Keeping a Design Scrapbook

Because of today's pace and the assault on our senses daily, we want a personal environment that is a refuge, a place for solace and an area where we can seek enjoyment with family and friends. Does this put a lot of pressure on you? You want interesting-looking surroundings but often feel daunted by the task of pulling it all together.

To begin, you already know a great deal. You've had experience with putting together outfits for occasions large and small-the way you dress is your personal statement about how you want to look, how you feel and what you want your clothes to say about you. And you've probably chosen clothes ensembles for others and helped friends with advice on shopping ventures. So relax, it's in there; it's in your head.

The first, best way to discover what's right for your home is to collect images that inspire you. Don't look at this as a chore, but an adventure. It's easy, fun and inexpensive. It starts with a design scrapbook and, perhaps, even some design sample boards.

  • Spend some time selecting just the right scrapbook. One with pages too small may be too confining for your imagination. Pages too large may begin to look like a collage mess, so go for a medium-sized treasure book. Pick a book with sturdy pages because you might want to attach small pieces of fabric or tactile objects to spur you on.

  • Design the pages as if you were creating a memory book, or choose to let the design examples act as your borders, backdrop and color palette examples.

  • Name your book and put it in a place where you will be likely return to it again and again. I have several and am always amazed when looking through some of the older versions at how much my taste has changed over the years.

  • Collect pictures from magazines and make copies of your favorite pages from books.

  • Add photographs that you have taken at model homes and on showcase tours.

  • When you are out shopping, stop at the design center and collect wallpaper samples, fabric swatches and sample bits and pieces of whatever the design store is giving away that you like.

  • Make an effort to visit decorating shops and design studios and either make small sketches or write down the order numbers of window treatments displays, and model numbers of fabrics and wallcoverings. Add this into your book.

  • Begin to think about creating a sample board. Sample boards are what professional designers create to make sure that there floor, wall, window and fabric choices all meld together in a pleasing way. The board can be as simple as a piece of foam core in an easy-to-handle size. The soft backing will allow you to attach pieces of fabric with push pins, and you can glue on the rest.

  • Keep updating your books and add to your cache of artifacts and swatches.

All of these elements will begin to paint of picture of your taste and style. You will see a pattern of what colors you are partial to and what designs you like. You are beginning-with a broad brush-to discover more about the elements of design.

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