How To Mood Board. Or How To Get Buy In For Your Interior Ideas

When I started posting on Instagram two years ago, I had never considered doing a mood board when planning my home decorating projects.  I'm not an interior designer and for me, the idea felt simply out of my league.  I was quite happy pinning away on Pinterest - I realised the other day that prior to the Instagram explosion, this was how I spent most of my evenings, thus why I have over 6,000 pins and barely any updates for the last 18 months.  I still pin like a crazy woman when I have a project on the go, but have stopped using it for general inspo, or 'fun', I suppose, as Instagram seems to tick all those boxes.  Before Pinterest, I was a magazine addict - my hallway is currently home to ten years worth of Livingetc and Elle Decoration with lots of empty pages from which I religiously cut pictures and thrust into plastic folders, one for every room.  Ah, the old days.

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Last week, I published a blog post showing my plans for the hall, stairs and landing.  I pulled all my ideas together, as I now do for every room, on a digital mood board and received lots of questions asking how I did it.  Before I answer that, the big question must be WHY I do it.  There are two parts to this answer.  Firstly, it clarifies your random ideas and arranges them clear and concisely so that you have a template from which to work.  And secondly, in a house that contains five people of which I am only one (the only one who ever does anything, let's be honest), it's a brilliant way of presenting your ideas and getting buy in from everyone else.

When Dee and I run our Styling Your Home workshops, there is always, without fail, one person who will raise the following conundrum.  My partner wants an input into our home decor, what can I do?  To these people we say the same thing every time.  

Firstly, ignore them.  My husband works in the car industry.  I work in interiors.  I don't tell him how to undercut a chassis (I have no idea what that means) so therefore I don't allow him to tell me whether he'd like Pavillion Grey or Strong White in the kitchen.  Simple.  Secondly, mood board the hell out of it.  Stick it all together on a sheet, make it look good, make it look cool and professional, show them how amazing it will all look when it's done.  Wave it in front of their faces, present it as a fait accompli.  They will be so overwhelmed by your creativity and fabulous ideas that they will be mood boarded into submission.  Job done.

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Okay, I'm being a little bit tongue in cheek (only a little bit) but from personal experience, mood boarding is always a winner. When I was planning my son's rooms (aged 14 and eight), it was hard to get my head around what they wanted in a way that also incorporated what I wanted for their rooms.  For both rooms, their ideas were at the other end of the spectrum to my own.  Max wanted a 55 inch TV and multi coloured LED's on constant flash so that he could play Call Of Duty or FIFA18 on repeat, whilst residing in a room that was basically a cave.  My plan was to go with the walls but to stealthily sneak in artwork, nice bedding and - gasp - plants.  I mood boarded it, he agreed and the job was done.  

Leo's initial insistence was that he wanted a full wall of graffiti and astro turf carpet.  I mood boarded with alternative (ie, completely different) ideas but included products in bright colours, wallpaper that complimented these shades, cool artwork and neons.  He loved it.  Neither Max nor Leo really knew what they wanted - they had an idea of the impact that they wanted in their rooms and as a result, their initial ideas were way too extreme.  The mood boards created the same wow effect but in a much more subtle way.  Win win.

So how do you create a mood board?  As I said at the start, I'm not an interior designer but over my many years of obsessional decorating projects, I've styled and planned my rooms by going through the following process.  This is what I do.

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Pin For England.  Or Ireland.  Or Wherever.

This is categorically the best way to start.  Pinterest is the ideal way to find out your ultimate core style and what you really, really want to achieve.  I set up a new board in the name of the room I'm planning and get pinning.  And I keep pinning until I start repinning the same pins (which always happens).  The more I pin, the more I get a real feeling for what I want to achieve in the room.  

Don't just stick to room shots - I pin lighting, fabrics, wallpapers, the whole lot.  Find the paint colour that you like and search for it - for example, searching on Strong White will bring up lots of lovely circular paint splodges that are ideal for the purpose.  Upload photographs of products you think would fit and add them too.  If you can, find pictures which have a white background.  You'll end up with a board of inspiration that's a great starting point.

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Save To Your Desktop

Next, upload all of your favourites on to your desktop.  You can do this by going to the relevant pin and right clicking on the photograph and choosing 'save to downloads'.  Stick them all into a named file on your computer so that you know where they are.  I am extremely poor at doing this - my uploads are generally saved willy nilly and I end up finding them in obscure 'document' files of which I had no idea of existence.  

Choose the ones that really stand out to you, the ones you have pinned and repinned, the ones that appeal to you the most.  


Use An App That Does It For You

So there's plenty of mood board stylie applications you can use.  I use which is ideal for the purpose.  It's a free design application from which you can create anything you like - banners, flyers, resumes, media kits.  It's got it all and it's really simple to use.  

For basic use, set up an account.  You can then have access to all their templates including loads of social media related visuals - Twitter headers, Facebook banners, Instagram posts.   It's perfectly fine to use Powerpoint or similar, but this application gives you loads of extras which make your life easier.  It's a no brainer.

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Get Your Creative Head On

Okay, so you've set up an account.  Go to the Create A Design section at the top of the main page and click Presentation.  It will bring up a blank page to the right and on the left, you will see it's gone automatically to the Layout tab with loads of examples of templates to upload.  

For your mood board, you don't want to use any of these so look again at the menu on the left hand side and click Uploads.  From here, you can upload your own photographs.  Upload all the photographs that you have carefully curated from Pinterest and they will then appear in the left hand block, ready to go.

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Add Your Ideas

To add a picture to your mood board, click on it.  It will immediately appear in the centre of your screen.  If you are happy with the picture in it's entirety, you can adjust the size by using the edges.  If you want to crop the picture, double click on this photograph and it will give you a crop border that you can move around and extend.  Extend it to the perfect crop and press the Return key.

I tend to crop all my photographs, particularly individual items, to make them as compact as possible for the mood board.  This is the reason why I mentioned earlier that it's better to find accessory photographs which are on a white background - easily to chop out.  

Keep adding your pictures until you feel that you want to stop.  They're not static - you can move them around until they all fit nicely.  I tend to put in one or two full room shots of inspirational photographs so that it gives me a really good idea of what I'm trying to achieve.

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Add Some Cool Stuff

You've got all your photos in place, now you want to add in the detail.  Go to the left hand side bar and click Elements.  This will give you a great selection of extras that you can add to your mood board.  Go to the top and search.  I use arrows on my board but it's got loads of fun stuff.  All the basic stuff is free but you can pay if you want something super flash.  Click and they will appear on your presentation.  

You can shrink them by using the side arrows.  There's a Background tab too - if you click this, it will give you a selection of patterns or colours to use as the base of your presentation.  Personally, I generally tend to stick to white as it's clearer, but the option is there.  

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Text It Up

Now you can add your text.  Click the Text button on the left hand menu and again, it will give you a multitude of options.  I try and keep it simple in the same font every time but it's entirely up to you. Again, when you click it will give you a text box that you can then shrink to fit.  

I put the name of the mood board on the top right hand side (I like a bit of right margin justification - OCD issues).   I use mini header words to add substance to the board - for example, 'metallic lighting' - and then move the arrows around to point in the right direction.  Easy peasy.

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Finish It Like A Pro

Finished?  Go to the top margin where it says Presentation - Untitled Design and click - you can change the name to suit your mood board.  Then click on the tab next to this - Download - and it will ask you how you want to save it.  I usually save twice, both as a PDF and as a JPG.  

And that's it.  One super fabulous mood board.  Tick. 

Now all that's left to do is to present your ideas to your family and watch them gasp in awe and provide immediate agreement to whatever plans you are intending to undertake.  Jokes. They'll still moan. But I can honestly say that when I create a mood board, it really does get my head around what I'm intending to do and also ensures that everyone in my family knows what is going to happen and is as happy with the project as they could be.  

By whittling down your ideas into a single sheet, it gives you an overview of what you need to do and helps you decide how you are going to do it.  In the case of the  boys bedrooms, it enabled us to blend our ideas into something that was acceptable to us both.  Well, mostly me. Let's not get carried away here.  They're only 14 and eight, they don't actually KNOW cohesively how their ideas will work in their rooms.  But I can categorically say that I was more likely to gain their agreement by presenting it to them as the whole shebang than I would have done otherwise. And let's face it, the idea of a graffiti wall and an astro turf carpet is enough to push anyone over the edge.  Happy mood boarding!