In this post: Design boards come in handy when you’re planning a room makeover because they can help you visualize what things will look like. Here’s how to create them easily using a few different programs. 

Design boards – aka Mood Boards – can come in really handy while you’re decorating your home. They can help you visualize how certain elements and colors will look together. And creating them is easier than you’d think!

how to create a design board text overlay with design board examples

Originally, design boards were actual physical boards on the wall, where designers and decorators would add fabric swatches, flooring and paint samples, and inspiration photos. This would help the designer or decorator to get a visual feel for how a space was going to look. 

Which Software Should You Use?

There are several different programs in which you can create a mood board. Some are paid and some are free. Some are also easier to use than others. Here’s a rundown of the main ones:

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is part of Adobe’s creative cloud suite. It’s a paid subscription program, that when subscribed to as a stand-alone runs about $10 per month. It’s a little tougher to get the hang of than some other programs because it’s specifically built for professionals. (This is usually what I use, because of my background in graphic design and advertising a couple of decades ago!)

Microsoft Word

Most of us have this program either at home or at work. It too is generally part of a monthly subscription plan, but some computers come with it already installed. It’s a little clunkier to add and move photos around in but can totally do the job if that’s what you’ve got.

Microsoft Powerpoint or Google Slides

Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides are both technically made for presentations. But their ease of use makes them great for creating mood boards too. You can find some great templates for mood boards if you Google “how to create mood boards in Powerpoint”. Both programs have easy-to-follow tutorials as well. Simply Google “Google slides tutorial” or “Powerpoint tutorial” to find out how to use these great tools.


Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, and other visual content. It is available on the web and mobile and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates, and illustrations (source: Wikipedia). Canva has both a paid version and a totally free version. The free version works perfectly well for creating mood boards and is really user-friendly.

My recommendation for my Lovely Home Academy students, is usually to use either Microsoft word or Canva to create mood boards. 

How to Use Microsoft Word to Create a Design Board

If you know your way around the standard word processing software, you may find Microsoft Word the easiest place to begin creating design boards. 

1. Open a new document in Word. Personally, I sometimes prefer a landscape, letter-sized page for this. (You can adjust to landscape layout under File -> Page Page Setup.)

2. Go to Layout -> Margins -> Narrow to make your margins as small as possible, while still allowing proper printing.

3. Go to Insert -> Picture -> From File to upload your photos to the board document.

4. Click on the photo and then grab the corner to resize.

5. To allow for an overlap of photos:

  • Select a picture.
  • Click on Layout
  • Then select any Position that is NOT In Line With Text
  • Drag your images wherever you like on the page.
  • Adjust which images are in front or behind using the Bring Forward or Send Backward tool.

6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 for all your photos until your design board looks exactly how you like it to.

Examples of Design Boards I’ve created

How to Use Canva to Create a Design Board

If you are more familiar with a photo editing type of software you may find that Canva is the best mood board creating choice for you.

1. Go to and click on Create a Design -> Custom size -> 11″ x 8.5″

2. Then select Photos on the left-hand side, and search for your decor elements, or specific pieces or style.

3. Then just click or drag and drop your images to add them to your mood board.

4. Drag them around and resize as needed!

*If you’re using Canva’s images, there will be watermarks. You can purchase the images if desired to remove those. Or you can add your own images by uploading them or connecting one of your social media accounts. 

5. You can also Bring Forward or Move to Back by right-clicking on the photo you want to move.

6. Finish adding photos, then share or download your finished design board!

Key Tips to Keep in Mind for Your Design or Mood Boards

  • Look for images with simple or plain white backgrounds. They’re much easier to remove with a tool like Adobe’s free online background remover tool
  • To really visualize how your space will look, arrange the photos on your design board in the way the room will be arranged, and in approximate proportions. For example, put the rug under the bed, and the nightstand beside the bed. If the walls are large and will be fairly blank, make the paint color swatch on your mood board large to illustrate the expanse of the walls. 
  • Resize your images so they roughly represent the proportions of that thing in your space. For example, a vase will be smaller than a couch and your main paint color will be much larger than say a throw pillow. This will really help you visualize well!
  • Either print or keep a screenshot of your design/mood boards on your phone. This way if you’re out shopping you can accurately see whether something will go with your space or not! I refer to these screenshots all the time with photos of our rooms when I’m shopping for accessories.

Important Copyright Info to Remember

If you choose to use photos that you find “on the internet” for creating your mood boards, please keep the owner’s copyright in mind.  By that I mean, if you don’t have express permission to use an image that you’ve found online you cannot use it. 

Personally, I don’t mind if you use my images for creating a mood board – so long as you only use them for yourself. Some other photographers and publishers feel the same. But please be discreet with this. Copyright is a huge issue and you don’t want to get into trouble using photos that aren’t yours. 

Of course, if you create your mood boards using Canva’s 1 million stock images, you’re totally okay! 

Happy Mood Board Making!

shannon photo and sig oct 2022