Friday, October 21, 2011


A couple of years ago, soon after my interest in interior design took hold, I realized that my quickly multiplying collection of digital images needed a better method of organization than a folder labeled "interiors." I had been hearing a lot about an application called Evernote, intended for capturing and organizing everyday flotsam and jetsam like to-do lists, receipts, snapshots, etc. It had both online and desktop interfaces, and you could sync it among multiple computers and phones. You could separate notes into separate notebooks, share with friends, and tag notes to create your own organizational system. 

I realized that although what I had in mind wasn't exactly the intended use of the product, it was pretty much the perfect solution to my problem. Never again would I have to look through hundreds of thumbnails searching for that one picture with the green velvet sofa; I could simply tag the picture and then be able to pull it up in a heartbeat by searching the keywords I remembered. And perhaps best of all, it would automatically remember where I found the image so I would've have so much trouble tracking sources. S
o I downloaded the application, added the few hundred images I already had saved to my computer, and proceeded to happily clip anything and everything that caught my eye and tag every element that I particularly liked. 

I have folders for interiors, fashion, wedding ideas and even textiles and rugs to use in design boards. I put the designer or photographer's name in the title of the note and tag it with descriptive words (click images to enlarge):

Some are simple nouns and colors, like "coffee table," "wing chair," "red," etc., but I also try to remember to use tags that describe the style of the space or a particular piece in it, like "mirrored," "floral," or "neutral." This lets me find all the images that share a particular piece, like a cow hide rug...

or trends like "chinoiserie"...

My fashion notebook isn't nearly as organized; since it's so much smaller, I just tag things by season (f/w or s/s):

I can organize fabrics and rugs by color and type of pattern (geometric, ikat, floral, etc.)...

And I can't even describe how helpful this turned out to be once we started wedding planning. All the paper goods, dresses, venue possibilities, and inspiration boards from 100 Layer Cake, Once Wed, etc. could be put in one place and tagged so that we could concentrate on one element at a time. And I've added plenty of non-wedding-related things whose color schemes, fonts, or styles inspired me (word of advice, though: never bring a picture of a red carpet gown to a bridal appointment and say "I'd love a style like this in white." They will look at you like you're from another planet.)

So, as you can see, I developed a System. And then, a year and a half later, Pinterest was invented: a sort of social-network version of the same idea. I do think it's a brilliant idea (I love browsing friends' boards and finding things for the blog) but for me it's a little redundant, since I already have a system housed all in one place. But t
here's such an obsession with Pinterest at the moment that I've been feeling like I kind of need to explain my relative apathy! 

How do you all organize and make sense of the visual overload? Do you also feel the need to organize and record, or are you a little more laid back about it? What technology has helped you?

If this post was the most boring thing you've ever read on this blog, take heart: I have some great roundups in store so just sit tight :)


  1. Omg, I am forever indebted to you for bringing this program to my attention. Up until now I've had things sorted into tons of different folders. It wasn't the greatest system because sometimes I'd forget to change folders as I downloaded and would routinely have to re-sort everything.

  2. This is amazing. What bums me out about Pinterest is that there are some images I want to catalogue but don't necessarily want to share. The searchable aspect of your system, too, is very compelling. Thank you for explaining it in such detail. (Also, I was happy to see my "Cyrano" book among your inspiration items!)

  3. You bring up some really good points. My husband is a programmer so I had actually asked him to write me a program similar to pinterest about a year ago. He never got around to it but I'm glad to have pinterest as an endless source of inspiration. But I can imagine it would be hard to leave something so organized and start all over.