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Why It’s Time To Make a Mood Board

by Caitlin Kelch

It’s true — fall is here. Of course, we all knew that, but I really knew it yesterday when the afternoon sun peeked in my office window and it was different. It had a fleeting, almost eclipse-feel and it hit me that I need not procrastinate any longer on getting some new headspace for the seasons ahead. I remembered last year (and probably the year before that) wandering around the house in the dark at 4:30pm, wondering what the heck I was supposed to do besides crawl into bed. Now’s the time to gather all of those thoughts, moods, feelings and goals one wants to be boldly reminded of when the grey days and cold nights set in!

You need to make a mood board. You need to make a mood board now before all of your summer giddiness and September smiles fade into the ether of deep, chilly fall and what will seem like a never-ending winter. You know it’s coming, so grab your , some poster board and all of those old magazines and get cutting! If you don’t have a ton of old reading material, Goodwill or thrift stores do. Don’t be picky — you’d be surprised what you can find in a dog-eared copy of Forbes magazine!

If you need more inspiration to actually complete this important, mid-winter mood-boosting DIY, there are some beautiful examples of boards we love, like the one below, after the “how-to.”


From Grace: For anyone new to the idea of vision or mood boards, they’re essentially a way to visualize what you’re most interested in right now in your life. I find them to be an incredible way to get in touch with my subconscious and cut through all the “this is what I SHOULD be doing,” and figure out what I actually want/need right now.

Sometimes vision boards are all about the distant future, but they can also be helpful to assess the right now. Some years, my boards have been about figuring out the years ahead and some years (like my most recent board) have been about making plans (or staying on course) for what I want to do in the coming months.

Here’s how to get started:

Get yourself a large piece of foam core. I prefer foam core to something thinner, but any flat piece of cardboard or presentation board (even cork board) will work.

Gather a large selection of printed matter that you’re okay with recycling when you’re done. I like to collect old catalogs, magazines, newspapers and use them as source material. But you can also pull from anything else lying around. I even cut the side off of a cardboard salt box one time because I liked the pattern. The sky is the limit when it comes to source materials — even fabrics would be fun to pin or glue on.

Pick up a pair of scissors (I use my trusted Orange-handled Scissors), a few glue sticks and thumbtacks. The thumbtacks are for organizing your images together in the initial step and the glue is for finalizing the images in place.

The process:

The basic concept is to cut any imagery/text from printed matter that appeals to you (any strong emotional reaction will do!) and to collage them in a way that feels pleasing to your eye/mind/heart. I like to plunk down on the floor and pull things out one by one and gather them in a big stack until I’ve gone through all my printed matter (you can always print things off the Internet or your Pinterest boards, too!).

Once I’ve torn everything out, I like to go through the pile again and cut things neatly with scissors to focus on the words/pattern/colors I’m most drawn to.

Next, I like to start with the image I’m most drawn to and place it in the center of the board. Then I start forming relationships between images and laying them next to each other. Don’t glue at this stage yet, unless you feel strongly about the image and its placement. I like to use push pins here to keep things in place. (Tip: Don’t do any of this in front of a fan like I did this year — you’ll lose it all in one quick woosh).

Continue placing items/images until you’ve added all of the images you want. It’s okay to leave some out or to add/embellish images and text any way you like! Sometimes I like to add something written or draw in the space between images on the board.

Once you like your placement, I like to take a picture to document this phase and make note of where everything is. Then I start gluing them down until they’re all in place.

Then step back, admire your work and start seeing if you can find some of the bigger themes or messages. They may be about family, kids, work, finding your voice, changing your personal style, etc. Make notes without judgement. Then hand your board to someone you love and trust and see what they might see that you miss.

Image above: Grace’s vision board


My biggest tip has to do with the “picking/selecting” phase in the beginning. Don’t go in with any preconceived notions. Oftentimes, when I go in with the idea that I want this board to answer some big life questions for me, it will end up being all about work. Or if I focus too much on work, I end up picking images that I think will speak to what I want to see. The key is to grab images that you respond to strongly, without overthinking or judging them. Those strong feelings will make themselves clear when you start arranging. But if you pick things you think you should pick (ie: as a woman in business I always feel like I should pick words like “power” and “strength,” even if I’m not drawn toward them), you’ll end up with a board that is more about what you think other people think your board should say, versus what you really want it to say.

Document the phases with photos. Sometimes the way I arrange things in the pushpin/placement phase is different than how it comes together when I start gluing them down. I learn a lot about myself in that moment and it’s valuable to get a picture of each stage to see what’s changed and, maybe, why.

Always run your board by someone else you trust. I find that people I know and love sometimes see things and connections I don’t.

Be aware of mini-themes within your board. My boards always end up having a central theme in the middle and then smaller mini-themes in different areas of the board that have to do with health, family, etc. Those mini-themes are important to assess, too.

Have fun with it! There’s no grading happening, so don’t worry if yours is neat, pretty, messy or anything. Just trust your gut and you’ll end up with something that really speaks to you.

By now you should be adding “pick up a glue stick” to your to-do list. If you need even more inspiration, here’s what your mood board can turn into and safely guide you through until spring!

This is our farewell post celebrating Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors 50th Anniversary! If you’re late to the party, you can visit our celebration posts herehere and here and visit Fiskars site  for more inspirational stories from designers and artists for whom Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors are an essential tool in their creative process.

And if you haven’t already contributed your Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors story yet, we want to hear it! From the forbidden orange majesty on the teacher’s desk to the “these scissors belong to” masking tape labels in your office space, we all probably have a Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors story. Share yours below in the comments and you’ll be entered to win one of four gift packs from us. We’ll be sending four readers gift bags with one of our favorite design or DIY books + a pair of Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors and a pair of Fiskars Kids Scissors so you can get inspired and get creative with friends, family and the younger folks in your life. We’ll be picking our winners at random on Monday, Oct. 9th.

This post is brought to you by . Thanks for supporting our sponsors who help us bring you original content every week. All words and opinions are our own. We’re proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors!

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  • I hadn’t clicked over to DS in a while and I’m so happy I did! What a nostalgic post!! I LOVed making and updates my idea boards when I was little. We totally had a pair of orange scissors!! They were always kept in the same place, and my mom would come hunting for them if they weren’t in their spot. I feel like nowadays I have like 3 or 5? random pairs that are all over the house and I was thinking recently that I would rather -like my mom- have ONE pair that I know/love and know where they are. :)

  • I have always loved collaging but have never tried a moodpboard and after reading this will definitely be giving it a go. I always thought that it looked really difficult but I reckon with the help of this post I will give it a good go! Halloween is going to be my theme as I am planning a party and it would be good to set out all of my idea. Thanks so much!


  • I love making mood boards, they are such a fantastic way to visualise an idea, narrow down ideas and let new ideas come alive. They truly are a critical part of the design process and something I feel we should all return to when working on something where we have time to explore ideas instead of simply gathering images online or spending hours Pinning. I love Pinterest however there is nothing quite like make a real live mood board, paper cuttings everywhere, positioning items and finding new colour combinations that you would never have stumbled upon online.

    I have a mood boarding series over on my blog, I would love it if you came over and had a look :) My blog is only a couple of months old so it would be great to get some feedback from an experienced blogger like yourself :)

    Thank you for sharing :)
    Claire xx

  • I have such distinct auditory memories of my mom giving me haircuts in the fall while sitting in my basement. I loved the sound the scissors (that were not meant for hair) made as they cut a simple bob. Also, the sound of scissors at the fabric store when my mom took us to pick out dress patterns and material for holiday outfits. Thanks for a post that brought up such fond memories!

  • I remember using Fiskars orange handled scissors when I was about 7 and learning how to sew. My mom and grandmother both taught me only to use them on fabric, because using them on anything else dulls the blade.

    When I went off to college my mom bought me a new sewing basket and replaced the janky scissors with a pair of Fiskars. I only ever used those for cutting fabric.

    I remember catching a roommate using my scissors to cut paper and I freaked out on her. My beloved scissors had been contaminated. After that everyone knew not to touch my scissors. Seriously. Don’t touch my scissors.

    I still sew and I have that same pair of scissors I got over twenty years ago. I also borrowed my mom’s 1970s Singer sewing machine around the same time and never returned it!

    They are something so small and utilitarian but I have such strong memories of seeing my mom and grandma sew and using their special scissors to cut the fabric. It’s a skill and a passion that they handed down to me. I’m grateful for the gift.

  • Thanks for the in-depth tutorial. It’s nice to see the construction of an analogue mood board for a change. I’m moving house and country next year, which is very exciting, so it’s time to start plotting for our new country life. Trouble is, I’m in Asia and it’s hard to get my hands on some second hand design mags to chop up, but I’ll see what I can find and hope the mags I can get are not too far from my own design preferences.

  • Glad I ran into this post! I just picked up my stack of magazines, and scissors to start my own mood board. Here’s to being inspired all fall and winter!


  • These scissors remind me of my childhood home. I used them often–so often that my mom would often hide them!

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