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So you have a reno/decorating project in the pipeline – exciting, right? More like overwhelming. With so much image inspo to trawl on social site such as Instagram and Pinterest, as well as blogs-a-billion and trusty magazines, making any decision, no matter how minor, can seem…well…paralysing.

And it’s little wonder. It’s been suggested users pin around five million home decorating ideas every day. Every day.

This is where FOMO becomes FOMU – fear of messing up. With pressure to make the perfect selection at every turn, from tapware to tables, blinds to beds, sofas to sinks, it’s little wonder interior designers, decorators and stylists are in hot demand.

Whether you’re in the market to afford a styling little helper, or going alone as a DIY decorator, making a moodboard is a sound place to start – and getting started is often half the battle.

Go with your gut

Rather than fearing the ideas overload on social media, channel it to work for you by narrowing your search and not thinking too much – yes really – your moodboard should be about your gut reactions, the looks, styles and pieces you instinctively react to, not those you think you should like, or ought to have at home.

Image: Pinterest

Take Pinterest or Houzz for instance, sure if you have oodles of time and literally no idea of the style you’re seeking, then typing ‘bedroom’ into the search bar is somewhere to start. You will, however, end up with a deluge of decorating inspo. For some this works as they’re able to quickly filter through what they do and don’t like – with the likes saved in a folder – but for most it pays to start with a more specific search.

Be specific

Say blue is your thing, try typing ‘blue bedroom ideas’, or if you know you like beachside abodes try ‘coastal bedroom’ or ‘beach house bedroom’. If it’s kitchen inspo you’re after, again, just searching for ‘kitchens’ might kill off your eyesight before it helps you find the look you love. Try searching by style – say country, industrial, modern, eclectic, farmhouse, Hamptons – or by colour. Perhaps you know you like a certain kitchen feature, such as a concrete island bench, but you’re unsure about how to incorporate it with the rest of the room, that’s ok. Simply type in ‘concrete kitchen island’ and you’ll be wowed by the range of options that will flow from there.

Folders are your friend

Don’t waste what you find. Save it, and the more organised you are at this early stage the better. Sites such as Pinterest and Houzz have a pretty simple registration process which allows you to create your own ‘boards’ or files’ and bingo, you’re ready to scroll and save.


Create specific folders that relate to each room you’re renovating/decorating and within that you can even create sub-folders for items such as joinery, flooring, furniture or window treatments. Many of these sites will then suggest additional images you might like, or users with similar taste to follow (and why not, we’re all for letting others do the hard work for us).

It’s worth adding notes to the images you save as you go so you’re clear about exactly what caught your eye – whether it was a splashback, a bedhead, a colour combination or the way the artwork was hung.

Once you’ve collected a range of images for each room/project, it’s time to go back and take a closer look to see whether a particular style, theme or colour trend has emerged. You may find you have a favoured style – rustic chic, boho glam, edgy and industrial – you just hadn’t pinned it down.

Perhaps the style that’s emerged doesn’t fit into any established category, it may be more eclectic, and that’s something to embrace rather shy away from.

Narrow it down

The next step is to narrow things down and nut out a few details. Say we’re back in the bedroom and you’ve collected a dozen images you love. Now it’s time to scrutinise them somewhat. Are there common factors – colour, flooring, lighting, furnishings? Hone in on these.

It’s also worth focusing on the furniture. Are there particular pieces in the overall room images which you love? Do similar pieces appear across the range of images for that type of room? Make a note of this too – for instance are you repeatedly drawn to rooms with four-poster beds, plush upholstered bedheads, mid-century timber frames?

Once the style of room you like and key pieces are apparent, you can move on to browsing specific furniture sites online, saving images of your favourite items as you go – being sure to keep them in the relevant room folders.

Embrace old school

If you’re a little bit old school and still love thumbing through home magazines (like us), then go for it. Rip pages out as you go and separate into envelopes/plastic sleeves according to rooms, just like you did online.

Bringing it together

Image courtesy: Olioboard

Now it’s time to bring it all together. If you’re crafty with the computer you might want to screenshot your mag pics to upload with the rest of your cyber collection and then you can pull together a moodboard for every room. Otherwise, if you’re technically inclined, you can use a site like Olioboard to build a virtual room from your fave finds and have a 3D look at it before you commit – genius!

For the rest of us, now’s the time to hit the printer. For each room, print out your fave saved pics, as well as the images of individual pieces you love and make a moodboard – yes on an actual board. Use poster-size cardboard or a pinboard and stick it all up together. Then repeat for every room.


Time to do…..very little

Next, don’t rush out and buy/order anything. Noodle on it for a bit. Then mull it over some more.

Prop the boards somewhere you’ll see them often – tack them in the hallway where you’re constantly walking past, put them near your desk in a home office – the idea is to see them often without sitting and thinking about it too much.

Over time – we’re ideally talking weeks here people not hours – you’ll likely find there are certain elements to the room you fall harder for and just can’t live without, while others seem less essential.

Ditch and dump

As this happens, take the less essentials off the board. Yep, just dump them. It’ll narrow your focus and help bring you closer to the room you really want until what’s left on the board is as close to your ideal room as you’ll get.

Sound tedious? Trust us, it’s not. With so much gorgeous inspo out there it’s time-consuming sure, but it’s a real treat too, and kind of addictive (you’ve been warned).

Buying on a budget

The final piece of the puzzle? Afraid we can’t help too much with this one. It’s budget. Once you have your perfect space on paper, it’s time to trawl the web and pound the pavement to find the furniture, accessories, window treatments, joinery, flooring, tapware and tiles you’re after. Don’t be disheartened, even if your taste is expensive on paper, there are homemade, replica and budget-friendly options to recreate most looks these days, and you’ll thank yourself (and us) for putting in the hard yards later – when you’re posting your fave finished room on Pinterest.

Feature image from:  Apartment #34 on Flickr 4687474855_ee129ba380_b