There are a few key things that need to be put into place before you embark on a project. I previously wrote about getting together a manila folder with photos of rooms and spaces that inspire you.
A project binder is invaluable in keeping a project organized. An organized project is less stressful and saves money in the long run.
I like to keep everything in one place in a three ring binder. Use dividers so that you can label each section. Add extra dividers with pockets. You will find these at any office supply store or drug store. Label your sections as follows:
Contact List: Names, business cards, and recommendations go here. This is invaluable!
Floor Plans: Put floor plans and measurements in here.
Photos: Insert magazine photos or pictures that you've taken that pertain to this project in here.
Swatches: Insert any material swatches here.
Tear Sheets: Insert any spec sheets of specific pieces. Also, any manufactures details on specific pieces.
Quotes: Any contractor's quotes or quotes on plumbing, lighting, furniture pieces, etc. go here.
Paint Schedule: Put photos of rooms with color schemes that appeal to you here or swatches of paint colors that you like. Pay attention to the colors that you surround yourself with at home and in your closet. As this evolves, you can create a total paint schedule. This is very helpful for future reference. I highly recommend trying to use one trim paint color throughout your house to simplify your life.
Invoices: Work that you pay for as the project progress goes here.
Lists and Spreadsheets: I break down everything detailing estimates and final costs and a spreadsheet tracking all purchases made to date. Put receipts in this folder. They can be tucked into one of the envelope dividers until you have time to enter them into the spreadsheet.
This project binder plus the manila folder that you already assembled with pictures from magazines of rooms and styles you like gives you a solid, organized starting point.