When it comes to design projects, vision boards are a must-have—it’s just a matter of what the phrase vision board means to you. Maybe it’s a dedicated Pinterest board, maybe it’s a folder of screenshots on your phone, or maybe it’s a physical board where you pin up pictures you find along the way. Whatever your methods for capturing your inspiration, it’s important to go with what works for you.
But what if you haven’t created a vision board before? Or if you want to step up your existing vision board game and take it to the next level? With some help from the experts, we pulled together a few great tips for creating and perfecting your own vision boards.
Create a Balance
If you’re wondering if a vision board is really necessary, the answer is yes.
“Vision boards help to create a clear and focused intention before applying ideas to actual materials and sourced items,” says Clay Crider, Co-Founder of the creative consulting studio, Space NY. “Whether super sleek and modern or maximalist— designing spaces is all about creating balance by bringing together different textures, colors, and materials.”
Make Life Easier
Along with helping pin down the true essence of a room, vision boards are meant to make your life easier as you move through the project.
“Creating a vision board is a crucial part of our design planning process, as it allows us to ensure that the various selections will work together in the space,” says Audrey Scheck, Founder & CEO of Audrey Scheck Design. “It provides an opportunity to assess how the colors, textures, and lines will play off of one another, and it is often easier to make decisions once you can visualize pieces side-by-side.”
Don’t Limit Yourself
Later in the process, you need to edit your ideas. But at the vision boarding stage, anything goes!
Jen Nash, Excellence Manager at the kitchen design firm Magnet says, ‘‘allow yourself to take a step back and see what colors and textures work well together and what don’t—a vision board lets you clarify and communicate the ideas going on in your head. It’s a way of refining these ideas and experimenting with them on a small scale before you commit to buying large quantities.’’
Amy Wilson, interior designer at 247 Curtains and 247 Blinds says the same goes for sourcing your images. “Find anything that inspires you or brings you joy and start to collect images. Good sources of inspiration can come from interior design magazines, social media, or even visiting a cafe with an aesthetic that you like—take pictures or screenshots and save them all in one place,” she says.
As you collect your inspiration, look anywhere and everywhere. “Include non-interior pictures,” says Wilson. “Seek out at least one image that simply draws you in. Often a beautiful landscape can offer some direction on color or a fabulous outfit can help you consider how to layer up a room scheme.”
Create Your Boards Room-by-Room
While a holistic approach to design is important for creating a cohesive home, Wilson says that this doesn’t quite apply to your vision boards.
“It’s best to create a mood board for each room in your home—even if you want a uniform theme across the house, each room will have different purposes, lighting, and features—as such, it’s better to consider them individually,” she tells us.
Try Creating a Physical Board
While a digital board is great, Crider says there’s nothing quite like creating a physical board.
Nash agrees. ‘’From websites like Canva to Pinterest, you can easily create a vision board online and these are great tools to use to start the initial ideation process,” she says. “But, when it comes to really expanding on your ideas and creating a concrete and cohesive vision of your idea, it’s best to do this physically. While a digital board can bring your interior vision together, it can only do so two-dimensionally. A physical board allows you to gain a real sense of the space you are creating.”
“A big corkboard or even just the floor is my favorite place to start,” Crider tells us. “You can lay out photos, swipes, and any other inspiration together to organize and then edit down ideas. I love to keep and collect more than can ever be used. When you start to edit, you are truly left with what is going to work best together and ultimately for the project at hand.”
Create a Board You Love
If you don’t have the space, materials, or interest in creating a physical board and you want something a bit different from Pinterest or Canva, Sheck has a great tip for a digital option.
“Our favorite tool for creating vision boards is a website called remove.bg,” says Scheck. “It allows you to remove the background from an image (or screenshot) so that you can place it on the board without the jarring background behind it. This is really valuable when it comes time to layer pieces in front of one another, like bedding or decor items.”
Regardless of how you create your board, make something you love. “Don’t get too hung up on perfecting your board," says Wilson. "This exercise is supposed to be fun and inspiring and not a chore.”
Start With a Color Palette
Vision boards can feel overwhelming because of a choice overload. What era? What style? What aesthetic? Crider says to start with colors.
“Let color help guide the way,” he says. “Make sure to pull images from multiple sources for the best results—whether in magazines, books, online, or your own camera roll.”
But as Nash notes, if you’re doing everything digitally, it’s important to remember that colors present themselves differently through a screen. “Let's not forget that color appears differently on digital boards as well as in different lights,” she warns. “Real swatches and materials on physical vision boards allow you to see the true shade of a color and its textures.’’
Wilson also has a word of advice when it comes to starting with color. “Try not to start too specific,” she says. “If you’re considering a blue bathroom scheme, start your search by looking more broadly at blue aesthetics and then search for bathroom ideas—this allows you to get a broad range of inspirational images as a starting point.”
Let Your Non-Negotiables Lead the Way
If you’re starting from a totally blank slate, relying on your color palette is good advice. But if you have some pieces you want to work with, Nash says these are what should determine the core of your vision board.
‘’There’s no right or wrong way to create a vision board, but if you’re struggling to get going, a great tip is to start with your non-negotiables,” she tells us. “Add anything to your board that you can’t imagine your refreshed space without. If your non-negotiable is a bold kitchen cabinet color or a particular kitchen style, make this the focal starting point of your vision board.”
Make Bold Choices
Scheck says that one of the best things about a vision board is that you can play around with colors and textures in a way you can’t do on-site.
“We love to mix different wood tones and metals in the spaces we create, and creating a vision board allows you to do just that,” she tells us. “If we have a light wood-toned piece of furniture in a room, the next piece of furniture we'd introduce would likely be something that complements the style of that piece without being too similar.”
Note Your Proportions
As you add to your board, Nash has one word of advice—let your proportions be a true reflection of the space.
“For a cohesive vision board that actually translates well into the space it is for, it’s also important to keep the items in proportion to the way they’ll appear in the actual room,” she says. “For example, a paint color that will coat all four walls of the room should be a prominent feature on the board, whilst a hardware material that will only be on a few small features should appear comparatively smaller.’’
Take a Step Back
Once you have your vision board, Nash says you should assess it as a whole image, rather than the sum of its parts.
“When it comes to creating a cohesive vision board, it’s about taking a step back after all your experimentation and really analyzing how the different colors, textures, and design aspects complement and bounce off one another,” she says. “If there’s anything that really looks out of place, or draws your eye to it for the wrong reason, it’s probably a sign that it doesn’t fit into the overall aesthetic of the design.”