One of the best tools an interior designer uses for any design project is a mood board. Not only is it a great way to present ideas and design proposals to clients, but it acts as a visual representation for the overall aesthetic, feel, and mood of the project as a whole – hence the name, mood board.

However, these tools aren’t just helpful for designers, anyone starting a design project can benefit from creating one. If you’re not sure why you need a mood board or how to get started making one, keep reading for our tips below.

What Is a Mood Board and Why Do You Need One?

First, it’s good to clarify what a mood board is exactly and why they’re helpful for anyone. A mood board is a visual tool – either digital or physical – comprised of a collection of images and text to layout ideas and inspiration for a design project. 

A thoughtful and polished mood board will act as a guide and road map for the entire design project. Before you start making any decisions it’s a great way to help organize your ideas. Not only will it keep you on track every step of the way but all the research and time you spend putting it together will make shopping and purchasing much easier. 

If a product or item doesn’t fit with the mood board you’ve created, then you know it won’t work in the room.

Where to Start Getting Inspiration

The first step of creating a mood board is to browse and collect images for inspiration. There are a number of places, both in the digital and physical world, you can get started.

OnlineHouzz, Pinterest, and Instagram are all great places to start browsing for the general aesthetic and overall feel of the space. These sites are also good resources later when you’re looking for specific product ideas.

In-person – Design books and magazines are great places to look too. Some of our favorite publications are Architectural Digest, Dwell, and Luxe. Be observant when you’re out and about. Take photos of anything that is visually appealing to you, whether it’s architecture, landscaping, other interiors, or products at stores. Inspiration doesn’t have to come from things that are directly design-related.

Again, this first step is just collecting a bunch of images and ideas. You don’t need to make sense of them just yet or start assembling your mood board. Collect images and organize them into categories – if you’re taking the digital approach, using folders for each category on your desktop is a good method. 

Through the collection process, an overall theme or look will start to appear.

Mood Board Tools

Before you start assembling your mood board, you’ll want to consider which tools you may want to use.

Digital – If you want to create a digital mood board you can use a presentation tool that you may already be familiar with like Powerpoint, Google Slides, or Keynote. They all make it easy to drag and drop and arrange images with text. Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud Express are other good tools that have free options, they’re user-friendly graphic design tools for novices. Pinterest is not only a great tool to search for images, but another one you can use to create your mood board.

Physical – Some people are more tactile and like the larger scale of a physical mood board. If you prefer the old-school 3D method you can assemble one on a poster board, presentation board, or pinboard. You can also use images along with paint, fabric, and finish samples.

How to Start Building a Mood Board

Once you’re ready to start assembling your mood board, it may be hard to know where to start. You have all these images and ideas, but how to make sense of everything?

The best way to begin is with the exterior of your home and then move inward. Keep your home’s existing color palette in mind. It will either have a strong warm or cool base. Do your inspiration photos align with your existing tones? Do you have the ability to change any elements that are outdated or don’t align with your new vision? 

We recommend starting with the flooring as it sets the tone for the entire color palette. The biggest mistake homeowners make is choosing elements that are the wrong tone and clash with their existing home design. It’s important that the new design is still cohesive with your home as a whole. Ask yourself how you want the room to feel? What is the general design aesthetic you want to incorporate? What are some of the main sources of inspiration? 

Begin with the larger materials like flooring, cabinets, and wall color. Then layer in bigger details like statement furniture pieces that you want to design the room around. A good rule of thumb is to have your board include a combination of inspiration photos, your existing materials, and new elements that you’ll actually be using in your design.

Another helpful tip is to keep items proportional on your board to how they will appear in the room, so think of it as close to scale as possible. For example, the floor and wall color should be featured prominently on the board, while an accent piece of furniture should be smaller by comparison.

You don’t need to use all the images you’ve collected, once you start assembling a vision will start to emerge. Don’t be afraid to add and subtract images, arrange, and then re-arrange until everything looks and feels right. There is no rush to this creative process, but it will really help you narrow and make your final selections.

For more detail about all the steps involved when planning your design or remodel project, download our comprehensive guide. Alternatively, if you’re feeling stuck and would like professional help, schedule a consult.