The One Tool You Need for Any Remodeling Project, Says a Designer

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DIXON Lumber Crayons for Tools of the Trade

Photo: Amazon / Image Treatment: The Spruce

The world of home decor is vast, and we’re constantly amazed by the designers, creators, and creatives who cross our paths. In an effort to learn more about the innovative eyes behind the scenes, we’ve launched a series that explores the sanity-saving tools, products, and services that keep our favorite designers and decorators focused on the job at hand. Welcome to Tools of the Trade.

When it comes to tackling a new project, San Diego-based interior designer Stefanie Mullen can do it all. Alongside her husband JJ, a licensed general contractor, Mullen builds, designs, and decorates custom homes in SoCal and documents it all (and more) on

With this in mind, we couldn't wait for Mullen to tell us the one tool she uses on every job site. Read on to find out her personal must-have item for every project.

Stefanie Mullen headshot

Stefanie Mullen

What item made your work life easier this week/month/lately?

SM: We always have our marking crayon with us at every job site. 

DIXON Industrial Lumber Marking Crayons

DIXON Industrial Lumber Marking Crayons


SM: These crayons are great for a couple of reasons. Most clients have a hard time envisioning the layout of cabinets, furniture, and anything else going into a space—it gets confusing. We use the marking crayon to draw it out for them in our builds so they can easily visualize the space. 

Why is this item so great?

SM: We also use it with our subs to call out locations of plumbing, electrical outlets, lighting, etc. It’s especially important with the demo crew. We don’t want any mistakes. X means it goes, otherwise don’t touch! 

Where/how do you use this item most?

SM: We use it on all of our remodels, but also on new builds to draw room layouts with our clients on the concrete slab before the floors are installed. 

We draw out furniture layouts for sure, but also to show how big an island will look in a kitchen or how large of a shower can be put in a bathroom. It’s so great for our clients to be able to see the actual size of everything when making decisions. 

How did you discover this item?

SM: Way back in the day, when we first got into the business, one of our subs was using it. We ran to the store to get one. It’s the best tool to dispel any confusion, and there’s always plenty of it to go around on job sites. 

Will you use this item in the future?

SM: We will use this item over and over for years to come—it’s one of our must-haves.

How has this item made your job easier?

SM: The marking crayon has made visualizing a space with a client so easy, and I love that. It’s one thing to have a drawing of the room layout, but when you draw it out in the actual space, it brings it to life. 

How might someone not in your line of work benefit from this item?

SM: Anyone doing a remodel of any space in their own home can use this crayon. Once your space is demoed, get busy drawing out your plan. It can be difficult to understand the scale of each room if it’s not something you do often. Drawing it out will save you hours of frustration. 

What, if anything, would you change about this item?

SM: Well, as a designer, I would of course add more color options. But other than that, not a thing. 

Are there any care/use tips someone considering this item should know about?

SM: If you are planning to use a marking crayon, invest in a holder. It will prevent the crayon from staining your fingers. It does come off, but it’s waterproof so it takes some scrubbing.