Create an Inspiration Board for your next project

Before you get started on your next home renovation project, why not try making an inspiration board?

By Scott Cracknell from Context Architects

Design professionals use inspiration boards at the start of a project to formulate their design direction, and pull together ideas around colour, style and texture. It's a way of summing up an overall design feel and mood to visually communicate concepts.

Here are some tips to make an inspiration board to help you clarify your ideas, think about how your design will work in practice, and avoid style disasters!

Step 1: Scrap booking
Pull together your inspiration from all sorts of resources: postcards, photographs, drawings, pictures from magazines or websites. Collect anything that you have a strong response to.

Step 2: Be your own photographer  
Architects get their inspiration from everywhere – so try taking photos when you are out and about – your favourite café, your neighbour’s kitchen, interior colour schemes and parts of your home or furniture that already work well. They don’t have to be amazing pictures, just something that excites you.

Step 3: Rank it and write your brief
Context Architects at The Block Season 1 With your collection of favourites, sit down with your significant other or good friend and articulate what you like about each element. For example: “love the colours in here, awesome couch and skirting board, hate the harsh lighting.”
Write down the most important aspects to you:
‘Warmth is important because this is the cold side of house.’
‘We need it to be soothing and calm in the new baby’s room.’
‘The mud room needs to be functional and easy to clean.’
This will become your brief to yourself or your designer. For example:  “We want a new kitchen that will be the heart of the home and complements our existing colour scheme downstairs.”

Step 4: Rule book
From your written brief and selection of winning pictures, work out your design rules and palette to end up with the completed project you want, rather than a mish-mash of clashing ideas and colours. Nautical neon safari anyone?
Context Architects at The Block Season 1 Renovating and building is STRESSFUL and there’s an abundance of choice and opinion out there. Your inspiration board will be your visual principles guide and portable rule book. Use it as a defence against the creatively inclined plumber/carpet layer/builder who will all have their own unique and conflicting opinions about what you should do!

Step 5:  Samples
Keeping within your self-imposed design rules, gather actual samples of as many items as you can – like swatches of fabric, workbench finishes etc. There’s often a big difference between how colours and textures reproduce in a catalogue versus reality. Collect pictures of the specific fridge/light/table you want. Go to your local paint shop and arrange A4 brushouts or get test pots and make your own to see how your colours work in context.
Carpets and floor coverings are often neglected at this stage, but they represent a big Context Architects at The Block Season 1surface area and investment in your renovation project, and they have a huge impact on the overall look and feel. Get samples and put them together with other key elements and pictures of any existing furniture you want to keep.

Step 6: Cut and paste
Place sample materials on an A2 piece of card or foam board from a stationary store. Group items together that will be adjacent to each other in real life, e.g. place the living room materials and fittings next to each other. Play around with it before committing with glue or spray mount.
The finished board will be your style-guide and touchstone, so take it with you when you go shopping or start ordering. If it’s not on it, don’t do it! Or, do it with care, thinking about how it’s going to affect the cohesion of the whole project. Think of it as your very own credit card protection device!

Context Architects operates nationally and specialises in large scale commercial developments, retail and residential projects

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