How My Mind Works

March 07, 2016

Hey there! Spring is coming, whoohoo! Our weather is supposed to be fantastic this week. (Well, warmer, I'll take the rain if it means no more snow.) I've been in the mood to go through the house lately and continue the purge I started a few months ago. When I get in that frame of mind I make lists to help keep me on track.

I have a notebook that I've used through the years for projects and lists like this. I used to toss those notes when I was done with a build or room but I've decided to keep this book -- it's actually really fun to look back and see how I've thought out projects over the years.

I have a definite process when it comes to room redos and larger builds. This little notebook holds all of my scribbles and measurements and it's how I plan everything out in my head. I thought it would be fun to show you how my mind works through the process each time.

A wood planked wall is a fairly easy DIY, especially when you're just painting it all one color. But when you want a varied look with stain you have to plan things out a bit more. When I planked the wall above our kitchenette in the basement I had to sketch it out first:

As you can see, some of my measurements didn't add up because I edit as I go -- one row looks like I have nine feet of wood on a six foot wall. :) 

I HAVE to have a visual when I'm working on something like this. I'd lose my mind and waste a lot of supplies if I didn't write it all out. Again, if it was all one color I wouldn't have planned this all out quite so much, but because I was using stain and wanted to make sure there weren't too many colors touching, I needed to figure out different sizes. This also helps me buy exactly what I'll need when I go get supplies. 

Here's the final result: 
Planked wall with varied stains
You can see I didn't follow it exactly -- because of the stain colors I ended up changing things up a bit, but I would have used a LOT more wood if I hadn't planned it out beforehand. 

As I said, when I get an idea the drawing is the first thing I put on paper. Sometimes I end up changing it up a bit. This was the original plan for the extended kitchen island

At first I wanted the ends to be small bookcases (duh, can't you tell from my amazing drawing skills?). 

I quickly realized that was going to make the island a lot longer than I wanted it to be. The bookcases would need to be a good foot across to make it worthwhile and I didn't want to go quite that wide with the whole thing. 

This was the final plan: 

I mean, that's talent right there. Don't you want me to draw you something? 

But what matters is I know what's going on there. :) The end result was exactly what I figured out in my head: 
Extending a kitchen island

A lot of times I have to write it down so I can figure out little details. When I extended the half wall in our foyer to a built in bookcase I was trying to figure out if was going to keep the whole thing under the half wall trim that was already there or just make it flush with a new top across. At first I was trying to incorporate the trim (the shaded part on the upper right): 

But after playing around with the design I decided I wanted the top one large piece (which was the best decision). 

Here's how that one turned out after a little tweaking: 
Half wall bookcase

The drawing is just the beginning -- sometimes I'll fill up at least a page (usually two) with measurements as I factor in the thickness of wood and details like that. When I built the cabinets in our kitchen up to the ceiling this is what I started with:

Looks simple but I filled two more pages with measurements and assigned each cabinet with a number so I knew exactly how much wood to purchase (and how much scrap I could use for this project). I have to have everything figured out to the exact size if I'm having pieces cut at the hardware store so this part usually takes longer than anything else. 

Here's what that drawing turned into: 
Extending kitchen cabinets to ceiling

This notebook also holds my lists for all of my recent large projects. After I draw, then scribble all of my measurements, the list starts. This is just one page of many that filled this book for the kitchen renovation: 

There's still a couple items not crossed out -- working on those. :) 

I love this little notebook and will keep it as a diary of house projects. It's nice to look back and see all of those items crossed out on the lists. (Nothing like crossing an item off!) I know even with extensive tutorials here on the blog it can sometimes seem like things happen quickly or easily. With experience these projects do get easier but it's rarely quick and it's always hard work. Thankfully it's work that I love!

The next project I'm sketching out is the huge built in desk in the loft. I really want to get started on that room this spring! How to you tackle projects in your home? Do you draw like me or just pick up the phone and call the contractor? ;) I've done both! 

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  1. I do the same exact thing! I have to draw it all out and figure it out first. And I save all my sketches, too! It drives my hubby batty because he's the figure it out as he goes type. Our living room built in was a trust exercise for me--I had it all dreamed up in my head and sketched out, then I handed over my plans for him to "figure out as he went". Happy to report that they must have made sense, because it's exactly what I wanted! ;) Haha!

  2. I love it! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look at your process! I do the same thing with my projects and events! Sketches, measurements, lists, probably not as thoroughly as you, but I have to start somewhere! And before that, there's a TON of Pinterest-ing to find the perfect idea that I can tweak to fit my style!

  3. I need to write everything out! I love lists and visuals. I love the behind the scenes of this post! xo

    Mel |

  4. I love the idea of keeping it all in one notebook. It would be fun to look back at over time.

  5. I love drawing out my ideas. I don't get too many things to change up in this home, however, I have had fun sketching out the bathroom redo we need to do as well as the fireplace ideas I have.

  6. I have notebooks every where full of all my sketches and ideas. If I was a little more organized, I would have a single notebook and would keep it in one spot so I could find it when I needed it. LOL

  7. That's my method too! I do the same thing for sewing projects fact, your plank wall sketch looks surprisingly like one of my quilt sketches!

  8. I use Microsoft Word to "sketch" out my plans and then have my husband figure out how to make it work. So far, I have redesigned every room in my house at least once! It makes it nice and easy to make changes, add color, etc... I really like the idea of a notebook, though!

  9. Unfortunately I tend to get inspiration, eyeball it out and just jump in! Luckily I've been fairly successful in doing this, but I'm sure if I took the time to plan more, my projects would be done in half the time 😄

  10. I noticed the word "clean" is at the top of the page not marked off. LOL. You are a girl after my heart!

  11. Why didn't you add hard flooring around the kitchen island in basement? I mean you wouldn't put full carpet in the bathrooms because they don't go together same thing with any kitchenette area. I have a kitchenette area area in our basement but definitely installed hardwood underneath the counter areas.

    1. It's a matter of personal preference -- I don't care for two different floorings in a room. It makes a space feel smaller to me. Not to say we wouldn't ever do it but the kitchenette was added after the carpet. It's fine for now.

  12. My favorite way is to pick up the phone and call the contractor and I have NEVER undertaken the complex projects that you have done by yourself. BUT.......we are sisters separated at birth when it comes to making lists and drawing (happy to see you set the bar low for drawing skills). I love everything you've done in your home, but the kitchen is definitely one of my favorites, especially the window seat.
    Bertie DeWane

  13. Yep, writing on a piece of paper helps me think... I just can't do it via CAD or via some other computer device... I need a paper and pencil! and your plank wall turned out fantastic!
    p.s. are you still doing the Before & After 1st Monday of the month link party?

  14. It's really cool to see how your mind works when you make such beautiful projects! Might have to try some of these ideas myself. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I do this exact thing, but with Excel! I make an Excel spreadsheet for almost everything. LOL! Obviously, not DIY projects, since I don't do those (yet). It is fun to look back at old files and see what I was planning.

  16. Thanks for sharing your process! It is nice to know others go through the many iterations/gyrations needed to "design" something like I do. I am not as detailed as you are but you have inspired me to flesh out the details more before I plunge into a project like I usually do.

    -Maria B.


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