Mood Boards for Interior Design: A Guide to Planning and Creating a Cohesive Design

Feeling overwhelmed with your interior design project?

A mood board is the perfect way to start planning your design. It’s a great way to get inspired and create the look you want. Plus, it’s a collaborative tool so you can get feedback from friends and family before you start spending money on furniture and decor.

If you're new to interior design, you may be wondering what mood boards are and why they are important. A mood board is a collection of images that represent the look and feel you want for a space. They can be used to plan out a cohesive design or to get inspiration for a new project. It is also used as a collaborative tool in starting a design project.

Read this guide on creating a mood board to start planning your space.

What are Mood Boards?

Interior designers create mood boards to help communicate their vision for a space. It is a way to put all of your ideas in one place so that you can easily reference them when making decisions about furniture, paint colors, and accessories.

Mood boards are often mistaken for being just a Pinterest board or a collection of pretty pictures. While they can be both of those things, mood boards are so much more than that. A good mood board will have a mix of images, textures, colors, and materials that all work together to create a concept.

Mood boards can be created digitally or physically. If you're new to creating mood boards, it may be helpful to start with a physical board so you can move things around and get a better sense of the overall look you're going for. However, digital boards are faster and efficient, so it's really up to personal preference.

Mood boards help with the concept design process.

Mood boards are an important tool for interior designers. They help to capture the overall feel of a new space and can act as a guide in the planning and creating a cohesive design.

Mood boards are extremely helpful when presenting ideas to clients. With curated images, colors, patterns and furniture, you can see how all of these elements come together to create a mood or feeling in a space.

If you start a design project without creating a mood board first, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all of the options. It can be difficult to make decisions about what furniture to buy or what colors to paint the walls when you don't have a clear vision for the space.

A mood board can help to narrow down your options and make the design process much easier and less stressful.

Mood boards help with design collaboration.

Interior designers use mood boards to get feedback early on in the design process. They help to communicate their vision for the space. It's a helpful tool when working with clients who need to pinpoint their design style.

With a mood board, there can be a disconnect between what a designer envisions for the space and the client's expectations. This can often lead to frustration on both ends and can make the design process much more difficult.

Mood boards provide clarity and and direction in starting a project. It helps establish the design direction and avoid costly mistakes down the road. The last thing we want is to put several hours into a project only to realize later that it's not what the client wanted!

In other words, mood boards help to guarantee that the designer's concept and the client's expectations are in sync.


Mood board for a bedroom with a study by Essex Designs
Mood board for a bedroom with a study by Essex Designs. The client was a high schooler who outgrew her tween style. She was so excited to see the possibilities of a grown up room.


How do you create a Mood Board?

Creating a mood board can seem like a daunting task, but by taking the time to create a mood board, you are guaranteed to end up with a space that you'll be proud of and love.

It's not just for professional designers, you can make your own mood board. Here are some tips to help you get started:

-Start by gathering inspiration. This can be done by flipping through magazines, scrolling through Pinterest, Instagram or your favorite furniture store.

-You can also pick an image of a space that you would like to emulate. This can be an image from Architectural Digest, Home Beautiful or a hotel. Analyze the elements that you like about the space. Is it the furniture, paint or flooring? It could be the art or chandelier.

-Pinterest and Instagram are fantastic places to get inspiration. Be warned, when you have a lot of alternatives, option paralysis might set in! That's where a mood board comes in handy!

-Collect images of the items that you would like for your space. Depending on the space and size of the project, your mood board might include the following items:

  • Bedding
  • Furniture
  • Kitchen appliance
  • Cabinetry
  • Hardware
  • Lighting
  • Pillows & Decoration
  • Rugs
  • Wall Art & Mirrors


-If you're creating a physical mood board, arrange your images on a piece of poster board. You can use thumb tacks for fabrics and glue for pictures. 

-If you're creating a digital board, you can make one if you know how to use Canva or Powerpoint.

-As you're arranging your images, keep in mind the overall feel you want for the space. Pay attention to the balance of colors, textures, and patterns.

-Take a step back and look at it as a whole. Does it capture the feeling you're going for? Does it make you happy? Is it functional and practical? 

-Mood boards are meant to be fluid and can be changed at any time. So add and remove as you go.


Mood board for a living room by Essex Designs

Mood board for a transitional living room. Client already had a sofa, but wanted to add something interesting for their guests seating area.

Mood Boards are for Inspiration

Mood boards are a great way to get inspiration for your interior design project. You can create a cohesive design with images, colors, fabric swatches, and items that you love!

Don't just pick something out of a catalog. Be sure to add your own personal style into the mix. This is your chance to get creative and have fun with the design process!

One of the best things about mood boards is that they are always evolving. As you come across new inspiration, you can add it to your mood board and develop it into a cohesive representation of your vision.

Friendly reminder: don't set foot in a furniture showroom before you have a good idea of what your space needs functionally and aesthetically. I have seen many costly mistakes because someone went shopping without a concept or plan!

Needless to says, designers create mood boards to save our clients time and money.

They are also a great way to get feedback from other people involved in the project. Your significant other, family, and close friends can all give you their input on what they like and don't like from your board.

Just leave out the mailman and the neighbor's cousin- everyone has an opinion but not everyone's opinion matters!

Next Step

If your project is small with a few items, with ready made pieces, you may use the the mood board to shop items. Don't forget to measure before purchasing!

In a larger project the mood boards sets us up to the next phase: the schematic design. This is where designers will continue to narrow down choices, order samples, create a budget and timeline, draw to scale and accurately place the room layout with furniture. I got dizzy just thinking about it. But that will be for another article as this is enough information!



Mood boards are an important tool for interior designers and homeowners. They help to capture the overall feel of a new space and can act as a guide in the planning and creating a cohesive design. If you start a design project without creating a mood board first, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all of the options.

Creating a mood board can seem like an extra step in the design process, but it can actually save you time and money. You are less likely to make costly mistakes if you have a clear vision for your space from the beginning.  


Mood boards are like vision boards. Have you ever used one of these? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!






Alice Gerard

How interesting is that? I’d never heard of a mood board, but I like how all of the different elements of a room come together like that. If a piece didn’t fit, it would be obvious well before you changed the design of the room. Very informatiive blog post. Thank you.

Amanda Trought

Creating a mood board is such a good idea, and as you say actually helps you to save time, thank you for sharing.

Melynda Brown

Great info. My daughter does this, but I did not know it had a name. Thank you!


Thank you for this comment! I wanted to appeal to anyone who want to work on their own space as well as professionals.

Martha DeMeo

What detailed information on mod boards. You’ve explained it perfect for both the professional or novice.

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