The House I Really Want...Creating a Dream House Journal
We all have a vision of our ultimate dream home, the place where we wish we could live. It might be a little Spanish bungalow, a turn of the century Victorian with a wrap around porch, a modern glass box, a 50s ranch house, a condo in town, a townhouse in the country or anything in-between. It is your dream, not ours.
Perhaps you are now renting but planning to buy a house or apartment in the near future. Or maybe you have just purchased a house with potential but it needs a lot of work to actually become the house of your dreams. In either case, why not start making plans for that dream house?
Fans of Rhonda Byrne, the creator of the phenomenally successful The Secret book, video and movie, will recognize the concept that the Laws of Attraction dictate that by believing in yourself and aligning your thoughts and beliefs with your greatest desires, you can create whatever you really want in life. A good place to start is to figure out what you really want.
In terms of your living space, the way to do that is to keep a dream house journal. This is what we call an inspiration tool to help you document and organize your ideas, thoughts, and desires. Here you can collect all the information and material you will need to realize your dream, whether you are starting tomorrow or a few years down the road. Keep in mind that it is never too early to start planning.
Start with a loose-leaf notebook, three-hole punch lined, blank and graph paper, notebook dividers, plastic sleeves, and pockets to store swatches and clippings.
Divide the notebook into 8 sections and label the dividers: Living Room, Bedroom, Bathroom, Kitchen, Home Office, Exterior, Backyard and Basement or adapt to the rooms you most want. Feel free to add dividers for your dream rooms—a home gym, crafts room, home theater, mediation station, gift wrapping room, or whatever else you desire.
Use each of these sections to dream up your perfect room. Cut ideas from your favorite magazines every time you see something you love—the pool of your dreams, spa bathroom or a giant closet. Collect newspaper clippings, interesting web sites, photos or mementos of colors and designs that appeal to you. Even if that couch in Elle Decor is thousands of dollars out of your price range, you never know when you might find a less expensive version in the same style. If you love a particular style or kind of furniture, you may be able to find a used version and then re-finish it yourself. (Check out our refinished hutch piece for inspiration.) The point is that this notebook of ideas and inspirations will organize what you really love and provide a direction when you actually start shopping.
Have your digital camera with you at all times. If your friend has a dining room table that you admire, take a picture of it. Bring the camera with you when you shop. Drive around your neighborhood and look for and shoot your favorite exterior paint jobs. Paste these photos in your dream book so that when the time comes, you can reference the ideas that most appeal to you. (Click here for advice on painting the exterior of your house.)
If you already own the house of your dreams, use the graph paper to create floor plans. You can also cut pieces of graph paper into the sizes and shapes of your furniture and move around the pieces to test out different configurations. (Moving pieces of paper is a lot easier that moving heavy furniture.) Keep track of measurements and placement of doors and windows. Take the book along with you when shopping for carpeting, furniture or any other decoration. It is always advisable to have these measurements as you never know when you will discover the perfect coffee table or bookshelf at a garage sale or small shop.
You can create project and shopping lists. If you have started painting, then this is the perfect place to store paint chips for both the inside and outside of your house. If your paint has been custom-mixed, peel the formula label from the can, dab a dime-sized circle of the color on the label and once the dab of paint is dry, tape the label into your book. This will guarantee that you can always find that perfect color again if needed for touch-ups sometime in the future. (Need advice on picking paint colors?)
Record your goals and priorities and the things you love best about window treatments, floors, ceiling and wall coverings. If you can draw, keep your sketches stored here.
If you hear of a good plumber or electrician, get his name and number; these are people you will need to contact one day. Start pulling together a complete contact list of trade people. Use the pockets to store property and tax information. Keep detailed records of appliances and warranties.
Your dream house journal can be made from notebooks found at any office supply store but, if you want to splurge, treat yourself to a leather bound or elegantly printed notebook featuring high end paper. Check out what is available at these fine stationary sites: Rusticoleather.com, Levenger.com and Russellandhazel.com. If a beautifully bound volume will inspire you to use the journal, then go for it.
In every home or apartment there is at least one drawer, box or file overstuffed with piles of scrap papers, receipts, business cards, post-its and pages torn from magazines relating to the maintenance and design of the home. Now is the time to empty those drawers and shoe boxes and organize all of your information and thoughts into one working volume. This dream book that you are creating will offer you the ability to finally consolidate all those scattered scribbles and ideas into one thoughtfully formatted, intelligently organized and beautiful designed personal dream journal. Remember that if you can dream it, you can own it!