Create a Mood Board for Your Dream Interior Design

Gather inspiration to bring your decorating ideas to life.

Embarking on a new interior design project, whether it's redecorating your living room or remodeling a bathroom, can be equally exciting and overwhelming. With so many decisions to make around paint colors, fabrics, furniture, and more, it can be difficult to know where to begin. One way to kickstart your design process is to create a mood board to help organize your ideas.

This collage of inspiration, which can be digital or physical, provides a way to visualize and experiment with the design direction of your project. "Mood boards are an invaluable tool when it comes to designing a room or even updating it," says Tricia Guild, founder and creative director of London-based home furnishings company Designers Guild. "It is always useful to have a visual snapshot of how your space will look and flow."

designer tricia guild in studio
Tricia Guild of Designers Guild. Courtesy of Designers Guild

How to Create a Mood Board

A mood board allows you to connect various design elements you love into one cohesive vision. "It is a way of refining your ideas and editing the look, a way of experimenting in a small scale before you commit to buying large quantities," Guild says. Before you get started, it's best to have a general idea of the overall aesthetic or color scheme for your project. Then follow these steps to create a board that brings your interior design dreams to life.

Step 1: Choose a method for creating your mood board.

If you prefer to see and touch items before making selections, opt for a physical mood board. Using tangible elements, such as paint chips and fabric samples, allows you to experience the colors and textures in person and make the most informed decisions. A digital board, on the other hand, opens up a much broader range of design possibilities, since you can use virtually any image you find online as inspiration. Designers Guild has a handy online tool for creating your own mood board, or you can use programs like Adobe Photoshop or the free website Canva to craft one from scratch.

overhead shot of green mood board with dishes fabric samples and accessories
Courtesy of Designers Guild

Step 2: Gather design inspiration.

Choose colors and patterns you love to guide your mood board concept. Think beyond interior design, too, and draw inspiration from aspects of the world around you, including fashion, art, and nature. If you're working digitally, copy and paste images you find online onto your mood board canvas. Pinterest, Instagram, and interior design websites are good places to start. Shop around furniture and decor sites to find actual products that fit your aesthetic.

For a tactile approach, start with a specific object that appeals to you, such as an art print or a piece of vintage dishware, and build your board around that. Compile manufacturer's samples of fabric, wallpaper, tile, paint, or flooring, as well as small accessories, like hardware, and fresh or faux greenery to play around with. "Include as many elements of color, texture, pattern, and furniture as you possibly can," Guild says.

celadon mood board with fabric samples and paint chips
Courtesy of Designers Guild

Step 3: Arrange and rearrange your mood board.

Shuffle the various elements of your mood board around, experimenting with different combinations of color, texture, and pattern. "Take your time, but be confident," Guild says. As you arrange the items, try to keep them in proportion to the way they'll appear in the actual room, she suggests. For example, a paint color that will coat all four walls of the room should feature prominently on the board, while a fabric that will cover only a few throw pillows should appear comparatively smaller.

blue mood board with paint samples and fabric
Courtesy of Designers Guild

Step 4: Use the mood board to inform your design decisions.

Once your mood board is organized to your liking, it's time to start purchasing items and get to work in the actual room. "If it works and flows on your mood board, it will work in your space, provided you have used the elements in the appropriate scale," Guild says. Use your mood board as a roadmap while you shop for furnishings and materials, and refer to it often as you start filling out the room. With a solid plan laid out in front of you, creating your dream room isn't so overwhelming, after all.

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