x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Setting the mood for redecorating your house

Preparation is vital when you're redecorating your home so start by putting together a mood board. Look to nature, photographs and even your own wardrobe for inspiration.

Mood board. Illustration by Sarah Lazarovic
Mood board. Illustration by Sarah Lazarovic

Preparation is vital when you're redecorating your home so start by putting together a mood board. Look to nature, photographs and even your own wardrobe for inspiration, suggests Rin Hamburgh

Giving your home a makeover can be lots of fun, but it usually also involves a fair amount of work - and money. As such, it's important that you pay plenty of attention at the planning stages.

Possibly your most effective tool during these early stages is the mood board, a collection of ideas, images and samples that will give you a visual idea of what your room will look like, and help you to make key decisions on colour, style and overall atmosphere.

Traditionally, mood boards are a physical collection of items, displayed, as the name suggests, on a board (A2, or bigger, is best). This might include anything from paint colour cards and fabric swatches to images torn from magazines and even photographs that you've taken yourself. To begin with, it's worth making a mood box or file where you can store all these items until you're ready to start laying them out and deciding what will end up on your final board.

When you start out, don't worry too much about whether everything "goes". Often, the first and second items won't blend, but by the time you add items three, four and five, they've formed a more cohesive whole. Also, you can always take stuff out at the end. With the initial collecting process, it's definitely a case of the more the merrier.

Many people start off by choosing a base colour for their room, and this can be a helpful way to bring focus to your mood board. However, don't let it restrict you too much; remember, this is the experimental stage and nothing is set in stone. What you want to end up with is a palette that gives you a bit of freedom; a selection of well-toned shades with occasional contrast will give your overall look texture and life, which you'd lose out on if you simply matched every item on your board.

Nature is an ideal place to find interesting colour combinations, so keep your camera handy whenever you go out and snap away at beautiful sunsets and seascapes. You'll be surprised at the shades that go together; even a simple desert scene can be made up of endless shades of brown, yellow, cream and orange.

A helpful way to start off your board is with a "muse" item - it might be a favourite painting, a much-dreamed-about sofa or a coveted wallpaper. This will form the central point around which you will build your room, tying all other elements together. However, if you don't have one, don't worry. If you simply start choosing colours, patterns, textures and items that you love, eventually a pattern will emerge that will not adhere to a trend but will express who you are.

Your mood board should reflect the personality of the room that you're planning on doing up, and hopefully that in turn will reflect your own personality. One great place to get an insight into your tastes is your wardrobe. What colours do you wear most? Are your clothes predominantly loose and casual or structured and formal? Is there a lot of pattern, or are you more of a texture person?

It can be useful to include one or two lifestyle images in your mood board if you see shots that sum up the overall look you're aiming for, whether that's Scandinavian, coastal or shabby chic. We've already mentioned magazine images, which are a great place to start looking for ideas, but anything from hotel brochures and travel guidebooks to adverts and catalogues can provide images that will supply ideas for your new room.

Getting samples is very important too, because you want your board to contain substance as well as concept. It's no use finding the kinds of things that you want and then realising that they're all out of your price range or they're last season's wares and are now out of stock.

Most local suppliers of fabric and wallpaper will have swatches that they can send through to you. Paint sample cards are another ideal addition to your board (although you might want to buy a tester pot so that you can cover a larger sample area). For big, bulky items that won't fit - a large tile, for example, or a piece of furniture - take a decent photograph and add this to your board, to see how it works alongside the other elements.

As you begin to finalise your mood board, take out anything that jars with the overall look. Check that you have a cohesive colour palette and make sure that you've included plenty of texture and pattern. Don't worry about creating a perfect work of art - your board is there as an inspirational guide, not an end point in itself, so forget cutting perfect squares and lining up all the edges, and just have fun with it.

Do make sure that the overall result has a sense of balance, though. Too many differing elements and it will end up feeling too busy; too few and it could be boring. And remember to include each element in proportion. If you're painting three walls in one colour and a fourth in a contrasting shade, for example, then the sample of the first colour should be three times as big as the second.

In this age of technology and social media, your mood board doesn't have to be physical. Pinterest is a fantastic place to gather up images, whether they are general inspirational shots or specific product images, very easily and at no cost whatsoever. You can search the site itself for pictures, pin directly from other websites, or even upload your own snaps. Other sites that offer the chance to create virtual mood boards include mydeco.com's "Roomstyler" and Olioboard.

Once you're happy with your mood board, you need to do one final thing. Wait. Give it a few days or a week, and then come back to it. This will allow you to get a fresh perspective on it. You might need to make a couple of tweaks before you're ready to transfer your vision into a reality. But it's a lot easier to change a mood board than a newly decorated room.

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