Interiors: Making A Mood Board

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Tanya Ross loves all things design and considers design a lifestyle choice rather than a job – it’s little wonder, having grown up surrounded by plans and drawings in a house where her parents ran their Architectural studio.

Tanya has worked in the industry of design for over 8 years, having qualified with a BA Hons in Design in 2008 she has gone on to work with Ireland’s leading publishing houses including IMAGE, HARMONIA, GILL and The O’Brien Press, to name a few. Her expansion into interiors happened organically and it has allowed her to combine years of design experience to create impressive results.

“A mood board: An extremely useful tool to assist you throughout
the design process of any space”

A mood board should be your ‘ideal’ – nothing should restrict you when you first start compiling one. This is the fun part and you should really stretch your imagination when creating your own. Be specific: choose one room or one specific feature (i.e. kitchen units) per mood board.

Begin by measuring the room’s dimensions including windows, ceiling height and any awkward spaces you might want an item of furniture to fit into. Identifying the function of areas in your room will help you select the right items for the space.

Ask yourself these questions:
1. What am I using the space for?
2. Who is it for? Adults, children, communal living or any special needs.
3. How do I need to feel in this room? I.e: relaxed, energised, calm, focused.

Then Get Inspired!
Some inspiring forums you may wish to visit when compiling your mood board include:
Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz. Your favourite magazines – both national (for local suppliers) and international (for unusual ideas). When on your travels, hotels and Airbnbs are great places to find inspiration too. If you are out and about – in a restaurant for example – and you see something you like, take a quick snap on your phone to add to your mood board later. You can find inspiration everywhere when you really look.

Creating Your Mood Board
If you don’t use Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft PowerPoint is the most flexible of the basic Microsoft packages. Alternatively you can be ‘hands on’ and cut ‘n’ paste – online or in person.

There are two parts to a mood board. The first part shows your inspirational imagery, possibly from some or all of the places previously mentioned.

The second part is made up of your samples and swatches gathered from suppliers. It’s really important to get samples, especially for colour reference, so that you can see them in your room in the varying light. Rather than painting directly onto the wall, paint the sample colour on to an A4 sheet of paper so that you can move it to different walls. Some paint shops supply these colour sheets ready-made.

This step (gathering samples) is often missed and although time consuming, can really help you visualise the finished room before it is completed and reduce the risk of disappointment on completion.

I recommend editing your mood board after you are finished compiling your inspiring imagery. This helps focus your look, and helps your search when gathering items from suppliers. If your mood board is confused, then your vision won’t translate the way you want it to.

Carry It With You
It’s good to print out your mood board and carry it with you in a folder. Here you can add colour samples and fabrics into it, to create your scheme for your room.

The Scheme
In the mood board you will see imagery that I have collated from various sources mentioned in the text. These images are only a guide not a prescription. Creativity and design should change and evolve with the process.

The swatch mood board shows items that I gathered to achieve the look I wanted in my studio while being guided by my inspirational mood board.

The Finished Room
Once you have completed your room you will see how the design has evolved from the mood board, to the samples, to your own unique design.

It’s easy to copy a room directly but this isn’t what the process is about, it’s about creating something bespoke and personal to you!

Imagery By Designer Tanya Ross


Tanya will be running her own Design workshop from her Georgian renovation, this will include talks from her Dad, Architect Frank Murray of Murray Architectural Services. To book your place in her workshop visit or visit her Instagram @6highstreet for more details.

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