How To Create A Design Board

Last week, I wrote my first guest post for fellow Chicagoan Sarah on her lovely blog, Adventures of Our Fami-Ly. Here’s the post, just in case you missed it…

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about how I create design boards (or mood boards, if you prefer that term), so I thought I’d share my tips and tricks. Design boards are the foundation for creating a room you love. Before I started using them, my spaces were always almost what I wanted but they were never as cohesive or “finished” as I would have liked. Now that I start with a complete picture, I’m able to create spaces that look like I really want them to! Here are the “rules” I generally to stick to when creating a design board…
1. Pick a color palette
I tend to pick between three and six colors to stick with in any one room. They can be neutral – brown, gold, cream and gray create a serene mood in the bedroom below – or more exuberant, but try to repeat each color in at least three different places to make it feel intentional and cohesive.
{My Dream Master Bedroom}

It’s also a good idea to pick key pieces that tie several colors together, like the painting in this kitchen:
{Mustard and Aqua Kitchen for a Rental Apartment}

2. Work with what you have
If you’re on a budget and have perfectly good furniture already, try to find an image online or take a photo yourself and add that to your board at the beginning (keeping the background neutral and cropping it closely will make sure the image flows with the rest of your board) . If it’s something you can’t change, you have to find ways to work with it.
We already owned some pink chairs before we moved into our loft, and I was at a loss as to how to tie them into the turquoise color scheme I wanted to use. I thought about slip-covering them then decided to stick them on a design board and see what else I could find to tie them in.
{Teal and Pink Loft Living Room}

Just adding pink throw pillows to the couch bought everything together, and now I love pink and turquoise together. In the finished room, I added more pink in the art work and accessories, but the design board set the tone.

3. Budget
Your design isn’t going to work if you don’t have the cash to complete it. I tend to put a design together, figure out what it would cost as-is, then work on bringing the total cost down if I need to. You can always use inspiration pieces on your design board and then makeover thrifted pieces or “hack” affordable pieces from big box stores.
{Colorful Big Boy Room}
I really wanted an upholstered bed for my little man’s big boy room (above), but we couldn’t afford to shell out big bucks for one, so I bought a $50 bed frame from Ikea and made my own.
{DIY Upholstered Bed}

4. Let your design evolve

I tend to create a design board and then step away for a while…
{Baby Girl Nursery}
If I still love it a few weeks later, great. But usually there are things I want to change, or things I fall in love with that I want to incorporate into the space. I started working on my daughter’s nursery before we even knew she was a girl, and the board underwent a lot of changes over the months that I was pregnant. It ended up with a similarly girly vibe but a slightly more refined overall look.
5. The technical details
I use Olioboard.com to create my design boards. There are other choices (like Polyvore or Photoshop), but this was the most user-friendly and free option I could find.
Olioboard lets you browse products and other people’s boards for inspiration, and you can also add images from websites or upload your own. It’s a really easy site to use, so I’ll spare you a technical walk-through – once you’ve created an account, just click “Create+” and start building your room.

If you’d like to see more of my design boards, check out my design boards page.
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1 Comment

  1. August 3, 2012 / 10:01 pm

    Your moodboards are great! I've never made one before, scared! But, we're moving into a new place in a few weeks, buying a new house, and I'm overwhelmed by the decor possibilities! I bet I could make some of these with Olioboard, thanks for the tips!