How I Organize All Of My Inspiration Images

Q: I am wondering how you keep all your decorating ideas and images organized. Do you keep all the magazines and catalogs with good design ideas (if so how do you organize them?). Do you cut out images? Do you keep everything electronic or scan in images? Just wondering because I always want to keep lots of inspiring decorating ideas but then never know how to organize them or find them again without allowing the clutter to get overwhelming. Love the blog! -Lindsay

A: Good question! Of course I used to have piles and piles of torn out pages from glossy shelter magazines sitting around waiting to be filed or flipped through. But a few years ago I grabbed a 3-inch binder and some clear sleeves and literally created “the ultimate magazine” by adding all of my favorite inspiration pictures. It’s super easy to flip through (a lot less cumbersome than a folder of loose tear-sheets), and I even organized it by category (interior inspiration, curb appeal ideas, holiday stuff, art I love, etc). Life changing, I tell ya.


We also keep an inspiration folder on our computer desktop (with many of the same categories as the binder) for all of the virtual rooms and projects we love (blogger tip: we rename them with the source so if we ever want to use them on the blog we can properly credit them). And we also keep full issues of the glossies that we just can’t bear to part with (we’re the proud owners of every single Domino issue, seen here stacked proudly out in the open on the fireplace hearth in the den)…


… and we keep all of our favorite House Beautiful issues stacked on the pedestal table in the den…


…and we stash a bunch of Cottage Living mags that we covet in various leather and woven baskets near little reading zones in the sunroom and the den (see the little basket next to the white armchair?).


So that’s how we keep the stream of never ending inspiration in check around these parts. We can’t fully claim that our binder is always perfectly sorted (sometimes we shove pages in with the promise of organizing them later) but it’s a pretty simple system to keep up with for the most part. How do you guys organize your ideas from magazines and the interweb? We’d love to know what methods you have in place to keep things, well, in their place.

Wondering which magazines we list as our favorites? Check them out right here. And speaking of mags, check out the hysterical vintage glossies that John and I discovered at a garage sale. Too entertaining for words. And speaking of entertaining, don’t forget to drop in on Burger’s blog to see what he’s chatting about today. That’s a whole lotta links for you on this Monday morning. Enjoy!


  1. says

    I keep my organized in a design file on my computer. I don’t subscribe to any magazines and soend most of my time searching the Interweb, so digital files make the most sense for me. Great tip about renaming the file to the source for easy crediting later. Genius!

  2. Chelsey says

    I have a binder like that for recipes I want to try, and it is so handy – like my own “ultimate cookbook”! Some of the pages are the sticky kind from photo albums so I can cut out something little or several little recipes and stick them on one page. Then I have some loose pages like yours in the back for larger spreads.

  3. says

    Great ideas! I have tried the 3-ring notebook thing but I always fall behind. I particularly like to see how you’ve made stacks of magazines look cute without using a magazine rack.

  4. Kelly says

    Binders and plastic sheets changed my organizational life when I finally found them. I use the same system for organizing our bills, recipes, tax-deductible purchases, and user manuals.

  5. says

    Funny you post this right after I organized a huge stack of tearouts! House Beautiful is the only magazine I refuse to shred. It seems like every single page is inspirational, so why tear it up?

    I bought a notebook thicker but smaller than a normal school spiral notebook for our wedding planning and only ended up using 3 pages. I decided to start collecting all my inspiration in there. It has a divider with pockets in it, and the first part of the binder is outfits, hair and makeup ideas I love, and the other half is decorating and renovating inspiration. I cut out all my favorite things and stick them in the divider pockets. Then when I’m ready to organize, I lay them on the floor and group them by similarites (a color scheme that I have 20 examples of, black lampshades, outdoor party decorations, etc) and then use my trusty elmers glue stick to stick them in. I use the elmers because even though I leave a page or two for growth, it often exceeds that space, or I decide a few pictures don’t really appeal to me anymore. Although the glue holds well enough for flipping, I can easily pull the pictures out and stick new ones in without tearing the picture or the page.

    For my full page inspirations, I too use the clear page protectors in a binder, but I also have that sectioned off. Half is sewing and craft patterns, the other half my full page inspiration pictures :)

  6. Kristin says

    I used to clip everything out of magazines and fill a very large file folder of ideas… or email myself web pages, but I just discovered Evernote ( and it is pretty life changing! You can easily clip a web page or a picture and then tag it just like a blog so you can easily find them. I have their app downloaded on my blackberry so anytime I find a wine I like, I take a picture of the label and send it to Evernote and it saves the picture, and also pulls out the text so you can search the text.

    Try it – you’ll love it!

  7. says

    Thanks for the tips! I’m always looking for a way to organize my decorating ideas. I like to keep the pages in the magazines because then I know where the items in the pages came from by going to the source guide at the back of the magazine. I have way too many magazines. I really need to start a system.

    I notice there is writing on the page in the binder you posted, what kinds of info do you write down? Do you keep the source guides from the magazines with the pages so you know where the items in the pictures came from or do you just try to find something similar when you want to use one of the ideas? Do you label each page with which magazine it came from?

    • says

      Hey KOS!

      Good question! I have learned to take little notes on images so I remember exactly what it was I was loving in the picture. I rarely note sources since I can’t afford all those expensive things! Hehe, it’s more for inspiration so I might write “love the extra high curtains” or “love the casters on the coffee table” just so I remember what it was in the picture that floated my boat. And the page usually says “House Beautiful” or “BHG” on the bottom, but if not sometimes I note the source just in case I want to scan it for the blog one day. Hope it helps!


  8. Tanya says

    I have a v large 3 ring binder with clear sleeves. It has been a lifesaver for me. I started it when I was 16 so it has been fun seeing the things that have stuck with me over the years and the ones that did not. I tear out magazine pages, paint strips, catalog pages- you name it- and I put it into the side pocket. Once every month or two I sit down and put them into the clear sheets and edit it a bit. I love pulling it out when I am feeling hesitant about something design wise or just wanting to look through for fun.

  9. says

    I found an accordion file to be very helpful. I tag the pocket according to how I want to file (home, entertaining, green, etc.) and it’s an easy go-to when I’m looking for something. I’m intrigued by the PP on Evernote. I’ll have to check it out.

  10. says

    Since I don’t subscribe to any magazines and get 99% of my inspiration from the web, I created a separate online photo album with all of my pics (I use picasa). I also get a lot of inspiration from bloggers so I use Google Reader to save/star posts that I really like if I can’t save a picture. There are so many images I love that it’s hard to keep track sometimes, but in picasa I can group them together to identify the things that I really love (colors, types of window treatments, etc.). It’s so fun to scroll through images that I’ve saved and see it all in one place.

  11. Tiffany says

    I have noticed that many of you like decor mags as much as I do..I spend way too much money on them. I’m a fan of magazine swapping.. and if something really tickles my fancy I color copy it for my scrapbook. I like to buy a magazine a week and sometimes two..that’s 60 bucks a month. Eeek. So swapping saves me from spending that much.

    • says

      Hey Tiffany,

      We love swapping (I actually swap with two of my bffs) and we also all “recycle” ours by bringing them to a local book store who gives them away for free to customers. Gotta love recirculating magazines a few times before they hit the actual recycle bin.


  12. says

    I was wondering the same thing! I’m glad you answered it here for us. I need to start collecting them in a binder instead of the folder I shove them into. I didn’t think to write the magazine on the bottom if it isn’t listed – I should do that. I really like Kate’s idea of keeping all the online photos in an online photo album. I just keep them on my hard drive, but it would be cool to have them online too.

  13. says

    Same way you do! Great minds think alike. I also use to keep all my online inspiration in one place. You can link and post pictures and explanations and all kinds of handy things!

  14. says

    I like to save images into different ‘room’ files in my computer then I can easily go back and look at them all in filmstrip view. Looking at magazines is fun, but I hate all the clutter that saving them creates in my small house.

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