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Design Inspo

How 5 Designers Mood Board

We spoke to five designers to get a sense of how to create mood boards and why they love them so much. Let's get into it!

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Mood boarding is a great way to exercise your creative muscle. Mood boards are suitable for finding design inspiration, searching for commonalities in your design style, and simply expressing your creative self on a visual board. In the simplest of definitions, mood boards, sometimes known as vibe boards or inspiration boards, represent your design vision.

Creating a mood board will help you bring your design vision to life, whether you are designing for yourself or another person. To give you a better glimpse of how others create mood boards, I talked to five design lovers—both hobbyists and professional designers—about why they make mood boards and how it helps them in their design process.

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"Mood boarding is helping me explore, play, and discover."

- Chelsea Wilkinson

Chelsea Wilkinson is currently designing for herself, and that doesn't stop her from having fun creating mood boards. She says, "Having a home that I can freely design has been new to me and has opened up a new area to my artistic expression that I am really enjoying. I love mood boarding because I'm approaching it the way I approach painting—I start with colors and then build compositions and think about the balance and hierarchy between the colors, objects, patterns, and their shape. There's also the bonus of sourcing to this creative practice that makes it fun."

Blue mood board for interior design
Featured above, Chelsea calls this mood board "Mellow Blue & Soft Roses" and imagined it as an intimate dining area.

"Mood boarding is one of the first steps of my formal process."

- Kate White

Kate White is in the process of renovating her house, but she's designing for clients too. No matter what she's designing, mood boarding plays an integral part in her design process. Kate says, "Mood boards are amazing for those high-level conversations where there's no pressure to get it right with a piece of furniture or a specific color—you're figuring out more of the feeling, so it's a great conversation starter. It's the first deliverable I share with my clients, and it's the key tool for me to determine their style and taste. It's low pressure and gives me the space to run with my thoughts without being too precious with individual items."

When I asked Kate what she loved the most about mood boarding, she said she enjoys getting lost in the process and discovering new products. "I love that I can let go and spend time perusing some of my favorite accounts and discovering new stuff. I always end up saving a few things for another project or myself whenever I'm mood-boarding. It's kind of meditative and reminds me of journaling in the way you're just letting the thoughts flow and getting stuff on paper."

"I'm always trying to let the material or the mood board speak for itself."

- Rachel Abrahams

Pink mood board interior design
This is a mood board that Rachel created for their friend's New Orleans house. "We're planning the flow of color and style through the downstairs right now. The house was built between 1860 and 1870 and still has many preservable elements."

Rachel Abrahams is designing for friends-turned-clients now, and they also consider mood boards an essential part of their process. Rxchel says, "Mood boarding is essential to me. When designing for other people, I love finding source material and figuring out ways to tailor it to the client's taste. It might be through art, textiles, photography of cities abroad—anything! Arranging images in a way that doesn't reflect my preferences for them but one that supports them is always fun."

"Mood boards help me gather and play with color palette, products, and styling with no expense or harm done."

- Shellie Brown Kemp

Shellie Brown Kemp is in the process of upgrading her mid-century prairie-style home and has been creating mood boards to help her visualize the space. Shellie says, "When starting a design from scratch, a mood board answers many questions about what I want a room to look and feel like. I love finding the main inspiration piece, whether it be a color palette, a piece of furniture, or an architectural element, that connects everything and creates a domino effect of inspiration as I continue to add to it. I also love that anything is fair game: fashion, makeup, a cup of coffee, a TV show, a specific time or era; it's indefinite!"

Minimal mood board interior design
Shown above is a mood board created by Shellie for her bathroom. "It was so helpful to me during the product-searching phase to stay true to what I knew I liked about the mood board, and it ultimately led to what feels like a cohesive room."

"I think of mood boards as a visual representation of the pool of inspiration I carry in my mind."

- Virginia Ibarra

Virginia Ibarra's trick to mood boarding involves creating more than one board for every project. She says, "Creating a mood board is the first step in any creative project, whether I'm working on personal branding projects or a new room design. I usually create two mood boards per project, one as a general brain dump and the second as a more refined version— I like to fine-tune them as I go. I love using Viz to create mood boards because it is easy to duplicate them if I want to test other ideas. Also, there are so many beautiful images and products out there that it can be overwhelming! To remedy this, I hone in on a few descriptors on how I want a space to feel, such as cozy or breezy, and then look into images and products that project that vibe."

Midcentury modern interior design
Virginia created this mood board for her garage conversion and renovation. The space feels warm and inviting, yet cozy.


Photo Credit: (Left) Finnish Design Shop

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Date Posted
August 2, 2023
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