Fashion is everywhere

Chez Larsson

Organizing magazines and magazine tear outs

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I’m constantly looking for inspiration. Just like all of you.  One huge source is magazines. You can see which ones are my favourites in the Amazon widget in the right sidebar. They are the ones I read on a regular basis. I also get loads of local Swedish mags and other foreign one’s at work.

Jean e-mailed and asked where I store the magazines and if I save or discard them or wether my basement is full of them. Clare who is helping me find an issue of an Australian magazine which apparently featured some photos of mine might want to read this too. Thank you so much Clare, I’m only kidding 🙂

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The only magazines I save forever are the Martha Stewart publications. I save those in two smallish top cabinets in our dining area. I’m never getting rid of those! Although I did take a huge step by tearing the Weddings ones. I’ve been married since 1990, and happily so, so I rearely looked through them. I decided to tear out all the "good things" and I now have a slim binder with loads of inspiration.

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The other magazines I keep for a while, about six month to a year. There are two piles in the book case behind my favourite armchair. Once the piles reach the top I take the oldest one’s and start tearing. I’m pretty ruthless. I don’t keep much. From one magazine it may only be two or three pages, from another one perhaps as much as ten. I use a hole punch and then file them in a binder. I started this system in 1984 as I was an au pair in the US. I bought loads of magazines and wanted to bring them all back to Sweden. Realised I couldn’t due to the luggage weight restrictions so I sat on the floor in my room and tore out the best bits. As I got back to Sweden I started my inspiration files. There are now four "regular" ones , one Christmas and the MSL Weddings I told you about.

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Four files over 24 years isn’t very much but it’s probably all I can handle. If I had more I’d probably never ever get to the oldest bits, I hardly ever do with only four actually. Like Jean said in her e-mail I’m probably a phenomenal editor (in that particular respect). What I do every once in a while as I flip through the files is ask myself if I still think what I tore earlier is that interesting and worth keeping. If not I just tear it out and thin the files out that way. If they’re getting very slim I rearrange them so there are basically three full ones and one being added to.

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It’s kind of fun to look through the one with the oldest tear outs. I’m not a a very sentimental person (which is probably why I so easily get rid of stuff) but this I’m keeping because it was one of those moments when I knew I wanted to work in the field of interior design (which I don’t any more by the way). I remember just loving this room and I also loved the before and after photos of the wardrobe being organized. It’s from Seventeen magazine… Don’t read that any more…

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Here are some of the more recent tear outs. I love american arcitecture, organizing (oh really, I hear you say), family life decor and Tricia Foley, all of which are in my files. Oh, and I never cut out little bits from a page, always the full page. It’s much easier to keep everything filed in the same binder that way. 

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My files aslo include catalog tear outs. Mostly Pottery Barn, but more on that in a different post.

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I’m not the only one in this family with magazines though. Martin keeps stacks in the boat room of his favourite sailing mags. His history mags are in the magazine files underneath my piles in the livingroom, third photo from the top. The history books are in that same book case. My piles are actually the odd ones out there.

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Martin also keeps a whole lot of old comics. They are actually in the basement, Jean :). Some of Wille’s are in there too and they’re all in clear Ikea boxes. Easily accessible as Martin still likes to get a stack out once in a while.

I think I’ve covered it all now. The key is to keep what you love (that would be Martha for me) and edit the rest ruthlessly. You will never have time to look through boxes and boxes of clippings, but you will be able to sit down with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with a binder full of your best tear outs. Good luck! I promise it’s worth the effort.

39 Comments

  • manon says:

    ok, I have to say, I am officially addicted to your blog. I can’t wait for a new post and just had to comment (I didn’t even read your post yet). Thank you so much for your suggestions.
    Oh one thing: Do you have a tip how to stay with a style or color. I find it really hard to choose one theme or color and stick with it. I mean, I can’t buy everything new every year. can I?

  • lucy says:

    Ditto! Am addicted too. This post is really for me as I have loads of magazines and never quite get rid of them. Paper really weighs me down and am constantly trying to get rid of it. Unfortunately, it piles up. Thanks for showing us how organise mags!

  • Fröken L says:

    Love your organized home. And your blog is so inspiring, that I definitely had to give you this:
    http://lillalyan.blogg.se/2008/june/vad-roligt.html

  • Jean says:

    This is terrific, detailed advice. Once I purge what the magazines I’ve got, I’ll probably restrict my intake for awhile – in other words, not bring the magazines into the house to begin with! I had expected to hear that you didn’t buy many magazines, other than your absolute favorites, enabling you to keep the number that you store to a minimum. It’s encouraging to hear that there is a way to look at/collect the magazines you want, provided one is willing be displined about editing on an ongoing basis.

  • I do the same thing with my magazines! I’m woefully behind on them… I need to go through a huge stack that’s been building up. I put my pages in little plastic sleeves though that go into the binders.

  • Lindzi says:

    Det kliar kliar i mina fingrar att riva och spara. Underbar inspiration!

  • carol says:

    I have just started doing that with my magazines. What type of binders do you use? They look so neat. Do you use an exacto knife to get your pages out? I do, but mine tear quite frequently.
    Thank you for your excellent ideas on keeping a handle on magazine clutter! I have let all of my subscriptions go, but a friend gave me Martha Stewart Living and Victoria. Sometimes it is hard to tear out!!!

  • Benita says:

    Carol, the binders are called Jopa. They’re basically Swedish standard, although normally not in white. I like Russel & Hazel in the US. They have great office organizing stuff.
    Before tearing I usually break the spine of the magazine a little first. Just press the inside and sort of break the glue line. It makes the pages easier to remove.

  • Jan says:

    Thanks for the great tip about keeping the tear outs in binders. I have mine in folders — one for each room of the home — kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc. But the idea of putting them in binders is great instead of having the pages all loose. Thanks.

  • karina says:

    I AM GOING TO SAVE THIS POST AND STUDY WHICH WAY IS FOR ME, i HAVE TOO MUCH MAGS AND THEY ARE OUT OF CONTROL.
    gREAT,GRAET POST!!!!

  • rachel says:

    thanks for the great idea, I needed an excuse to ‘deal with’ the bookcase in the living room. oh and I found your blog on Door Sixteen just last week and have enjoyed reading since – lots of inspiration

  • clare says:

    I thought you would do a post on this! : )) I have to admit to filing as well but after culling magazines and then remembering something in them I had missed,I hate to throw them away.Now I have all my Marthas-home/kids and weddings and most of everything else including 9files.Obviously I need to be ruthless(although over the years I have got rid of thousands!) Still hunting……clare

  • Deb says:

    Thanks for sharing your tips ~ I love seeing how you organize!
    I also keep my tear out pages in binders, and you have inspired me to get caught up.
    Deb

  • Nikki says:

    I must say, you are totally amazing, and your blog is only one of 3 that I read every single day. I love that there’s always something new. BTW, this is my first time posting to your comments, I’m in Virginia, USA. Thanks for each and every post.
    Nikki

  • Yum! Thanks so much – I love these detailed organization posts. I’m with you on the only keeping a favorite mag intact – for me it’s Real Simple. 🙂

  • kristy says:

    I have been scouring the internet for any articles on this topic, and was so excited to see your post pop into my RSS feed today. Thanks for the insight!

  • mel says:

    I have to say I am totally addicted to your blog too, you spoil us by giving so much detail and it is all so doable. Your instructions and photos are very easy to read and follow Thank you, there is so much information in this post, I cannot wait to get my binder changed. I was always keeping my pages in plastic sleeves and I hated it. Now I am going to try your method.

  • Annady says:

    Thanks so much! Now I’ll have a system to clear out my magazines too. You make it so easy to do.

  • Anne says:

    Jag har ju varit inne och läst samt tittat massor av gånger och är så otroligt imponerad av din blogg… och inte en dugg förvånad! Fantastiskt Benita!
    To all of you “out there”. I am lucky to actually know Benita in person. I would like to call myself a friend even though we never seem to find the time for IRL meetings… ah well, when we retire maybe..
    😉
    Anyway
    besides bragging with my friendship with Benita I wanted you all to know that her personality is exactly as her interior design: bright, beautiful, clean, welcoming, always with a lot of humour and a twist, like no others… so now you know!
    Anne

  • As a journalist I have thousands of magazines and newspapers cluttering up my tiny house. After reading your post, on my next day off I am going to heavily edit these publications down to essays and articles. I shall be buying some nice white ringbinder files too. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Jean says:

    This is a question semi-related to the issue of decluttering magazines. From what we’ve seen, your house is spotless and never “undone.” Do you have a regular schedule for organizing your shelves and drawers? For example, do you designate a specific day to cleaning out drawers, do so on a daily basis, or do so when inspired?

  • Lesley says:

    I love love love your blog and your style 🙂 keep it up you are an inspiration!! My long suffering utility room could do with more detailed inspiration if you find time to do a “laundry” feature 😀
    thank you x

  • Concha says:

    I was going to do a post on yhis 🙂 I mean, I still are, anytime soon. I do the exact same thing! It all started when I was about 15 and my mum (a great buyer of interior decor magazines) was going to throw away a huge pile of magazines. I took them and I teared all my favourite pictures. Sometimes I look at them and think my style has evolved but there are things I still love!

  • Amanda says:

    Kind of strange question but what History magazine does Martin subscribe too? I’ve been looking for a good one recently!

  • Benita says:

    Amanda, Martin doesn’t subscribe to any now. His dad was a history teacher and Martin inherited a lot of books and magazines. The ones we have are vintage “History Today” and “History of the 20th Century”. I don’t know if they are published anymore. There are also some Swedish more recent ones “Populärhistoria” and “Världens Historia”. Martin’s a real history buff, just like his dad. It’s fun to see that Wille’s getting there too.

  • Patia says:

    Hey there, I followed you here from Flickr and subscribed.
    Is that a recent issue of Good Things in the top photo? I haven’t seen that one.
    I have magazine tear sheets dating back to 1987. And still waiting to be put into a binder …. I’m almost there.

  • Benita says:

    Welcome to to the blog!
    The Good Things issue is a recent one. Should still be on sale in the US.

  • Patia says:

    Thanks. I will look for it!

  • Karen says:

    Again, just found your blog. I just had to comment on the photo from Seventeen magazine! I too tear pages from magazines and keep binders. I actually had that same photo ripped out of Seventeen! I have since discarded it but what a coincidence!

  • Leah says:

    I think this is my first time commenting, but I have been reading your blog for a good while now. Every post is truly wonderful and inspiring. I thought I had my life fairly together, but you take it to a whole new level. I love it! And they way you do it is very real, practical and affordable. I cannot thank you enough!
    LOVE this post. As other have mentioned, I have been doing this for a number of years, as well, and I insert every page into a plastic sleeve. It makes it a somewhat tedious process, and thus I often get backlogged. Do you find the magazine pages hold up on their own? The little holes don’t tear easily in the binder? I would much rather use your method, but I’m fearful of how it holds up in the long run. I am sure you have a good theory on this. Any thoughts?
    Thanks so much!
    From Florida, USA.

  • Benita says:

    Leah, The oldest tear-outs are from 1984 and they still hold up. I considered the plastic sleeves too, but our Swedish magazines are usualy a larger size than the US ones and they won’t fit into a standard sleeve without cutting, which is why I did without. Thank you for your sweet comments!

  • charlita says:

    I came to this from a google search looking for motivation or ideas for cleaning out old magazines. I too have tried to keep the tear sheets in plastic sleeves and can never keep up. I am going to try your method, thank you!

  • Patia says:

    Just re-read this post after following your link from today’s post. Thought I’d share how you helped inspire me to get my pages into a binder I’m calling my “Inspiration Book.”
    Blog post
    http://www.patiastephens.com/2008/09/project-my-inspiration-book.html
    Flickr album
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/patia/sets/72157607236111881/
    Also, I did find that issue of Good Things, thank you.
    Thank you so much for all your inspiration! Your blog has become one of my favorites.

  • Madeleine says:

    Hi, I really love your blog and i’m so inspired by you and your home. I was reading this post and saw that you’ve worked with interior design and just wonder a bit more about it. What/where did you study for interior design? what do you work with now? and do you like your job? I’ve been following your blog since june I think and I’ve looked through ALL of your posts at least twice. Keep up the good work, i’ll be following!
    Thanks!
    From a girl in sweden

  • I stared out as an interior design trainee at IKEA in Älmhult over tweny years ago. I don't have any formal training, but IKEA was an excellent place to learn. Today I'm the visual merchandiser in a chain of shops in Sweden, I'm in charge of the window displays, props, packaging, give-aways and social media. I do like my job, but I like blogging more 🙂

  • Catherine says:

    I know this is an old post but I was re-reading back through and I have the same problem as everyone else here – too many mags and too much of a backlog. I tried the plastic sleeves and just never get around to it. I scan about half of mine now instead of tearing. But I was just wondering, do you sort them all into separate categories? I keep a lot of craft ideas and have been sorting them into ‘sewing’, ‘paper’, ‘knitting’ etc. Just wondering if you do that.

  • I don’t because I mostly tear home ideas and the homes I tend to like are where there’s a consistecy from room to room so I can’t really divide a story by room. I just add them to the binder and flip through it every once in a while. I rarely look for a particular image, I mostly just look for general inspiration. There’s one thing I do separate and it’s Christmas. I keep all Christmas decor ideas in a separate binder.

  • I collect a lot of inspiration pages and hold onto magazines forever because of certain pieces I adore, but am definitely not organized in this collecting process… Benita, I totally need to get on board with your method here (and in other aspects, too!)

  • Nadja says:

    I just stumbled upon this article, thanks a lot for posting!!! I used to organize my clippings by turning them into books with ring binding. The downside is that I can never take them out again. So now I’m gonna try it your way 🙂