One of the most challenging parts of decorating a room is honing in on a clear vision for it. When you try to decorate piecemeal, choosing one element at a time and hoping for the best, chances are you’ll run into the issue of things not looking quite right. It’s a quick way to drive yourself crazy.
Mood boards are an invaluable tool for getting clear on what you want. (And they are so much fun to make!) A mood board (also sometimes called an inspiration board or vision board) is a physical or digital collage of things that visually convey the look and feel of the space you want to create. They can consist of anything that inspires you for the project – paint or fabric swatches, images of designer rooms, catalog clippings, artwork, graphic design, restaurant menus, fashion editorials, flowers – whatever helps express the overall desired vibe of the space.
There are basically two types of mood boards you can create: a detailed plan for a room or a more abstract collection of things that inspire you for it. It’s up to you whether you’d like to start with the collection of abstract inspiration and then create a second board with the exact pieces of furniture, paint colors, and accessories you’d like to use, do just one board or the other, or a mixture of both. Try different variations to figure out what works best for you.
The main purpose of a mood board is to give you an overview of your vision for the space so you can draw back to it whenever you have to make a decision, such as when shopping or choosing colors. It will help you avoid making impulsive buys or purchase mistakes, which are very common when you lose focus of your main inspiration. It has happened to everyone at some point. Buying something you like in the moment but then hating it later on can almost always be attributed to losing focus of your core vision for the space. Your mood board will be there to steer you back on course if you ever start to deviate towards the wrong direction.
Alright, let’s dive into the fun part!
WHAT GOES ON A MOOD BOARD?
There are no rules about what can go on your mood board. The only rule is that it should inspire you. Don’t hold yourself back when gathering things for it; it doesn’t matter if something is out of your budget or completely abstract. If it speaks to you, include it.
Some ideas are:
- Inspiration pictures (even abstract ones like an editorial from a fashion magazine or travel shot)
- Tear sheets from magazines, magazine clippings
- Fabric swatches
- Paint chips
- Pictures of furniture, accessories, fixtures, molding, etc.
- Floor plan
- Words that express the look and feel you want the room to have
- Anything you’ve found that inspires you – ribbon, menus, postcards, flowers
There are two methods for creating mood boards: physical mood boards and digital mood boards. A physical mood board is one crafted by hand with paper, cardboard, etc. A digital mood board can be created on your computer with a program such as Canva, Photoshop, or another graphic design application.
PHYSICAL MOOD BOARD
While websites and apps like Pinterest make digital mood boards easier than ever, there is something to be said for old school physical mood boards. It’s basically like the cut-and-paste kind you did as a kid. They are a lot of fun to make and perhaps even easier to curate than digital mood boards if a lot of your inspiration is physical, like magazine clippings, fabric swatches, and the like.
Physical mood boards can be made out of:
- Foam core board
- Poster board
- Thick cardboard
- Scrapbook pages
- Cork board
Here is a list of some items you’ll need to make yours:
- Reusable Adhesive
- Repositionable Glue Stick
- If you’re using cork board, you’ll also want push pins
Once you get everything together, here are the steps to assemble your physical mood board:
- Using the proper scissors, begin by cutting your inspiration pieces to fit your board. If possible, the size of the sample should reflect how much space it will take up in room. For example, a larger swatch for wall color, smaller swatch for pillow fabric. Don’t worry, though, if the size isn’t accurate; this is optional but not necessary.
- Lay them out in the general order in which they’ll be used in the room. For example, rugs on the bottom, furnishings in the middle, chandeliers at the top.
- Use repositionable glue for lighter items like tear sheets, fabrics and photocopies.
- For the heavier items, use reusable adhesive like Blu-Tack or Elmer’s Tac ‘N Stik. If you’re mood board is made from corkboard, use stick pins to attach your pieces.
You may want to put together a physical mood board that is small enough to take with you when you’re out shopping. Either create a smaller selection of inspirational highlights that is portable and easy to carry or simply take a picture of your larger one with your phone.
DIGITAL MOOD BOARD
If most of your inspiration is digital or you’d prefer to convert your physical inspiration to digital (scanning and taking photos of it) to save time and space, here are some online tools you can use to create your mood board:
- Pinterest – The mother of all “mood boards,” Pinterest has a database of millions of searchable images of anything you can imagine, including interior and commercial design, fashion, graphic design, artwork, photography, quotes, and more. You can also pin images from other websites that you visit or upload your own. The only downsides are that you can’t rearrange your pins in a certain order (unless you delete and repin things) and you will have to scroll rather than having everything in front of you in one glance. If neither of those things are a big deal to you, then Pinterest is a great option.
- Canva – Canva is a free graphic design application you an access on your internet browser or by downloading the app on your phone. It’s super easy to use (even if you have zero experience) and perfect for creating mood boards of any size. They have a ton of easy tutorials right on the website to help you get started.
- Photoshop – This is the most popular image editing software that you can use to create your own mood boards if you are more graphic design savvy.
- GIMP – GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program which is an open source, free to use graphic design program that is similar to Photoshop but free.
If you decide to use a digital mood board, you can get things like flowers, restaurant menus, fabric, and any other bits and pieces you’ve collected onto it by taking a photo of them or scanning them and then uploading them onto your computer.
USING YOUR MOOD BOARD
Whenever you aren’t sure if something will work in the space or you feel like you aren’t sure what you should be looking for, refer back to your mood board. It will remind you of your original goals and keep you on track and moving towards them. Your mood board will also help you train your eye to see your own personal style and recognize it in things when you are shopping. The more mood boards you create, the better you’ll get at recognizing your personal style.
Let your boards evolve over time, too. You can add and remove things as you discover new ideas for the room, but always stay true to that core vibe that excites you. Your mood board will help you avoid “inspiration overload” and decide whether new things you like take your core inspiration in a fresh direction or if you’re just getting distracted by something you’ll get tired of in the long run. Whether it’s a phrase (like “modern glamour”) or a place (like a farmhouse) or a color scheme (like navy blue and white), make sure it is steering your mood board so you never lose track of it.
I hope this post has made you excited about creating mood boards. They’re a big help in the decorating process and honestly, quite addictive once you get started! Once you make your first one, feel free to post it in my free Facebook group to share your inspiration with everyone. I’d love to see it!
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