We love mood boards! They are an essential part of a designer's tool kit that charts the mood and feel of an interior before the lengthy process of designing it. Mood boards are meant to convey the feel of the space ... not the literal look, although in some cases it can do that too.
Whether we’re designing for ourselves or for others, the first thing we like to do is get a feel for a place. We’ll stand in it and soak it all in, starting with natural light, to the existing architectural elements, the view, the location, the building, the property, the noises and even the smell. Once we’ve taken it all in and met with the client to discuss their hopes and dreams, we begin the fun process of creating a mood board which is when the creative juices start to flow. Here's a mood board for the bedroom of an apartment in Paris that we are working on right now. Just looking at it gets my juices flowing and I can't wait to pull it all together!
Not every designer relies on mood boards but I'm one of those who revels in the process. For me, it's like planning a vacation, where half the fun is in the preparation. I can spend hours working on mood boards because they open up a world of opportunities to explore different directions before pulling the trigger. It all starts with what the space dictates and then it flows from there, often starting with a piece of art that will be the piece de resistance.
Here was the space that inspired us for the Paris Perfect Conti apartment, before it was renovated:
Taking our cues from the black and white marble mantel, we found a black, white and gold vintage scarf from Hermes that inspired our interior design:
Once we had the feel for the space, and we created this mood board which was our guiding light. we knew it would all come together. Here is the finished product, with a few revisions but the same idea.
Mood boards can be simple or incredibly detailed. Meg recently moved her youngest to NYC and created a mood board for the apartment that her daughter will be sharing with a couple of roommates. (Frankly I'd want to be her roommate after seeing the apartment -- and the mood board!)
The empty space that Meg was tasked to fill, above, and the mood board, below:
Mood boards have saved us on many occasions, especially during the pandemic when we couldn't do site visits and had to rely on our mood boards to keep us on track.
For the Paris Perfect Vivant
apartment project, for example, when we learned that some of the furniture had been delayed indefinitely (one of the many side effects of the pandemic), our mood board enabled us to pivot quickly and find others that we knew would work as well.
As you can see, most of the mood board was not literal - but just enough to convey a feeling for what was to come. Here is the mood board we used for the living room:
And here is the actual Vivant
apartment, with the elements in place:
Here is the mood board for the bedroom:
And the actual, with the same wallpaper in place:
I think a great mood board is a way to explore lots of different possibilities for a project. Take, for example, a wonderful project that we've been involved with in Rome. This beautiful apartment, in the most historic part of Rome, has thick walls, dark beamed ceilings and lots of history tucked into every corner. We vacillated between creating a rich, layered and heavily textured interior or playing to the white walls, grey beams and a lighter touch.
Did we want rich dark colors in the dining room, like this?
Or go with a lighter palette, like this?
We played with the same idea in the living room, with this (with art that we found from Kelly Hopter interiors
We can't wait to show you the finished project so we can share the version that was most closely followed!
It's important for clients to understand that mood boards are just that: A mood, a look and a feel -- that will be be interpreted and integrated into the final design. We've run in to this a few times with art, when we've used a painting or two to convey the look and the feel, but the painting has been sold by the time the design is ready for it. The mood board for our most recent Show House had a few paintings by Theresa Davis that conveyed the look we were trying to achieve:
But as luck would have it, several of the paintings were sold before our install was complete. Luckily, we happened to receive a fabulous show stopper from artist Gee Gee Collins that completely fit the look and feel for what we were trying to achieve:
So whether you're designing a whole house from scratch or you're redoing your daughter's first apartment in NYC, a good mood board will guide you through many decisions and help you stay on track. And if you need any help with this, or with any other aspect of your design project, we have the nicest team of designers who are here for you and ready to pitch in!