Saturday, January 10, 2009

Renovation binder & home bibles.



I am not, by nature, an organized person.

So, when reading Cynthia Kling's Domino article many months ago about running a super-organized house, I was admittedly turned on by the idea of maintaining a house bible - some kind of binder with all kinds of useful information. I have a habit of scribbling things down only to lose them later. My life is a never-ending hunt for that one Post-It note with that one important phone number.

Well, I did it. I created a binder for the house which has all kinds of info, like the recipes and timeline for making Thanksgiving dinner (since I had only done it once - the year before - I knew I didn't want to reinvent the wheel on that little project). It also includes names of repairmen, the insurance guy, take-out menus, and big lists of recommended contractors, landscapers.



But so far, the best use of a big ol' binder has been to devote one entirely to our kitchen remodel.

I started it with tear sheets from magazines of the kitchen I wanted, photos I had been collecting for years. And the best part of organizing the inspiration part first is that the decisions are then easy to make. So many of the kitchens I've seen and lusted after included the same elements. So when I started to get overwhelmed at the tile store, Lowe's, Ann Sacks, or even at home when shopping for materials online, I just flipped through the binder and it gave me a way to make sure that what I was selection was as good or better as the many photos that I'd been collecting as inspiration for years. Plus, when I know I will need to make a quick call to deal with something while traveling for work or at the office, I just grab the whole binder and take it with me. That way I am never stuck guessing about my counter dimensions or some appliance spec. I have the whole project at my fingertips, including the budget, invoices, even details on the tile grout.



Anyway, I recommend it. Of course, I have never done anything like this. I've never done any serious home improvement project, so what works for everyone else? If you're done a small or large remodel, how did you keep your project on track & organized? I am sure people will love to hear your advice.

31 comments:

Michele said...

I just discovered your blog a couple of days ago and have spent far too much time reading all the entries...and I have loved every entry and picture.
With respect to binders I can tell you how they will evolve. Having ripped out magazine pictures for 15 years, and taken recipes also from magazines (on top of the 40 odd cook books I have) I now have the following:
2 cloth bound journals filled with pictures of architecture and design I would absolutely love - they serve to constantly remind what I love and calm me down incredibly when stressed;
2 binders with more of the above that I can't paste as the photos are on both sides of the page;
1 binder with design sources;
1 binder with a pictures of what I am aiming for right now.....I can take it into a store;
1 gigantic binder full of recipes and another filled with all the info I need for home (how to start the snow blower and other rarely needed but useful things/ lists of repair services / seasonal menus and where to find the recipes and other things like this. Basically I have trained myself to put everything here first.
It took quite a lot of time to organize all this, but it certainly is preferable to wasting vast amounts of time looking for things and certainly gives me some control. I just wish I had started doing all this years ago! Good luck with it all.....it will be interesting to see how many binders you end up with.

ArchitectDesign said...

I work at a residential architectural firm as an architect -these binders are SO useful! We utilize them on our side during the life of a project, then shelf them for reference. Then when potential clients want to replicate something they see in another one of our projects -we have all the info handy! THey don't have to be fancy -even throwing a bunch of stuff into a large envelope is a great way to start with very little work (thats what I have done for my own condo! paint chips, #'s of repairmen, etc.)

A-M said...

I started my build project with a ring binder but I was always getting lost in pages and pages of 'stuff' (and it got ridiculously full) so I progressed to an expandable, concertina file. Its now all at my finger tips literally. I have labelled each section accordingly: cabinetry, wiring, floors etc, spare copies of plans, and now when I leave the house: handbag, keys, file.
It sits on my front car seat and the number of times I have had to run to the car to reference it, when in a meeting with a tradesperson??? Lost count. Works for me! A-M xx

Anonymous said...

when we moved into this house two years ago, the previous owners left us with a great big folder of info on the house: from the kitchen remodel plans, to the name of the electrician. It is awesome. We've been here two years; I keep saying I'm going to organize it and update it, but I haven't yet. (I also haven't read the oven manual, which they saved for us. )

Kwana said...

I love your binder. I keep saying I'm going to do this. I already have the darn binders! You'll make an organized person out of me yet, Decorno.

s. said...

Good lord, Decorno; you are on a roll!

2kidsandus said...

I also keep a GREAT BIG BINDER full of house ... but then I keep a little book full of measurements and paint colours so I can pop it in my bag when I head off to the stores. Keeps me from writing things down again and again.

Decorina said...

Working for architects and my own OCD led me to project binders many years ago. It is the only way to go.

Kara said...

I just completed this exact same project - hoping it will inspire us to start our outdoor living space AKA a backyard resort like area located in our front yard.

I got inspired to do the binder after I completed a similiar one for our personal finances: retirement pension, updated credit reports, bank statements etc. Our mortgage lender told us about the idea and calls her book- the Murder book. So if anything happens to either her or her husband, her adult daughter will know who to contact for all of thier accounts. GENIUS!

I also have a collection of binders for different recipes: Food Network recipes, recipes from Food & Wine and a binder completely devoted for Holidays. I know, I know - I should probably buy stock in Avery Dennison.

desiree@lookiloos said...

This is slightly different than the binder for design ideas. We put ours together after the fact. We did a complete remodel of our home and I created the "bible". It has been great for warranty info. and instruction manuals. If anything goes wrong in the house we head for the "bible". I have all contact info for all products in the house. Everything new purchased gets added. I highly recommend putting one together. I plan on doing one for my garden this year.

katie c said...

this is how we've always handled projects in the architecture firms i've worked for, but it took me a YEAR in my house before i realized i should maybe have one for my own place. and i love it! it's funny to see the sections of the binder where i have a LOT of interest (our current guest-room-to-design-studio conversion) and where i have very little (pretty much anything outside the walls of our house! in particular the dreaded backyard...).

red.door.read said...

i have received a few signs in my life lately that i should compile one of these binders.

it's probably time.

Lynne said...

I always cut out things I like - mainly so I don't have to stash hundreds of magazines - and put them in a box - but then I can never track down what I want. But it's a start - wish I was as organised as you.

LB said...

In our previous house, we did a few remodeling projects. What worked best for my husband and me was to use GoogleDocs. We both use Gmail, so it was easy to share documents. We'd have price comparisons on different materials and suppliers with all of the information needed. What I enjoyed the most was taking photos throughout the projects. By far, the most enjoyable was the bathroom remodel. All centered on a beautiful mirror I bought on sale.

CJP said...

I am just about finished with a major kitchen/bath addition. The binder was an absolute lifesaver!!
It's easy to fall in love with beautiful objects that don't actually work in the room you are planning. The binder would remind me of the look I was really going for. I use it for everything!

pve design said...

Binders and constant editing.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.

I've always considered myself a terribly anal retentive person. My closest friends would concur. (And this is not necessarily meant as a positive attribute.)

BUT, I've never, ever, come close to actually putting one of these things together.

Now, I am left pondering: Why?

Not sure what my block is on this one, but seems too anal even for me, and that's saying a lot!

Decorno said...

Well, if you are already organized, then that may be your answer. :)

I am not. I am super forgetful and disorganized, so it's a necessary evil for me to round up all these important details so that I don't forget elements of my kitchen project, or forget basic household contacts, resources, etc that I need from time to time.

Little Lantern said...

All right. You have finally inspired me to do this! Given that we are renovating our entire house from top to bottom, I think it's about time I liberated myself from this post-it, scrap paper delerium that I am swimming in. Thank you!

Lauren Corbyn said...

I have used this for clients and it's great. I think the best way to communicate is by using pictures. Keeps everyone on the same page. However, for myself.... I am a mass of torn pages and stacks and STACKS of magazines. And bookmarked links online.

The time has come to consolidate.

HomeSavvi Team said...

I love it! I did the very same thing for my whole house remodel in 2005. In fact, I still use my binder to track receipts, sub-contractors, and stores where my husband and I bought materials.

At the time, I wanted a similar online binder to capture all the photos, links and info that I found on the Internet. Nothing was much good so I decided to go out and create it myself. Check it out at http://www.homesavvi.com/member/queen-castle.

The online binder is still new and “under construction”, but I’d love to get your feedback about how to improve it and make it as useful as the physical binder you recommend. -Villette

Tamstyles said...

I was on the look for the perfect book myself. I was going to put together an inspiration book for my home of clippings from mags. Ideas in my head that I dont want to forget etc. I bought a sketch book and colored sketch pencils. Well I just left B and K and took them back. I was at Hobby Lobby in Saturday and saw Memory books. They were better because of the laminate pages and I can add as many extras as I want. Plus I can decorate the cover anyway I want. It will be a great item to pass down to my kids later in life.

alice said...

That is a wonderful idea, and I love when clients come in with their own idea binders- so helpful to both of us. I have one client with a binder 8" thick- no joke.
I have gone a little overboard with the binders and think I need to consolidate... but still a wonderful concept and congrats on your organization!

Annady said...

I've been meaning to put together such a binder... but guess what? I'm actually stuck on picking out the actual binder. I want something cute and neat... a bit like Russell+Hazel's stuff, but with a D-ring. Anyone have suggestions?

SuzMoore said...

For Christmas this year, I gave myself 100 clear sleeves & beautiful binders to sort my saved magazine clippings in to. It was great fun to pare down the mountain of clippings to my favorites. I was happy to see that I still love many of the rooms I saved 10+ years ago. I found a found bunch of articles about places/trips (I am itching to go to Voodoo donuts in Portland & stay at the Ace Hotel). Now I am going to have to start printing my favorite images from blogs, the image saver on Domino is not quite as satisfying. Love your blog!
Suz

red.door.read said...

i did it....ahhhhhh !

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