{organizing with style} A Customized Paint Deck and Paint Reference Charts

It's been mission paint organization around our house lately, and last week I showed you how we transferred all of our latex paint out of their rusting cans and into screw top plastic canisters with labels on top {read all about that here}.  On those labels I noted the paint brand, paint color, and sheen, but I also wanted a way to track other details, like the paint color code and any other special instructions.  And while I had all the paint cans open, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to create a quick and easy, portable paint deck.

Let's talk about the paint deck first.  When I joined Pinterest a couple of years ago, one of the first organizing ideas I ever pinned was a customized paint deck on stir sticks.  I loved the idea, but wanted something a bit more compact and portable, so I opted for craft sticks (aka, Popsicle sticks).

This was a simple project that just involved painting each craft stick with the various colors of paint that adorn the walls of our house, and then drilling a hole in each stick so that I could insert a large book ring to hold them all together. I left Scott in charge of drilling the holes, and he worked out a pretty good system, but no matter how careful he was, some of the craft sticks still cracked.  I ended up only having to repaint a few of them, but learn from my mistake - in retrospect, it would have been much easier to drill the holes before painting the craft sticks. Doh.

The most successful method Scott found for drilling holes in the craft sticks was to use a clamp to secure the sticks to a scrap board and then drill the hole while applying very little pressure.  He used a 5/32" drill bit and was able to drill through 2 or 3 craft sticks at a time.

I used a thin-tipped Sharpie to write the paint brand and paint color on the back of each paint swatch stick, as well as noting the room or rooms of the house in which the paint color has been used.

With all the painted craft sticks hanging a the book ring, my paint deck is compact and portable, making it easy to take along when shopping for coordinating furniture or fabrics.  Using the book ring to secure the deck together allows for adding additional paint swatch sticks as we paint more rooms in the future.

So that's our customized paint deck!  Then there was the question of how to keep track of all the other paint details.  I remember seeing a great printable that Jen, the genius behind the I Heart Organizing blog, had created last year when she tackled a similar paint organizing project.  I figured why reinvent the wheel when Jen had already done the work of making such a pretty and functional paint reference chart.

So I printed out a handful of copies and set about filling in the details - the location, brand, color, sheen and color code - before discarding any of the paint cans.  Just as Jen did, I also used cotton swabs to add a small paint swatch for each color.

To make things still more organized, in addition to using two charts to record the details of all the paint found on the walls of our home, I also used additional reference chart pages for each distinct category of paint - including project specific paint, oil based paints and stains, exterior paint, and spray paint.  

This was particularly important to my organizing system because, while we are storing all of the latex room and project paints in our utility room, the oil based paints and spray paints can't safely be stored in our utility room.  Therefore, by listing them on separate reference sheets, it makes it easier for me to keep track of where to find the paint I need as quickly as possible.

Of course, getting all these paint details recorded and creating a paint deck was all well and good, but I wanted to make sure that as we continue to tackle new paint projects (like Beckett's new big boy room that we'll be painting soon), we'll need to keep it up.  To make it as easy as possible to stay organized with this new system, I decided to create a kit with all the supplies we would need each time we use a new color of paint around the house.  The kit contains sticker labels for the plastic canisters that we'll use to store the extra paint, craft sticks to paint and add to our customized color deck (with the holes already drilled in them - getting smarter this time around), and cotton swabs to add the paint swatches to the reference charts. To make things even quicker and easier, I also added a paint brush and sharpie to my kit.

I tucked all of my paint organizing supplies into a Ziploc bag.  A clipboard now holds all of my paint reference charts as well as the paint organizing kit.  

So there you have it - all the components of my new paint organizing system:  screw top canisters with sticker labels on top; a customized paint deck; a set of paint reference charts; and a paint organizing kit for future projects.  The most challenging part of any organizing system is keeping it up, so this time I'm staying one step ahead! 

UPDATE:  Project Paint Organization is now complete and the utility room is now home to all of our organized paint and paint supplies.  Click here to see the finished product.

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