Nifty Design Notebooks and Journals

Your ideas are precious and if not recorded, can dissolve away in an instant. Where do you jot down your brainstorms and scratch out your quickie designs?

If you’re like me, you have journals and notebooks at the ready. I keep one at my workspace, another on my nightstand and two (a pocket and a mini size) in my purse. And somehow my ideas seem more significant when bound in a chic volume. So I went hunting for stylish notebook and journal options for us and came up with this list. Have fun capturing your ideas; I know you’ll be brilliant.


Nothing like the pop of color in Edesse Designs’ Kilim Rug Design Journal. Or at Phoe Line’s eBay store, you’ll find this classy Art Nouveau leather journal.



There’s an operation over in the U.K. called Suck UK (seriously); they came up with the smart, appropriately named Notebook and Pencil. Love it! And be sure to check out Ivylane Designs’ Etsy store and its fantabulous upcycled journals. Who wouldn’t adore their own Pop-tarts notebook?



Just try not to crack a grin when you open your Fiorentina Smile Journal from Journaling Arts. Clever placement of that pen! And you’ll feel like the Indiana Jones of designers when you whip out one of Rogue Journals’ Compact Pocket Leather books.


Get your flourish on with Juniper Berry’s Renaissance Moleskine Pocket Notebook.


“You can get anything you want” from Ivylane. Write circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of their Alice’s Restaurant Recycled Album Cover Notebook.


Never lose your notebook with this low-tech memory stick, NewPrehistory’s Handbound Leather Journal Necklace.


Or confidently stick with this classic Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook.


How are you at capturing your sudden ideas?

Architectural Salvage Safari

Have you explored your local architectural salvage yard lately? You’ll likely find one of these treasure troves in a city near you, and you’ll be amazed at the variety of reclaimed goods in stock. Last week, my buddy Lisa and I went on a hunt at Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley.

Here’s a little light reading and some architectural eye candy from our finds. Enjoy!


I’m a sucker for vibrant advertising signs. One of these would be fab for the Sign Your Space Challenge.

Behind these behemoth brackets is just a glimpse of the stacks of leaded glass we saw.


Giant boar piggy banks for those who want to save beaucoup bucks.


Crayola-hued school lockers, antique heater surrounds, a giant carved wooden head and the “IT” factor.


Rescued fireplace surrounds, complete with columns and mirrors. I’d like to meet the little old lady who owned the pink one.


Doors for days…


…and when you need a sherbet-colored toilet, you know where to find one.


What’s your favorite trove for unusual home treasure?

When Do You Need a Room Makeover?

I’ve been wondering about those one-day room makeovers. You know those transformations you see on TV decorating shows, where a designer comes in, paints the walls, and rearranges your furniture and accessories? In 24 hours presto! The space goes from sad to stylin’.

Is it really possible to improve a space that much without buying new furniture?

To learn more, I visited with Distinctive Nest’s Sara Hunt Malone, a professional member of the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists, who has performed these makeovers for the past ten years. Take a look at this Before and After from Sara.





Wow. That Before reminds me of the keen bachelorette pad my pal Lisa and I shared in our twenties. We had the same dark-beamed ceiling and track lighting.

The key to this makeover clearly was the color. With the white paint Sara Botoxed the ceiling, and taking a cue from the art piece, she bathed the walls in bold color. Sara says, “Color can make a room more cohesive and attempt to bring the style of the room into the 21st century – even when you can’t afford to replace certain items and furnishings.”

The room looks and functions better; the new furniture arrangement beckons visitors to enter. I’m impressed with what Sara accomplished using existing pieces.

But there are times when the old furniture really won’t work in a space, and new things are in order. Like when the scale of the pieces is wrong, as with this room:





Sara says, “Choosing the proper size furnishings and knowing how to place them can be the key to making a difficult floor plan work for you and your family. It isn’t always easy to choose the right variety and size of furnishings to enhance the esthetic value and maximize the space of your rooms. It’s very spacial and many people aren’t trained to see that.”

Many of us Design Junkies are talented DIY designers who likely see more than the average person. But even we sometimes hit a room roadblock. I asked Sara how somebody knows that they may be in need of a room makeover.

Often, they are just sort of stumped by something; sometimes a decision that can’t be made. Maybe they’ve been mulling over swatches up on the wall for a while now. It could be some life event that triggers a change, and the client just needs a little hand holding.”

Even if you suspect you may need to call in a pro for a problem room, “sometimes it’s hard to ask for help,” Sara says. “Especially with us women. We think we should be able to do it ourselves, we should know where to put our couch and what color to use in our rooms, but we can feel that something isn’t working.”

Here are the most common problems Sara sees with the rooms she’s hired to make over:

  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Weight & Balance
  • Furniture Placement, so items relate to one another and the room as a whole.

According to Sara, two of the most helpful steps people can take to improve a room are:

  1. Add more light. Have at least 3 sources of light in a room: Overhead, lamps and mood lighting.
  2. Think about the senses of sight, sound, smell and touch. Incorporate all of these in a room.


I asked Sara to describe one of her most successful room makeovers. She replied, “There was a couple who had separate homes and we redid a room, combining things from both homes. After a week they set a wedding date.

Sara says, “People don’t realize how they are affected by their surroundings. It can change their life. You can’t explain that to someone until it happens.”

Sara Hunt Malone plans to share more room makeovers with us here at HomeWorkshop. In the meantime, you can reach her through her San Rafael, CA design business, Distinctive Nest.

Is there a room, or a problem part of a room, that’s got you stumped?

Spoonflower Introduces Upholstery Fabric

Hot of the Presses…I just got the scoop from Stephen at Spoonflower that upholstery-weight cotton is now available for printing!


Spoonflower is that magical place where you can print-on-demand your original fabric designs. That’s sewdiva Carin Cress’ Flora design above. Until now, only a lighter, quilting weight cotton was available. And although technically this is in test mode, those with a Spoonflower account can sign up now to order their designs printed on the upholstery fabric. This is SWEET news for us Design Junkies.

So go for it! Design and print some fabric, then email us photos of the home projects you make with it!

Isn’t this exciting?

Ta-Da! Challenge # 2 Results

DIY Fabric Design

Okay home heroes and heroines; this one’s a slam dunk. The theme for this Challenge was to create a design for a piece of fabric for your home. Since Casey was our trendsetting, early-adopter sole participant, let’s see her project:


Casey batiked some satin into a whirlpool of silky aqua, green and purple. She was nice enough to share with us her DIY how-to’s:

Mermaid Fabric

(First cover your table or floor with a thick layer of newspaper)

1. Using household wax, “batik” white crepe-back satin using an old, small paintbrush. (I used swirly designs to look like water)

2. To batik, melt the wax in a heavy, small pan using medium heat so the wax doesn’t ignite. Dip your brush in every few minutes so the wax is liquid.

3. If it smokes, TURN it DOWN! Be careful, the wax is HOT!

4. When you finish covering your fabric with your wax designs, let it dry. (Replacing the newspapers will help)

5. Crumple up the fabric to crack the wax a little. It makes a cool pattern in the wax.

6. Paint the colors using your choice of watered down acrylic paints. They need to FLOW & BLEND into each other. I used Ceramcoat. (Iridescent paint can be a nice accent too)

7. When you finish covering the fabric with your painted colors, let it dry. (Again, replace the newspapers)

8. To remove the wax, place a THICK pad of newspapers with a layer of paper towels on top on your ironing board. You DON’T want the wax to end up on your ironing board! Then with a medium high setting on your iron, iron from the REVERSE side of the fabric until most of the wax has melted down into the paper. It won’t all come out. But keep trying.

9. Then launder the fabric and dry it as usual. (With each washing it will be softer.)

10. Use your custom fabric in any project that would work well with satin. I backed mine with flannel and made a “Mermaid Blanket for my son, Tanner. He says he loves how silky and cool one side is and the other side is warm. He likes the colors too. (So do I!)

11. I even painted white fringe with the same paint (no wax) to match!

Here’s the Challenge inspiration project, my Coneflower Hugs fabric design. And now that I know about Spoonflower, this will soon become real fabric.



Lastly, Casey get ready to warm your hands with your snappy coffee mug! Email me and I will get it to you.

Here are the current Challenges for all you Design Junkies who’d like to give one a whirl:

  • Challenge # 3: Make over a piece for your home with a metallic finish. Due Wednesday, April 22.
  • Challenge # 4: Plant a spring container garden in an interesting container. Due Wednesday, April 29.
  • Challenge # 5: Make a lamp from an object in your home. Due Wednesday, May 6.
  • Challenge # 6: Create something for your space that includes your initial or monogram. Due Wednesday, May 13.
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