How I Use Evernote to Manage My Home Renovation

Things have been pretty quiet here because we were renovating our place over the June school holidays, so I have been really busy with the renovation and moving out and then back to the newly renovated house. One thing I relied heavily on to help me stay organised for the whole project was Evernote, Skitch and Expensify.


I mentioned before that Evernote is one of my favourite apps that helps me stay organised.  Once again, it proved itself extremely useful for my renovation project.  Right from the beginning, from the time when we first thought about eventually renovating our apartment, I started a Note on our ‘Wish List’. This was to help us remember the things we wanted done. Every now and then, when I came across nice home remodelling ideas, or anything relating to home and decor, I would either clip the website or snap a photo to store away in Evernote. I started a Notebook called “Renovation Notes” for this purpose. This Notebook was shared with my husband so that he could also access the information using his Evernote app. Having all the ideas and information easily accessible through our mobile phone app was extremely useful when we were out sourcing for things or talking to interior designers. Some of the information that I stored in this Notebook include :

1. a web clip of the list of Case Trust Accredited Businesses (specifically renovation contractors) that I got off Case Trust website

2. my floor plan

3. Supplier information (web url, contact information)

Let me explain using floor plan as an example. Evernote allows you to attach a PDF document to your note. So what I did was to scan my floor plan and attach the PDF to a note, which I named “Floor Plan”. We needed floor plan for a lot of things. When we scouted for designers, we needed to show them the floor plan. Window blinds suppliers use the floor plan to estimate the square footage needed in order to give a quote. Even furniture suppliers sometimes use the floor plan to advise whether the space is sufficient for the furniture. When we were at one of the window blinds supplier’s office, when asked for a copy of the floor plan, all we needed to do was to email the floor plan straight from Evernote to the shop and the sales person could print it out straight away. Very convenient.

When we were shopping for fixtures and fittings such as kitchen sink and sanitary wares, we would snap pictures of some of the items we wanted – which I could do it straight from Evernote – and note down the price, model number and measurements. Shopping for fixture and fittings was not done in one trip. We made a few trips to several places to see different items to make comparisons before deciding on the ones we wanted. Sometimes we had to go back home to check if the items would fit. It was not something that we could  immediately purchase.  We saw so many things at so many places it could get really challenging to remember all the things we saw.  So it was useful to be able to note down the shortlisted items in Evernote. It helps that these days, the shop owners are very used to customers taking snapshots of their merchandise. Most shop owners have no problem with this, especially if you asked beforehand. I think most of them understand that people need to go back and check if things would fit and of course, make comparisons with other shops. Some even encourage you to snap pictures and simply call back when you have decided to let them know the model number so that you do not have to make a special trip back again. Of course, there are still a few who do not allow you do take pictures. For me, it is less likely for me to buy from such places.

For easy reference, I usually put all the important information in the Subject line so that I do not actually have to open up the Note. Here’s how the Notebook looks like :



Another important Evernote feature that worked beautifully for my renovation project was the Search function. Evernote will search all your notes, as well as the PDF you attached in your Notes. I created a spreadsheet, which I called “Inventory List”, for all my cartons of stuff that I packed away to the temporary storage warehouse. Every carton was numbered and labelled with the content, as well as where the items came from and who they belonged to. (If you are using movers, I would not recommend you listing the contents of your carton on the carton itself for safety purpose.) The spreadsheet is the Master Control. Altogether, we had about 70 over cartons in the warehouse. What if I needed something? Where do I find the item among all these cartons? Evernote makes it very simple. I converted the spreadsheet into PDF and attached it to a Note, which I also named “Inventory List”. I had to convert it to a PDF document because I am using the free version of Evernote account which does not allow me to search just any kind of document. If you use the paid Premium account, you can search anything. Anyway, it is very easy to convert my spreadsheet into PDF because I am using Numbers (Apple software).

So let’s say I wanted to look for some Emoti books for my #3. All I have to do is to do a Search in Evernote for “Emoti” and Evernote will list down all the Notes that contain the term “Emoti”. It will also highlight where this term appears in the Note. This is what I will see :



I can immediately see which carton number the books are in and go straight to the warehouse to locate the carton. Really cool.

Potentially, Evernote can do a lot more using tags and complicated search commands. My project is simple and I do not need a lot of fancy function to achieve what I need to do.

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 7.10.40 PMSkitch

Skitch is an app that works with Evernote. It allows you to annotate on pictures and share it with other people. For instance, when my Interior Designer sent us the 3D drawings of his design, I used Skitch to annotate on the pictures itself and sent him my comments in the drawing instead of trying to describe verbally or in writing. A picture speaks a thousand words.

After my cabinets are up, I needed to get some trays and boxes for organising the drawers and cupboards. There are many cupboards and drawers. How to remember the measurements for every one of them? Skitch makes it possible. I took pictures of each one of them and annotated the measurements using Skitch. Skitch stores all these as Notes in Evernote, so even though my husband does not have Skitch app, he can also have access to the information if I share the Notebook with him. Now, whenever we go fixtures & fittings shopping and wonder whether the item can fit into a cupboard or drawer, we can refer to the measurements easily. Here’s how it looks like :



Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 7.12.25 PMExpensify

Expensify is another app that works with Evernote. Basically, what I wanted was an app for keeping track of expenses. Renovation expense is something that can go out of hand very easily. All the add-on’s, changes and purchases can blow up your expenses quite easily. Expensify is quite simple to use and helped us keep track of all the payments we made and the up-to-date amount we have spent. I would take a snapshot of the receipts and invoices and attach to each entry. This proved handy once when we had to refer to a particular invoice number and we didn’t have the actual invoice with us. All the information is stored in Evernote and again, I can share the Notebook with my husband so that he can have access to the information as well.


2 Replies to “How I Use Evernote to Manage My Home Renovation

  1. Hi there,

    This is a great write-up! Can i invite you to the Evernote Singapore office to chat? I will love to find out more about how you’re using Evernote.



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