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white home office vision board
Credit: Thorsten Becker

Pinterest is mighty handy, but lets face it, it's easy to get derailed on the site. One minute you're pinning wedding ideas and the next it's all about pineapple salsa recipes. Whether you're planning a room makeover, rethinking your personal style for 2018 or honing in on your dream career, a mood board -- a physical collage of photos, fabric swatches, phrases, and other elements that work together to portray a vision -- may be the storytelling tool to keep you on track. Besides, goal visualization is a proven mechanism of athletes going for the gold -- why not put the method to work in your life?

"The motivation of doing a moodboard is to see a path and start gaining the courage and self-confidence to move forward in your vision," says decor8 founder Holly Becker.

The lifestyle and design writer has been creating boards since she was a teenager and says the tool has not only helped her brainstorm redecorating ideas, but also serves as a tactile reminder to keep her motivated throughout the day.

"I'll often use them because I'm feeling a certain color story for a few weeks -- like, ‘I'm into gold and green, and I want to show that on my wall because it makes me feel good,'" she adds. "Then I'll tear it down and put up the next color inspiration. Mood boards don't have to be serious. They can just be a fun creative exercise."

But where do you get started? The process is easier than you might think. We spoke to three creative and successful women to find out.

Find Your Backdrop

Maria Gangemi, the co-founder and chief merchant of popular Italian-made footwear brand, M.Gemi makes monthly boards to visualize the brand's calendar of shoe releases. She prefers 30 inch by 40 inch foam core, a lightweight white polystyrene poster board, that she orders in packs of 10 from Amazon.

"It's big enough that when you lay [your vision board] out, you can study it from afar, but not so big or heavy that you can't reconfigure or carry it around," she explains.

Jodi Moraru, president of Evoke, a D.C.-based events firm, likes to frame her boards, literally: "The style helps speak to the what the design idea is and serve as a baseline" she says. "For example, a Southern themed wedding could get a vintage window frame, while a more contemporary event may receive a black lacquer frame to indicate what the tables would be made of."

Or, in a pinch, washi tape and a blank wall will do the trick. "Washi tape is great because it won't tear at your walls," says Becker. "Fabric won't stay up, but anything with paper, like paint swatches or pictures, you can stick to your wall. It feels very organic and you can make it as big as you want because you aren't defined to a bulletin board." Alternately, if your project includes physical samples (tiles, granite, etc.), spreading a flat lay of your ideas across a tray also works.

Visualize Your Goals

Once you've built your frame, find the first image or item that centers your vision.

"Let's say you want to redecorate your bedroom and the starting point is a great piece of art you want to build it around." says Becker. "Take a photo of it and build around it. Ask: what color palletes, scenes, and products work with that one piece of art? Or it could be a paint swatch or a really interesting quilt. But you just need that one thing that jumpstarts the whole project."

Then, gather your other assets - photos, swatches, handwritten notes, whatever inspires you. Just remember: edit, edit, edit, because less is more. "You can have 500 pictures on a board, but then lose track of your vision," notes Becker. "Be particular about that final edit. Make sure what you have on your board is exactly what you want to bring to life."

Gangemi also adds text elements, printed in bold block letters, where she thinks directive is needed. Whether that's "Think pink" or "Borrowed from the boys," the captions add structure to the dialogue the board is meant to tell.

The incorporation of physical swatches -- fabric, leather, wood -- are also beneficial, adds Moraru. "When we're working with linen or fabric and want to see the true colors, sometimes digitally they can be off."

Make it stick, make it count

To get her mix of samples, sketches, and photography on her board, Gangemi uses push pins ("always clear") and 3M spray adhesive. "I really love that spray," she says. "If [something on the board is] not perfect, you can take it right off. I love to make everything balanced and squared."

Becker prefers gold thumbtacks and Washi tape. She also keeps a pen or marker handy to zone in on what makes each image special.

"Often when you are looking through a magazine, it's easy to just tear out pictures of beautiful rooms and put them on a board," she says. "But instead, when you find a picture, ask: ‘What do I like about this picture?' It's often not the whole picture, it's probably the lighting, or the rug, or the cushions or just the architecture of the room. Ask yourself why, and circle or draw an arrow to what appeals to you in the photo. Then add it to your board."

GET INSPIRED: By Chillhouse founder Cyndi Ramirez


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