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Mood Board Books To Inspire

Hello friends! I’m in one of those writing moods today where words just bubble forth like some kind of crazy fountain! It’s a great mood to be in because now I’m home and no longer traveling so I CAN write on decor8 regularly again and it feels wonderful. I always miss blogging and the practice of writing daily when I’m on the road, writing is total freedom for me. Another freedom, or shall I say creative release (sounds weird but it really is), is when I pull together things visually into handmade books. I’ve been doing this for ages, since I was a little curious kid, and it started by pulling pages from teen magazines and Highlights magazine then collecting them into photo albums with those giant clear pages… You know the ones that you peel to stick in your pages on that strange adhesive so when you lay stuff on it the paper sorta sticks, then you press the clear page on top. Yeah, those old school albums, woot!

Mood board books

I filled those things with inspirations from magazine pages to stickers, letters from penpals and labels from things that I liked. I also used blank journals and diaries or handmade books that I made by stapling together copy paper with a stapler to form a gutter down the middle. I started doing those in the late 1970’s when I was maybe 6 years old and I continued making them my entire life – writing in some, sticking things in others – I had sticker books, inspiration books, books I wrote and illustrated with my own stories, and diaries filled with secrets and wishes and how I imagined my “adult” life to be — which usually involved becoming an author, marrying a cute boy, having a baby and living in another country in a really nice house.

Well… Little me ended up wanting the same goals as I grew older and I often wonder at times if that clarity came through the consistent exercise of capturing my imagination and dreams into something more tangible like the books that I made over the years? I believe that the more you either write down or visually share with yourself and/or others, the more you capture your imagination in a sense and freeze it,  perhaps it helps put you on your way to gaining a bit more clarity as you make your way through life. Interesting to ponder, right?

Mood board booksThis spread was inspired by a home we shot in the English countryside recently. I came home and pulled this together using images that felt like the home I had worked in in the same color palette.

I almost want to challenge you to test this theory on your own life and to see if, after a year of consistently maintaining private journals and books, whether or not you start to gain a better sense of self. We’re constantly evolving so there is never an end point to all of this since we’ll be growing as long as we live (or at least lets make that our goal!) but the act of conscious “slow” living vs. hectic “speed” living IS something we really want to do, at least that’s what I find most attractive these days as I see the hectic path is ultimately reallyyyyyyy boring and makes time go by much to quickly.

I’m wondering now if all of this tapping in and recording our inspirations, goals, heartaches, lessons learned, ideas, etc. is what enhances the experience of living in a way. What do you think?

Mood board booksThis is a capture of fabrics and ribbons that I collected while in London for a project from various stores like Liberty and VV Rouleaux. I wanted to pull them all together in one place because now I’ll always remember them in case I want to work from this palette in the future on another project.

I thought to go along with my words that I’d share a few images that I took with my iPhone today of these mood board pages that I made in a book over the past six weeks – they show some of the impressions that I’ve had on the road while I’ve been working on my next book. I didn’t feel like writing my impressions from each trip in a diary because I have to write so much as it is INSIDE of the actual book and on this blog that the thought of writing a diary during this time made me a bit tense. I still, however, wanted to keep track of my inspirations along the way so I thought to do it in a visual way instead. Plus, it ended up inspiring me through a bit of a creative challenge. This book gave me a chance to record things with a glue stick and a few minutes of my time. I shared this with our Blogging Your Way Road Trip students recently in New York and they seemed to be very inspired by it. I hope you are too.

Mood board booksThis was pulled together based on the same home in the English countryside that had inspired me so, so much. I used found items, washi tape, paint swatches, buttons, clips, etc. to pull together a paper that reflected the mood of that home.

Creating visual records can be very inspiring while you’re doing them but also to look back on them, for me at least, I inspires me all over again. For instance from this book I am able to recall the exact things that struck a chord with me on certain trips — seeing them again gave me some new ideas for the future.

Remember… Mood boards don’t have to be on actual boards on your wall. As I taught last year in the series of Mood Board Workshops in the US and London for Anthropologie, mood boards can be on a wall, in a book, in a manilla folder, in a mini mood board book (aka portable photo album with clear sleeves) or an inspiration wire which is horizontal and hung across a wall, window or above a sofa or bed – anywhere that you want really – where you can tack on what catches your eye at the moment. Visual recordings like this can be enlightening, especially as you begin to see patterns in your thinking, spot a theme or discover new ideas.

Mood board booksThis is a spread that I created using tears and bits that I’ve been collecting in my desk drawer for several months. I noticed everything I had collected there fit together in a strange way so I decided to put them in the book so that I could refer to this later. I love seeing how gray, cream, goldenrod, industrial elements, strong graphics (like numbers, silhouettes and maps), polka dots and a bit of olive green can work with a touch of a floral fabric that is a bit country. Again, it’s all about capturing moments and collecting them someplace outside of our own heads (or a desk drawer).

What I love about the books that I’ve been creating at home since I was a kid is that, unlike a board or string or something that’s a bit decorative and public in your home that others potentially see, you don’t have to edit out anything or hold back in your books. It’s also different from a blog or Pinterest because your book can be private and a total immersion into self. Often when you compose mood boards at home or online you tend to hold back for some reason whereas a book that you can store can be less about sharing with others and more about sharing with yourself, personal growth, learning and saving to look back on for years to come. You can include themes that may be too embarrassing to share publicly or explore topics that you may feel are too private to pass around within your online social network. It’s a very nice way to bookmark your life visually and I love it.

Mood board booksThis was created when I got back from Paris a few weeks ago. Some visuals that reflected how I saw Paris…

I hope this post today inspired you somehow to be a bit more active when it comes to recording your thoughts in a more visual, organized but still fun and freestyle way. Always take time to absorb your surroundings, then collect them into something tangible so that your inspiration can be tapped in to during those “creative rut” periods…

What do you think of this idea to collect visual notes into small books at home? Do you do make these too? If so, post them on your blog and share the link below if you’d like so we can see them!

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted by decor8 in inspiration, travel on March 19, 2012

Your comments...

  1. Rebecca commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 6:12pm

    A wonderfully inspiring post. I think it is really helpful to post the boards somewhere you can see them regularly. I have some inspirational entries in journals, etc. that I remember to glance at on occasion for a needed boost but for a regular infusion of inspiration it is nice to have some energizing boards posted right in front of me!

    Thanks for sharing your insight!!
    Rebecca´s last blog post ..Discover your Urban Cottage

  2. Ioanna commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 6:20pm

    Beautiful post! I love your books of inspiration! They look amazing. I have been doing something similar – I have a very big collection of leaflets and booklets from Southbank Centre and the National Theatre in London. I cut out anything that looks nice or interesting to me, and I have created a nice scrapbook with these cut-outs, alongside other memorable things. I decorated it with ribbons, and stickers. Another thing I did was to write on a journal almost everyday, something that characterised that day: be it lyrics from a song, a phrase, a quote, something that happened on that day, or a thought I had about it – then I tried to match the words with an image from my collection. It worked our really nicely.
    Ioanna´s last blog post ..Fragments of Inspiration: Words {a new beginning}

  3. Alexandra commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 6:26pm

    Getting to know yourself is definitely the key to personal success. Today I was occupied with doing a type test you recommended during a Blogging Your Way course. Reading your mood board post now fits in so well.

    One day you should write a book about mood boards and finding your way in life. :-) Your writing is so encouraging, I will start visual journaling again.
    Alexandra´s last blog post ..Simply beautiful – Makié

  4. decor8 commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 6:43pm

    @alexandra – I currently am writing something like that!!!! :) :)
    What “type” did you figure out you were?

  5. decor8 commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 6:43pm

    @Ioanna – Those sound really wonderful, wow – thanks for sharing with me. :)

  6. decor8 commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 6:44pm

    @Rebecca – Thank you, I’m glad that you found it encouraging and helpful!

  7. Tina Ramchandani commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 6:49pm

    Hi Holly! I totally remember Highlights! I also used to collect tons and tons of stickers but never used them because I needed to stay need and organized. Instead I had sheets of them in a shoebox and would only use them for special ocassions. Now I have magnet boards above my desk at home so I can easily hang and remove things. It really helps organize my thoughts. It also helps since I don’t have tons of space to store books :)
    Tina Ramchandani´s last blog post ..Gurbett

  8. Emma commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 7:01pm

    I love this post as I’m a devout inspiration board/notebook/folder lover too. I constantly have magazine pages pulled out and laying around, waiting to be stuck to my latest vision board or filed in a clear-pocketed folder (by theme, I add – dream home, career goals, family time etc!), or tucked into a handy notebook. And now its online too.

    I love my collection as it charts my changing tastes and desires, as well as those that have been constant – they tell a story!

    One of my latest is here:
    Emma´s last blog post ..{Weekend digest} Links to linger over

  9. seema commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 7:15pm

    very inspiring, Holly. I’ve been wanting to do this but have felt pressed for time and have kept ideas together in a box. You’ve motivated me to organize it all in books. Thanks!

  10. Valentina commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 7:17pm

    Thank you holly for this post…it’s so inspiring! I’m preparing to realize one of these books for the new room of my son.
    Valentina´s last blog post ..Appunto #1/2012 (take a look at…)

  11. christine commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 7:18pm

    I love the ribbons and fabrics here. x
    christine´s last blog post ..A Celtic Love Knot

  12. Debbie Panton commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 7:19pm

    Love these ideas… I’ve been trying to organize my craft space for the last couple of days. I have stacks of project and decorating ideas ( ideas that I jot down on any random piece of of paper within reach) and loads of magazine tear outs for design and fashion pages that I love. I also have a huge collection of paint chips ( probably more than any sane person would admit to). I’m really trying to find a way to make them more accessible so when I need a little inspiration, they make sense. These ideas will help a lot. Thank you!!! P.S… I loved Highlights as a kid too… and my oldest son loves them now.

  13. CecilieGrut commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 7:46pm


    …so inspiring!

  14. Maria commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 8:50pm

    Amazing idea, Holly! Thank you. My first impulse was to take a copybook immediately and to fill it with visual and haptic inspiration. :-) But where do you store all that beautiful staff? What I can definitely confirm – that way of capturing one’s dreams and impressions works without a hitch. Of course, space saving photo blog solution (e.g. tumblr) is not the same as a handmade book. We have at least five senses to keep our experience. However even my virtual mood board that I made for myself, not for my projects, appeared to be one of the best instruments to explore my mood and wishes and my personality as well.

  15. Carol Pesteil commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 8:58pm

    i just love this, it is wonderful …

  16. Smotzy commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 8:58pm

    Lovely pics!!! Very inspirational.

  17. Katrin Paul commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 9:03pm

    i like your idea very much. I´ve got a small box filled with cards, photos and pages of magazines and i love to look at it.

    love greetings

  18. Patti Trostle commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 9:06pm

    Love your blog and glad you are back! Can’t wait to see what’s next. I love the idea of the mood board. I have been thinking of doing the same thing. For me, I think it is a great way to stay focused.

  19. Alexandra commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 9:22pm

    ohhh I love to hear that!!!
    My test result is INFJ. Kersey calls it Idealist Counselor. I’m so amazed how accurate the report is. And it’s such a good feeling to finally read something that is sooo me.
    Alexandra´s last blog post ..Simply beautiful – Makié

  20. Dana Barbieri commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 10:56pm

    Your books are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing them with us and giving some awesome inspiration! I will definitely be doing this!
    Dana Barbieri´s last blog post ..For the birds

  21. Heather B commented
    March 19th, 2012 at 11:06pm

    I made books like this when I was little too… and I saved one. I thought I’d share :-) It’s only tangentially related but fun nonetheless.
    Heather B´s last blog post ..Memory Lane – My Sticker Book

  22. Penelope Jane Whiteley commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 1:30am

    I love the idea of creating a whole book! For me it is much more exciting than the traditional vision board because it had so much more scope!
    Thank you!
    Penelope Jane Whiteley´s last blog post ..Palm Oil – death and destruction.

  23. Trina commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 2:49am

    I love this Holly. I’ve always kept a journal and have loved to write but with 4 little ones and a blog it just isn’t happening these days. I also love to collect little pieces, papers, and so on but have never really thought about putting them in books like this. Great solution to organizing your little memories and essentially making them into pieces of art.
    And I TOTALLY agree with you that when you write something down and put it out there, whether in word or picture and have it in front of you it is more likely to happen. Isn’t it fun to look back at what past hopes and dreams and to see how they have come true in one way or another!
    Thank you for the inspiration…beautiful inspiration, what you are best at!
    xo . trina
    Trina´s last blog post ..chicago + a winner

  24. kalanicut commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 3:20am

    I love your inspiration. I started two large sketchbooks some years ago. One for clothing and one for home decor that I feel are just totally me. I still love looking at them because they connect me to me and remind me that I do know myself on those days when I feel a little lost in look or thought. It’s very, very rare that I find something that does not still make my heart sing. Thanks for reminding me to be grateful for those inspiration books!
    kalanicut´s last blog post ..Stylish & Comfortable Shoes For Traveling

  25. Danette commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 3:23am

    I just love this idea—I know my girls will love it too. We are about to redecorate bedrooms, this is a good place to start I think.

  26. vitaminA commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 3:26am

    inspiration books are one of my loves too! it brings me to a place where my mind soars free :) thank you for sharing the pages of your lovely book, little treasure bits snuggled together. here is a peek into my world :


  27. Anne commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 3:41am

    This is so super smart! I vow from here on out to make this happen :)
    Anne´s last blog post ..SPIM

  28. Jane commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 4:05am

    I adored this post, Holly – I have only made static moodboards on the wall and had never considered using a portable one! Thanks for the inspiration. I might give it a whirl.

    In the meantime, here’s my latest moodboard, inspired by doing the BYW course last year ( I adored making it! J x
    Jane´s last blog post ..Mr PB has a new job! And opening my Pandora’s box…

  29. Megan commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 6:24am

    I love mood books! I just don’t enough space for mood boards or walls. Mine aren’t so fancy as this. I use a three ring binder and plastic sheet protectors for things I don’t want to paste down or might want to remove later on. It feels like I have a scrapbook when I’m done with my project.
    Megan´s last blog post ..Flying Kites

  30. Lauren Elise commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 7:28am

    Thanks for sharing this post Holly. Although these mood board are very personal to you, it was so inspiring seeing into your creative process. I really need to start doing this. I get a constant stream of ideas but I’ll forget to jot them down or wait awhile and then miss the mood. It would be nice to get into the habit of expressing my ideas and inspirations tangibly with boards like this. I’m so inspired now! Thanks.
    Lauren Elise´s last blog post ..Teaching Myself Crochet

  31. Naomi den Besten commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 9:35am

    Lovely to see your mood board books Holly! I’d been curious about them ever since you wrote about the idea of creating books & binders to collect inspiration in the BYW class. I have lots of materials that I collect that is now just pilled up in different corners of my home and I’m in the process of moving all of that into a dedicated creative space. Your post is a good encouragement to start organizing some of this material in mood board books! So thank you!

  32. Fenny setiawan commented
    March 20th, 2012 at 10:18am

    I love to read this post, Holly. Basically I love to read your lengthy posts whenever you share about something personal n inspirational. I always think you are also great visual story teller. When you describe the visual images in words, I feel that I immerse in it.

    Love your mood board n I really hope one day I could attend the on the road workshop apart of online. I have journal that I wrote since teenage years but I burned it as it’s too painful to remember, for now I have mood board book where I catalog images, objects, fabrics that inspired me. No more writing on journals though. May be I should start again :)
    Fenny setiawan´s last blog post ..Little thought on Monday + {little branches from Cocon}

  33. Monica Lee commented
    March 21st, 2012 at 10:58pm

    I haven’t done a mood board for “personal growth” in sometime and when I do they are usually on big pieces of poster board. The idea of a journal seems so much more intimate…and I like that…digging around for a blank journal now….must get started right away! Thanks Holly!
    Monica Lee´s last blog post ..Textiles and Fashion and Start Ups with Lexi Soukoreff of Daub+Design

  34. BohèmeCircus commented
    March 22nd, 2012 at 5:59pm

    I like very much your words for speak about these magical pages !
    Your mood-books are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing them with us !
    Inspiration books are one of my favorite tools too ! It brings me to a place where my creative mind is more free, if you want, you can see an example here >>>
    BohèmeCircus´s last blog post ..visual journals

  35. teresa commented
    March 23rd, 2012 at 12:57pm

    This is so great! I used to keep fashion journals when I was a teen and I am just starting to do this again with fashion and some ideas to set up a home workspace, and some other personal projects. It really does help you to get a sense of who you are again, if you haven’t let yourself explore that in a while.

  36. Home Seasons commented
    March 23rd, 2012 at 8:40pm

    Thank you for this inspiring post!

  37. Chrystina Noel commented
    March 24th, 2012 at 4:09am

    I have so much I want to say, where to begin…

    SO COOL that you’ve been doing this since you were 6. I have a friend who started journaling when she was really young and she recently did a blog post about all of her journals – very very cool. My version of that is house design. I have a book that I’ve been working on since I was approximately 12 of ripped out home magazine pages (and recently I’ve started printing stuff offline from cool blog posts)… and oddly enough, my style hasn’t changed at all. I don’t think I’d be able to say the same for a journal about life, but as for home design – that one seems pretty consistent.

    I love your pages.
    I saw your pictures on instagram earlier this week, but getting to read the blog post that goes with it was great.

    Oh, and way to take me back with Highlights magazine. Clutch.
    Chrystina Noel´s last blog post ..our visit to sofitel’s restaurant, liberte urban chic lounge

  38. Brianne commented
    March 26th, 2012 at 9:23am

    I love the concept of mood books, and your pictures are beautiful!!! So inspiring. I just wrote a post on my own blog about mood books and vision boards… Take a look!

  39. Savanah commented
    March 26th, 2012 at 4:27pm

    I love these! What a great way to see everything through the lense of inspiration, plus you can look through them later when your inspiration seems to be faultering!
    Savanah´s last blog post ..Customizable Crochet Birdies on Alligator Hair Clip

  40. Lauren Elise commented
    March 28th, 2012 at 7:10pm

    Hi Holly! I just wanted to share how you inspired me with these mood boards. I created my own and shared it with my readers today.
    I love how you said making these physical boards can help give you better personal clarity. I think this will be a great exercise for me as a young blogger and business owner who has tons of ideas but needs to get more of that clarity in her work to help define her path. Thank you again for sharing your process and advice!
    Lauren Elise´s last blog post ..Mood Board Inspiration

  41. helen commented
    August 15th, 2012 at 6:05am

    I have a couple of practical questions because this is the kind of thing that so often gets me hung up and unable to start.
    Assuming these are books that are able to close flat and shelve with other books, in the examples you show here that have heavier or thicker items, how many pages do you typically have in a book?

    Do you have any particular favourite types of blank books that you use?

    What adhesives do you use for the variously textured and weighted items?

    Thank you so much!

  42. Kia Perry commented
    August 30th, 2012 at 9:51pm

    Love this idea! I’m definitely going to start capturing my ideas and inspiration in a “mood book”!

  43. Tania commented
    December 7th, 2012 at 8:23am

    I love this idea! Random textures and colors in a book that can be saved. It would be a nice way to get a little satisfaction now and then by getting to touch and arrange pretty things.
    Tania´s last blog post ..Modern Holiday Cards…

  44. Natalie Muoio commented
    July 24th, 2014 at 3:33pm

    Inspired to make my own, I my self keep an endless collection of magazines bc I liked a few photos, thought the space was amazing, loved a color the designer used, wanted to use the photo as inspiration to create my own space with certain colors/patterns, or loved how they organized an area or room, fav recipes, tips & tricks, and the list can go on forever. I tired using the one in one out rule, but could never bare to trash the magazine bc it gave me lots of ideas & inspiration. I tried cutting the pages out & sticking them inside binders since it was out of sight out of mind I never came back to it, but this idea I never thought of, interesting and I must try. Great idea…….

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