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You can't build a house without a foundation, and the same goes for scrapping. There's no way to build a page without having the paper to lay it out on. And while this might sound easy enough, it can sometimes be overwhelming.

I've always kind of stuck with the whole "less is more" mindset, using mainly plain papers. I think a big part of my problem in that department is that I'm afraid too many patterns will make for a messy page, but with plain papers, you sometimes end up with plain pages.

So I'm trying to get myself out of that way of thinking, without wasting too much paper in the process.

I've started taking a closer look at what other people are doing, hopefully to draw inspiration from their use of color - this way I'm (cost effectively - yes, I'm cheap) finding what combinations I like, and get a chance to say "ugh, I'd NEVER do that!" In researching an article I did earlier in the year, I learned it's a common practice with its own name: "scrap lifting."

Take a look at this layout from the Patterned Paper Princess blog. While these colors and patterns would never have seemed like a good mesh in my brain (partly why I'm a journalist, not a designer), I think they play out beautifully. 

But there's more to paper than its pattern or color. When you're scrapping (and if you know this already, feel free to skip this section) always be sure you're using an acid-free paper. The chemicals inside some papers, such as children's construction paper, can prematurely age photos and yellow the pages.

I guess that's about it for paper - if anyone has suggestions on layouts to look at or ways to get over my fear of patterns, feel free to let me know.