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 have created my own Ultimate Magazine and I love it! Yet another fantastic YoungHouseLove tip! I also have taken the “ultimate” idea and created an Ultimate Cookbook, where I keep all my recipes that i’ve pulled from mags, or printed from the internet!

  2. Aryn says

    Wow, you guys, I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this yet. I’m trying to plan a nursery, but we don’t know the sex yet (only 4 more weeks!). In the mean time I have boy lists, girl lists, and “things that are really for me, but I’m hoping to sneak past my husband lists!” The only problem is that our apartment is scattered with little bits of paper.

  3. says

    That bull is just crying for a good pair of earrings. Maybe for Christmas? I think he’d look great in a pair of lovely Christmas balls :)

  4. says

    i rip out articles and save them in a vertical file with labels such as “fireplace,” and “things to buy.” sad to say i got rid off all my dominoes, etc. once i rip the articles i donate the mags or recycle them. i miss them when they are gone…

  5. says

    I do the exact same thing! I have a 3 ring binder for interiors and one for fashion. The fashion one is not organized at all, but I like it that way. The interiors one is grouped by room (with a section of “full house” from magazines that really showcase the whole house. Jenna Lyons’ would be one ;)

    I used to keep them in a file, but it was a pain to keep organized, which is how I adopted the binder idea (first with fashion, probably 7 years ago! There are some tear sheets from Seventeen Magazine from 1999!)

    And occasionally I get a chance to weed through and yank stuff that no longer appeals to me.

  6. says

    One more reason to love you two! I do the exact same thing with the three ring binder and I love that it cuts down on my magazine stacks while preserving everything I don’t want to forget that I have found. I also have a decor file on my computer (and my facebook) any time I see and idea I love I’m quick to save it in there.

    Take care,

  7. Jocelyne says

    I use the popular combination of online files and file folders to contain all the ripped out magazine articles organized by room/subject.
    Totally off topic, but I was just looking on the Canadian House and Home website, and lo and behold, there on their home page was a photo of your living room. Congrats! I’ve subscribed to that magazine for years and years.

    • says

      Hey Jocelyne,

      Thanks for noticing! We just learned that we’re up there. Isn’t that fun? And on the homepage no less- we’re totally pinching ourselves. Their mag is also one of our favorite international ones. Wahoo!


  8. says

    I keep it all online. When browsing sites, I pull the images and put them on my flickr photosites (marking the source of the image, making the images viewable only by friends, and not downloadable). I try to scan whatever hardcopy images I have (if I can’t find them online) and then upload to flickr, as above.

    If I must have a hard copy of something, I try to get it on my bulletin board or in my general image journal/scrapbook asap.

    I am making an effort to keep my paper clutter to an absolute minimum where applicable!

  9. prettythings says

    Great ideas! Mine are stacked in various places, and hidden in a cabinet under a window seat.

    Question for YHL: I saw your list of must-reads (great list, by the way) and wondered if you ever read Veranda? I keep my old issues handy and admire a lot of the styles and ads. Of course, their target reader’s budget is ridiculously, laughably larger than mine. :)

    • says

      Hey Prettythings,

      We do flip through Veranda while we’re reading at Barnes & Noble (something we like to do every few weeks) so although we don’t subscribe to it, we agree that it has some great inspiration to be found.


  10. Lisa says

    Great post, thanks for sharing! Anyone else that can’t see the binder picture? I can see the rest, but not that one. I use firefox 5.0.


    • says

      Hey Lisa,

      So sorry you can’t see that photo. Have you tried refreshing? There might be a slightly slower load time on that photo since it’s lifted from an older post, so here’s hoping it’s back to loading well for you. Anyone else having this issue?


  11. says

    I organize everything the exact same way you do. Stacks sorted by magazine and rename my photos online to reflect the source in my inspiration folder. :)

    I see all of the photos.


  12. Jess K says

    I do the same as Sherry. But, I have a binder for design ideas that I love and I also keep one filled with recipes and party ideas that I see in magazines too. Fun to flip through them!