In a Design Rut? Create a Moodboard and Get Unstuck

This isn’t my first time around the mood board rodeo. Every time I’m about to move into a new spot, I whip out my mood board tools as though I were a legitimate interior designer servicing a client with an unlimited budget. One million Pinterest tabs and six hours later, my mood board is in great shape. I save it somewhere, a little too proud of myself, and then every single time forget about it.

Well, not this time, friends! After five rental apartments, I think I’ve finally nailed down why I’m the type of person who needs to stick to a mood board—and maybe you are too.

1. Mood boards curb impulse purchases.

Full stop. No matter how much of a steal that random shelving unit is on Facebook Marketplace or how nicely the West Elm staff styled the artistic metal cube, if you can’t see that item somewhat fitting into your mood board, don’t give in. You’ll only end up like me where, on a near daily basis, I shake my head and *tsk tsk* myself as I look at the black, cold shelving unit in front of me.

2. Easily identify what’s missing.

It took me way too long to realize that I was craving more pink in my current place. I’ve recently re-inherited a sweet, velvet pink, mahogany wood rocking chair from my childhood and damn! It looks so good. Even if we can’t fit it anywhere before our move and it’s just awkwardly sitting in front of the TV console—the colour brings me so much joy. If I had nailed down a colour palette earlier, I would have known such things!

3. Figure out what you should buy, and what you can keep.

Remember: when it comes to interior design, we are in “want” territory only. That helps me relax a bit. I don’t “need” a new couch. I don’t “need” that incredible lamp. A mood board can help give you some perspective. As you add furniture items & decor that are similar to what you already own, you can start to see which items already do a great job at achieving the aesthetic you’re after. It might be a lot more than you thought! For example, based off my mood board, I learned that I’ve outgrown my coffee table, but my couch still fits like a glove. Weoo!

Example #1 (with product list)

Product List

Mood boards are in aspirational territory. Get the vibe sorted, rather than the shopping list. Later, you can find so much of what you’re looking for from sustainable avenues, but for now, just relax and pin what you like. That sped things up and lowered my shoulders like magic.

  1. Art: MADO Nine Moods poster from Finnish Design Shop
  2. Plant: 5′ Olive Tree from Faux Floral (here in Vancouver on Main St)
  3. Blanket: Poppy Chenille Throw Blanket from Anthropologie
  4. Console table: Jacobean Style Oak Console Table from Chairish
  5. Lamp: Tynell 5321 table lamp from Finnish Design Shop
  6. Candles: HAY Twist Candles from Finnish Design Shop
  7. Basket: Handmade Tassel-detail Basket from H&M
  8. Pillow: Tasseled Cushion Cover from H&M
  9. Rug: Literally can’t find anymore, but just a blue Persian rug (I guess you do have eyes)
  10. Couch: Same deal, I do apologize
  11. Lantern: Akari 10A floor lamp from, you guessed it, FINNISH DESIGN SHOP (MAN, I LOVE THIS STORE!)
  12. Plate: Mansikkavuoret plate from Marimekko
  13. Bar Cart: Vintage Bar Cart from Moovi
  14. Warm red print: Feminine Mother Nature Body Art from NorfolkPrintCo
  15. Pink coffee table: Silicus pink oblong coffee table from Article
  16. Ladder: Ellis Iron Ladder from Anthropologie

Example #2

This one I created with my mum in mind and am so into. The fancy drinks I could have by myself here…

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