Why You Need a Mood Board for Your Next Design Project

Creating a Mood Board for Your Design Project Will Help You Discover Your Signature Style and Keep You Focused

Anytime I start an interior design or remodeling project I begin by creating a mood board to narrow in on the design direction. New to mood boards? They are a visual tool, often in a collage format, that can consist of images, text, and/or tactile samples. Mood boards can be physical, with items placed on one big board or gathered in a central binder or folder or they can be created digitally using Pinterest or another online source. Mood boards have long been used by the design professional but can be extremely helpful for anyone starting a visually driven project. I like to think of mood boards as the first piece of homework you do in preparation for a project. Mood boards can be an excellent way to discover your signature style and they also keep you focused once you move into the implementation phase.

  Above is a mood board I created while dreaming up some ideas for a master bathroom remodel. I used a new website, called  TRAYS , to compile the images. It's a user friendly, no-tech-skills-required option that will create a beautiful mood board to reference within minutes.    Image Sources (Clockwise):  Settecento New Yorker Glazed Tile ,  Gray Vanity 1  (via Pinterest),  Gray Vanity 2  (via Pinterest),  Cambria Countertop & Benjamin Moore Paint ,  Southern Hills Brushed Nickel Cabinet Pull , and  Hinkley Lighting Abbie Sconce .   

Above is a mood board I created while dreaming up some ideas for a master bathroom remodel. I used a new website, called TRAYS, to compile the images. It's a user friendly, no-tech-skills-required option that will create a beautiful mood board to reference within minutes.

Image Sources (Clockwise): Settecento New Yorker Glazed Tile, Gray Vanity 1 (via Pinterest), Gray Vanity 2 (via Pinterest), Cambria Countertop & Benjamin Moore Paint, Southern Hills Brushed Nickel Cabinet Pull, and Hinkley Lighting Abbie Sconce.   

In many ways, a mood board becomes a guide or set of loose rules you can refer to, and follow, throughout the life of a project.When you get distracted by shinny objects take a look at your vision - will this complement and enhance the overall aesthetic or is it simply a distraction? With so many decisions to make (even with a small scale project) you'll want to maintain focus to avoid what I like to call Design Decision Fatigue (DDF). I'll share some additional tips on how to avoid DDF in an upcoming post.

Not only can this aesthetic-focusing technique be applied to interior design, it can also be applied to other areas of life such as branding a business, updating your wardrobe, or planning a creative birthday party. Below are my top tips for creating and successfully implementing a mood board for your next project.

1. Gather Anything that Catches Your Eye
Grab a stack of magazines or books or head to the internet. Start to collect anything that catches your eye in relation to your end goal. The images can be color palettes, specific furniture or lighting items, photos of full rooms or even text evoking a feeling or emotion. Make sure to note the image source - down the road you may what to purchase something specific and then you'll know where to source it. It's best to set a time limit on this phase or you can easily get sucked into the vast amount a material available or get stuck on this daydreaming phase and never take action.

2. Take a Break
Take a step away from the images for a few days and then go back to reassess and pair down your imagery. In images with multiple items crop or cut out anything you don't like so your vision is clear. Eliminate anything that you've grown stale on. If it can't sustain your interest after a few days it certainly won't stand the test of time. Also eliminate anything that clearly does not fit your lifestyle.

3. Identify Major Themes
Review the remaining items and aim to identify a few major themes. Is there a certain style or color palette you gravitate towards or have you pulled 10 images of a similar chandeliers?  Even if you are drawn to a couple of different styles there are typically some common threads. Perhaps you tend to like geometric patterns over floral or are always drawn to the color blue and there is no trace of red.

4. Make it Portable
If you have a an actual board, take a photo. Loose sheets? Make a binder. Using Pinterest? Download the app on your phone.  You'll want your inspiration on hand so that it is easily referenced. The exercise of creating a mood board can be beneficial in itself, but you'll receive the most benefit by referring back to it on a regular basis.

If there are multiple decision makers (ex. a significant other or a business partner) you can start by doing Step 1 and 2 individually. Once each party has paired down their desires, come together and work through Steps 3 & 4. See where there is overlap and see where there are disparities. Look for images and items that speak to both of you so that as you move forward everyone is invested and on the same page.

Have you created a mood board for projects or are you new to the process? I'd love to hear your thoughts!