04 April 2010

How Do We Keep Everything Organized?

The selection process has been much trickier than we expected. It's not just about finding fixtures, paint colors, and tile that we like; it's about finding a set of these things for each room that go together in just the right way. Each room has gone through a series of selections, as we thought we had the plumbing fixtures picked out but found that the light fixtures didn't work with them, and then we find a different plumbing fixture, but it doesn't come in the right finish...and so on. So keeping track of each iteration of each room's grand plan has forced us to develop a variety of systems.

When we first started exploring the possibility of buying the old house and rebuilding, we started gathering information about demolition, design, financing, etc. Steve and I both use Gmail, so it was really convenient to create a shared Google document to compile names, phone numbers, links, and more. As that document grew, we eventually separated out the contact information into a separate Google spreadsheet. (If this sounds like a commercial for Google, well, that's just how helpful Google has been throughout this process. It has also been great to put PDFs of information from R's subs in one place where we can both access it without sifting through months of e-mail, and our shared Google calendar keeps our schedules in sync and lets us make joint appointments without checking with each other first. We do love Google!)

All of our selection information is also in a Google spreadsheet, with separate pages for paint colors, plumbing fixtures, cabinet and other hardware, and lighting. When I'm out shopping for components or at the house evaluating options, I sometimes print out the relevant page(s) and write in my selections. Some of our selections have changed many, many times, and we'd be a mess if we didn't have the latest choices all written in one place.

I have also carried our camera with me pretty much every day since last May so I can take pictures of the day's progress, things we see at shops, other houses we like (we've probably been to 50 open houses since last spring and have gotten lots of ideas), etc. Sometimes when we're out shopping, we take pictures just so we'll have a record of prices for future reference, like this gem we captured for the garage today (the one on the left):


Because each decision needs to be made in the context of other decisions we've made, we discovered a couple of months ago that we needed to bring together pictures of the things that would be together. The solution was so simple -- I made a folder on our laptop that I labeled "room by room selections." Inside that folder, I made a subfolder for each room. When we settle on a cosmetic item (or think we've settled on a cosmetic item), we put a picture of it in that room's folder so we can quickly flip through pictures of everything to be sure everything goes together. I even took pictures of our artwork so we could figure out where framed art is going to go and take those colors into account, too. With this system, it would be so easy to post all of the pictures of what's going in, say, the kitchen or the guest room, but that would break the rule, so we won't.

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