Using Mood Boards for Interior Design

If you want to make a physical moodboard, get swatches from fabric and paint stores.
VonHaus Interior Design

If you ask a designer about their design process, the term “mood board” is more than likely going to come up in conversation. Gathering samples and putting them together to present to their client is a process that designers have been going through for many years. However, these boards are a great tool for homeowners to use as well. Creating a mood board, or inspiration board, is useful to curate ideas for a space and is a fun way to become excited about the design process. Your designer will use your finished product to develop a clear picture of your style and what you are looking for.

Interior Style Hunter

How to Begin Your Mood Board

A fun and unique way to approach mood boards is like an adult scrapbook. A good starting point can be a color scheme or interior design style that you like, such as “navy and yellow” or “industrial lofts”.  Starting with this in mind, begin by looking through magazines and tearing out photos that inspire you or by saving photos from your favorite interior design websites.  Browse fabric and wallpaper books for patterns and colors that you like. Often the manufacturer will ship you small samples for free. The samples are great ways to incorporate texture to your board, a key feature that will be missing if you only use magazine and printed photos.

Caitlin Wilson Design

What kind of photos to use

The kinds of photos that you put on your mood board will depend on where you are in the design process. If the redesign of your space will be happening right away, focus your board to pieces that are practical for your space. For example, if you are designing a room that has a piece of furniture that must stay, like a bed or dining room table, take a photo of it and put it on your mood board. This way you can build your design around the existing pieces and see how new colors, patterns, and textures will coordinate.


If you are just beginning to gather ideas for your design, you do not need to limit yourself to interior design photos. Find anything that inspires you and put it on your mood board. Whether it be a photo of a dress from your favorite designer or a photo you took on your vacation, these images begin to point out subtle themes that can translate to interior design. For example, perhaps the reason you like the photo of the dress is because you like the softness and flow of the fabric, not because you want to wear it to dinner on Friday night. The recurring themes in these inspiration photos can guide your design direction and help to uncover new color palettes and your design style.

Creatively Daring - San Francisco Love letter

What about digital boards

Websites like Pinterest and Houzz capitalized on the idea of mood boards by creating an easy to use platform for people to save images that inspire them. However, it is very easy to become carried away, saving hundreds or even thousands of photos to one board. This can cause the board to lose direction and no longer provide practical inspiration for a space. To prevent this, print the photos you like from these websites and attach them to a physical board. If you prefer a digital board, copy and paste to a blank Word document. Limiting yourself to just the space of the board forces you to narrow down your choices and helps to focus your design.

Interior design mood board


Keep in mind that items you like in the photos on your board may not be available to you. Many high end interior design items are custom and you may not be able to find the exact same piece. Also even if you can find the exact same piece, it may not fit within your budget. It is important to use these boards as inspiration, not a shopping list. This will help to avoid any disappointment when you begin shopping for your space.

Have you completed a mood board for your space? Share it with us, we would love to see what inspires you!


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