Keeping a decorating notebook

When I moved into our condo last spring, my head was swimming with ideas for paint colors, curtains, rugs, closet storage, and accessories. At the same time, I’m trying to follow a budget and acquire items slowly rather than all at once. I needed a way to keep track of my decorating ideas, measurements, and paint colors. My solution was to start keeping a decorating notebook.

This tool has really helped me make intentional decisions about what to buy for our home. I keep notes whenever I’ve taken measurements or have other thoughts for our space, and then I keep this notebook in my bag. If I’m out at a store and I see something I think might be perfect, I can refer to my notebook and see if the item is the right size, shape, length, color, etc. For example, when I picked up some outlet covers recently I was able to refer to my notebook and know for certain I was buying the right shape. I wrote about this here.

I also referred to my notebook when I purchased curtains for our living and dining rooms. I knew exactly the length and width I wanted. I had to purchase curtains slightly longer than what I needed, but I knew when I bought them that I would be hemming them. I also carried my notebook with me while searching for my sideboard. When I found one at a vintage store for a steal, I was confident in my decision because it matched almost exactly the ideal size I had previously recorded in my notebook.

Lately I’ve been keeping track of potential gray paint colors, since I plan to re-paint my dining room over the holiday break.

If you’d like to give this a try, pick up a book that is big enough to adequately record notes in, but small enough to carry with you easily whenever you’re out and might spot a perfect item for your home. Here are some ideas for what to keep track of in your notebook:

  • Window dimensions, as well as how long curtains would need to be to fall from floor to ceiling (I’m partial to floor to ceiling length curtains!)
  • Ideal rug sizes. A good rule of thumb is to remember that it’s usually a wise idea to have either all of your furniture completely on or completely off an area rug, rather than half on and half off. (You can certainly break this rule sometimes, I have.) In any event, figure out what the perfect size rug for your space would be, record the dimensions, and then stubbornly wait until you find the absolute perfect fit at a great price.
  • Closet and storage ideas, as I did on the page above. I always have practical ideas for closet organization but, before I had my notebook, I always forgot what they were by the time I got to the store.
  • Hardware needs, such as outlet and switch covers, and cabinet knobs. I recorded how many knobs I would need to replace all the knobs in my kitchen so that if I’m ever out and spot an amazing deal, I’ll know exactly how many I need.
  • Ideal furniture sizes. I know that the perfect size dining room table for me, for example, is a 45″-50″ round pedestal table with an extension leaf. Now I’m just waiting until the stars align and I find what I want at a price I am willing to pay. I also know that I want two matching bedside tables that are 18″ high.
  • Lighting. Keep notes on what sorts of lamps you’d ideally like in your space. Are they floor lamps, table lamps, or hanging lamps? Would you want them to match one another, or just compliment one another in style?
  • Paint colors. If you’re over at someone’s house and you fall in love with their paint color, ask the brand and name and record it in your notebook. Likewise if you’re out at a store and see the perfect color. Oftentimes retailers will know what’s on their walls.
  • Accessories. To help curb my natural tendency to buy too much this-and-that for my house, I’ve listed accessories that would truly make sense in our home, such as frames I need for unusually-sized prints and photos, and the dimensions of a tray I could use in our bathroom. This list keeps me focused and helps prevent impulse buys.

Rather than encouraging lots of spending, my notebook has actually curbed my impulsive spending and helped me make much more thoughtful long-term investments in home decor items. It also gets the ideas out of my obsessive-little-brain!

How do you make intentional choices for your home? Do you keep a decorating notebook too?

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3 Responses to Keeping a decorating notebook

  1. kate78 says:

    I’m totally the same way! I am constantly making lists of things I want and need around the house. The thing is, I often misplace or forget to carry my list with me on my excursions.

    *Love* this tip!

  2. Lindsay says:

    Thanks Kate! I’d forget too if I didn’t always keep this in my bag. Biggish bag + smallish notebook makes it work. Thanks for reading.

  3. Pingback: Little home makeovers « Urban Domesticity

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