Karen Adams Designs got its start in 1999 with a Stationary Show. It’s an award-winning family business based in Memphis, Tennessee and focuses mainly on stationery but also creates calendars, agendas, greeting cards, invitations, art prints, menus, and more. Karen Adams got her start with a degree in apparel design from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked in New York City for companies like J. Crew.
I want to be clever, innovative, classic but in a fun way. I want people to smile or laugh and feel good. You know when you are out for a walk and pass someone who smiles and says “hello” and you think “ I love that people smile and say hi, this world is pretty great.” That is how I want what we send out into the world to make people feel.
I’ve had my eye on the Karen Adams Designs agenda for about a year now, since I saw a review of the 2017 Agenda from Earn Spend Live. I reached out to Karen Adams Designs with an interest in reviewing their recently released 2018 agenda. I communicated with Karen’s daughter, Wallis (who also has a design background), who kindly sent me an agenda to review for all of you!
The Karen Adams Designs Agenda launched in 2017, so this is their second year of designing and providing a daily agenda. While Karen designs the complementary page of stickers in the agenda, much of the design is from Wallis, and reflects thoughtfulness and ingenuity.
This is a big agenda, measuring in at 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ including the spiral. It retails on the Karen Adams Designs website for $44 plus shipping, which is a little below the average cost for a daily agenda of this caliber.
This is a daily planner. There is a generous page per day in this layout–shared weekends–along with monthly spreads and notes pages.
When you first open the planner you see a page of stickers (designed by Karen Adams herself!). These are creative, cute, and really just gorgeous stickers. There are a lot of holiday stickers as well as some more general ones. The inside cover includes a pocket folder. It’s loose enough to easily slip some papers in and high enough that they won’t immediately fall out again.
Then you have your nameplate page (adorably encased in a pineapple), along with the Karen Adams Designs logo and the dates covered by the agenda (January–December 2018).
You also get a page to record your passwords–there are prompts for Email, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and others. Nothing financial is included, which is generally a good policy. Then you get a page for 2018 Goals, with a checkable circle for each line.
You get a page to record must see movies and must see books. There isn’t a lot of space to record your entire To Read list for the year, but probably enough space to write down books and movies that are coming out in 2018 that you want to keep your eyes out for!
Next is a page for Dates to celebrate in 2018, which is a perfect place to record important dates, birthday, holidays to look out for, etc. They layout of this section is clean and roomy–lots of space for you!
You get your standard page for 2018 Holidays. Karen Adams Designs is thorough–you get New Year’s Day, but also some fun ones like Coffee Day and Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Then you have your 2018 year at a glance on one page.
The monthly spreads are two pages. Karen Adams Designs’ monthly layouts are unique because of the extra design elements that are included. Beautifully drawn thematic embellishments surround the monthly name. For example, January has snowflakes and a snowman. February has arrows, hearts, lips, and xo’s, in reference to Valentine’s Day. This adds a nice touch to your monthly layout. The designs are all in black and white, so you could even color them in if you want. Each month is different, and the hand-drawn designs add an extra pop of festivity to the spread!
The monthly spread also includes a Notes column on the left hand side of the layout. The bottom right of the layout includes two month-at-a-glance calendars, for the months preceding and following the current one.
This planner has one page per day. The daily layout is simple and elegant with the day and date, Today’s Top 3 Goals, To Do For Myself, Today, To Do, and Notes sections. If there is a holiday it is printed in the top right hand corner of the page, otherwise you get an inspirational or motivational quote. The Top 3 section forces you to prioritize your tasks for the day, or you could also put immovable appointments, reminders, etc. there. You could also write in your top three goals to keep in mind throughout your day–you don’t necessarily need to use this space for to-dos. The To Do For Myself section is nice because it just gives you a couple lines to use for jotting down some self-care, listing a couple tasks that are just about you, or even writing a sentence a day in gratitude or reflection. This section also reminds you to take care of yourself. This could be a nice reminder for these of us who spend most of our time and energy worrying about others.
The Today column is a one hour per line schedule from 6am to 9pm (or 6pm to 9am if you prefer). The To Do column includes 16 lines with circles that you can use to check off tasks. Again, this planner is pretty big, so there is a decent amount of space for writing in your schedule and to-dos. At the bottom of the daily page is a short box for Notes. This can contain anything you need it to–meals, gratitude, note taking, habit tracking, water intake, etc. It is a blank space that can fulfill any need you have of it.
The weekends are combined into one page. You get a column for Today and a column for To Do. Each day still gets its own quote! The today column just has lined space for you to write in whatever you need or want to record. The To Do space has 7 spaces for tasks.
At the bottom of the weekend page is a section where you can write in any big events happening “next week.” Similar to the Day Designer, this quick little layout allows you to see the upcoming week at a glance. This is especially helpful with a daily planner because sometimes you can lose sight of the bigger picture o your week.
The back of the Planner includes a few Notes pages for any additional stuff you want to write down or keep track of.
Packaging can be an important part of receiving a planner. It lets you know that there is a lot of care going into sending you the product and that your aesthetic experience starts before you have the actual planner in your hands.
My Karen Adams Designs Planner came beautifully packaged with brown paper and white tissue paper. Wallis (my contact at Karen Adams Designs) included a lovely card with the planner!
The agenda comes in a keepsake box, which is minimalist in design. It is sturdy and could easily be used to store papers/stickers/etc. or to hold your planner in for safe keeping once the year is over.
Wallis sent me a lovely little notebook and card along with the planner! And your planner, of course, comes with a welcome card printed on card stock and keying you into the social media avenues for engagement with Karen Adams Designs.
The planner itself comes in two color schemes–I chose the cream and tan option (Madame Gres) because I loved the way it looked with the gold foil and how it used a two-tone color scheme to make a busy design look clean and sleek. The planner cover is smooth to the touch and is a soft matte material over a hard board. It feels sturdy. The corners have metal protectors in gold, and the Wire-O coil is white. There is also a white elastic that keeps your planner together so that loose papers don’t come out as easily. The year (2018) is centered on the cover in gold foil embossing.
The back cover has the same image/design as the front cover of the planner, and includes a minimalist version of the Karen Adams Designs logo in gold foil.
This is a daily planner and thus it is a bit hefty. With its 9 1/2” x 9 1/2” size, the planner manages to stay manageably svelte. I’m not sure what the paper quality in this planner is, but it’s probably comparable to the Flagship Day Designer. This allows the planner to maintain a slim profile while still being able to hold enough pages for a daily format.
The Karen Adams Designs planner, in a change form last year, has a series of colorful tabs that run in a single line down the edge of the pages. The colorful palette includes blue, red, yellow, pink, and navy. The tabs are coated in plastic and the pages they are adhered to are a little thicker than the rest of the planner pages. The covers of the planner are big enough that they completely cover the tabs, which protects them.
The planner’s Notes pages are wide ruled, which is perfect for those of you with large handwriting. If you have smaller handwriting and prefer a tighter lined page, then you might not like these notes pages. The inside back cover has a sweet affirmation in script: “She saw every ending as a new beginning.” This is a lovely thought to have at the end of a planner. It reminds you that even though you are at the end of one planner, one year, there is another one about to start, a blank page to carry you forward.
The monthly spreads are embellished with Karen Adam’s playful yet classic art. As mentioned above, each month includes a unique spread of artwork. November, for example, includes leaves, acorns, twigs, and berries. These conjure thoughts of Fall, Thanksgiving, and other November feels. The name of the month is always in a thin script font, which I love. It adds an elegant touch to the planner pages. The numbers are all a regular weight sans serif text, while the days of the week are in an all-caps serif font. You get all the font types in this planner!
As always, let’s start with a pen test!
The paper isn’t overly thick, but it is a bright white that holds most of my pens pretty well. The Sharpie Permanent Marker, as always, bleeds through. This paper also doesn’t handle super inky pens very well, like the Uniball Vision. The highlighters have a little ghosting. Otherwise, the paper held up pretty well. When one page is flat against another you can barely see most of the pens (although if you have a heavy hand you can see the indentation from writing, even if you don’t see the ink.) When you lift the page up, you can see the ink, but it definitely doesn’t come through when the pages are flat against one another.
This planner would be a good fit for someone who wants a comprehensive daily planner. I would recommend it as a desk planner or at-home planner that keeps track of a master schedule and list of to-dos. You could carry it around with you, of course, but it is a little hefty so might serve you better as a sort of home base planner.
This planner would be great for the home or office–it’s flexible enough that you aren’t being led into using it in any particular way. It could keep track of your work schedule and to-dos, as well as reminding you of more big picture goals for the day. If you work in an environment where you become overwhelmed by everyone else’s demands on your time, this would be a great planner for you because it subtly reminds you to think about goals for self care. If you flesh out your daily plans and to-dos the night before you go to sleep or the moment you wake up (but first, coffee, of course), then the sections for “to do for myself” and “top 3 goals for today” will prompt you into a moment of reflection. If you have a lot going on every day but need those reminders to think about yourself as well every once in a while, this planner would be a great fit for you.
If you want a daily planner but want it to be a step above minimalist design, then this would be a great planner for you. The monthly embellishments are adorable and fun, and add a pop of delight and seasonality to the planner. If you want some elegant design elements, the Karen Adams Designs planner is a great way to go.
I probably wouldn’t recommend this planner for students, because there isn’t much room for assignments or due dates. (You could put those in the notes section of each day, however.) This planner would be a great fit for anyone who has full days to keep track of and wants a simple but elegant layout for doing so.
I love the color choices for the tabs this year, and how the pop of color is juxtaposed with the cream and tan cover I chose. The inclusion of an elastic closure band is always a plus! I love the top 3 goals and to-do for myself sections in each day–I think this is a very subtle and thoughtful way to provoke reflection without overwhelming the first-time planner or the person who has too much on their plates to fill out lots of extras. I am a bit of a sucker for daily planners and I love the simple layout this planner uses for its days. I also love the choice of script font. And I love the stickers. They are cute and delightful!
I do wish that the Wire-O binding was gold rather than white–and of course I am not the biggest fan of Wire-O. I also think there is just a little too much white space on the notes pages and would like the lines to be a little tighter. I also wish that the numbers were in a serif font to match the other text in the planner.
There you have it! My review of the Karen Adams Designs daily agenda. Do you have one? Do you have questions I didn’t get to answer? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
Karen Adams Designs is having a Black Friday deal for those of you interested in picking up this lovely daily planner! You can use the code HOLIYAY for 10% off all orders over $100 and Free Shipping on orders over $50. The sale runs Friday–Monday. 🙂