Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hey Mr D. J..... Keeping a Design Journal

All Journals shown available

I truly believe that part of knowing yourself is knowing what you like in your environment. Your home is your most personal space and it should reflect your personality and contain all the things that you love to be around. Your home should be all about you and your family. It should have the colors that you love, the textures that you love , the items that you love and the spaces should be arranged to fit your family's needs. One way of exploring and getting to know your design sense is through keeping a journal.
One of the things I love most about my job, as a designer, is discovering how others like to use their space, what their design style is and what type of things they like to have in their environment. At the beginning of a project, I spend time with the homeowner exploring these things. I ask lots of questions about how they use their spaces, I look at pictures they've saved of rooms they like, I look at items that are important to them, in general I try to get an idea of what their personal design sense is. My main objective as a designer is to make my client's space reflect them and work for them. Most people will say to me, "I don't have a style". This is not true!! Everyone does!! Everyone is drawn to certain items, colors and styles; the trick is, if you don't recognize these, is to look for patterns. Keeping a journal is perfect for this because you can look back at your entries, notes and pictures and say, "everyone of these pictures have celedon green in them, I should add some of that color to my room" or "I keep noting the crystal candle sticks in every entry, I must need a few". It's fun, easy and a useful tool for working with a designer.
The first question I ask, when starting a new project, is have you saved any pictures? If they haven't, I give them "homework". I give them a pile of magazines to mark what they like in. I tell them, mark anything you like, it can be an advertisment, a bedroom (even if we are doing a living room), a piece of jewlery, anything that catches your eye. I am not looking for a room to "copy" for them, I am looking for patterns. I will see the same colors showing up, the same textures, the same style of furniture. I can see what your eye is drawn too, you can do this for yourself!!
Tips for design journaling:
  • First get yourself an attractive journal. It can be small to keep in your purse, or large. Barnes and Noble has a great selection.
  • Look through magazines and paste in things that you are drawn too. It can be a place setting that you like, a bedroom, a lamp, etc.
  • Make notes of spaces that you like. Why do you like being in your friend's living room? Aside from the company, is it the lighting, the fabrics, the colors? Jot it down. Be a keen observer of spaces and write about what you like(refer to my earlier post about this).
  • Stuck in a rut with your home? Jot down why you are picking the same things. I hear a lot from clients "I am always picking the same things". Before you buy something that you know is the same and you will be bored with, jot down why. If it is the same shade of blue that you always buy and think your space is too blue, give yourself "homework" before you buy. Look through magazines and find pictures of rooms that mix blues with different colors. I did a post on blues and browns and found pictures that combined them in different ways. Find inspiration to shake up your rut!!
  • Having a dinner party? Keep notes on the way your favorite restaurant serves or look through magazines and paste in pictures of table settings and food serving ideas. Take this with you when shopping so your inspiration is at hand.
  • Get paint samples and make different color combos, paste them in your journal for future reference.
  • Have fun!!

As you can see, a design journal can be fun to keep and a great tool to take with you shopping or hand over to a designer that is helping you. Afterall, isn't it a great luxury to be surrounded with the things you love and be able to recognize the things you like when out? Your home should be your haven!!


  1. This is a great article. It is very inspiring and practical. Years ago, when my husband and I began remodeling our home, I gathered photos and categorized features as "must have", "love it", "like it". Then we would talk about the project and the reasons we liked different elements. He is a builder and is function over form. I'm the decorator, so obviously, I'm form... The project book gave us a meeting point where he could explain ways to incorporate my ideas into practical uses. It provided a format that we now use to discuss and plan projects.
    I stumbled across your blog while searching for a specific fabric that I saw in a photo used on the design show Sarah's House. I still haven’t identified the fabric, but I’m so glad I found your blog. Your writing style is engaging and I really enjoy the topics, the photos, and your point of view. I will be back again and again. Thank you.

  2. Karen,

    I am glad you stumbled upon my blog!! Thank you for reading, and I hope you do come back!! Did you try to look for the fabric? She has a link to all her shows and she usually identifies the materials used. There is also a link to a series of articles she has written on the "Sarah's House" rooms, they might be there too.