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Musings No. 2 - Finally, on the subject of mood boards...
In many aspects of life I can’t claim to be a supremely practical person. There’s a degree of chaotic last minute planning that just seems to happen in my life without even trying, so I knew I couldn’t renovate my home without firm guidance and some kind of plan - basically I needed help from a more experienced and organised person. But still, an interior designer needs to know what kind of interior I want them to develop for me, and how can I do that if I can’t even describe what I want to achieve within my own imagination? Or stick with one idea for more than a week at a time?
The fluidity of my visual imagination is perhaps a strength when it comes to designing craft activities for children, but it’s infuriating when seeking a consistent plan for a home renovation. Fortunately there are mood boards, which FAWN use to anchor and develop visual ideas, and this has proved a robust solution that can pin down even my floaty, changeable ideas.
The process begins with words, describing what we want, using familiar, general terms that could be interpreted in a variety of ways. With mood boards we can get very specific about our design intentions, and Tamsin produced beautiful mood boards, giving two possible versions of how she interpreted my written words.
Slow down; let’s take a step back. I want to tell you what a mood board is, and how it helped me progress with our interior project.
We received a PDF topped and tailed with FAWN letterhead that reminded me of birthday wrapping paper; scrolling down was like unwrapping a gift. The document shows two possible arrangements of images taken from all over the world of interior design, each picture chosen to compliment a pallete of colours, organised in a neat row beneath each set of pictures.
Here’s an opportunity to look at the two image sets and tell your designer which direction to move in; some people love one set or the other ‘right out of the box’, but many of us will cherry pick bits and pieces from both arrangements and ask for them to be put together. You might want your designer to switch out a room treatment for something altogether new, or even ask for a change to the colour palette. Bit by bit your designer can use the mood board to channel your ideas into a tangible, visual plan to inspire the rest of the project.
I’m quite an anxious person, and new experiences can be a bit overwhelming, usually because I am determined to get things just right - this is unrealistic; but, it’s only after the experience has passed that I’m able to see how much easier I could have taken things. This is my learning journey! Tamsin was patient as I asked for changes to colours, textures or styles, picture by picture, which required her to harvest the internet of its interior images, tweak their colours, zoom in to specific corners that addressed precise design questions and so much more - so much, but making it all seem effortless, like a swan gliding across the water with feet paddling busily out of sight.
Together we created a balanced mood board that showed me how our chosen design scheme, balanced beautifully by Tamsin’s trained eye for colour, would range throughout our home. For example, the mood boards showed that we were looking for a complimentary style for our two son’s rooms - youthful but not childish. It showed a smart, comfortable guest bedroom that didn’t lean feminine or masculine. It showed a more luxurious treatment for the master bedroom with rich, nature inspired feature wallpaper. The living room has a more mixed aesthetic, accommodating hints of midcentury, traditional and contemporary styling. The kitchen-dining area embraces warm woods with cool countertops and globe lighting on long cables.
I had reminded myself often enough that each of these rooms on our mood boards represented an idea, a vibe, a colour balance, a flavour of textures and styles. We were not seeking to replicate the rooms exactly, but these images would be our guide, to keep us on track, and to help me manage my tendency to have sudden, random inspirations that could lead us off at tangents. However, I did tend to get a little too invested in the images, forgetting too easily that this was the map, not the landscape.
That’s not so bad, I suppose. The alternative experience, which we tried with our first interior designer, who did not use mood boards or any images to guide the planning phase, is that there’s nothing tangible to invest in or to decide to move away from, we were spinning our wheels for weeks.
The mood boards brought visual clarity so that we could make those big decisions; essential steps or else the world of options is just too vast - a recipe for disaster for those of us impeded by undesirable perfectionist tendencies. The mood boards helped me to decide that a pure Midcentury aesthetic was not the direction we wanted to move in, but there were certain aspects of the style that we wanted to see in our home. It helped us to work out a range of key colours, and to think about how they would flow from one room to the next.
We’ve moved on from our phase one mood boards now, and I can look back on the mood board phase with eyes of experience. I would be a better client the next time round, less anxious, less intent on perfection, but regardless of my many flaws, the project is moving forwards with positivity and I am excited about stepping up to the next phase; the Design Plan, where we get to choose specific pieces that we will buy for our home, from paint and wallpaper to light fittings and radiators. Bring it on!