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Get Organized With a Decorating File

Put it All Together

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When you're getting ready to begin a decorating or remodeling project it's a great idea to get everything together. And keep it together! Any building, remodeling, or decorating project will be easier if you get organized before you start with a Decorating File.

Your Decorating File will hold everything you'll need to coordinate the project. Include carpet samples, fabric cuttings, paint samples, floor plans, wallpaper cuttings, photos, and pictures of inspiration rooms. Having everything in one place will help the job go more smoothly from conception to completion.

You can choose any style of file you want. The choice is yours. A small canvas tote bag, briefcase, notebook with file pockets, expanding envelope, or file box works well. Be sure you select a container that will be easy to carry from store to home and large enough for all your items.

Probably the most convenient way to keep everything together, and your hands free, is in a tote bag with shoulder handles. Interior pockets are helpful, too. Be sure to have a container for pens, your cell phone, tape measure, scissors, and tape. A wonderful choice is the Villager Bag made by Vera Bradley. The pockets help keep everything organized. (Of course, if you're a man reading this, you'll have to find something else, as you might not be attracted to the floral prints.)

Place an expanding folder with pockets and divider tabs into the tote. These pockets will keep projects and items separated and organized. You can keep several projects separate by labeling the folders for each.

You'll save time by having everything together wherever you go. Instead of wondering whether a paint chip coordinates with a fabric swatch, you'll know right away. If you're shopping for a lamp, you'll know if the lamp shade is the right color. If you happen on a wonderful flea market, you won't have to pass up a great bargain on an antique bureau because you don't know if it will fit in your space. With everything together,-- colors, fabrics, measurements, and ideas,-- you'll always be ready!

As you work on a project, you'll think of things that would be helpful to have in your own Decorating File. The things on the following list are just a start. The most important thing to remember about a Decorating File is that you should have it with you at all times.

  • Pens and Paper
    There's nothing more frustrating than finding a perfect paint or carpet and not being able to write down the particulars for ordering them. Have several pens and pencils tucked in your file and a pad of paper or spiral notebook for taking notes. You may want to make notes of a furniture arrangement, trim detail, or window treatment that you see.

  • Tape Measure
    Try to find a lightweight measuring tape if you can, as a builder's tape measure can get heavy if you're carrying it around all day. A 10-foot tape is usually fine for shopping trips, but you'll want a 25-foot measuring tape to measure rooms, windows, and ceiling heights.

  • Floor Plan
    If you're doing a room decorating project or a whole-house remodel, you'll need a drawing of the rooms with measurements. A scaled drawing on graph paper is most useful, but you can have a simple sketch for a smaller project. Be sure that you take accurate measurements of walls, window dimensions, and distances between doors and windows. You'll find that the more information you put down on this floor plan, the more helpful it will be as you're working.

    A drawing of each wall will come in handy as you select fabrics for windows and wallpaper. This sketch should show the placement of windows, doors, and architectural details with accurate measurements. To get the proper drawing, look at the wall from across the room and draw in the details.

    If you're not up to drawing your floor plan by hand, you might want to check out some online help from SmartDraw or Arrange-A-Room from Better Homes and Gardens.

Next: Calendar, Photos, Samples

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