craft stuff on the table all the time. It looks great painted all white and I bet it will be even prettier with coloring marks all over it 😉

  • Katrina - I love it! That is an awesome way to repurpose those pans.

  • Amy C - Lovely pictures and great idea! I’m sure they’ll use it all summer 🙂

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - My three girls left a bunch of crayons in one of baskets, and I decided to go with it this summer. I am going to keep the baskets in the armoire in the dining room with other supplies so they can come and go as they please. I am also buying some paper in rolls so they can just roll it out on the tile and go!

  • Melissa - I so admire the fact that you are so laid back! Every time I read one of your posts of you just letting your kids be kids it makes me smile! I totally need to let my boys get dirty once in a while…. paint out & free for grabs but I’m feeling spurred on to let them have at it ;o) thanks!

  • Lissa - Love it! Unfortunately, my family would be one this couldn’t work in – my almost 3 yr old son refuses to listen, sit still, etc. and would probably paint and mark up so many things in my house. I’m always so jealous to see another child the same age acting so nicely 🙂 Love your family and praying for you to meet your new little one soon!

  • Jennifer H - How funny is that I have one of those old bread pans in my kitchen just sitting there un-used and I have been trying to find something for my studio table to hold all my supplies and there it was right under my nose and I didn’t even see it. Thanks so much for the idea:):)

  • Jen Daily - I love that bread pan! I have a similar scenario set up for my boys at their own table in the kitchen. The only issue, like Lissa, is that the almost-2-year-old thinks it is much more fun to draw on the table and chairs than on the paper. Sigh. Every time I think about replacing my furniture I remind myself of this fact.

  • Jess - We have our stash of kid art supplies in a cool white metal cabinet next to the kitchen table. But I love the idea of putting some out to catch their eye as they walk past! You’re such an awesome mom Ashley.

  • Juliann - Great idea!! I love the bread pans for this – we do the same only with many random containers…I like the idea of all-in-one-place!

    I have a question for you: I am trying to make picture-coasters as a gift and have seen some tutorials using resin to coat the tops and make waterproof. Have you ever done that? Would you try it and post as a diy?? Pretty please???

    Every day I say a little prayer before I check your blog hoping to see a referral post from you…I’ll keep praying, and hoping with you!

  • Crinkled - Great idea.

    To Lissa and Jen Daily, I have experienced similar issues with my kids. I think you just have to work through it, because the more exposure they have to doing these crafty things, the quicker they learn how to do it without too much drama. And, yeah, definitely don’t buy new furniture just yet 🙂 If you can spend a few days in a row supervising your children 100% of the time while they do crafty activities and pulling them up every time they go to cut or draw on something they shouldn’t, then after a short while they should be OK at doing it by themselves without too much supervision. Although a little bit of mischief and curiosity will always be there, it will happen much less frequently.

    I can’t remember how many times I have had to say “Only draw on paper!”. It’s probably into the millions by now 🙂

  • Windy - My 4 year old son and I share a craft room and he’s just recently become more independent at making things in it without my direction. The other day I went up and found him painting with tempera. He’d seen me set it up for him enough that he was able to do it himself. I was thrilled to see his assertion of independence and desire to be creative!

  • Jessi - Love this! Do you have any tips for sanding rusty metal? Thanks!

  • AshleyAnn - Juliann – I have not tried that before, but there are a ton of tutorials online. I’d do a search on pinterest…I’m sure you can find a great tutorial!

  • AshleyAnn - Jessi – I don’t have any specific tips, other than sand it good…use protective gear and then seal it. I’m not a professional at it. I just follow directions on the paint that I’ll be using to coat it.

  • Glenda Childers - Smart momma.


  • SAB - Good luck with all the crafts! Can’t wait to see what is created! 🙂

  • whitneygoller - Ugh! I just love this … anything that involves spray paint, markers, and your awesome photography. Nice work again Miss Ashley.

  • Elizabeth - such a lovely, practical “centerpiece”…perfect for kiddos!!
    i have a cool old bread pan just waiting to take the place of our napkins. haa!! thanks for sharing.

  • Alisa - We have similar on our coffee table. Cute tray I love, preserving jars and pens, pencils, crayons etc.. with old suitcase with paper scraps etc under the table. I change it up and it keeps them drawing and creating. So much more creative stuff gets done with the stuff out in view to inspire them.

  • tammy Kay - Cute. I have some old bread pans from my grandmother. I’ve been meaning to cover them with fabric and modpodge. Very Dottie Angel. 🙂

  • Kellsey - I know you get these kinds of questions all the time: but where is your son’s blue bell ice cream shirt from? its so cute!

  • Janell Anderson - Ok, I have a kinda random queation. I linked to your “Craft Weekend” post. I live in Wichita, and have just recently started reading the blog of the lady who owns the craft house. I’m hoping to get to go to one of her weekends at some point in the future. Can you tell me where that barn shop is? That looks soooooooooo cool! I would love to go check it out! Thanks!