You will probably see interior design mood boards like the one below if you’re a regular pinner (or scanner) of #homeinspo pics on Pinterest like I am:

Mood board created on Canva for casual textured interiors

That, my friend is an interior design mood board. It’s a tool that I always use in all my client projects. If you’re creating your own home projects, this would help you immensely in visualizing what elements you should be putting together.

What is an interior design mood board?

We can safely quote from Wikipedia here: A mood board is “a type of collage consisting of images, text, and samples of objects in a composition. It can be based upon a set topic or can be any material chosen at random. A mood board can be used to convey a general idea or feel about a particular topic.”

In my interior design projects, I always start with creating a mood board after I have interviewed my client thoroughly. I ask about their lifestyles and preferences, how they move about at home, what tickles their fancy.

After getting all this valuable information, I visualize how I intend their spaces to look at the end of the project. It’s kind of like visual goal-setting.

What feel do I want the space to convey? Will putting together certain elements work in this room? What colors will go together?

Once I have my mood board ready, I present it first to my clients so we can discuss.

Do they like what I’ve created so far? Is there anything they absolutely love in my mood board, and if so, what is it? More importantly, is there an element that they’re not feeling?

I note down all their comments to the mood board, which helps me further refine the design concept I create for their spaces.

The mood board, basically, sets the tone for the entire interior design project.

So how to make a mood board for interiors?

Today, I’m going to share with you how I make my mood boards for my interior design projects. While I use some very technical tools with steep learning curves, I will share other tools that anyone with no design background can use.

I’ve made TONS of mood boards (see some samples here and here), and it’s one of my favorite parts of the interior design process. As a decorator, the activity really helps get my creative juices going.

Not to mention the fact that I’m able to really put my education to good use. Every mood board lets me see what interior design principles I should be putting together, and making more use of.

Examples of my interior design mood boards

Below are some samples of mood boards I’ve made for my clients:

Casual cottage kitchen mood board

I made the kitchen mood board above for a friend of mine, who didn’t have budget yet for a full-blown renovation.

She had a mostly concrete kitchen with old bottom cabinets—but no overhead cabinets or shelves whatsoever. She wanted to remove their dilapidated cabinet doors, too.

I suggested adding a kitchen table that can serve as both dining and prep space, and a paint palette for their walls. Open shelves are additions that her husband could make himself. They can also cover up bottom cabinets with large kitchen linen hung from simple rods.

Clean Scandinavian-contemporary mood board

This board is for a client who wanted to move into a studio unit that already had good-looking bare bones. She asked about putting up an accent wall, but didn’t want it to grab too much attention. She and her husband like very cool and calming colors too, hence the relaxing palette.

Oriental inspired mood board with sophisticated elements

Lastly, here is a mood board for a young female professional, who needed to incorporate her parents’ Oriental case pieces into her condo. She admitted that her style was too kawaii for the furniture pieces.

So I created this Chinoiserie-chic mood board, which effectively incorporates the antique goods. The vibrant palette, however, made it look sophisticated and more current.

Where to get images for your mood board

Here is my go-to list of resources—mostly online—from which I gather and curate images I can use in my mood boards.

  • Pinterest, Houzz, or even Google Images. These search engines are a plethora of great photos you can use for your mood boards. I personally prefer Pinterest because of its beautiful curation of quality images. Simply type in keywords related to the look you want, e.g., “coastal California interiors,” and voila! All the coastal Cali goodness you’ll ever need to see.
  • Websites of your favorite home brands. Almost all brands have their own websites now, which makes our image curation much easier. I usually think of brands that I feel will fit into the overall look and concept. Then I look over their styled room photos, their product catalogues. I even find actual furniture pieces or home items that I recommend my clients to buy for their spaces. Ikea is a great example, as well as West Elm. Local brands like SM, Rustans, Mandaue Foam, and Home Cartel all have their products up on line, but try to look up Facebook pages and Instagram accounts too, like Archipelago Home, or Tropicale PH. I’m currently in love with Flower by Drew’s whimsical home line, and NYC brands Schoolhouse and Lichen NYC.
  • Instagram accounts of interior designers, decorators, and stylists. I follow so many interior design influencers on my account (go ahead, check out my Following list) that I’ve lost count. But my favorites are Emily Henderson, Lauren Liess (herself a graduate of New York Institute of Art and Design like me!), Orlando Soria, and Studio McGee.
  • Offline, visit actual places with interiors that make your jaw drop. This includes furniture showrooms, restaurants, hotels, real estate model units, and even your decorating-geek friend’s house, whose home style you’re dying to cop. Many of my clients tell me they once ate at a restaurant or cafe with an interior style that they felt right at home in. Take pictures (or google nice photos) of these places, and feel free to cull elements from them for your own mood board.

What elements to include in your mood board

I normally start off with 1 to 2 inspiration images of actual rooms or spaces, to really help my client visualize what their home may end up looking like.

Next, I get swatches of colors, wood stains, and metals. I try to see which hues and shades and tones go together. Colors in an interior normally appear in the big surfaces: walls, floor, and ceiling, and even big-ticket furniture items.

But the small stuff also contribute to the palette, like lamps, faucets, door knobs, cabinet handles (hence the metal swatches).

Transitional style mood board

I also pick textures and patterns that I feel will go well with the space. These include wallpapers, fabrics (curtains, beddings, or upholstery), or perhaps an artwork that my client likes. I simply get these images from Google.

Then I get pictures of furniture pieces and light fixtures with lines and forms that match the look I’m going for.

Whether it’s the modern curve of midcentury pieces, the intricate tufting of traditional sofas, the casual roll of a coastal armchair…these all contribute to the cohesive visual I want to create with my board.

Sometimes I like mixing things up, like a heavy Oriental apothecary cabinet with its multitude of drawers, against a very current glass and brass nesting table. Or a contemporary, live-edge, wood table against a gold, pagoda-style lantern.

How to “drop out” images for the mood board

What do I mean by dropping out images? It basically means making a photo go from looking like this:

image of large curved basket, before being dropped out in Photoshop

To this:

Dropped out image of a large curved basket

The most obvious choice is by using an app like Adobe Photoshop. I have been using Photoshop since I can’t remember when. So I know that to make dropping out an easier task, I need to choose photos that already have white backgrounds.

I still drop these white backgrounds out on Photoshop and save them as .PSD files. This is so I end up with a collage that looks like this:

Mood board of a living room with correctly dropped out images

And not this:

Mood board with basket image not yet dropped out

An alternative to Photoshop

If you don’t want to learn how to use Photoshop (who has time, right?), there are digital tools out there that do the trick. I researched a bit and found Remove.bg, which supposedly lets you drag and drop images, and magically removes the background for you.

I haven’t tried it out myself, but you can look up this tutorial on Youtube to learn how to use this seemingly useful tool.

Putting all your images together

Laying out your curation of images into a mood board requires a tool like Photoshop (again), or Adobe Indesign. I am personally adept at using Indesign (thanks to my publishing background) for such a task. But I recently (belatedly) discovered Canva, and it is a game-changer!

It is a free online tool, with dozens of design templates you can choose from. In fact, the very first mood board image on this post (below, in case you’ve forgotten), was created in 10 minutes tops entirely from Canva.

Mood board for casual textured interiors, created on Canva

You can choose from their database of free images, or you can upload the images you’ve carefully collected. Then simply change out colors, fonts, and you can easily download or share your mood board via email, or publish directly onto your Pinterest account.

Share you mood boards!

Once you are pleased with your collage, share it to your partner or a friend, or even post it on social media so you can get comments about your target look for your own space! Mull over it, maybe change out some elements if you so like.

The mood board will definitely help you think over the look you want for your interiors. It provides visual direction that will dictate all your design decisions from this point.

If you do decide to make your own mood board, do share them on your social media accounts and tag #galathomeinspiration! I’d love to see what you come up with, and perhaps I can even give my own two cents on your design direction.

How to make an interior design mood board cover

Don’t want to make your own mood board?

Hey, that’s what I’m here for. It’s a quick task I can do to help you create a space you can enjoy living in. My Refresh package includes a design consultation at your place, where we talk about everything you want and would like to change in your space.

After that meeting, I give you a style assessment of your space, provide inspiration images, as well as a mood board. I even throw in a suggested furniture layout you can implement yourself.

The clincher is an intensive styling session using your own furniture, decor, and belongings. My team and I can fix them up in a way that you never thought possible, and jazz up your space with personal mementos and home accessories you already have in your arsenal.

Sounds like something you’d love to have? Click the button below to book a Refresh session with me!

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