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How to create a moodboard - and why it’s so useful when you’re planning to redecorate

Decorating a room? Here's why creating a moodboard is a great way to make your ideas work together.

Guest Author
Words by: Kate Hilpern

Interior designers and homes magazines make moodboards look like pieces of art in their own right.

But the good news is anyone can make one of these visual collages to help with redecorating plans.

In fact, most experts will tell you a moodboard is hands down the best way to help you decide on the colour scheme, style and feel of the room that you’re giving a makeover.

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What is a moodboard?

Put simply, it’s a condensed scrapbook that acts as a tool to communicate your visions and ideas behind a project.

It can include images, fabric swatches, wallpaper samples, colours, quotes, even natural objects like dried leaves – anything that inspires you.

The idea is that the both the process of creating a moodboard and the end result can help you create the final look you’re happiest with.

Physical or digital?

"There are no strict rules on how to create a moodboard, so you can be as free and creative as you want," says Justyna Korczynska from the Crown Paints Design Studio

"If you enjoy a craft project, you can create a physical moodboard.

"It doesn’t have to be costly. You can use magazine clippings, cuttings from product catalogues, paint swatches, carpet or wallpaper samples or absolutely anything you like," she says.

"If you’d prefer something quicker to make, or that you can easily share with someone online, then creating a Pinterest board could be a perfect way to gather all the ideas in one place."

Zoopla social media editor Stephanie Hendries' moodboard

Why bother making a moodboard?

"Creating a moodboard will not only help you to make all the big decisions in finding the perfect look for your home, it can also help you to stick within your budget," says Justyna.

Your moodboard could also make shopping for your home project much easier knowing exactly what you’re looking for.

"Moodboards are a safe tool for experimenting with different styles and colours, especially if you’re not yet sure what you want," she adds.

"And they're a great way for sharing your ideas with the rest of the household."

Think big...

Don’t worry about your moodboard starting off as a brain dump – that’s the whole point, says Karen Blue of Karen Blue Interiors.  

"I tend to throw everything at my moodboard initially and then extract ideas that will make it to the final design.

"Whether from Pinterest, online browsing or magazines, start by gathering images of rooms you think have the kind of wow-factor you’re looking for.

"Seek out colours, fabrics, furniture styles and design features that draw you in.

"They won’t all end up on your final moodboard, but they will help you to shape those initial ideas and hone down your favourites: rustic or minimalist, greys or greens, for example."

But start small...

You may already have a favourite piece of furniture, a rug or an heirloom that you’re particularly attached to, or an architectural or period feature that you want to enhance.

"Take photos of it and stick it in the centre of your moodboard, then build everything else around it," suggests Charlotte Ringart, who used moodboards to design the interiors for her amazing and inspirational self-built home.

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"It will help to see it against different colours, textures and designs," she says.

"And if you have a favourite wallpaper sample or a colour you’re really keen on, that can be a good starting point to set the scene."

Get creative

"It can be quite fun to create a physical board as you get a greater sense of texture and you can be creative with the materials you use," says Karen.

"You don’t have to buy special card. Cut up a cardboard box instead and stick on ideas with blu-tack or alternatively use a cork board with pins.

"I’ve also used plywood boards that have come as packaging as you can paint wall colour samples straight onto them, so you get a better feel for colour."

Or you could get creative with a Pinterest moodboard – and the added bonus is it’s free.

In fact, online moodboards make it quick and easy to change ideas around and play with the design.

Plus you can just send the link to friends and family for their input.

Take inspiration 

Collect inspiration from anywhere and everywhere – online shops, photographs, magazines, brochures, even your favourite artworks.

"I take a lot of real life photos – a particular shelving unit I like in a restaurant, for example," says Charlotte.

When exploring your favourite ideas, don't just think about colours and textures, include different furniture and accessories - and don’t forget lighting.

Experiment too. Twigs might make you realise you want to soften everything with natural wood for a more rustic feel, while exotic fabrics might draw you to an Eastern look.

Narrow it down

"The whole point of a moodboard is to narrow down your choices and refine them before making decisions," says Juliette Thomas, managing director of Juliette's Interiors.

"So play with all your tear pages and prints outs, move them around, take things off, put them back on and try different combinations.

"Do not discard anything, as you may find you come back to it later." 

David Conlon, head interior designer at En Masse Bespoke Interiors, says: "You’ll see quite quickly that multiple patterns may clash, or certain colours won’t work together, but equally, they can surprise you."

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Take your time

"Creating a moodboard is not a five-minute exercise," says Juliette. "For it to be truly useful, you will need to spend time collecting samples and ideas. 

"You don’t have to complete your moodboard in one sitting. If you’re not sure about something, take a break and come back to it later with fresh eyes.

"You’re about to make an investment that's both financial and time-consuming, so you’ll have to be sure you love every bit of it."

Be bold

"Above all, have fun with your moodboard," says Suzann Bozrgi, founder of interior design studio RoomLab.

"No one is holding you to your final design, so if you like the idea of a bright yellow sofa, put it on your moodboard.

"You can always adapt that splash of colour into a cushion or throw at a later stage – it’s the ideas that matter most."

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