Moodboards: An easy yet effective way to communicate design ideas and vision

There are people who love to design and then there are people who need to understand what those designs are all about. Case in point is when you and your significant other start thinking about designing the interiors of a new home, renovating an old one or simply moving to a new place. Unfortunately, designing your own home interiors can be a pretty challenging task, especially when the parties involved do not only have different tastes, but are also “artistically challenged.” Words alone often won’t do to get an idea across as design is essentially a visual undertaking. If grabbing a pencil to quickly sketch out an idea is not an option either … well, you may have a problem!

So what to do?

One approach is to start collecting sample pictures and use those to illustrate a particular idea. This may work, but oftentimes it requires a lot of imagination on the part of your audience to envision how the furniture shown on the magazine picture may actually look like in your space. A better idea might be the creation of a moodboard.

A MOODBOARD is essentially a collage of pictures arranged such that they convey a particular rooms’s style and aesthetics.

Olioboard african

Digital moodboard (“olioboard”) showing how an African inspired mancave could feel and look like

This can be done either physically or digitally. A physical moodboard (or concept board) will be a collage (potentially mounted on a board) made up of furniture pictures, real textile samples, paint color swatches and so forth. While it offers the advantage of showing the real texture of various design elements, it does not lend itself particularly well to creating a realistic preview of the room you want to design. In other words, as a visual communication tool, it is only marginally better than a loose collection of samples and furniture pictures would be: It still requires a lot of imagination on the part of others to fully capture the designer’s vision behind it.

Thus, if you intend to create a clearer picture of your future room, we  suggest you try creating moodboards digitally.

I am using the online app “olioboard” for that purpose.  It’s free and fairly simple to use. After opening an olioboard account, you can start right away. The app offers a decent (keyword searchable) selection of backgrounds, furniture, lighting fixtures, decor, wallpaper, and so forth that you can use in your design.


Example of an olioboard and its associated final room design. The sheepskin was later added to the room, while the glass table was not.

It also permits you to add your own pictures (called “items”) which you can store on the site so that they are ready for use any time you need them. Furniture pictures can easily be found on the internet. In fact many online furniture stores offer a large selection of high quality pictures on their websites. The most suitable ones have a white background which you can “remove” (make invisible) in olioboard so that the backgrounds of those pictures do not distract in your final work.

Once uploaded, your pictures are simply dragged into the program’s editor (your new moodboard) where they can be manipulated (made bigger, smaller, turned, flipped or flopped, framed, cut, or put behind or in front of other items) to create your room.

Olioboard vs real - guest2

For the creation of moodboards it is not always necessary to find the “exact furniture”. In the example above I have used pictures of white Barcelona chairs instead of the Minotti chairs we finally bought. The Barcelona chairs were close enough in style and color to work.

To make your moodboard even more realistic, we suggest you take a picture of your new space (preferably empty or only with the furniture that will remain there), upload it, and use it as background for your digital moodboard. What goes ‘on top’ of that background are the pieces of new furniture, drapery, and flooring you would like to put there. The final moodbard will show quite reliably how your new furnishings look together in your very own space.

When you are done, you can save/should save your work on the site (actually, you should save it about every 10 min or so to avoid loosing your work). Once saved you can export your work as a jpeg image and show (or send) it around.


Olioboard vs final, realized design: the olioboard vision can get pretty close to future reality. A careful selection and arrangement of the pictures certainly helps

Clearly, it will take a bit of time until you get the hang of it. But I promise you, learning how to use the app is not a big deal. You may even enjoy doing it (as I do). Best of all, the final moodboards will greatly assist you in developing and sharing your own ideas and receiving constructive feedback.

Looking forward to seeing some of your boards … and maybe even the final real-life design!

Enjoy! Sabine

2 responses to “Moodboards: An easy yet effective way to communicate design ideas and vision

  1. Pingback: Use your favourite art to inspire your design | KaSa Global Interiors·

  2. Pingback: Style Guide: Japanese | KaSa Global Interiors·

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