When we remodeled our kitchen a few years ago, I used a notebook full of magazine photos to communicate my ideas to the contractor. I slipped magazine tear-outs into plastic sleeves, wrote things like “make sides of cabinet like this” on the sleeves, and left my notebook for the contractor to use as a visual. I also used my notebook to add paint samples, brochures, articles, receipts, tips and other small things into the sleeves for safe keeping.
Thanks to my notebook and a creative contractor, I probably spent half of what it would’ve cost to completely re-do my kitchen. I used my notebook to find inspiration for small details that made it more custom and yet allowed me to save money. See inspiration here  on the details I incorporated into my kitchen, thanks to inspiration from magazine photos.
Using your decorating notebook:
- Saving photos on inspiration boards or in notebooks can tell a lot about what you like or the kind of mood you are comfortable with. You don’t have to limit yourself to photos of homes, add any photos or swatches that inspire you. You might find you are inspired by nature, by a certain color, by a time period, or by certain patterns & textures. Your collection might suggest you are drawn to a cozy warm atmosphere or a more lively energetic mood.
- Train your eye to look at the details in photos. Zero in on specific things you like. You can also learn things by noting what you DON’T like, so feel free to include some notes on things you dislike! That is why I like the plastic sleeves, you can write anything you want for now, and add to it or change it later. This is a fun process of learning about your own taste.
- You don’t even have to know right away WHY you like a particular photo. Include it anyways. You might realize after you have a big stack of kitchen photos that you love a particular style or color scheme.
- While your notebook may just start out as a way to refine your personal style, you can use your notebook over time to convey your ideas to contractors, decorators or just as a resource for your future endeavors. I like to look at mine from time to time, just to see all the things I love in one place!
- I have also used my notebook to coordinate my preferences with those of my husband. Often times I will ask him what he thinks about a particular picture and if he hates it, I try to figure out why he dislikes it. Maybe he just hated the fabric, but we could agree on some other aspect. This refines BOTH of our taste and helps us to create a home we both love.
Which is better? An inspiration board or notebook?
The beauty of the board is the visual impact of having the ideas all on one page in front of you. This is especially effective if you are just forming your personal style or just trying to figure out a mood for a room. It helps to see all the colors and textures as a whole, similar to how you would see them in a room.
If you are designing a kitchen or planning a remodel, or just want to save photos for reference, make the notebook. The notebook is easier to store, easier to make notes in and just more practical for keeping receipts, paint and fabric swatches. You can also add to it and expand it over time.
Photo courtesy of The Inspired Room