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How to Create a Killer Mood Board

How to Create  Killer Mood Board // Pinterest tips, the perfect equation and a free template!

Ok, so first thing’s first. If you haven’t joined Pinterest yet, go do it. Pinterest is an endless source of inspiration and the perfect place to find images that represent the style you’re trying to achieve with your mood board. Go ahead and set up an account. It only takes a minute...I’ll wait here for you.All set? Excellent. Now that you have the resources all set up, let’s go over some basics of mood boards and what they’re all about.

Step 1


Mood boards are literally everywhere and although it seems like everyone and their mama is making them, there’s good reason. A mood board is a tool that can help guide the vibe and style of just about anything. Re-decorating your living room? Mood board. Traveling to Italy this summer? Mood board. Branding your business? MOOD BOARD! Collecting images that create the style and feeling you’re trying to achieve can help you finalize a direction, narrow down range of options and even communicate with a designer—interior or graphic—more clearly. They are a wonderful resource when trying to convey a feeling to others and if you’re not creating them for inspiration you should definitely start!

So let’s get started. There is a pretty basic equation that I stick to when creating one that helps keep things focused and balanced. It goes something like this…

The basic equation for creating a balanced mood board // Happenstance Studio

Searching for photos can be a dangerous trip down a rabbit hole if you’re not careful so I use this combination as a standard guide to keep me focused and searching for images that are relevant to my board. Keep in mind this is a very fluid process and if you find the perfect image and it doesn’t fit into this exactly it is 100% ok to change it up. This is a starting point that I’ve found successful, but I’ve also broken this rule as many times as I haven’t!

  • 3 ENVIRONMENT IMAGES These can be a literal environment like a beach or the forest, or it could also be represented by an interior space like a living room or coffee shop. It all depends on your intention.

  • 2 LIFESTYLE IMAGES Adding a human element brings the board to life. This could be a person taking photographs or a fashion shot. Adding an image of a woman lounging in jeans or a man dressed in a suit offer very different vibes and it can help hammer down the attitude of your board.

  • 2 PATTERNS OR TEXTURES This can be 2 of one or 1 of each...up to you. These help break up all the visuals in the board and also give you a better sense of the style you’re trying to achieve.

  • 1 TYPOGRAPHY ELEMENT A vintage stamp that’s rugged and rough could give you a feeling of camping and hiking and roughing it outdoors while a sleek, modern sign on acrylic white could highlight a modern, posh vibe. Type is everywhere in the world so don’t discount it.

  • 1 ACCENT COLOR This may not be necessary if you’ve selected images that already have a pop of color but you may find that it adds that little kick to your board you’re missing.

Now that we have a basic equation, here’s an example of how to apply it to a mood board...

Placing images to create a balanced mood board // Happenstance Studio

See how the elements balance so no 2 categories are directly next to each other? That will help keep your board focused and keep your eye moving all over instead of zeroing in on one area or another.

REMEMBER! This is a fluid concept and things can change. Don’t get hung up on matching this exactly...just use it as a guide!


Going through this exercise will help you find good search terms to select when you start looking for images. If you’re creating a board to help you brand your business this is especially helpful in fine-tuning your audience, deciding how you’d like to speak to them as a brand and the feeling you’d like them to experience when they interact with you. This is something I go through with my clients but it is helpful in any example. Don’t overthink it here, just choose a handful of words that fit the vibe you’re going for. Here’s an example of some words that might help you…

Select keywords to help find your Pinterest search terms // Happenstance Studio

Do you have a few good keywords chosen? Excellent! If not, I’m going to walk through an example so you can follow along if you need a little more guidance. I selected a few from above and added a couple others…


See how these words are starting to paint a picture? Now let's take them and head to Pinterest.

Step 3


Ok, now head to Pinterest and create a board for your project. Start by using those keywords you chose above. I looked for a variety of things using terms like beach, moody blues, sandy beach, blue ocean, beachy interiors, minimal blues.

Create a board and start pinning on Pinterest! // Happenstance Studio

A few things to remember when using the Pinterest search…

  • Keep the search terms simple. Typing “soft beachy blues with neutrals and soft tones” might get you a few shots but it won’t take you far. The Pinterest search algorithms are insanely smart so you don’t need to clutter up your request. Simply search for “beachy blues” or “natural textures” or even just “beach” and you’ll make better progress.

  • Don’t ignore the category suggestions at the top. Seriously, these algorithms know what they’re doing. Take advantage of the options Pinterest presents to help you find different subject matter you might not have considered before.

  • Look for cleaner images to keep your board from becoming too cluttered. Those home interior images may be beautiful on their own but when you put a bunch of them together on a board things can get cluttered really quickly. When the content gets muddle by too much to look at you end up looking at nothing. Here’s a small example of what I mean…

Cluttered images vs. clean images in a Pinterest search // Happenstance Studio
  • Do you see the difference? The first row, although it does showcase cool blues and a beachy setting in an interior environment has a TON going on! The bottom row highlights environment and home interior accents with the same tones but is much calmer on the eyes. You can absolutely include one of the images in the top row, just make sure to balance out the rest of the board with simpler subject matter.

  • When you click on an image be sure to scroll down to see suggested related content. You may find a great shot of the beach but when you scroll down there will be another with better subject matter or that oh-sp-perfect shade of blue. Be open and browse with abandon!

REMEMBER! This list is a good reference but go nuts here. Just pin everything that speaks to you! I’d hate for you to lose that perfect picture because you doubted whether it would fit early in the process. You’ll figure it out in the next step so for now, just pin pin pin!


I made a few templates just for you. Click the link below and snag your favorite—or all 3—and have fun! Smart objects make this baby a piece of cake to use. This is the last step before you start to put everything together and make your beautiful board so grab one now and get started!

  1. Download the template here!

  2. Open the file in Photoshop.

  3. Double-click the layer you wish to fill. This will open a window where you can add your photo, size and crop it as you wish. Whatever shows in this frame will fill the selected quadrant.

  4. Save and close this window.

  5. Your photo should appear in the template just as you placed it.

  6. Continue adding your images in the other quadrants until your board is complete.

  7. Save your template as JPG or PNG and you’re all set!


Hopefully by now you’ve pinned some killer images to build your board. Start at the top and go through what you’ve collected. Start sifting through these images and choose a handful that you think really speak to your intention. Go ahead and snag those photos from Pinterest and start to use them in the template. You can see how mine turned out in the example below!

A final mood board with beachy blues and natural elements using the mood board equation and placement techniques from happenstance Studio

Pretty, isn’t it?? I stuck to the equation pretty closely here. You can see that I switched the typography and environment segments in the middle from the template example back in step 1. I did this for 2 reasons. 1) I want you to see that this is fluid it’s ok to move things around if they don’t balance 2) I just plain liked it better. The subject matter is focused, there’s a mix of close up photography and wider shots, hard and soft textures, lifestyle and environment, textures and everything speaks to the same vibe. It all comes together to make a super balanced, beautiful board!

REMEMBER! Building a mood board is all about creating the vibe and attitude you want. It’s 30% methodology and 70% gut instinct. Trust yourself and your choices!!

There is absolutely no right or wrong answer here. If you start with some basic guidelines you will end up with a result that’s balanced and represents exactly what you’re looking for. I am so excited for you to start pinning and creating beautiful boards!

I hope this has helped you embrace the idea of creating mood boards as a point of inspiration. Grab your free templates and remember not to overthink it and HAVE FUN; that’s the most important thing of all!!


If you enjoyed this post, would like more posts like it or have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you! Email me at or join the mailing list so you’re the first to know about new information.

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