From the minute we began working with Tiffany Piotrowski on her website and e-commerce shop, it was clear Tiffany shared our love of systems and processes. As the owner and principal designer of Tiffany Leigh Design, she leads her Toronto-based team with enviable organization skills to keep their sample library in order.
Tiffany's genius system to organize design samples is actually pretty simple. It involves clear shoe boxes, printed labels, and easy storage that will completely transform your workflow. The best part? We've got all the pieces you need to begin implementing this system today.
How to Organize Design Samples
Featuring Tiffany Leigh Design
Tiffany, can you give us a brief introduction? Where are you located, who are your dream clients and what do you specialize in?
TLD: My name is Tiffany Piotrowski and I’m the owner and principal designer of Tiffany Leigh Design. We are a full-service residential design firm specializing in whole-home design and renovations. We are located in Toronto, Canada, and also service our beautiful surrounding cottage communities including the Kawarthas and the Muskokas (cottages are one of our favorite things to design!). Our ideal clients are busy families with higher-end budgets and a lot of trust in our process. Ideally, our clients hire us for our aesthetic and are looking to renovate their homes from top to bottom including all furnishings and accessories. We believe in a turn-key process to deliver the best results!
How did you come up with your system to organize design samples? Were you having a hard time keeping things in order as you started booking more projects?
TLD: Prior to launching my own interior design firm in 2019, I worked for a larger firm for four and a half years. There, we stored projects in bags – I loved that this kept projects separate and easy to grab on the go, but the bags were difficult to store, and it was sometimes challenging to find the specific project you were looking for. When I was setting up the TLD office, I needed to refine this system to be even more structured and organized. We use clear boxes so you can easily see what’s inside, they are nicely labeled so you can quickly find the project you are looking for, look professional in front of clients, and stack beautifully in our projects cupboard.
What exactly do you keep in your project bins?
TLD: We try to keep all physical samples of materials for the project. This includes fabric swatches, carpet samples, tiles, countertop and flooring samples, hardware, and paint boards. For bigger full home projects we often use 2 or 3 bins, divided by fabric/paint and heavier samples like tile and hardware. We also keep the samples grouped within the boxes according to room, so we have an elastic band and label around all the living room samples, dining room samples, etc. This is great if you need to say, source a drapery fabric for the living room only, it’s easy to grab.
What happens if two different projects are using the same sample? Do you order duplicate samples?
TLD: We always try to get a duplicate sample when we can. In reality, we sometimes borrow between boxes, but it’s not ideal when one designer is out of office for a different project with the sample you need! Projects don’t overlap too much in most cases, as we like to select new materials for each project to deliver customized bespoke design based on the client’s lifestyle and tastes.
How do you store your samples in the studio before adding them to a client project?
TLD: We keep our sample library somewhat small due to a) only having a small amount of storage space and b) we typically choose to source new materials for each project to suit the client perfectly. We do keep a small selection of our go-to basics in belly baskets on shelves above our printer between our tall cabinets – divided by fabric, carpet, leather, tile, etc. We also have an ‘inspired’ basket for samples that we see and LOVE but might not be right for our current projects. They can be a great jumping-off point for a project down the road.
Try This Method to Organize Design Samples
To try Tiffany’s method of organization, start by picking up the clear boxes she uses for each client project. We also have the organization labels for you to download. Simply click the link below and make sure to create a duplicate to work from. From there, you can make edits in Canva as needed to use for each project.
(Don’t forget to create a duplicate to work from.)
Now that you have sample organization underway, you might feel inspired to refine even more systems and processes behind the scenes. We've created a collection of client process templates designed for every touchpoint of the client experience. From investment guides to our bestselling client email templates, we are committed to helping designers create organization and efficiency through every facet of their business.