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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Inspiration: Tear Sheets

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One of four plastic bins in my office full of inspiration and tear sheets.

1 One of four plastic bins in my office full of inspiration and tear sheets.

I never forget a stunning image.

2 I never forget a stunning image.

It's time to find a home for all of these tear sheets.

3 It's time to find a home for all of these tear sheets.

First things first: seperate into categories.

4 First things first: seperate into categories.

After hours of sorting, categories start to take shape.  There's plenty of more tear sheets to add to these piles: Tabletop, Home Decorators, Valentine's Day, Lighting...

5 After hours of sorting, categories start to take shape. There's plenty of more tear sheets to add to these piles: Tabletop, Home Decorators, Valentine's Day, Lighting...

As well as inspiration for Magazine, Outdoor Furniture, Chairs, and Halloween!

6 As well as inspiration for Magazine, Outdoor Furniture, Chairs, and Halloween!

Textiles and fabrics are another passion of mine.

7 Textiles and fabrics are another passion of mine.

Not a moment goes by that I'm not seeking out inspiration for decorating my apartment.

8 Not a moment goes by that I'm not seeking out inspiration for decorating my apartment.

I loved the simplicity of this dining room.

9 I loved the simplicity of this dining room.

I've got a long way to go!  But it'll be worth it in the end.

10 I've got a long way to go! But it'll be worth it in the end.

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Recently, while seeking inspiration for my apartment, I began sorting through bins full of tear sheets in my office.  Several hundreds (dare I say thousands!) of sheets later, I realized just how many resources there are for creativity. I looked at the table full of magazine tears before me and I knew one thing for certain: the amount of inspiration I've found tucked between the covers of magazines, catalogs, and books is incalculable.

Every tear sheet represents a light bulb that clicked on in my mind when I stumbled upon that particular article, photo, or advertisement. The categories of inspiration are limitless: film, eras, pop culture movements, transportation and travel, music... All of the things we come to love ultimately create our personal style, and it's important to hoard as much of that information as possible. Me? I'll keep the manufacturers of manila file folders in business for years to come in my quest to organize all of the tear sheets I've collected!

My blog, more than just a design diary, aims to remind you that inspiration and creativity can be found in anything. I often absorb from everything around me, then put my own spin on it and translate it to the medium of design. I'm interested to hear where you find inspiration and how it helps you cultivate your individual style. As I continue to organize and categorize my tear sheets, I'll be sure to share what I find!

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Comments (11)

  • Hi Kevin, I have loads of tearsheets also and have been paralyzed in trying to find a way to catalog them. Can't wait to see what you do with them. BTW not to be a downer but I have had these light wood floors for over 7 years and the color has "warmed up" and yellowed considerably - not sure how to stop it or it I can stop it from happening. I feel like I made a mistake - am just going to let it go and live with it.

  • Organization of tear sheets and inspirational ideas is still a big, elusive dream for me. However, I have had the discipline to save, organize and file tear sheets/pictures of purchased/selected items in large 3-ring binders (in clear filing sheets) and corresponding file folders with sources, order #s, spec sheets, info on related accessories etc to reference later. While the ideas and inspiration could use some structure, I'm so glad some choices are made that I apparently want them to live on in my home (and my record keeping).

  • Hi Kevin...love your new blog!
    I, too, love fabrics. Can you recommend a source for large scale,contempory, upholstery fabrics?
    Many thanks.

  • I too have a huge collection of tear sheets and clippings. But I'm sad, because many of the magazines I have loved and waited for each month have ceased publication. I know it's competition for Martha's wonderful magazine, but I am so sad Southern Accents will stop publishing. One of the best. May MS Living endure forever. (Or at least as long as I do.)

  • Hey - congratulations on starting such a challenging endeavor. It is well worth it when you get there. Binders and folders popped into their rightful place - such a joy to easily find that spark of an inspiration when you need it! I spent 3 long days doing just this this past month and still have more to do - one job leads to another! You are lucky to have such a wonderful workspace to do the sorting.

  • Kevin I'm a very long-time fan and follower of MSL (I'm 66 and have her very 1st book as well as all subsequent ones) love the blogs follow the website and love all of your wonderful decorating inspirations. But I probably have as many tear sheets as you do, as I'm much older and have been collecting them for so many years. I have had to buy furniture to house them. Are you going to tell us how you will organize them, will they be in binders, etc. I will have 6 weeks while recovering from surgery in Sept. to organize most of them (I hope).

  • We're kindred spirits in this sense, Kevin. I have folders full of pages clipped from magazines. I've put dozens of them into scrapbooks (inspiration books) and have arranged in collage by theme or colour. The result is a 'book' that you can leaf through at your leisure, reminding yourself of all the things you love as you dream of ways to incorporate them into your life.

  • Hi Kevin,
    Really enjoying your blog and everyone's comments.
    Like many others, I'm a big tearsheet collector (browsing tearsheet folders is great when you can’t sleep!). I have a big collection in file folders but I was frustrated by not being able to cross-reference them, so I started using this process:
    -Scan your tearsheets, save as digital files on your computer, and attach "keywords" to each scanned tearsheet, so that you can search on your catalog of tearsheet files using any keywords (interior, wall, blue, retro, Southern Living, milk glass, tile, cabinets, cabinet knobs).
    -There are lots of applications that would allow you to do this on your personal computer - Google Desktop, various programs for managing online photo albums, Microsoft Access if you have it, etc.
    - I know a lot of people like the tactile – holding the tearsheet in their hands – but you could always print out the digital file or keep the original in a file folder system.
    Looking forward to reading more about the renovation. (My two cents: go with the 3/4 inch.) Cheers!

  • I use my computer for 'tear sheets'. I sometimes will photograph something and then put in a folder, no paper to deal with. I still love to go through my paper files that are labled by the room or DIY ideas.

    My recipe card files have been purged since most recipes are on web sites. Now most of the recipes are scanned on DVD's for now.

  • I love that I'm not the only one who loves doing this! So I can let all my friends know that I am not crazy! Thanks for sharing!

  • [...] the far left shelves are binders dedicated to tear sheets, printed out open source books, and other art reference materials. I prefer to read things on paper [...]

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