The mood board I made for the Guncles’ ceremony

Remember the masterpiece you made all those years ago in art class? The one mom had on her fridge well into your college years? Making a mood board is kind of like that, except now you’ve graduated from Elle Girl to Elle Decor. From interior design and event planning, to refining your wardrobe, or even mapping out major life goals, mood boards are a great creative launch pad, and they’re fun to make.

I use mood boards for everything from redecorating a room to planning a jewelry line or a big event like a wedding. For example, I made the mood board pictured above for the Guncles’ commitment ceremony – they wanted a peacock theme, so that was my jumping off point for designing the event. On “sTORIbook Weddings”, I have each of my couples start with a mood board to help articulate the wedding they envision. Whether you are working with a designer or DIYing it, a mood board is a great tool for getting unstuck or finding a way into any major creative project.

Get Started

The first step is to gather your source material. To begin, look at magazines and snapshots you may have taken. Make a habit of flipping through fashion and design magazines and start clipping pictures you love. Some of my faves are InStyle, Vogue Living, and of course, Elle Decor. Embellish your mood board with whatever catches your eye – the pieces don’t all have to come from a design magazine. If it’s peacock feathers you need, go to your local craft store, or if you live in the country, maybe you’ll find what you need right in your own backyard!

Your mood board can be more than magazine clippings. It can also include photographs, color and fabric swatches, textures, words, or small objects like buttons, mosaic tiles, twine, or ribbon. Be sure to hit up the fabric store or bead store, where you can find lots of amazing patterns, colors, and textures. Antique shops and flea markets are also great sources of inspiration.

Once you’ve gathered your source material, it’s time to assemble it. If you’re a hands-on type like me, you can start with scissors, a corkboard and pins, or a piece of poster board and a glue stick. If you’re computer savvy, go to town using Photoshop or a design program of your choice (just don’t ask me to help – I only recently learned to take pictures with my iPhone!). If you want a more user-friendly digital design option, try making your mood board in Pinterest or Polyvore.

Put it All Together

As you start piecing together the elements of your mood board, don’t be afraid to mix different styles, colors, and patterns. This is definitely a situation where more is more! Clashing is okay – in fact that’s what will help you narrow down your influences to a specific creative vision. Once you have it all in front of you, begin to determine what you respond to most. Try to identify any dominant themes that emerge, and start moving in that direction.

Many times, it’s useful to do a second draft of your mood board, to help hone your vision even more. You can refine or redo your mood board as many times as it takes to feel confident in your creative vision. Sometimes it’s good to step away from your board and come back hours or even a day later with a fresh, editing eye. Remember, there are no rules; just your personal preferences.


And What Do You Get?

When you’re done, your mood board should illustrate your vision and guide you through the entire creative process. Best of all, it will push the boundaries of your style, and help you to nurture your creativity. With practice, you’ll be able to pair ideas, styles, or colors you never would have thought of putting together. A mood board will unleash your inner designer! And it will inspire you and keep you on track throughout the creative process.

Have you made a mood board recently? What was it for? Post a picture of your latest mood board to your profile and share the link in the comments. I’ll blog about my favorites next week!

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