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Decorator's Pouch

Martha Stewart Living, September 1999

No more wondering whether a flea-market purchase will fit through your front door or match your living-room paint. Adapt this interior designers' trick to your own purposes: Fill a mesh case (a ring binder or a folder works just as well) with a complete set of room and furniture measurements, fabric samples, and paint colors for different rooms in your home. Include ideas for projects planned or in progress -- and, of course, a wish list for those only dreamed about. Keep the information in your car or your bag, and you won't have to regret another spur-of-the-moment purchase.

Comments (17)

  • LeannaRuth 27 Aug, 2008

    I have a mini version of this for clothing. I use a small ringed address book with pages of swatches/yarn samples/buttons. so that when I am out window shopping that adorable belt that is just not quite right doesn't come home with me.

  • JunesBadApple 26 Aug, 2008

    I've been doing this for years. I use an accordian case (designed for coupons). Each section contains information for each room in the house. I use index cards to note room size, window size, etc. I even note types of light bulbs and wattage for light fixtures according to room. And I put the appropriate paint and fabric samples in each slot, as well.

  • sheilap 26 Aug, 2008

    I reuse the clear plastic zippered pouches that sheets or duvet covers come in. They are very sturdy (I even have a small tape measure in mine) and you can see all of the contents easily. I can just grab the whole pouch if I am shopping for some renovation project.

  • frizzledbride 26 Aug, 2008

    Thank you Martha and staff. This has come at the right time for me. My husband and I are remodeling the first floor of our home. I have been walking around with a floor plan, cabinet style books, window sizes, door styles appliance specs and models # etc etc... Another blessing from your wise staff and daily emails. Charlotte C. Nelson

  • bayoubunny 26 Aug, 2008

    A great idea for the those scrapbook pages you're planning but haven't got to yet. Insert page design, embellishments, etc. Then when you're ready to put it together, everything (except possibly paper-because of size) is there. No more searching. Brads, ribbons - any small items could be placed in small zip lock bags.

  • TheBeachBum 26 Aug, 2008

    I've done this for 3 houses and have saved myself a lot of unnecessary "running around". I use a 5 inch 3 ring binder and have pocket dividers for each room to hold pictures, measurements, paint chips, fabric samples. I have found the pictures very helpful to show the sales person, so he/she gets a feel for the look I want. I also include a zippered pencil case to hold tape measures, pens, pencils, etc. A business card page is also helpful. Put YOUR contact info prominently in it also.

  • kelsker 26 Aug, 2008

    As an interior designer, I know what items I need in this kind of kit. But, this can be a challenge for someone who is not. One of my favorite gifts to give is a kit that's published for Home Depot available in their paint department titled "Color Solutions Journal, Ultimate Paint Project Organizer." A binder complete with color wheels, 8 tab dividers with paint/fabric/photo pockets, and gusseted storage pockets (carpet

  • scooter-mom 26 Aug, 2008

    I usually carry a credit card wallet with paint chips, small fabric samples, and some room measurements in my purse. This is a great idea that would expand on what I have.

  • marthaofthewest 26 Aug, 2008

    Where can I get a mesh case? A source would be very helpful.


  • hintzhamlet 26 Aug, 2008

    Do this!! Having the paint colors, samples and even the warantees for your laminate flooring, water heater etc. to give to the person you sell your house to....Wow!! What a gift! I've seen a well done notebook with samples actually increase the value of a well decorated house!!

  • Anna_Marie 26 Aug, 2008

    Cool! I already have a mini-version of this in my purse, in a small pouch...comes in handy. If I am needing something specific for the house, I write down the measurements and pop them in the small, clear zipper pouch that I keep in my purse, and I am ready whenever I have a few minutes to shop. I also keep some paint color strips of my colors (or a magazine picture that I like) in there, too.

  • tess_of_st_paul 26 Aug, 2008

    A good idea for any info you need kept together-do this for taxes. File all receipts needed for tax purposes in your office area. At tax time, you'll have all the info needed to do taxes. File them by what form the deduction was entered on

  • Sillys 26 Aug, 2008

    What a grand idea! I have worried myself crazy at the store trying to remember the size table cloth, rug, curtains I need. Thank you. thank you. Who thinks up all this wonderful stuff, anyway?? Chuckle.

  • swurman 26 Aug, 2008

    I always keep a little plastic envelope in the car with paint swatches

  • JudyGM 26 Aug, 2008

    I've been doing this for years. All of the folders are stacked in a hanging file holder attached to the inside closet door of my spare room. It's a great resource and the perfect place to store all of those clippings from magazines. It's also funny to look at them a few years later and say, "what was I thinking!"

  • RamonaZF 26 Aug, 2008

    I never realized this was commonly used by decorators! I use this method for all sorts of projects, and it works so well... every room, every quilt, every reno job all have their own little file (I'm going to get a pouch for shopping ease)... I thought I needed to do this just because I couldn't remember everything, and because we take our time with things. I prfer the idea that I am just organized! Thanks!

  • Abobrinha 23 Jun, 2008

    Another one to add to so many "how didn`t I ever think of this". Thank you Martha. Even if I don`t carry it about it is surely useful to have all this information gathered any time you need them.