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The delicate art of interior design mood boards


interior design mood board
Interior design mood board by Portaire
The delicate art of interior design mood boards
Clara Carlino de Paz
September 28, 2023

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The creative process is different for everyone, no matter the industry. Some need a coffee and a blank sheet, while others need a museum trip and a conversation. However, at some point, most arrive at mood boards (sometimes spelt as moodboards) as ways to consolidate their inspiration and vision in one concrete place.

In this article, we'll delve in the what, why and how of mood boards, according to professional interior designers and content experts. For more professional interior design content, subscribe to our newsletter and never miss a skill upgrade again.

What are interior design mood boards?

Mood boards are visual tools that help designers organise inspiration for their projects. They convey the desired look and feel of a space by incorporating images, colours, textures, and other design elements. Mood boards allow designers to experiment with concepts and serve as a reference throughout the design process.

interior design mood board
Mood board by Portaire featuring Cameron Design House's furniture collection

The importance of mood boards in interior design

Mood boards play a vital role in interior design by providing a clear direction for the design process. They allow designers to visually play with their ideas and help clients visualize the proposed design concept. Additionally, mood boards assist in maintaining consistency and coherence in the overall design, keeping all parties accountable.

Moodboards also serve as a communication tool between designers, clients, and other stakeholders, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. With their ability to showcase different options and possibilities, mood boards greatly aid in decision-making and making tweaks without financial or physical consequences.

interior design moodboard
Mood board by Portaire

What characteristics should interior design mood boards have?

Interior design mood boards should reflect the ambiance of a space, incorporating various visual elements like colours, textures, and materials. You can also add images or text that further convey an atmosphere, even if they are not strictly related to the design. Overall, mood boards should be visually appealing and well-organized to effectively convey the design concept in one glance.

interior design mood board
Mood board by Portaire featuring The Main Company

Tools for creating interior design mood boards

Traditional tools; paper, scissors, samples and glue

When it comes to gathering inspiration for your mood board, traditional tools such as paper, scissors, and glue offer a tangible and hands-on approach. These tools not only provide a sense of creativity and craftsmanship but also allow for a more personal touch in the design process. From adding newspaper and magazine clippings, to sketching directly on a piece of paper, or even using supplier samples, a tactile experience of moodboarding is a beautiful option.

interior design mood board
Tactile mood board

Digital tools: software and apps

When it comes to creating mood boards for interior design, digital tools such as design software and apps are invaluable. With these tools, designers can access advanced features and customization options, allowing for stunning and personalized digital mood boards. What's more, these apps offer user-friendly interfaces and preloaded design elements, making the process even easier. Additionally, digital tools allow for effortless editing, rearranging, and resizing of design elements, saving both time and effort. Plus, the convenience of saving and sharing mood boards digitally makes collaboration and feedback seamless. Overall, digital tools provide a more efficient and time-saving approach to creating mood boards. Canva is our favourite for this.

mood board interior design
Mood board by Portaire featuring Armac Martin

Compiling an online product library

Creating an online product library is a valuable tool for designers to easily access and incorporate design elements into their projects. On Portaire, you can upload your favourite products and images in one place, and also explore our trade portal, with 40,000 + products from dozens of luxury interior design suppliers. You can find out more here.

How do you make an interior design mood board?

To create an interior design mood board, start by gathering inspiration and ideas. Then, select a colour palette that sets the tone for your design concept. Collect images, textures, and materials that resonate with your vision. Arrange these elements on a physical or digital platform, refining and iterating based on feedback and exploration.

interior design mood board
Mood board by Portaire using Studio Caché's Tadmarton Grange Project

Gathering inspiration and Ideas

To gather inspiration and ideas for your interior design mood board, explore various sources such as magazines, books, websites, and social media platforms. Beyond your usual, consider exploring different interior design styles and aesthetics to the ones you're normally drawn to.

interior design mood board
Interior design mood board by Portaire featuring Norm Architects' designs

Selecting your colour palette

Once the aesthetic "vibe" is down, delve into different colour schemes. When choosing, consider the psychological impact of different colors and experiment with various combinations to find the perfect balance – chances are, the first iteration is not the right one! Remember to choose colors that complement each other and create visual harmony, and to choose at least 4 main colours to play with.

interior design mood board
Mood board by Portaire featuring Maison Mattisse, Barbera Design, Breton Brut, and Artisans of Devizes

Choosing materials and textures

When creating a mood board for interior design, it's important to explore a variety of materials and textures. We recommend going to your favourite stone, wood, rug and paint suppliers and looking at their lifestyle imagery, to get a real sense of what these materials and textures can offer in context. Then, you can mix and match their products into your moodboard: no sourcing later required!

interior design mood board
Mood board by Portaire featuring Artisans of Devizes

Incorporating furniture and accessories

Next, experiment with different furniture and accessory options using your mood board. You can start by searching for imagery that complements the style and theme and desired colour palette of your design. Combine colors, patterns, and textures to showcase how furniture and accessories enhance the overall look and feel of a space. And of course, to add your personal touch, use design software like Photoshop or Sketchup for easy manipulation and rearrangement (while bearing in mind the problems that might arise if the client asks for that specific furniture piece again!). If you're stuck for ideas, you can search for unique furniture and accessory ideas on Instagram and Pinterest.

Finalising your mood board

To finalize your mood board, carefully review and refine it to effectively communicate your vision for the interior design project. This means arranging the images, colors, and textures in a visually appealing and cohesive manner, incorporating logos or branding elements if relevant and evaluating the impact of flooring options by including samples or images to demonstrate their effect on the overall design. We suggest seeking feedback from colleagues or mentors to ensure your mood board accurately represents your design concept.

interior design mood board
Interior design mood board featuring Kelly Wearstler's designs

The imagery is finalised... What now?

Presenting mood boards to clients

How you communicate and present your mood board is almost as important as the mood board itself. When showcasing mood boards to clients, provide a brief overview of the design concept and how each element contributes to the overall vision. For example, you can utilize visual aids like slideshows or physical displays to guide their attention to key elements. A bit of history and context doesn't hurt either; be sure to highlight the inspiration behind the mood board, referencing specific images or examples that influenced the design. When that's done, encourage client engagement by inviting questions and feedback during the presentation.

Taking feedback and editing mood boards

When you're working on interior design mood boards and getting feedback, it's really important to listen carefully to what your clients have to say and take note of any changes they recommend. This feedback gives you a chance to improve and make sure the mood board matches their vision. You should be open to making necessary changes, whether that means adding new elements or taking away things that don't quite match their tastes. Keeping the lines of communication open as you make these edits will help make sure your clients are happy with the final result. Being flexible and adaptable when it comes to receiving feedback is a big part of the design process, so embrace it!

Thank you for reading. We hope you enjoyed this process!