Why Use a Mood Board in Interior Design?
It can be tough for a design professional to communicate design ideas because interior design choices are quite personal. Using a mood board in interior design is one way to address this challenge. Interior designers and stylists have always counted on mood boards to creatively display their ideas to clients.
An interior designer can leverage mood boards to showcase different elements of design to clients. It can include various aspects such as style, mood, textures, pieces of furniture, fittings, accessories, colour schemes, and I can keep going. The same as for moods in general, consider the sky the limit. Mood boards are considered one of the most crucial processes in the interior design industry. The journey towards a complete design plan almost always begins with a mood board.
Keep in mind, a mood board is a conceptual presentation. There will be no directions on where to source all items required for your project but it is ideal to visualise an idea. This is usually a first step in the design process and ideal for interior designers to bring across a concept to a client. It helps the client visualise how their space could look at the end of the project and makes them an active partner in the design process.
I am going to tell you how to create the perfect interior design mood board in eight easy steps. Keep in mind, this is a creative process and not necessarily linear. You may have to go back and forth between steps to fine tune your ideas.
1. Determine the Direction For Your Interior Design Mood Board
You probably start with an idea in mind, a certain style you want to depict or a certain assignment that a client has given you. They may have said 'I want something with neutral colours', 'I love pink', 'I am obsessed with wabi sabi (my latest design crush by the way) or'I want a vintage inspired living room'. Whatever it is, it gives you a starting point.
However, remember that a mood board is all about exploration. Don't get too attached to a particular direction, a particular idea or a particular vibe just yet. It's important to keep an open mind about what the right solution might be or look like.
Once you've found a direction you're happy with, give your mood board a name and scribble down some ideas before you start collecting inspiration and imagery.
2. Start Collecting Imagery that Suits the Style
Now that you've established which direction or style you wish to depict on your interior design mood board, you start collecting images of items or materials that really suit the style well. Don't be too selective, you can always delete if you have gathered too much, or if your design direction changes. Also don't be too concerned if you don't quite have the end product in mind yet. Chances are this process takes you into a certain direction and shapes your ideas and thoughts.
3. Add Inspirational Images to your Interior Design Mood Board
Depending on where you start, this step may come before the previous step. Sometimes, you don't know yet where you want to go with the interior style but you do have a certain vibe in mind. Or you find a certain image on the internet that may have nothing to do with home decor, but just captures the essence of your idea.
You'll find for example a certain image of inspiration (a favourite good looking dish, or maybe a stunning bird, or sunset) with the most beautiful colours. You could create an entirely new colour palette that way. I have decorated an entire home with the help of goose feathers (read more about that here).
You can also add an inspiration image of a finished space in the style you've chosen or that the client has requested. But be careful and choose wisely; the inspiration imagery you choose to include in your mood board can have a big influence on the look and feel of your project! These images can define the direction and outcome of your project, and make the difference between a client proceeding with your ideas or aborting the project altogether.
4. Add Colours and Fonts to your Interior Design Mood Board
At this point it's important to start thinking about your colour scheme and what fonts you want to use for your interior design mood board. The use of colour is hugely important to an interior designer and is often the one thing the client has strong ideas about. You can start with a colour scheme in mind or work backwards and extract a colour scheme out of an inspiration image.
Written language can also add a lot to a mood board (see also step 7). The font you use can express a certain style (see the excellent use of font in the art deco mood board below) so choose wisely.
At this point you can also add your own logo to give the client a sense of your style, based on typography and imagery used.
5. Take Your Interior Design Board from Messy to Organised
Once you have all your collected imagery and inspiration in the one place, the next step is to create the perfect composition. Get creative! You want to make it visually interesting. You can layer your imagery for example, and think of a surprising way to arrange your images, rather than in straight lines. They don't all have to be neat and square pictures; have fun playing around!
You can get it right in one go or the process can take ages. It is quite normal to feel like you have no idea how your mood board will come together. You'll probably have more material than you need and it might look a bit messy and disorganised. That’s okay! Creativity is an act of transformation. When you're stuck, sleep on it, and take another look the next day,
Balance is important. Start by exploring composition and introducing hierarchy. Place a key element such as a logo to anchor your board, and change the size and position of the remaining elements to indicate their importance and relationships to one another. Your items do not need to be exactly to scale but it looks silly to have scatter cushions that are much larger than the sofa for example.
6. Remain Open-Minded and Tweak Your Board
Inspiration can strike anywhere. You never know where or when you'll find inspiration. Make sure you recognise it and find a way to record it when you see something that's just perfect for your interior design mood board. Consider your mood board a living document.
Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you. - Grace Coddington
7. Explain Your Design Vision
Interior design is a visual industry. A mood board is an invaluable tool to convey the look and feel of your design in a way that sometimes words cannot. But not everyone is a visual thinker or can follow your train of thought with imagery alone.
If you’re planning to share your interior design mood board with anyone (for example with a client or your peers or co-workers) it’s important to include some written notes about your thought process. Describe what your design vision of the space is, the style, how you plan to incorporate certain elements to achieve this look and feel. This will help for everyone to stay on the same page and keep everything in context.
8. Ask for Feedback on Your Interior Design Mood Board
As with any design from scratch, it is important to be open to constructive criticism. Now that the first draft of your interior design mood board is done, it is a good idea to ask for specific feedback on the style, mood, the use of colour, style of furniture etc. Make sure you stay open to suggestions and improvements and try not to take criticism personally.
If the client says that a mood board isn't working for them, even if they can't put their finger on it, they're probably right. In the end, it needs to match their ideas. Go back to the drawing board and make the required tweaks until you get it right.
Practical Tips For Your Perfect Interior Design Mood Board
As I mentioned before, mood boards are considered one of the most crucial processes in the design industry. I have a few generic mood board tips and suggestions for you to take away:
Always put your best foot forward with mood boards. In general, you will leave them with your client and they are thoroughly reviewed and studied before making a decision.
Consider using a light background colour. It's a good idea to keep your boards light and neutral so they don't detract from the mood images you're trying to sell to the customer. Sometimes a stark white background looks a little too bright. I’d suggest you go for a more neutral beige look.
Don't try to fill your mood boards with too many examples and never show anything that doesn't benefit your presentation.
Add a title to your board, it helps convey your message.
Consider framing your mood board. It looks finished and professional.
I hope I have inspired you to create the perfect interior design mood boards. I am always happy to see your creations. Tag me on Instagram and show me your work!
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