How One Simple Tool Will Help You Design Like a Pro

This week I’m following up on my post where I help you design a home you love.  This series began with A Beginner’s  Guide to Designing the Home of Your Dreams.  

If you haven’t read my last post and done your homework, make sure you click here and do Step One first!

Today is an important step because most people (yours truly included) skip this part.  It’s one thing to gather inspiration and start dreaming, it’s a different thing to pull all those ideas together and craft an actual design plan.

Today we are going to talk about Step 2:  The Planning Stage – Write the Vision.

Have you ever noticed what designers do when they are conveying a plan to their client on, say, HGTV?

They create a mood board.

A mood board is nothing more than a place to pull together all those Pinterest ideas.  The main difference between your Pinterest board (where you are dreaming) and the mood board (where you are planning), is you must begin narrowing down your choices.

This is where you pull together every element of the room:  paint color, dining chairs, table, curtains, artwork, rug, etc. into one place so you can see how everything works together.  The mood board accomplishes two things:

  1. Inside the mood board, you are doing the actual design, narrowing down and selecting the components of each room.
  2. You are creating your shopping list.

In looking for online design software (and believe me there are many), I wanted something free, easy and fun.  I discovered a neat program called Olioboard.   (No affiliate, I just loved using it and want you to discover it, too.)

In the name of research (ahem) I sat and played with this for over an hour and had a blast.  It kind of reminded me of this book I had as a kid where you create scenes with vinyl stick-ons?  Anyone remember those?  Well, consider this the grown up version.


You have access to thousands of individual images and can play around with different ideas.   Also, when you click on an item, it gives you the source and in many cases, the price.  Instant shopping!

Once you register for an account, you can also add your own images.  This is where you will grab all those images off your Pinterest inspiration board.

I had not registered for an account when I created the image below.  I just started with what I knew I wanted in my new dining room:  big farmhouse table, upholstered end chairs and painted wood chairs.  I saw the color of that buffet and moved it over.  Loved!

dining-roomAnd then I went from there, adding in the rug, lamps, chandelier, artwork and decor.

Although you can download your own images, playing around with only Olio’s images, made me think outside the box.  I wouldn’t have considered the fabric on that upholstered chair, but once I started pulling the whole room together, I really liked it.  Also, I would never have picked those lamps, but, again, they look great in this room.

As I started pulling in other elements, I quickly realized I needed warm tones and not cool tones.  A great design lesson in and of itself.

Even though Olioboard is free, you can upgrade to pro for $8.99 a month which gives you access to their budget calculating tool and Benjamin Moore paint color swatches.

If you’re like me and feel like you default to the same, boring stuff over and over again, just spending some time playing around with Oliboard’s images will hone your design chops.

You ready to have some fun and start designing your own room?

Your assignment this week is to pick one room, narrow down your ideas and create a mood board.

Remember to register for Olioboard before you start designing so you can bring over your Pinterest images.  You can even take pictures of your existing furniture and upload them!

In the next blog post we’ll go over Step 3:  The Doing Stage – Create the Vision.

You can read the first post in this series here.

P.S. – If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, (I send out paint tips and other VIP insider info a few times a month) enter your email address below and I will send you my free guide on how to pick the best paint for your next paint project.

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