If you’re dreaming of redecorating your home, an interior design mood board is the place to start. These mockups can help you test out different ideas, narrow down what style you’re going for, and confirm what will look good in your room (and what won’t) before you buy a thing. Professional interior designers and stylists use mood boards all the time—and there’s no reason you can’t do the same for your DIY decorating project.
Wondering how to create a mood board for interior design? We’ve got everything you need to get started, from step-by-step instructions to the best interior design mood board creators and more.
What’s Included in a Mood Board
Your first question may be, what is a mood board in interior design? Mood boards are essentially a visual collection of the design elements you’re considering for a room. They can range from collage-like images to an actual room mockup, depending on your design capabilities and visual preferences. You may even use both of these styles at different points in your planning process. “It’s really about how you can visualize your space,” explains decorator Arlyn Hernandez in her Skillshare class.
To ensure your mood board is as helpful as possible, you’ll want to include images of:
- Rooms that have the look you’re going for
- Specific furniture pieces you’re considering
- Textiles and patterns you may want to bring into the space
- Specific paint colors you’re considering
- Existing finishes or pieces of furniture that will remain in the space
Ultimately, it’s all about seeing all of your ideas in one place so you can ensure they work together. That said, a mood board isn’t necessarily your final design. “You really only have to get about 75% of the way. You will never get to 100% until you really install your room,” explains Hernandez. “But what you want to do is establish your key pieces, your main furniture pieces, your color palette, your textiles, and really just the look and the feel to give you a really good jumping off point from when you actually go to purchase.”
6 Sites and Apps for Creating Mood Boards
Devices: Mac, PC, iOS, Android
While Pinterest is a favorite tool in the design world because of how easy it is to search for and collect inspiration, it’s not the most ideal for creating mood boards since you can’t easily rearrange and layer pictures. If you do use Pinterest, try starting with one board to collect all of your design ideas, and then create a separate board to pin your final selections so you can more easily see them together.
2. Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign
Devices: Mac, PC, some available for iPad
If you’re already an Adobe Creative Cloud user, almost any of their image-editing programs can be used to create a mood board. Choose whichever program you’re already most comfortable using, and play with arranging or layering images to create your mood board. Here are tutorials for creating mood boards in Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.
Devices: Mac, PC, iOS, Android
Canva is a free design app that’s a great option for anyone without access to or experience with Adobe products. You can import images, add fun frames and other design details from their library of images, or even use one of their interior design mood board templates to get started.
If you’re looking to create interior design mood boards on your iPad, Procreate can be a great option. You can easily pull in and arrange images on your artboard and add text or custom illustrated elements to jazz up or label your mood board
Cost: Free with optional paid upgrades
Devices: iOS and Mac
Morpholio Board is specifically an interior design mood board app, and it’s got all the bells and whistles to prove it, including an entire library of products you can peruse, Pinterest integration, and even AR features that will allow you to see items in your room at scale. Not all of the features are available on the free version, but it should be enough to get you started creating either a collage or mockup-style mood board.
Cost: Free with limits, $10/month for unlimited use
Devices: Mac, PC, iOS, Android
Described as a visual Evernote, Milanote acts almost like a digital corkboard, making it easy for you to collect different images, links, and text and drag them around to arrange them as you like on the free-form canvas. They even have a free interior design mood board template to help get you started.
How to Create an Interior Design Mood Board
Ready to try your hand at creating your own? First, pick a room to focus on—it’s better to create mood boards for each room than for your entire house at once. Then, follow the steps below to create a visual representation of your design. While these steps are focused on creating digital mood boards, you’re also welcome to grab some scissors, glue, and poster board and create a physical mood board!
Step 1: Gather Images
To start, collect images that represent the styling you’re considering. These can be other rooms that have the look you’re going for, or actual furniture, textiles, and fixtures you might want to purchase.
While Pinterest can be a great way to search for ideas, make sure to expand your pool of inspiration—remember, you can add pictures from other sites to Pinterest, or even take a photo of magazine ads or items you already have and add them to your board!
While this is the time to think big and look for inspiration everywhere, you also want to be realistic. “Make sure that they’re things that you could see yourself buying: budget wise, style wise, accessibility wise,” advises Hernandez. The last thing you want to do is put an amazing couch on your mood board—and then realize you can’t actually afford it.
Step 2: Trim Away Any Background
Unless you’re creating your entire mood board on Pinterest, you’ll want to download your favorite images to your computer or device. At this point, it can be good to trim away any extra background (even white background), particularly on images of products. This is especially important if you’re creating a mockup-style mood board.
If you’re working in Photoshop, use the lasso tools to remove extra background. If you’re using other programs, simply upload the images to a tool like remove.bg to easily get rid of any background.
Step 3: Start With the Non-Negotiables
Now it’s time to start creating your actual mood board! Before you start playing with possibilities, you’ll want to add images of any existing items or other non-negotiables in the room you’re decorating. “I like to bring in real tones of walls, of moldings, of flooring, just to be able to check color when you’re putting together your mood board,” explains Hernandez.
If you’re creating a collage-style mood board, this could mean bringing in swatches of your existing flooring or wall color, pictures of furniture you plan on keeping, or anything else about the space that won’t change. If you’re creating a mockup, you can arrange these into a little vignette of your room to create a digital diorama.
Step 4: Experiment With Different Options
Finally the fun part—adding in all the images you’ve collected and experimenting with different combinations! Start by bringing in your favorite option for each element in your space—one couch, one rug, and so on.
Even if you’re not creating an actual mockup, make sure you arrange pieces that will be next to each other in your room near each other on the mood board. You want to make sure the colors and patterns work well together!
Once you have all of your main pieces on your mood board, swap in other options to make sure your gut preference was correct. “You might think you want really modern lighting, you bring it into your home and you realize it might not fit just right with your architectural details, or could be a very cool curveball for your design. Play around, dream—that’s the beauty of the mood boarding phase,” says Hernandez.
Make a Mood Board With Arlyn Hernandez!
Interior Design: Create a Plan For Your Perfect Room.