Old notebook makeover – it is so easy!

Travelling a lot with my husband, I picked up the crazy habit of buying notebooks from every airport where we have a stopover. The only things I am looking for, when choosing these notebooks, are for them to be beautiful and girly and for the pages to open nicely, to be easy to draw tables and to fit longer “to do” lists. I use these notebooks for my everyday organizers. This is a little bit of an expensive habit I must say…

decorated notebook, silver glitter pen and white acrylic marker

So, trying to find different ways to save money and work with all the paper craft materials I have already collected, I created a new project.

Old notebook makeover

You could also call it “The ugly notebook makeover”, because the idea is to buy not so beautiful, not even attractive and definitely not expensive notebooks and to make them look attractive or at least “girly”.

vintage looking notebook with crooked label with Cyrillic letters

The project started with this one, which I found in a Bulgarian shop for office materials. Even though Bulgarian is my mother language, I couldn’t understand what is the idea is of this “protocol notebook”, or as it is written in Bulgarian: протоколна. What is that? Couldn’t it just be called a “notebook”? The pages are just plain lined and from this point of view every notebook could be a “protocol notebook”.

Oh, this notebook threw me back to the years of my childhood! If you have never imagined a world with only ugly notebooks, believe me, I had it. You can read about my childhood in a socialist country in my book The healing of the craft hoarder. I believe that exactly this lack of opportunities made me a craft hoarder for a very long period of my life…

However, looking again, without this ugly, crooked label the notebook was not so bad. It was hard cover, grey-brown, made from recycled cardboard which made it look a bit vintage. So, even though this notebook reminded me so much of the ugliest notebooks from my childhood, I saw the potential in it. It had what you could call “good bones”.

Even as I saw the potential in this notebook, I was amazed at how it is possible for someone to put so much effort into creating something so ugly, something with no soul. How was it possible for someone to be so non-creative (it’s not even uncreative!) and to make a huge production run of such ugly products and with crooked labels and high prices?

opened notebook

So, I decided to decorate the notebook with a collage.

craft papers in rink, grey and brown

Notebook makeover from the heart

First, I cut some elements. Of course, it would have been easy just to glue some matching, colourful craft paper on the front and back covers and buy and glue on a beautiful vintage looking label. 10 minute and all done! But I wanted to have a real scrapbook project, a real makeover project from the heart. Because I felt the notebook deserved it.

scissors and craft paper with flowers

The most difficult thing was the label. Labels are important. Very important. Like in this case one ugly, crooked label completely destroyed any incentive for anyone to buy this notebook. So, I removed it. It wasn’t even well glued! Strongly fixed on the left side and not fixed at all on the right side – kind of floppy.

the place where the label was glued

Then, I decided to write something nice on it. What would be nice? “Dream” is great, because everyone has the right to dream and to make these dreams come true. Even if you are born as an ugly notebook in a world of beautiful, shiny notebooks.

Success is not a destination

Here, in brackets I also want to say: Don’t hesitate to try lettering and calligraphy in your projects! It is not shameful to make something first with a pencil and after that trace the lines with ink. All the great and beautiful writing from the videos we are watching online have required hours and hours of repetition, maybe years of repetition to become so perfect when demonstrated in front of the camera. If you are not a professional calligrapher, just use a pencil and enjoy what are you doing. “Success is not a destination, but the road that you are on”. I read these words once and keep remembering them every time perfectionism tries to possess me!

handwriting "dream" with pencil and marker

When the writing was finished, I had to complete the label. And this moment became quite difficult. The label in the first picture looks very nice, but somehow plain.

notebook label with "dream" handwriting

In the second one it’s more interesting, but it looked more like part of the decoration, somehow loosing its label “role”.

second type label with handwritten "dream"

The decision was difficult, but I chose the second one. It looks a bit like a cloud not only a label and this somehow suits the word dream.

I also drew some flowers…

notebook label from white and pink paper and black flowers drawn around

…and wrote some other words as decorations: dream, write, plan (because this notebook will be my next daily planner), love, be… A short and kind of hidden almost subliminal, message to myself. The butterfly was also a very important element with all the symbolism it carries.

handwritten dream, write, plan, love, be

I also glued a little heart on the back cover. This made the notebook look finished.

heart glued in the back cover of the notebook

Shine, girl! Shine!

And because I am like a magpie and like everything shiny and glittery, hahaha, I added some silver glitter lines and dots…

silver glitter line above the label, made with glitter pen

And also made the edges of the pages silver – by using my silver, glitter pen.

silver glitter edges of the pages

And the notebook makeover was finished! The notebook looks entirely different and ready to start her new life! Did I say, “her”? Yes, it was not a mistake. We share our deepest dreams and plans, with our journals and they are helping us achieve our goals, to become the better us. Our journals are also our friends. So, the personification is not a mistake.

notebook makeover finished

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