January 31st, 2013

Create a Decorator’s Notebook

To keep everything organized when I’m decorating or redecorating a room, I have always used what I call my Decorator’s Notebook. This is more than a binder to store inspiring magazine clippings in—it’s “Grand Central” for the specific details about each and every space in my house.



This notebook allows me to keep handy all vital information about the decorating aspects—past and present—of each room. It holds fabric swatches, paint chips, and samples. On a sheet of paper, I document furniture manufacturer names, wall colors, flooring, size/number of HVAC vents in the room, electrical switches and outlets, window sizes, doors, and widths of the openings. I also leave space to jot down anything else pertinent to the room.



One of my New Year’s goals was to try to get it refreshed and updated, since over the years it has become a bit disorganized.


I went to the office supply store and bought a colorful new binder, tossing what I no longer needed. As I was sifting through it, I felt like I was taking a trip down memory lane.



I know there are apps that keep this information handy, but what I’ve found most useful in my notebook is the Ziploc bags that hold all the swatches, chips, and fabric samples. I have one for each room. You can’t get the same touchy-feely visual connection with the materials and colors using a phone app as you can when you have the actual samples right in your hand.


If I know I am going out shopping, I can easily grab the bag for the room or rooms I’m working on and put them in my car. That way if I see anything I’d like to purchase for the room, I have all my swatches and info with me. I can see, measure, and figure out right then and there if it will coordinate, be the right size, or fit through the doorway—no guessing.



Make It Yours


I like using a three-ring binder, but your notebook can be made using an accordion-style file folder, or even a shoebox. Whatever works for you. You will also need clear plastic Ziploc bags, tabbed dividers, folders, and a sheet of paper for each room to list all the specifications. Set up the tabbed dividers by room. Behind each divider, add a file folder, Ziploc bag, and your spec sheet. I keep my spec sheets out of the bag, but make a photocopy so I have all the information in the portable bag to grab and go when needed.



Every time you paint a wall, get a new rug, or add a window treatment, put the sample, swatch, paint chip and/or info about it in the bag or folder.



Keeping a decorator’s notebook will help ensure that your decorating process goes as smoothly as possible and you get the results you want—no more guesswork—since you’ll have all the facts right at your fingertips.