What exactly is a moodboard?

Kate, home designer at Neptune Edgbaston: “When you’re designing someone’s interior, you need somewhere to pull together all of your ideas – working ones and final. A moodboard gives you that platform to collect and display all of the things that inspire the project and give it direction. It’s basically a very visual way to develop and shape a scheme, to help you picture how it’ll look when it all comes together.”

Should I always use one when redecorating?

Amber, home designer at Neptune Bath: “Not necessarily, as it depends on the individual. Some people feel they don’t need one or have time to put one together. But even if you’re a very visual person, a moodboard is still a helpful place to let your ideas pour out. It’s a bit like writing a diary in some ways, it’s about pulling out what’s in your mind and putting it on paper. Whenever we’re designing somebody’s home at Neptune, we always create a moodboard as it’s a really collaborative way for us to present growing ideas, to move things around, and to experiment.”

How do I go about making a moodboard?

Gail, home designer at Neptune Bury St Edmunds: “First, decide what sort of moodboard you want to create. Strictly speaking, a moodboard is for pure inspiration and lifestyle aspiration. It’s more pictures and page tears from magazines, not just of interiors, but places you’ve been, restaurants you’ve eaten in and so on. It could be a photo that represents an activity that shows what you want the room to be used for and the atmosphere you want to create.”

Danielle, home designer at Neptune Colchester: “But, you can also create a sample board, which is a different thing. That’s where you get more selective on colour, materials and textures. On a sample board, you’ll start to figure out what finishes work best with the colour palette you’ve chosen and which flooring sample you’re going to go with. It’s exactly as it sounds – somewhere to gather all of the samples you’ve decided on so you can really get a sense of the tone of the room.

George, home designer at Neptune Fulham: “A lot of interior designers will create both for their clients, but some people prefer just one tool that fuses both types of board, which is what you can see in the moodboards pictured. What makes it onto your moodboard is entirely up to you and the catalyst very much depends on the person and on the room. For example, the Burford Brown eggshell and rusted iron weight in our country kitchen moodboard were the first two objects that we were drawn to – inspiration doesn’t have to take the form of something you’re physically going to feature in the room. They’re what represented the desire for a provincial charm with warming, natural colours and a combination of very rough, heavy textures against beautifully smooth ones. The little galvanised saucepan feeds into that texture story too, but also just looks lovely – a moodboard is a place to get a bit arty and creative after all.”

Kate, home designer at Neptune York: “With this combined board approach, from here, keep layering on ideas. Little paint pots or dabs of the colours you’ve chosen, sample tiles and wood finishes, textiles and so on, can all make it onto your board. The fundamental idea is that you start with lots of inspiration and then your board helps to edit that down so what you can see works best together and makes you feel happiest.”

At what point should I think about using one?

Jessica, home designer at Neptune Cheltenham: “It needs to be early in the process, but how early is up to you. Some people think about their decorating ideas months, even years, before the renovation work begins. So, you could start making a moodboard then, right at the start of the ideas phase. It will give you somewhere to explore and process your thoughts, helping you with all of your decorating decisions.”

Chloe, home designer at Neptune Bristol: “A moodboard doesn’t have to be solely used for redoing a room though. Christmas is a prime example – you can use a moodboard to come up with a theme for a get-together. A single decoration might be the object that kick-starts your event inspiration board, or it might be a photo that you’ve seen and loved the atmosphere they’ve created. Your moodboard will be there to bring your vision to life. It’s a styling tool as well as a decorating one.”

Any tips for making a moodboard?

Steven, home designer at Neptune Bournemouth & Winchester: “Take photos as you go. Because you’re experimenting with ideas and combinations like Kate says, it’s easy to forget what you liked and didn’t like. So, if you do a flatlay like you see in the moodboards in this article (where you don’t have a physical board to pick up and hold but you lay everything down on a flat surface), take a birds-eye image of each one so you can then flick back over them and see which you like most.”

Jean, home designer at Neptune Weybridge: “For a flatlay, I’d always do it on a muted, level backdrop so you have a blank canvas to work off. You could buy a white board, cover your table with a linen tablecloth, or use your kitchen work surface if it’s white or a very pale finish. And if you can, do it in the room that you’re decorating so you’re seeing everything in the realistic amount of natural light it’s going to receive.”

Laura, home designer at Neptune Chichester: “When I create my mood and sample boards, I usually start with flatlays to experiment before transferring the final look onto a physical board that I can then take with me to any homes I’m designing to see what they think. I think it’s important to go quite big on texture, adding as much to your board as you can so you really see if they’re working together in a harmonious way. Sometimes, I might paint part of the board in the room’s main colour, rather than doing just a colour chart, and if there’s going to be painted furniture, I’ll paint part of the wood sample in eggshell, so you appreciate the effect of the different finishes. And don’t forget Pinterest, which is a great digital tool to collect ideas too.”