top of page

What's In My Bag 2.0: Designer's Edition

We published a blog post back in 2020 about exactly what I carry in my bag 24/7, and we're back today with some updates and pieces with staying power! These are a few things I will NOT leave the house without - whether I'm headed to an install, a day at the office, or a site visit with our clients.

* If you use some of these links to purchase my favorite tools, I may receive a small commission. No price difference for you!

This backpack is from a local Santa Barbara company named Parker Clay. All of their bags are made by at-risk women in Ethiopia, who are paid living wages + benefits, provided skills training, career advancement, and financial literacy opportunities. They have helped over 1000 women through their program, with the goal of restoring independence to women who have been exploited through prostitution. I proudly rock this backpack knowing what opportunities are being created before it gets to me.

With as much as I carry every day, and my back issues, the one-shoulder Dagne Dover tote bag I used before wasn't cutting it anymore. Plus, the vegan leather of that bag got scratched up a lot quicker than I was expecting, and you can't really repair scratches with vegan leather.

I still have room for my keys, a pocket for my iPad, my phone, my Yeti mug full of coffee, my other bottle full of water, my full sized laptop, chargers, AND my measuring tools!

This has been a constant go-to for me when my lips are dried out, and now I can get it at Target ever since Ulta opened within Target stores. It's a great add in a big bag like mine, or a small belt bag or purse!

During lockdown, my Bose over-ear headphones were my saving grace. Now that the new AirPods are noise-canceling, I have moved on to these on a more regular basis. They are an investment, but they are so light to pack, and the most comfortable to wear for hours on end - I can get up and walk around without worrying about wires. The Bose headphones are used more at home, and sometimes for travel if I have enough room in my carry-on.

This might look like an old camera film container from the 90's, but this little tool is AMAZING!! You can scan literally anything - a fabric, a wallpaper, a piece of art, or an existing wall paint and get suggestions of the closest paint color from multiple paint vendors, right on your phone! You can see in the example below that there are subtle differences in the teal, but the choices are so great, especially if it's a "we love this color, but slightly more ____" conversation with a client.

This automatic screwdriver is amazing and saves soooo much time during installs! You never know when you'll need to use an extra screw or add one more shelf to fill out an art wall! It has really been the MVP of our new studio build out too (don’t tell Brian I said so!)

I can measure a room in minutes with this laser measuring tool, and I'm all about cutting inefficient processes! I recommend having one of these for your own home projects because if you're anything like me, you need a measuring tool more often than you ever thought for DIY home projects. Measure twice, cut once, right?

This is my go-to tool to cut rug pads down to size, and to cut down all of the excess cardboard that inevitably comes with installs days! These are great to have on hand if you love crafts, or have kids who love crafts at home during virtual learning (but these should definitely be used by mom or dad)! They are perfect for all that plastic packaging that should be outlawed because it’s impossible to open... and bad for the environment!

Canvas software made our list in 2020, and it still remains one of our most used tools. It has made Madison Nicole Design so much more efficient, which means we are able to turn client drawings around quicker, ultimately improving our design process as a whole. I use this scanner to scan my clients' homes during our Measuring Meeting, and I can get a 3D model made within 48 hours from those scans!! It's such an incredible tool to have when I'm working on 3D renderings and I can focus on our selections rather than building up the existing model first.

This is the mothership of my business, as I'm sure it is for most designers! My laptop does so much work for me in the office, but I love being able to be mobile and work wherever I might be that day. Right now, it’s making the trek with me back and forth every day between the team office and my home office... I think it’s the one thing in my life I spend the most time with these days!


We took a chance incorporating the iPad Pro into our workflow in 2020, but it's proven to be more useful than I ever thought. I had tried it out originally, and we ended up getting one for each team member because they were so useful.

We have moved significantly to using the iPads for client presentations, because the time and supplies it took to print large format, full color design presentations just didn't make sense anymore. Each team member can take notes on their version of the presentation, and we can combine them later on to keep everything straight. And clients don't mind at all!

I know we still haven't used the iPad Pro to its full capacity, but I'm very happy with the processes it has been able to streamline since we started using it.

When I need a manual measuring tape, it used to always require at least two people to hold down one side. I discovered this magnetic measuring tape at a client's home recently because I had grabbed the client's tape instead of mine, and the magnetic end attached itself to the corner beam, and it actually stayed in place as I walked away!

These may be old news to you, but I am so excited to add this my bag. Multiple measuring devices are my design love language!

I still feel like Mary Poppins with the amount of things I have with me in that bag! But now my shoulder won't bother me (fingers crossed)! What tools are absolutely necessary or your favorite tools to use in your industry?

What do you think I need to add to mine? Let me know on Instagram!


03_Alternate (4).png
bottom of page