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How to: Make an Inspiration Board

Categories: DIY + How To


We gave our secrets on where and how to first dip your toes into designing your home in our last How to, and in this post we’re going to delve even deeper into one of the best ways to discover your own style: the inspiration board.

Why even make an inspiration board? If you can look at a blank room (or a room that needs refreshing) and know exactly what you’re going to do with it, what you’re going to fill it with and how much it’s going to cost, congratulations; you’re one of the most talented interior designers we’ve ever met and you will do real well in the field.

If you’re like the rest of us, an inspiration board can help you focus your thoughts, help you pick a direction and even aid in budget planning. But where to start? We’ve got the ideas:

Start finding images You can do this digitally (our favorite blogs to skim for inspiring photos are Apartment Therapy, Desire to Inspire, Decor8, Design Milk, Oh Joy! and Design for Mankind) or you can do it old school and grab a bunch of shelter magazines and some scissors. You are looking to grab images that give you a positive gut reaction—don’t go looking for anything in particular, just start collecting images that you really like.

Make a list Set those inspiring photos aside. Make a list of what you’ll actually need for the room/house you are designing and what you already have (even take pictures of your existing furniture, if you’ve got the means). Take the list of things you need and hit up your inspiration resources again, this time looking for those needed pieces. Again, don’t worry about trying to match things or only find something in a certain style. Just pick out stuff you like. It’s a bonus if you give yourself a few options in each category.

Find your anchor Really give your stack (or folder) of images a good looking through. What do they have in common? Is it a color? Is it a style? Is a neat detail? A love of pattern? A love of texture? A love of shape? I promise there will be something, and that will be the anchor that you build your house and room around. Make it the centerpiece of your board.

Make connections Start by looking at your inspiring photos and actively choosing the items you like, and ordering them around your anchor image. See how certain colors, shapes and ideas play off of the entire composition with each new piece you incorporate. Let the composition inspire you to take it into new directions or stick to the original plan.

Sit with it Does it feel finished? Do you love it? Do you not like it? Are you just not sure? Place it in a prominent location in your home and live with it for up to a week. Look at it at different times of the day. Look at it in different moods. Wake up and see if you like it first thing in the morning. See if it’s the last thing you like going to bed with. The important thing is to not touch it this whole week—only observe.

Make changes if needed If you learned things during the week (like you definitely cannot live with a glossy red wall or definitely need a couch rather than a beanbag chair) make the needed adjustments. Rinse, repeat. Sit with the new board awhile. Depending on how decisive of a person you are, you might be ready to start designing and buying, or you might need to let yourself be inspired longer. Go at your own pace.

Following the above tips should leave you with a poster of the things you like; not things you think you like or a style you think would fit the bones of your house. Figuring out how it all works come later; it’s important to discover your style before you start investing time and money! Have you ever created an inspiration board before a home design project? How did you do it?

Inspiration collage images from Design For Mankind‘s House that DFM built project and Turquoise‘s E-decor online decorating program (great place for design advice).

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