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!

Love the One You're With - Embracing the Less than Perfect

Interior design and decoration is a process - learn to love what you have while looking toward a future vision

Let's be honest, you probably don't love every last item in your home. Styles change, you change, or you're slowing replacing inexpensive placeholders with more permanent investment pieces. This could be an item you purchased a while back or a piece you inherited that serves its purpose for now but it's not a long term love. While you're going through this process it's easy to lament the fact that you might not be able to replace everything in your house at once. But I actually think there is something to be said for slowing bringing in the new or new to you. This is where you learn to love the one you're with.

Design Tips to Embrace the Less than Perfect

What do I mean by love the one you're with? I'm suggesting that you actively embrace and elevate current items by basing new purchases on your décor vision for the future. You'll freshen up the existing and actually make what you already own look better. New items can loosely complement what you already have but keep moving you in the direction you ultimately want to go. Let go of the idea that everything needs to "match" as you make your transition. Bringing in items that are more in line with your overall aesthetic vision will uplift the lingering items you want to replace. Trust me.

Here is a specific example. You have your eye on a modern rug with a crisp, geometric pattern for your living room but your current sofa and coffee table have a traditional aesthetic.  How do you blend the two? Consider how you could bring a few other modern touches to the room without much investment. Swap out old throw pillows with a design that complements the rug or select a decorative tray with clean lines to style on top of the coffee table. These simple touches become a bridge that links the old and the new. Rather than perpetuating the style you have outgrown you're enhancing what you already have and intentionally moving towards your future style. The other benefit of this approach is that mixing styles creates a layered, collected experience in your home which makes it easier to bring new things in and edit old things out.

So what's my "love the one you're with"? It's the two neutral chairs I purchased from Room & Board when we moved into our first home. One of my issues is the way they have worn - the down filling in the back in not substantial enough and I'm constantly fluffing to revive them. The other is that they have become too clean-lined for me. Back when I started the process of decorating our home I gravitated to more modern lines and that is very much reflected in my initial purchases. Today I find that while I prefer clean lines I also find something very welcoming about traditional design elements. There is nothing horribly wrong with these chairs and my husband isn't exactly excited about replacing them since they are only a few years old. So while I wait out their retirement here's what I've done. First, I went to the upholsterer to have the interior cushions wrapped and beefed up. I've also layered on a colorful throw pillow to draw the eye away from the back cushions that I so dislike. Lastly, I purchased a side table with organic lines and a warm wood top to soften the chair's straight lines. These small changes cost significantly less than replacing the chairs and I can now appreciate how the chairs work in the rest of the room.

In order to work towards a cohesive whole, give some thought to what the future space looks like as it evolves (I say evolves because in my mind a room is really never "done"). Hopefully this gives you some ideas as to how to embrace those items that are less than ideal. I think the idea of loving the one you're with is something we all can, and should, embrace.

 I'd love to know what in your home you're learning to love and what you're doing to embrace the perfectly imperfect. 

Rethinking a Room's Purpose - Interior Design Tips to Reimagine Underutilized Spaces in Your Home

What to Do with a Room or Space in Your Home that You Don't Use

Do you have a room or transition space in your home that goes unused or is used infrequently? Wouldn't it be great to get more function out of the space you already have, not to mention eliminating the feeling of a dead zone in your home? Think for a moment. If you could add a room to your current home, what would you add? Do you wish you had a dedicated area for working from home, an area to cultivate a hobby, or an area where the kids can do as they please? Which of those activities do you think you could incorporate into an under-utilized room or space in your home?

New Purposes for Underutilized Rooms in the Home

Rooms to consider are a formal dining or living room, only used when it's your turn to host Thanksgiving, or a grown child's bedroom that is only used for an occasional weekend visit. Less obvious spaces to consider include an extra closet, a space under the stairs, or a nook along one of the home's transition areas. The room pictured above is a space in my own home that I'm considering converting. It used to be the "library" where we would read on the weekend. Now we would like an additional play area for our growing family and this might be just the space (stay tuned...).

If you are converting the function of a stand-alone room the top task you have is shifting your mindset from the old function to the new. If you are adapting a space that is an integrated portion of your home, e.g., incorporating a home workspace into your living room, you'll want to make sure that the new addition feels intentional and blends with its surroundings. Below are three tips for creating a cohesive aesthetic between an existing space an its new purpose.

1. Consider color palette. 
Piggyback off color choices from adjacent rooms or choose a complimentary color scheme to what already exists. This will allow the spaces to connect visually even if there are different functions occurring side by side. 

2. Invest in storage.
I'm a fan of organization to begin with, but if you are going to place an office or a playroom on your main level be sure to have a way to calm the chaos  when needed.  

3. Don't get stuck on the type or style of furniture you "should" have in a particular area of your home.
Choose pieces and finishes that reflect what works best for you. Function and style can co-exist! 

Today I encourage you to think about your home in a different light. What possibilities could exist if you disregard the intended purpose and start to envision your room as a space that serves your unique needs? Instead of trying to force a space to be something that doesn't fit you or your lifestyle, embrace the freedom to make your home your own!