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Digital Mood Boards – The Benefits of Pinterest

Allan Corfield Architect, Construction Professionals, Eco Homes, Mood Boards, Pinterest, Self Build Leave a Comment

From Ideas to Design – Is Pinterest the Key to Your New Home?

Coming up with ideas for your dream home can be seen as the easiest part of the Self Build process. One of the trickiest, however, is getting those ideas onto paper in the form of designs. How do you communicate your inspiration to your architect, your designer – or even your family and friends?

Traditionally, Self Builders might opt for a mood board; this is typically a collection of pictures, scraps, and samples of materials which represent the Self Builder’s tastes in architectural and interior styles. The mood board can give architects an insight into the Self Builder’s interests, and the kinds of styles they might want included in the design of their home.

What we’ve found to be the case, though, is that Self Builders tend to have a LOT of ideas; it can become a bit cumbersome lugging a suitcase of samples and scrapbooks around when you want to discuss your ideas with your architect. At ACA, we’ve been encouraging our Self Build clients to think outside of the box – or board – and collaborate with us in a more efficient way. Using sites such as Pinterest, mood boards can now be created digitally, and accessed remotely by everyone who needs to see them. It has taken a while to get going, but now a few of our clients are really getting the hang of it. It’s easier for them to find inspiration, and it’s easier for our architects to access the sources as the designs are being put together.

One of ACA’s current clients – Kay Austin – has been using Pinterest to create a digital mood board for her current Self Build project, and has kindly answered some questions on the benefits of using Pinterest as a means of creative expression.

The Self Builder’s View

Before using Pinterest, had you used a traditional mood board for conveying the styles and designs you liked?

“When we moved into our current Edwardian home, we undertook a great deal of renovation. This was in the dim and distant past, when ‘web’ had more to do with spiders than a means of communication and education. My mood board for the house consisted of scrap books with images pulled from interior magazines and builders catalogues, paint cards from DIY stores, fabric swatches from department stores, and a small A5 ruled notebook – ‘the bible’. I still have ‘the bible’ which is now held together with an elastic band. It is bulging with notes on the finished rooms as we progressed round the house during the initial restoration, followed up by subsequent rounds of redecoration and changes over the years.”

What encouraged you to use Pinterest as a digital mood board, and how has it made it easier for you to communicate your inspiration to ACA?

“I discovered Pinterest through magazines, and I became immediately hooked. I have worked in the art world over a number of years now, and visual images are my main form of inspiration. The joy of Pinterest is that it allows you to find images which reflect your desires. We are now in the fortunate position of being able to build a house for ourselves and, happily for us, my husband and I largely agree on both the interior and exterior style which we would like to achieve for our new home. I would refer to this as a ‘New England’ blend, so that it will sit just as well in Sussex as in the States.

My Pinterest boards have been separated into various headings – all under the label Ideal Home – so that our architect at ACA can access these, and appreciate what we are trying to achieve in all areas. This includes exterior styling – including an element of garden design, interior detail for ceilings, architraves, windows and moldings – right down to lovely little details which would be good to have, but maybe not possible to achieve. The point of these Pinterest boards is to communicate to ACA the accessibility and warmth we hope to achieve in our home. I did worry that our dream might be a little too traditional for a modern SIPs build, and a young firm of architects, but they appear to be right behind us!”

How much of what you ‘Pinned’ came through in the design?

“Even the initial design largely reflected what we had hoped for. Subsequent tweaks have been brought about by the building plot itself – as well as by a desire not to overcomplicate the structure with additional roof lines, which would take away from the symmetry of the design. Internally, the room layouts are just about there. There will undoubtably be more changes but at the moment we are only at the pre-planning application stage.”


What are the benefits of using Pinterest, and would you encourage other Self Builders to use Pinterest as a digital mood board?

“I would not only encourage others to use Pinterest, but I would say it is a necessity! It is much easier to share your ideas with a relevant image in front of you, than any amount of rough drawings or waving of hands can express. Communication with your partner is less tense, and trying to explain ‘I want one of those pointy bits above the window’ to your architect is a doddle when you can share your Pinterest board named ‘Window Pediment’.

As it happens, both our sons and their partners have bought their first homes together this year. Pinterest has certainly helped cement my relationship with the girls, enabling them to share their ideas with me and ask for advice.”

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Do you have any helpful hints and tips for using Pinterest?

“Using Pinterest is much like any other form of search engine on the web. Not only is Pinterest stuffed full of ideas, it has a great search engine, and will pick up on your particular interests and bring you new images automatically. It will also give you those all important links to all manner of architectural, design and retail sites which will assist you in your home design. It makes it easier for you to home in on what design elements are important to you, and to communicate this to others. It can also give you an education in the specifics of your Self Build, so that you can have sensible discussions with professionals – and hopefully this will make what can be a stressful process more productive.”

The Architect’s View

From Kay’s point of view as a client, then, Pinterest is a great tool for expressing creativity. What’s it like from our architects’ side though? John Hansen has been working on Kay’s designs, and has access to the Pinterest mood board. He believes Pinterest can play a key role in architectural design, as it challenges the architect to interpret images and look for the ‘mood’ within the images selected by the client:

“As Pinterest is mainly an image-based website, it’s much easier to visualise our client’s ideas with digital images, than through words, or hand-drawn sketches. The exciting challenge lies in the interpretation of the chosen images; finding the specific ‘mood’ means reading beyond the pictures, and designing something original from a concept – instead of just imitating the design style. The best aspect of Pinterest is the sheer number of images available. It’s really user-friendly, and the search functions are great. I would encourage clients to use Pinterest for creating mood boards – it’s free and is a lot easier and quicker to put a mood board together. No more cutting and pasting from magazines!”

Our special thanks go to Kay Austin and John Hansen for their time and contribution to this week’s blog!

Get Pinning!

For ideas on how to start up your digital mood board on Pinterest, why not follow ACA - we regularly update Pinterest with a host of inspirational material that we're sure you'll enjoy! For other enquiries, contact ACA via the button!

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