Cappuccino: My First Van der Spek

Ever since their arrival within the planning community (or least, ever since I have known about them), I have wanted a Van der Spek binder.  I knew it would happen one day, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. 

For anyone not familiar with their brand, Van der Spek (VDS as it is lovingly referred to) is a leather goods company in the Netherlands.  They make many different products, planners and organizers included.  I can’t speak towards the other products, but the planners are made from genuine leather.  They are handmade.  The quality is impeccable.  Their customer service is amazing.  Sure, with this kind of craftsmanship, you will pay a little more.  But in my opinion, it is worth the extra cost to know that you are getting something that is handmade and of great quality.

Did I mention that you can customize your own planner?  As in, you choose the layout and colors?  Add that to the quality of what you’re getting, and you can’t go wrong (except for maybe a lot—a lot— of indecision of the planning process).  This truly is a planner aficionado’s dream come true!

I had been putting money aside in order to treat myself to one of these beauties.  As luck would have it, a family member gave me money towards my next planner purchase (thank you!) as a Christmas gift, and I won a Super Bowl pool.  And thus, my process started.

For my first binder (yes, first, because I will order another down the road, once the funds have been replenished), I wanted something classic, something that I could use at work and at home, something that was professional and fun, something I’d immediately fall in love with.  I had some colors in mind, but in the end I wanted my chosen colors to represent me, represent something that I love. 

My answer was easy: coffee.

Now, before you laugh (though, those of you who know me probably already have—it’s okay), to me, coffee represents many things of balance: creamy and dark, rich and fulfilling, relaxing and productive, a sigh of peace and a jolt of energy, all at the same time.  I wanted all of those things for my first customized-just-for-me binder. 

Here, Cappuccino was born. 

(Because really, what other name could she have?  And yes, it’s a she, both feminine and powerful, yet another balance.  Perhaps I really did think about this a little too much, though I didn’t since it came to me without much thought.  But who cares?  It makes me happy, just like coffee.)

VDS had a Valentine’s Day sale.  I ordered her on February 15.  She shipped a just about a month later.  (Typically turn-around time is shorter, but because of the sale there were many orders to fulfill.)  She arrived on my doorstep a little over a week later.  (And, yes, some shipment tracking stalking did occur.  But that’s another post for another day.)

Okay.  Enough babbling. 

As many do, I will warn you that this is a picture-heavy post.  But I’m guessing that no one will complain…

I ordered the custom made Standard Compact binder.  This is equivalent to a Filofax Personal in dimensions of the binder and equivalent to the Filofax Compact in that is has smaller rings.  However, the Filofax Compact ring size is 15 mm whereas the VDS Compact is 13 mm.  Yes, a little smaller but it still holds the same amount that I have always carried in my Filofax compacts (roughly about 75 pages, some of which are thicker tabbed dividers).

The color on the outside is 6202, Ciocolatta with contrast stitching (undyed in this case).

The inside, then, is 102, the undyed leather with the Ciocolatta stitching.

I chose to have no stiffener and no foam, which results in a more bendable, softer binder, as opposed to a stiffer binder.  It lays perfect flat, an absolute must for me.  However, since the undyed leather is a bit stiffer to begin with, the binder still has a bit of structure to it, making writing easy and very doable.  I also added a secretarial pocket, which is an added expense, but it is something that most of my Filofax binders lack, and while I have made do without them, I prefer to have one.  And hell, if I’m spending the money to get exactly what I want, then why not, right?

In prepping for this post, it occurred me to me that I haven’t done a set-up post in a while, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to go through what all I carry in my planner.  So here we go…

My card slots hold appointment cards for doctors’ appointments.  I also have a small stack of Filofax jot notes here.

Behind the full-length pocket, I have some Martha Stewart stickies and a to do list from Russell + Hazel.

Currently, the secretarial pocket is empty.

However, this is where I will put bills and/or letters to be mailed/bring home, paperwork of things I need to check on and/or research, and travel paperwork if I’m traveling.  So this pocket acts like an inbox of sorts.

The first page of my planner is a top-opening envelope that holds a picture of my beloved Vermont with my favorite quote.

Then, I have my dashboard with a variety of Post-it notes.

Opposite the dashboard and on the back of the Vermont picture and quote is a Vermont sticker that was given to me as a gift.

My first section is “Writing.”  Here I keep a list of blog topic ideas and things I want to journal about when I get the time to do so.

Next, is the Notes section. 

Currently, I have blank paper, but if I’m not feeling well, I will write down my symptoms just in case I need the information if I go to the doctor.  (I have a lot of allergy issues, and this helps to keep track of what started when, etc.)  I also have some of my husband’s information here, too.

Then comes my Projects tab.  Here is where I have both a list of projects I want to work on and the projects themselves, broken down into smaller tasks.  Each project gets its own colored notepaper.

Next up: To Do section.  For the most part, this is where my to do lists live.  However, it’s not just tasks, but things I want to research or books and music I want to add to my books and music spreadsheets (I use spreadsheets for this because I like to sort them alphabetically for easy reference).

Then, I have a To Buy section.  This is where I keep lists of things that I need/want to buy. 

The need-to-buy is first since that’s more important.  I will pick items off the want-to-buy when I have the opportunity to do so.  Some things have been there for a long time.

Finally, I have my Calendar section.  First is a year’s worth of monthly inserts.

Then I have two month’s worth of daily sheets separated by monthly tabs.

(You can read more about my decorated monthly tabs here.)

On the back of each monthly tab, I keep a to do list for that month.

Not everything that is here needs to be done, but it gives me an idea of what I would like to get done.

At the back, I have another top-opening envelope with funeral cards, both facing forward (for my dad) and facing backward (for my uncle).

In the back full-length pocket I have papers that I need on hand at all times.  In the smaller pocket are some of my business cards.

So that is my set-up as of right now. 

I couldn’t be happier with this purchase and this binder.  It is so soft, buttery to the touch, and it smells amazing.  I laugh when I read how others just want to pet their binders all day, but I totally get it!  With something this luxurious, how could you not want to?  I love pulling this binder out of my bag and putting it on my desk, either at home or at work.  But the best part is opening it and using it to plan out my life and my next VDS purchase.  :)

And to close this post about my latest planner acquisition (though certainly not my last), some more Cappuccino eye candy!

Happy planning!


  1. You did a great job picking out the colors., I'm interested to see how the undyed leather ages. Thanks for sharing your set up!

    1. Thank you, Tonya! I'm interested in the aging of the undyed leather, too, though Janet Carr (This Bug's Life blog) has that covered I think. :)

  2. It's gorgeous! I love the colors, the layout, and that you got to customize it! Coffee is exactly all of those wonderful things, and as Cappuccino is the lovely dark color of a cappuccino, the name is perfect too! Enjoy your new binder!! :)

    1. Thank you! I knew you would understand my need for a coffee-related binder. ;) I'll even let you pet it when next I see you. ;)

    2. LOL! I certainly did understand! Please tell Cappuccino I am really looking forward to meeting her and giving her a pet!! ;)

  3. Oh my goodness, that is beautiful!! My plan if and when the Malden ever falls apart was to get my hands on a Cavendish, but I'm thinking a custom made VDS might be the way to go!!

    1. I think I saw Josh's Cavendish at a meet up once, and if I remember correctly it was very nice. And while I love all of my Filofaxes, this one holds a very special place in my heart, simply because I got to choose my colors and my layout. If you ever think about replacing your dear Malden (but only when his service is done), I would recommend a VDS. But again, I'm not 100% sure I did see the Cavendish. I'm sure either would be a good choice.

  4. What a beautiful binder! You did an excellent job choosing the layout and colors. I also liked seeing your setup again. It always inspires me even though what works for me is totally different.

    1. Thanks Amy! I am enjoying it immensely. I tend to go into my set up in a little more detail in the coming weeks. I'd love to hear about your system some time. That's what I love about this community, how we are all so different, yet aim to meet the same goal. :)


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