I love a good home project. On the weekends, I usually stare at blank walls in my house and visualize what I want to put there to fill the gap. I have a running list of projects I want to tackle and I come back to them often throughout the year because, let’s face it, these things take time. And I’m not just talking about the project itself. Equally time-consuming is the decision-making process, which can include scouring the web for the perfect wall art, scouring Facebook Marketplace for elusive gems, or simply deciding on the vibe you want for the space.
I don’t know about you, but I also tend to get cold feet when I’m making big purchases for my home because… well, what if I don’t like it? What if it looks good on Instagram but not in my living room? What if the item doesn’t fit or just doesn’t work? I’ve had all of these thoughts and more as I’ve slowly curated my own home over the years. But I’ve since learned a little design hack that eases my anxiety and helps me visualize new pieces in my space before buying anything new. And this hack creates a mood board with Canva.
How do I create a mood board with Canva?
A mood board is essentially a collage of design elements that you want to bring into your space. It can also be a model of your room, but basically it is a vision board for your home. Most professionals start their projects with a mood board, but don’t worry, no interior design skills are required to get started. Also, you don’t need fancy programs to create one. Canva – a free online design tool – works perfectly (otherwise I sometimes use Instagram stories to create quick mood boards on my phone!). This design hack works for both large and small projects, whether it’s choosing cushions for your sofa or designing an entire room from scratch. When you’re ready to channel your inner Shea McGee, read on for tips on how to use Canva to create your own mood boards so you can bring new pieces into your home with confidence.
1. Collect pictures of rooms and pieces you love
Before decorating your own room, collect photos of rooms you love and that have a style you want to emulate. This alone essentially makes a mood board! Pinterest is a great place to start, and personally I love nothing more than scrolling through photos of cozy interiors. If your room has a unique feature, like a built-in corner or off-center windows, look for those things specifically to get ideas on how others have made it work. Instagram is another great place for inspiration. As you browse through all the gorgeous homes on the platform, you can save all your design inspo (including images and movies) in one place – just create a dedicated folder in your saved space.
Once you have a large collection of images, see if you notice similarities throughout. Is there a specific color or texture that you keep coming back to? Note that! Or maybe you’ve found a specific piece you love, like a sofa or rug. If you are considering purchasing the item, locate and save a standalone image of that piece so you can use it in the next steps. Make sure you find an image with an all-white background, or crop out any of the staging elements shown for best results.
2. Take photos of your space and pieces you already own
When browsing for new items online or in-store, it’s helpful to have pictures of your space handy for reference. This is especially useful when you want to add smaller pieces to a room that’s already mostly furnished, such as a bedroom. B. Wall art, lamps or accent furniture. I can’t tell you how many times I thought something would look great in a certain room, only to bring it home and find it didn’t fit. In addition to the overall photos of your space, collect pictures of each piece you plan to keep. This way you can mix and match new pieces you want to buy with the items you already own to see if they go together. You can either take your own photos or find pictures from the retailer’s website.
3. Put your pictures together in a collage
Once you have a collection of potential purchases and pictures of pieces you already own, the fun begins. After logging into Canva, type “moodboard” or “photo collage” into the search bar and you’ll see a number of different templates to choose from. The simpler the better, so I recommend starting with a neutral background color like white — or a close match to your wall color. After choosing a template, upload the saved images and drag and drop them into the moodboard. Adjust as needed until the arrangement mimics the desired layout of your space.
Canva’s free version offers many template options, but Canva Pro (the premium option with an annual fee) offers more templates to choose from, as well as the ability to erase the backgrounds of your photos. A few years ago I used to create mood boards for clients and friends a lot and wanted my images to be as professional as possible, so Canva Pro was perfect. But now that I’m just designing for myself, the free option works perfectly!
4. Add products to an image
Another way to use this hack is to take a picture of your space, upload it to Canva, and copy and paste pictures of things you want to buy right onto it. While not technically a collage, it’s more of a “see it in your space before you buy” plaque. This is a great way to try things like wall art, which is easy to visualize on a blank wall space before purchasing. Since you can’t accurately measure anything in a picture, be sure to note the dimensions of the new item and measure your space IRL to ensure it fits. Although you can resize things in Canva simply by expanding them, this isn’t possible in real life, so measurements are essential!
5. Put down your mood board and let your ideas simmer
Once your mood board is ready, take a step back and think about it. Let your vision transpire, and when you’re ready to revisit it, do a quick gut check. As Marie Kondo says, does it trigger joy? Is that the vision you had for your space? If yes, then great! If not, take your time adjusting the colors, textures, furniture, or layout until you’re happy. Remember that home projects take time, so enjoy the design process! All your work will pay off when you can find the right pieces and be confident that they will work well in your space without worrying about returning them. Have fun designing!