Five Lessons Cleaning My Family Room Taught Me About Scrapbooking

by | Scrapbooking Ideas | 34 comments

This is a guest post from Lain Ehmann of – look for a giveaway opportunity at the end of this post.

This month, I’ve been working my way through the “30 Days to an Organized Home”  ebook, and one of the first assignments was to tackle the formal living room.

Now, our formal living room (A) isn’t that formal, and (B) is the repository of all my scrabooks. There are shelves lined with 12×12 post-bound albums, 8.5×11 binder-style albums, and mini-albums of all shapes, sizes, and descriptions in baskets. Hey, I’ve been doing this a long time!

But none of that was an issue. What WAS an issue was the two-foot-high stack of finished, but unfiled, layouts. Yes, 24 inches of 100-plus layouts that had been completed but not placed in an album.


So that’s what I spent last Saturday afternoon doing. Sorting, protecting, and filling these layouts. And it took me a long time. But.

It was totally worth it. Not only are the shelves lovely to look at, I also experienced the gift of admiring and appreciating each of those layouts again. And in the process, I came to some pretty big discoveries:

I have never regretted the time I’ve spent scrapbooking.

Not once have I looked at a layout and said, “Geez, that 30 (or 40 or 50) minutes was a total waste of time.” Nope. I love each and every one of my layouts – not because they’re all beautiful (they’re not!) or meaningful (ditto!) but because I have captured a little something with each one.

A story, a snippet of conversation, a look on my daughter’s face… something that would otherwise not be noticed or recorded. Every layout I’ve created has meaning. And that means it was time well-spent. I wish I could say the same thing about the hours I’ve spent playing “Words with Friends.”

The pages I’m less thrilled with are those that don’t tell a story.

While I do appreciate each page I’ve made, there are some that are less meaningful or valuable to me. These are without exception the ones where no story is told. You know, like this:

I can look at the layout and enjoy it, but it doesn’t SAY anything to me beyond cute pictures of a cute little girl. There’s no perspective, no story, no meaning.

The value of my pages increases over time.

Unlike the stock market, the value of my scrapbook pages increases without fail, the more time that passes. The pages I made five or 10 years ago are worth more in terms of emotional value than they were when I made them, and I anticipate that this is one stock portfolio that will continue to grow at a steady rate.

I know in my gut which pages weren’t “me.”

There are layouts I created as a challenge, or for a design team, or as an assignment that are not a true reflection of my own style. They are perfectly adequate pages, and someone else might never notice the discrepancy, but to me, they ring a bit false. Here’s an example:

This is a cute layout. There’s a bit of a story. But I would NEVER choose these products on my own. This layout was created as an assignment for a kit club, so I had to use the products assigned. Nothing wrong with them – but not “me.” And I can feel it at a visceral level when I see it. It’s such a disconnect for me that it detracts me from enjoying it.

My layouts need to be accessible for people to enjoy them.

After making my way through the stacks and stacks, carefully placing them in page protectors, and filing them according to my loose interpretation of “Library of Memories,” I invited the family in to see the new look. They immediately began pulling scrapbooks off the shelves, leafing through them and reminiscing – exactly how I want people to use them.

So to me, the big regret I have is not the clutter the unfiled layouts represented, but the idea that people weren’t able to enjoy them while the pages were in boxes and stacked up like discarded newspapers. Now my family can interact with the memories, making them even more valuableAnd that’s a lesson (or five!) worth learning.

About the author: Author, teacher, and passionate scrapbooker Lain Ehmann believes that YOUR story matters. Through her ground-breaking online events and classes, books and blog posts, Lain will help you love your scrapbooking more. Visit her at 


Win a seat in the incredible Spawn of True Scrap by answering this question:

What do your layouts say about your scrapbooking?

Did you find this post helpful?

We believe simple is not how your page looks, but how your scrapbooking hobby works. We have a free workshop called SPARKED and it is the best way to learn more about Simple Scrapper and start creating consistently.


  1. Gail E

    My Layouts (or lack thereof) say that I don’t have enough time to scrapbook right now . I am however grateful for project life that make me still feel like I am scrapbooking and recording my memories. Can’t wait for Spawn!

  2. Peggy M

    My layouts say that I love the every day memories – the bits of time where it is a reflection of life. I love to record the vacations and family time. I see layouts of the family history before my family and the family I have made and I have very few birthday or holiday layouts in my stack. While birthdays and holidays are meaningful, it is more about being “us.”

  3. Anne

    My layouts say that I like to get stories on them and that I like to see how many pictures you can cram on one page. Often to the detriment of the design.

  4. SWJenn


    I think that’s my equivalent of the two-foot pile 🙂

  5. Alison

    This article totally resonated with me. As my time necomes more valuable I really want my layouts to have meaning. I too like the everyday moments and the summary style layouts that tell of milestones and our life on general. Thanks to lOAD I am learning to get quicker. I still have to learn to apply those strategies to the test of the year. Thanks Lain.

  6. Crystal

    My layouts say that my style of scrapbooking is evolving and changing. I have a very eclectic style. That fits my life though. Life is constantly evolving and changing. I love to play with techniques and adapt things—just like we do everyday. The memories I try to capture and record are precious!

  7. Melinda Wilson

    My layouts tell me that I focus a lot on family which really makes me happy!

  8. Melinda T

    YIKES, I sure can relate! I need to organize my space so I can spend more time scrapping instead of searching and getting sidetracked! My layouts are about us-our life, the everday things we do, or even a photo that says it all…but if I can’t get them off my laptop and onto a page and into albums, its hard to share and enjoy the stories and random moments!

  9. Chris

    My layouts say that my children are my world. They also say that I like things simple.

  10. Karen Moore

    My layouts are simple, color coordinated and hopefully balanced. They usually tell the story of the photos (w,w,w,w &w) because my memory is getting worse every year. Right now they aren’t saying anything because I’ve hit a wall and I’m not sbing at all. (I hear my photos crying from being left alone in the photo envelope – lol). This was a GREAT article!

  11. Allie.Duckienz

    My layouts say that my scrapbooking is treasured time. That it is authentic and true.

  12. rebecca.k

    Right now, my layouts say that I am busy, but I still want to get something onto paper before the memory fades. I am hoping that I can learn to take more time to make the pages look the way I want them to, but still tell a story.

  13. PatriciaD

    I know what you mean about a layout not being you…I’ve done a few of those myself but I do have to say that every once in a while you find yourself growing through those experiences. Congrats on the sorting into your albums…good stuff!!

  14. Trista

    My scrapbook pages have definitely transitioned over the years, from focusing on things we do, milestones and vacations, to focusing on the little things that make up our everyday life. Of course I still scrapbook the birthday parties and vacations, too!

  15. Rebecca

    My pages say that I love my life and my children. And the small amount of layouts I’ve done say that I haven’t been doing as much scrapping as I’d like to do! 🙂

  16. Michelle huegel

    I think my layouts show that I’m very much a “moment” scrapper – I don’t scrap chronologically, and I have many more everyday type pages than milestone or event pages. Which I think is fine, but I do want to capture those big moments too. I think they intimidate me!

  17. Rochelle

    I think my layouts reflect my view on life & the people who share it with me.

  18. Laurel

    I’ve learned that my story telling has evolved. I used to be straight who/what/where/when/why. I’m trying to focus more on the emotions and stories now.

  19. Jacqueline

    My layouts say I love writing/journalling too much. Because I have more scraps of paper waiting for photos/layout designs than I have completed layouts, thanks for the opportunity!

  20. AnnieB

    My layouts say that I love this hobby. That I have a great husband, amazing children and perfect grandchildren. They tell the world that I’m not a very fancy photographer, and that I love everyday photos. They show that my life is full of love, work, challenges, struggles and blessings.

  21. Lynea Ford

    I loved the post about lessons learned. The lessons so apply to all of us as memory keepers!
    My scrapbooks shout out my love for family, because most of them are about us collectively, not individually. I should probably scrap more about specific individuals than I do.

  22. Melissa

    I totally agree about layouts on assignment. Some I love, but a lot just aren’t me. BUT my little girl loves them all, so I like to think the time is never wasted!
    One think I know about me is I love scrapping to complete albums. Having a end point to print my digital pages helps encourage me along the way.

  23. Susan F.

    My layouts reflect my lack of confidence in my journaling abilities. They emphasize the photos, which is not a bad thing, but I would like to be able to share the stories behind the photos. I would love to win a spot in the on-line class.

  24. Deanna H

    My layouts, though not as plentiful or as elaborate as they could be, say that no matter what, my family is simply what I treasure most of all.

  25. Sonjia

    My layouts say that I spend a lot of time creating my own details, embellishments and stories. When my children ,or one day grandchildren, see them, they will know I put a lot of love into them.

  26. Nathalie

    Hopefully my pages speak of the fun I had creating them… no matter what the story and/or supplies I used!

  27. Monda

    They journal and reflect on the importance of being truly ‘present’ in the moment. Life is fragile and fleeting – taking time to savor it in a scrapbook layout freezes that moment in time. Thanks for the opportunity.

  28. Rebecca

    I understand some of those feelings, Lain. Especially the layouts that aren’t “me” and the ones that don’t tell a story.

    My layouts say when I quiet my inner critic I can create something I feel good about. When I step outside my comfort box or just let go of all the constraints about what I think a layout should be – I enjoy the results more even years later!

  29. Kelly

    My layouts say that I value the everyday and family.

  30. Antoinette Naude

    I would say mine reflects a love of all the happy colours and appreciating the small things in everyday life. Documenting the everyday activities and doing list-type layouts tell more of what we like and do at this time of our lives 🙂

  31. Jena

    My layouts say that my photos and the story are what’s important. My favorites convey the story behind the photos as if the viewer was there the day the photo was taken.

  32. Luz Maria Martin del Campo

    I think they express my love for my kids and how nostalgic I tend to get, and they show the best memories we got as a family!

  33. DAW51

    My layout say that I scrapbook to tell the stories that would other wise be forgotten. I am almost frantic about scrapbooking. I have no grandchildren so I have been on a mission to get as many memories and history down as possible, just in case I am not here when they finally arrive. Because of this mission, I tend to journal a lot. Some LOs are just journaling and they are usually my favorites. There is not one journally LO that I do not love, but there are some that are heavy in photos that I think are just OK.

  34. DorothyCC

    Thanks so much for the reminder of the benefits of scrapping. I spend time on scrapping so that friends and relatives will be able to page through my books years from now and relive memories. Thanks also for the reminder to include journalling and stories – just as important as the photos. I love your article.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.


The Simple Scrapper community will encourage and support your unique creative journey.