How to make a mood board and use it

How to make a mood board and actually use it for your next design project.

Isn’t January just the best time of year to start new? Going into 2020 with a clear vision is simply poetic. In this blog I outline why to use a mood board, a simplified way to actually make one and how to use it to create vision and clarity in your next design project.

2020 is about clarity; use a mood board to create vision

First things first, Get organized

Mood boards are a great way to organize these ideas and therefore help accomplish things. Websites like canva.com make it easy to create and organize visuals. It creates a visual tool that communicates the mood you are trying to create.

Isn’t that an amazing way to think? What kind of mood do I want to feel in this space? What kind of mood do I want my client to feel when they are in their home? It changes the whole way to approach the project. Instead of waiting to experience the feeling once the whole project is done, start with the mood and let it guide you into better decisions.

Mood boards help control mood swings

I am personally guilty of having major mood swings, I am cancer sign after all, I feel things deep but I get over them fast. I can be as riled up as a cat captured by kids one moment and then as cool as a cucumber the very next. Sometimes this gets reflected in my own personal home and it can look a little chaotic. Split personality design disorder, dark and moody in one corner and bright and cheerful in another makes no space feel cohesive.

Many years of bad purchasing habits and some hoarding “issues” my house had become a cluster *uck* of style. No clear personality. For awhile I believed it was “eclectic” but now I see that was just an excuse for too much stuff.

Mood boards help to narrow in on even how to make an eclectic style look good. Believe me if you have design goals and want your home to feel a certain way (unless you are one of the very few gifted ones that have the knack) you need to make a plan and get the design mood swings under control.

My first mood board for 2020 – it will not be the last

Example of my 2020 Ideal client mood board

Establish what is the point?

I created this mood board to capture the essence of who my ideal client is for example is she a home maker or busy CEO? I need to have a clear picture of who I am looking for and this mood board helps communicate certain elements.

Without establishing the mood board it’s hard to be all things to all people, I am looking for like minded people who value the same things. What’s your mood board going to be about? A room makeover? A bedroom concept? A Dining Room facelift? What ever it is now it’s time to make a mood board.

How to make a mood board

Save images

To make a (digital) mood board first look for pictures online that catch your eye and save them to a folder. I used Pinterest and saved about 100 different images. Actually probably thousands over the past year if you count all my pins that somehow started to work towards this moment. I know I know, that sounds like a lot but my brain just works that way. Can you relate, need help focusing? That’s another reason why mood boards are great.

Save images for your mood board
Save images for your mood board

Identify themes or common repeats

Next identify what are the common things that repeatedly show up are. For me it was comfy textiles, earthy colours and a comfortable seating and space for friends and family. Most images included lots of rich natural tones and earthy elements for example woods, plants, cottons and pottery.

Images will start to stand out too in negative way. It’s important to realize that they may be relevant in your overall life but they might not have to be on the board itself. For example I noticed I had a few images of cooking with herbs, I am sure my ideal client does this but it didn’t seem to fit in like the rest of the cosy interior images. The theme became about textiles and less about the kitchen.

Edit the number of images you use

Next, look for duplicate images and select your favourite from the copies. Chances are there a a few that represent the same thing. Narrow down until you get to about 6 – 9 images. Many more and it starts to get too busy and you lose the focus.

The whole point of the mood board is to help you focus and give you a clear vision for your project.

For instance you need to keep going back to the original goal of the mood board. In my case it was to create my ideal client. Therefore anything that didn’t seem to fit the home owner I had in mind got deleted. So did the duplicate images that basically spoke the same message.

Variety yet consistency is key

Ensure you have a variety of images, yet a consistency. This can be tricky but look for elements that are the same. Like colours and themes within the images but then ensure there is variety in the images themselves. For example, if you look at my board is has lots of textiles (consistency) but they are shown in a variety of ways. The most successful mood boards have a harmony that helps tell the story.

So now that you have your images narrowed down what do we do with it?

How to use your Mood Board

Mood boards give you the answers

Your mood board can establish the colour palette for your design project and help you to stay consistent when making purchasing decisions. I actually pulled my new brand colours from this board. I will use these colours in all my social media branding, newsletters (coming one day) and other marketing materials like the website, brochures and business cards.

Let the mood guide you

I am all for the heartstring purchases and the eclectic home but above all I believe it should be intentional. Mood boards help to create intentional plans, narrow down options and give focus to the upcoming project. Think about it this way, if all the images you saved at put on your mood board have a minimalistic calming vibe then chances are you will not need a lot of “stuff” to decorate with. The “stuff” can create a completely different mood even if individually you liked each item. Mood boards are there to help you make good shopping decisions.

Use your mood board to make intentional purchases

Use your mood board to decide what kind of materials will be used in your project. If your mood board has no large floral patterns chances are you should stay away from purchasing those types. I know I can get a little caught up in impulse purchases, in isolation almost anything can look great. Creating boards like this helps to stay focused and not end up with things that don’t fit the mood.

Remember it’s a work in progress

Above all, keep your mood board true to yourself, stay focused on your goal and rework it as you need to. Treat your mood boards as an evolving ever changing always growing exercise. As time passes and you gather more information about your project go back and update your mood board to reflect your findings.

How to use it; mood boards are a work in progress

If you are like me and have lofty goals and lots of visions but need help narrowing down the many options make a mood board. It gets sh*t done. Don’t forget to give yourself time to create one. I started months ago collecting images, I set a goal for January to blog about collages and mood boards and then sat down to edit it several different times. Allowing changes and observations to be made.

My personal mission this year is to continue making a house a home, I have a true passion for it, intentional purchases and design choices are a huge part of that. I love to have new things and change is exciting for me but I believe what truly makes a home is setting the mood for what kind of space you want for your family. Space for play, food, time together, time apart and that is why I love using mood boards so much it helps me to focus on what really matters and to stay away from impulsive purchase I later feel I have to purge.

You know how and why to make a mood board, now use it!

I would love to hear from you, please contact me here. If creating your own still seems daunting I am happy to help create a vision for your next design project.

Wonderfully made; just like you!

XOXO, Kim

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