Decorating Journal

Years ago, when I was newly married I had a passion to create spaces that speak to the heart. The only problem was, I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. I wasn't a designer, and I didn’t have the confidence I needed to strike out on my own when it came to decorating our space.

I found myself entangled in all the magazines and decorating books I had. I wanted to follow the wise sayings of these designers, and yet I was feeling imprisoned by their style advice. What I ended up doing was taking apart the magazines and (gasp!) most of the books I owned. I took out the pages that resonated with me and created a decorating journal reference for myself. Over the years I've added and taken away from these pages, honing my eye and keeping myself true to the things that I really love and value in a room.

Keeping this journal has been good for my pocketbook, too. I find that with it, I don’t have those purchases I regret.

I've learned that I adore, curving lines, ormolu, the sparkle of a beautiful chandelier, the beauty of antique silks and lace. The colors I love range from the countryside of Provence to the purity of white. I've learned that rooms filled with a few lovely pieces, and plenty of circulating air between them, create a heavenly, airy space, where your mind and soul can rest. (More on this subject in another post.)

Knowing yourself is important when it comes to decorating your rooms. Creating this journal has taught me things about myself I never knew. I discovered that while I love beautiful things, I'm really a closet minimalist who becomes stressed living in a crowded environment.

I have some key words I use when decorating a room:


Here are some of the pages in my journal. Enjoy!

Often times I pair words that reflect my design aesthetic with the photos I love.

I've had this photo for years!
This is the first bedroom I fell in love with in Victoria magazine.

Photos taken from: Victoria Magazine, Carolyn Quartermaine, Cath Kidston, Paris Apartment, eBay


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh yeah. I have the exact same feel and touch as you do my dearest. Soft, whispy, French, gold, white, oh yeah; we speak the same language.

Glorious photos!!! Bisous, Anita

Mélanie said...

I do the same . It is so great to have a journal when you keep inspiring photos. Now I have my blo and others blogs

LiLi M. said...

Did I give you the url of country french antiques?
I'm afraid not!

LiLi M. said...

I love your style! I think you should read Campagne décoration too, it is fabulous! Do you know Country French Antiques, she has often very beautiful photos from French magazines, that will save you pennies! I love the French style, but for myself I just cannot choose.

Lori said...

my computer signal went away as soon as i tried to publish my comment last time...but try, try again...thank you for posting this Nancy...this is something i dearly need to do...i know exactly how i want my home to look...but when i am shopping, i totally loose my focus...the problem is that i like too many things...i think i shall make a purse sized journal to carry with me, to help curb those impulse purchases...

Florence said...

I too collect pages out of magazines to dream of the some day I want to do that great idea. Florence

June said...

Nancy these speak to me. Just beautiful. I have such a hard time editing things and find that I can easily overdo a room. My husband is building me a studio, and I'm hoping that that can be my cluttered with eye candy space and then maybe I can live with less inside the house. Isn't The Paris Apartment a great book. And ahhh...Victoria.

LW said...

What a wonderful post…
I enjoyed the peek into your dream book and how you stay true to you.
Nancy I love your style and the things that you share with us.


Kate T. said...

Well, good for you for figuring yourself out. I live with a packrat, yet also love spare spaces. I've had a bit of comprising to do over the years.

I like the idea of a journal - gives clarity when the world is cluttered with design opinions.

BTW, I'm having a 200th post celebration! Stop by sometime to see what's what, why dontcha?



Rosemary said...

I really love those ideas!
I like the soft colors and magical feel.

Joanna Thomas said...

What a treasure trove! That journal is a piece of art in itself. I could look at for hours on end and dream of beautiful rooms~~ You are a wistful wise soul Nancy.. Thank you for sharing your beauty with us!

The Victorian Parlor said...


It's all so beautiful! I love the idea of starting a decorating journal-thanks for the idea!



Rattus Scribus said...

Dear Nancy,
I love space and light and wood and stone in earth tones too. Ah, Anita and hope to add on one day.

Love you and yours,


Anonymous said...

A journal filled with the loveliest of decorating dreams and ideas...
Thank you for such gorgeous inspiration.

Such a Wondrous Place this Faery Space said...

Helloo! These are just lovely. Soft and so calming. Thanks for the beauty dear. Blessings.

Debi said...

Hi Nancy,
What an inspiration you always are! I loved your journal and have kept one myself for years. Thanks so much for sharing it and thank you for your sweet comment about my painting "Claudette". I would love to write a story about her acept I don't think writting is my forte. I will be posting more paintings soon! Hope to see you again.

Anonymous said...

I would have chosen those photos too! Actually I am going through my own magazines as we speak adding to my own journal. Will have to make my journal look a bit nicer though as it just has a boring cover on it!

Secondhandrose said...

I have torn out photos of pretties too but now I have to contain them as neatly and orderly as you have done in your book. I like your style.


Ulla said...

OHHH, and I thought these were your house - you could have fooled me, you already live these photos!

Chatelaine said...

I am often inspired by Victoria Magazine. The older issues are the best! I enjoy taking them out seasonally and reading through them. Even now I always find something I hadn't noticed before.

Your design book is lovely. I too love silk and lace. It adds old world charm and elegance to a home.

Wonderful post!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Nancy ma belle,

Thank you for visiting Ruben and me; what a special day this is for us. We are just going to get out of the house and go antiquing, eat lunch, maybe go out again for dinner and just laugh and be together and do what we do best: reek havoc wherever we go!!!!! We are always getting our noses into something, brewing some idea or stumbling into some new adventure. Maybe that is one of the tricks to surviving 28 years....blessings to you, Anita

Reflections from the Stone Nest said...

Oh, the pictures are lovely. Lots of crystal ~ just beautiful! I love the picture of the bed made up with white bed linens. Gorgeous!


Monica@The White Bench said...

Hello Nancy,
what fun! I am doing exactly the same!
I've been keeping 'Discovery Journals' for years, with pictures from magazines and found on the web (furnishing, fashion, gardens, and all I love). But now I have decided to also make a specific journal about Interior Decorating. Just in case I bump into my dream English cottage someday ;))
I love Victoria and CK too.
Have a glorious March,

Zita - Mlle Magpie said...

A most wonderful idea, Nancy.

Suzanne MacCrone said...

Hey Nancy,

I did the same thing and still do...but I never tear apart my books {I just buy more!}. I still refer to and add photos to my fat binder full of ideas. When we moved into this old house it helped keep my ideas in order when there was so much to work on here.

So much fun to see your inspiration. Thanks for sharing with us.

Ciao bella,

bluemuf said...

Nancy, I enjoyed seeing your inspiration decorating book. Thank you for sharing

Hugs Karen