29 June 2011

Design notebook: real-life pinterest

For Christmas last year, I requested a subscription to House Beautiful magazine. I knew I would enjoy reading it, but nonetheless I debated whether I really wanted it. First of all, there are SO MANY good ideas on the interwebs for free, even House Beautiful’s own website. It seemed almost frivolous and even a bit wasteful (ecologically speaking) to pay for a traditional print magazine. I sure I’m not the first person to feel that way, either, or else the print industry wouldn’t be dying. But on a more personal level, magazines and catalogs have always somehow accumulated around my house, either unread, or because there was that ONE thing I really liked that I might want to look at again someday. I mean, what IF I finally had an opportunity to throw a posh Fourth of July party and forgot that I could make a beverage dispenser out of a hollowed out watermelon and a spigot, all because I threw away that Real Simple? I might just serve drinks normally from plain pitchers! THE HORROR.

And so... they accumulate.

Then my mom, generous lady that she is, gave me that subscription to House Beautiful. So, I came up with a solution that would make it worth actually receiving the print magazine – and also solve the Plague of Printed Media stacked upon my coffee table and dining room table and dresser and nightstand and reminding me, on a daily basis, that I do not and cannot live inside a Ballard Designs catalog.

For the last six months, this plan has worked swimmingly, so I thought I’d share it! It is not a new idea – I just said that the interwebs already have every homey idea, this one included – but it’s fun and could work for you too!

The key to this plan is that, while catalogs spontaneously appear and multiply in our mailbox, House Beautiful arrives once a month. Throughout the month, when I receive a catalog, I put them all in one single stack – usually without looking through them. That’s not new (except for the single stack part). But when the House Beautiful arrives, that’s my cue to gather up the month’s catalogs and have a seat at the dining room table.

Yes I realize there is not actually a House Beautiful in this stack, but just pretend with me, ok?

I also grab a razor blade. You can guess what for!

Usually, I clear out the stack on a Saturday morning with my coffee, or quiet Sunday afternoon while Mr. P naps. I flip through all my magazines and catalogs and cut out the pictures I especially like. Then I put them in a three-ring binder, which essentially creates the Ultimate Sarah Style Magazine!

I’ve professed my love for Pinterest multiple times already on this young blog, and as you might guess, this is basically the same thing – flipping through a lot of images, saving the ones I like, and looking through my design notebook later filled only with images that I appreciate the most.

I don’t think too hard about which pages I like or if they match anything else I’ve saved. If I turn the page and say “oooh” then it gets cut out. Sometimes I cut out a lot from one catalog or magazine, sometimes just one page. The result is that over several months, like magic, my “style” has emerged through the commonalities among the pictures I clipped out.

Maybe you noticed one prominent theme already? Look at the last few photos. That’s right. Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a neutral-aholic. Although I didn’t need my design notebook to tell me that.

It’s true that this takes more time than just flipping through each magazine, but it’s not a chore – really, it’s a monthly treat. I look forward to the House Beautiful’s arrival so I can look at all I’ve received that month. Then I spend maybe an hour or so flipping through that month’s stack, and once I’ve saved everything I like, the rest goes in here.

That’s the inside of my garbage can, if it’s not obvious. One thing absent from every single image in my design notebook? STACKS OF CATALOGS. See, it truly works – I’m already making our home look like my notebook! Easy as that.