Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Keeping Track

When you're renovating and/or decorating a house, you come across a lot
of details.  Pinterest has proven to be an invaluable tool to  keep track of ideas
and products that I may want to go back and look at later.  I wanted to share my secret for
keeping track of information when I'm out and about on the road searching for
furniture, salvage and details I may want to look at down the road.
My secret is a Moleskine.  They come in a lot of different forms but
I like the plain notebook.  It's 5 x 8.25 inches which is about a half sheet of regular
copy/printer printer paper so it's not really pocket size but small enough that
I can carry  the notebook and a point-and-shoot camera in the same hand.
(Although maybe that's why I keep dropping my cameras!)  They're available
at most art supply stores and also on the internet.

It's also got a handy pocket in back to stuff business cards and receipts.
I'm famous for losing receipts and this has helped a lot.
As I was out, for example, looking for vanity options,
I started a new page and noted where I was.
Adding the date wouldn't have been a bad idea either.
Even though I usually document things I like with my camera,
the notebook is a perfect place to make a little sketch so you can note the
measurements.  Here you'll see my drawing of the Swedish chest in the lead
photo and its measurements.  It's not a perfect drawing but there are enough
details--the scrolly edge on the middle drawer and the bun feet--that refresh
my recollection. It provides details that a photograph doesn't.
I knew at the time this wasn't an option for my downstairs bathroom
but having all the details allows me to go back later to see if it might be
an option, for example, for the upstairs bathroom or maybe a kitchen island.

Another thing that's really helpful is having the dimensions of all
your rooms.  I can't tell you how many times I've been out somewhere and
see a table or chest and really can't tell if it's the right size for a certain spot
in the house.  If you have all these measurements, you'll immediately know
if the antique sofa will fit through the den door or if the salvaged doors
are the right size for bathrooms.  I try to measure as much as possible; e.g., the
height and width of windows and doors, the height and width of walls as well
as each space between doors and windows, and the placement of light switches
and outlets.
Of course, the secret is making sure you have your notebook when you need it.
It's never a problem remembering if I'm making a road trip to Maine or Cape Cod,
but sometimes I find myself stopping somewhere when I'm closer to home.
It doesn't always work out but I find the best place to  keep it is in the car!

* * * * *
For you art lovers, I thought it might be fun for you to read a few pages of
my notes from my meeting with Jeanne Bultman which I talked about in
my post Why I Love Provincetown.  I sat down immediately following our
meeting and wrote down as much as I could remember.  It's amazing how
certains details can fade after time and I knew these were details that I wanted
to get down for posterity.  I've masked a small portion of my
notes just to protect the family's privacy.  I hope you enjoy!


  1. I love your low tech solution and try to always have a small notebook and pen handy. It requires far less rigmarole to capture what I need than fumbling to take notes with a tablet or cell phone..... and of course I never have to recharge it ;-)

  2. I'm always drawing out sketches per project and taking with me but it didn't occur to me to keep a whole little notebook file. Of course! That is the perfect thing. I'm going to copy you for sure.

  3. I love the idea of having all of your space measurements handy. I am way too lazy to do that but maybe if I pay one of these teenagers...

  4. i love seeing handwriting. period. so yours is FANTASTIC. and i guess because i focus so much on my writing when taking notes, i try to remember how it looks for memory purposes and it works. i love the notebook - i too just cant remember to alwyas have it on my person :)

  5. Yes, I always love little notebooks. I use the photo option on my cell phone constantly. I enjoyed reading your notes regarding your meeting with Jeanne Bultman. Great idea to jot down notes after a conversation. I tend to rely on my memory; it is always those important small things that slip through my brain cells. You have inspired me to now actually use the little notebook I keep in my bag....

  6. This is great--I love peeking inside notebooks. I use the Field Notes brand--they are pocket size but don't have the nifty pocket yours does. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I use a Moleskine too in a very similar way - floor plans for each room in the house, sketches etc. I use this one:

    It has graph paper and a contact section where you can put info about all your tradespeople. Really helps to keep me organized!

  8. That and a camera phone and you are good to go! I have a book that is a bit bigger.

  9. i draw out my wardrobe so why shouldn't you draw out furniture and rooms? makes a lot of sense to me. are you sure you aren't catholic? you have beautiful penmanship!

  10. I seem to learn a tid bit from you each time I read you. Good idea to have room sizes written down in my Moleskin from now on. I like your sketches and suggestion of jotting down conversations. Like I said, always a "tid bit" or two!

  11. And do you carry paint samples, too? I don't do it all the time, but when I am even considering making a change or adding something, the paint chips go straight into my bag.

    Love your sketches. Unlike mine, yours look like something!

    1. You know it, Webb. I have three Benjamin Moore fan decks, a Farrow & Ball and a card with all of Martha Stewart's colors. I don't carry them all the time either.

  12. They carry the moleskins at Target too! That's where I bought mine, for this very purpose, just a couple of months ago. Great minds think alike, Steve! I recently came across one other must-have too - I had popped into a Lowe's not too long ago and saw they had this bin of tiny tape measures with keychains attached. Fun colors too! Mine is pink of course. They're only 6-foot long tapes, but usually that's all you need when shopping. It's great because I kept losing my other one in the bottom of my purse!

    1. Yes, those are great. I shouldn't say this but we have an appliance store here that has them as a little freebie giveaway and I helped myself to about seven the last time I was there. They're so easy to lose so I just might have to go get some--I mean, go appliance shopping again.

  13. Jeez, Steve... I'm in awe of your drawings. You must have taken an architectural drawing class...or graphic drawing. I love your artist notes too.

  14. I use the moleskine with graph paper, too! I keep it in the car unless I'm doing something with it. I use it more for gardening, but also keep notes on stuff in the house too. And yes, you DO have really nice handwriting! (You don't happen to do envelope addressing for wedding invites on the side, do you??!! hahaha)

  15. I do this for my clients but rarely think to be this organized for my own home - go figure. When we move in a few months, I will turn over a new leaf and be my own client. ;)

  16. I love this.
    So organized and convenient.
    My handbag is stuffed full of index cards that I "borrow" from work. Some have drawings, some are just lists and many are just my thoughts and a moleskin would be so much tidier!
    There are times that I have a sketchpad with me but this seems to be a much better size to carry.
    Love reading the entries on Jeanne Bultman!
    (I think you need another just for art journaling!
    Thanks for this post!)

  17. Fun to read. I would forget my book if I had one. Thats just me :) but it must be fun to go back over your entries.

  18. Hi Steve
    I've had notebooks in the past to help organize myself...then I'd misplace...leave on the shelf at a store...once...twice...I'm going to give it another shot and keep my fingers crossed that I'm capable of keeping track of it :)

  19. I love a good Moleskine myself. An unlined one too! Now you can add artist to your resume. I can't draw a straight line and your sketches are so good.

  20. I keep moleskine notebooks too. I have a yearly planner that i use daily (hate the iphone - prefer to write notes) and also a small notebook that i carry at all times - the 8x5 ish size. I love that you recorded your notes from your conversation with Ms Bultman. You are so organized! I write a lot of quotes in my book - i have years and years worth of quotes in old journals - lines from movies or clever phrases or life lessons. I just love re-reading them.

    Your handwriting is beautiful.

    Hugs, Terri

  21. My bag is always full of tablets, a measuring tape, tear sheets, and measurements for client projects. No wonder why it's always so heavy!

  22. I am dying over the artist shown in your interview. OMG! What a treasure. I would have loved that talk. Wish I had been a fly on the wall.
    By the way , I have not forgotten your very small painting. Ready to mail if I can just get myself to the Post Office. ha!

  23. I remember that post about your interview with Jeanne Bultman...fascinating. I love your notebooks with your notes and sketches. My husband and I save ours, in different stacks, but in chronological order. I love to add one more to the stack. I tape cards and other little notes to the pages along with drawings and notes...your sketches are lovely by the way.

  24. I love watching your rooms evolve im enamoured with the Swedish chest. And I'll be picking one of those little folders up soon, as of rightnow all my recipts, bussiness cards, adn refrecnes are quite LITERALLY pinned to a wall in my office so I dont lose them!

  25. There is something quite lovely about a notebook of scribbled observations or memories as opposed to an i-phone or a lap top. The moleskin is a very tactile thing in itself. Somebody will find that one day and muse over your insights. Lovely!

  26. Well that is a great idea in theory....cause my handwriting sucks. Oh it starts out good then morphs into something compared to doctors script. I am famous for taking measurements and then not being able to decipher them later.....good thing my blog is typed.....just saying. On the other hand I love notebooks and pens.....go figure.

  27. Your penmanship is framable
    .-Suzanne in Illinois

  28. I love Moleskin. A few years ago my niece was visitng just before we were going to Paris and she bought me a Moleskin Paris, it has neighborhood maps, metro maps and all kinds of nifty information in addition to blank pages that I filled with notes. Now I use one everytime I travel, if they don't have the location where I'm going a blank one is perfectly fine. Loved your Ptown notes. Your drawings are quite good too.