Crafty (& Handy) Office

Inspiration Board

Inspiration Board

I made something last night. It’s my attempt at an “inspiration board”, though I confess I think of it more as a big rectangle of pretty clutter. I don’t even know what to do with it now! I like having pictures of it, but I don’t want the actual physical item hung up anywhere.

Inspiration Board

Inspiration Board

Am I the only one that can’t get behind this whole inspiration board (which is just a fancy word for bulletin board) thing?* I did think of an excellent use for it though: desktop wallpaper.

Inspiration Board as Desktop Wallpaper

*Odd, since I put together digital boards all the time. Those serve a purpose though (for a room or an outfit). When the purpose is simply inspiration, I don’t find it all that inspiring! Then again, I do like looking at the ones other people have made. I suspect this has something to do with my perfectionist tendencies.

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  • Lea
    February 8, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I’m not into the inspiration board thing either. I’ve seen some pretty photos of some, and I like the concept of one… But actually trying to implement it… Well, I tend to be a perfectionist (ok, really just anal sometimes) and it would take me more work than it’s worth trying to make the “perfect” one, and that’s totally missing the point.

    I like yours though :)

  • nic
    February 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I don’t know, I rather enjoy the ideas you come up with in your collages and such! :) I’m a bit of a new reader and sometimes try this whole “scrapbooking” thing on my own at home. I never know what to do with the “inspiration boards” I come up with either, but I really like your idea of using them as desktop wallpaper!

  • Brigite
    February 8, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Nicole – Your inspiration board makes me happy. Making your board you desktop wallpaper is such a good idea! I’m going to do that on my personal laptop as soon as I get home. Since my board was stolen from collections around my house, I’m not going to be able to keep it intact, but I hate to “lose it,” even though I have a picture of it.

  • A Jill of All Trades
    February 8, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I like it! One thing you could do is buy a bamboo serving tray and glue it to the bottom of the tray part and use that clear stuff (name? …brainfart…) to glaze over it to seal it.

  • Allison
    February 8, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I hear ya. I started on a vision board at the beginning of January, visually mapping out all the goals that I’d like to accomplish this year, and I’m still working on it. I’m convinced that I have to find the perfect images. I haven’t even gotten to assembling it because I’m still working on the pictures!

  • Renee
    February 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I think your inspiration board is fabulous – like you blog! I’m facing the same dilemma with mine as well. It is sitting on the floor of my studio in all it’s pink and glittery glory. Maybe I’ll follow suit and turn it into my wallpaper.


  • Georgianna Lane
    February 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I commented over at Flickr, too, but just wanted to say I really love this, the energy, colors and themes are wonderful!

  • Miss B
    February 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Lol! Oh, Miss Nicole, I completely understand! I love how neat and organize you are, that’s one of the things that attracts me to your blog, so I say your comments are perfectly in align with who you are. Of course even your ‘messy’ is perfect in your #1 fans eyes:)


    Miss B

  • Linley
    February 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Oh perfectionism! I used to have a collaged bulletin board, but it ended up looking too messy to stay. Instead, I pinned five ribbons running horizontally and use mini clothespins to attach 3-4 pictures per ribbon (the pictures are all printed with no borders, most the same size). Much better for me!

  • christina in nh
    February 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    i have never been a huge fan of inspiration boards, but i am a huge fan of magazine binders! i have every page that has ever given me an idea from every magazine i have owned since i was 14. i just put them into page protectors and keep them in several pretty binders. i have to get creative with the larger paged magazines (like elle decor) but most pages fit in perfectly with minimal trimming. i feel like i have seen something similar around one of the blogs i keep up with…maybe it was you? i loved the last room you put together btw, buying those dwell sheets asap! also you have turned me into a room and board junkie for life. <3

  • Syd
    February 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I have an inspiration board, which coincidentally is a bulletin board. I really dig it.

    I just rearranged it yesterday. I like to put things on it that remind me of my goals. I have art, post cards, quotes, a painting I did, a list of goals (heh) and photos, specifically of my ultrasound. I rearrange it regularly. It’s not permanent. I keep it till it becomes stale and then infuse it.

    Yours is much more colorful and collage like. It’s very pretty and I love the idea of photographing it and using it as a desktop. That could solve some of the impermanence of my own.

  • Michelle
    February 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I am a very visual thinker and also fall prey to the whole “out of site out of mind”, my bulletin board has always been a way to focus my thinking towards a look that is inspiring me. Sometimes it stays the same for months, sometimes it is changed within days, overall it is not really made to look like art (for me) so I keep it in a space that is for my eyes only, instead it helps me map out a process.

  • Michelle
    February 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    It’s funny too, because once a month I would make a digital collage for my desktop just like above, but that to me became very cluttery and distracting versus the board above my desk. We must be similar but opposites ;)

  • leslie
    February 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I love your post and am giggling away to myself because I too cannot deal with my own inspiration boards! That is why I never use glue, I photograph them and I immediately take the pieces apart. I find the act of putting the stuff together fun and creative and yes, inspiring but they really act more like those sand mandalas -poof -they are gone in minute. I like your screen saver idea and you do raise a good point as I do like to look back on the photos…just not the actual stuff.

  • Sarah Fox
    February 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Nicole, I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to your board, and I truly love this. I too set it as my wallpaper as I think I preferred this to hanging it up too.
    Sarah (BYW)

  • joanna of simple blueprint
    February 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    love your board! love all the color! such a fun assignment, don’t you think. happy monday, Joanna (BYW)

  • jazz
    February 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    screen saver? perfect!!! brilliant!!! thanks.

  • Amy
    February 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    love the inspiration board used as a desktop wallpaper. I actually have an inspiration board but I hardly ever update it. Most of my ideas and inspirations just make it to an ideas folder on my computer.

  • Tess
    February 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Inspiration boards aren’t all that inspiring for me either…

    I think it’s because they take a bit of time and tend to be too static. I like to think of inspiration as always changing- very fluid. The boards usually look cluttered and just take too much time to ‘put together’ for me. That said- I too, like to look at other peoples’ :)

  • Laurie
    February 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I’m an inspirational user with my trusty corkboard, I use it all the time when I start a new room, I also do a digital one but I guess I’m old school and like my corkboard, its easy to change up and look at whenever I want to change or move around!

  • Nicole
    February 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I just made one too (also for BYW :) and am having the same issue… I like to put inspiring bits & pieces up on my bulletin board above my desk, but a full on ‘inspiration board’ just feels like clutter & is kind of distracting for me.

    But, like you & many of the other comments here, I do like looking at other people’s… :)

  • Emily Gerson
    February 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I completely understand, I don’t even get to the point of cutting things out (I love my magazines too much).
    Maybe the point is that as you do it you enjoy the process (do you?), I can see it being creative and theraputic :D
    It looks lovely, just treat it as scrapbook page and put it away, in a few years you’ll pull it out and wonder how much your taste has changed.
    Emily x

  • becky
    February 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I have always been a collager, so I approach it as one. I found myself pulling out things and putting things together that I would not have thought of without doing the exercise, and getting ideas and making connections I could never have planned out. Funny enough, I never realized so much of the random torn ephermera around my house was all very Warhol-esque, but the board made me see that:

  • Ana
    February 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Hahaha, I’m not much of an inspiration board kind of gal either. I tend to hang things wherever I can when I want to look at them, but if I put them all together they also look like clutter to me.

  • Lisa
    February 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I agree. I like to look at other peoples, but no i would not hang one up in my house. that concept is a little crazy to me… who is also a perfectionist and likes everything “put away.” I often take little bits of what someone would put on a inspiration board in my sketchbook. that way its always there when i need some insight but its away… not on the wall. plus its kind of neat to look at your sketchbook down the road and see what inspired you and see where it lead you to in your own work.

  • Megan
    February 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I keep an inspiration “scrapbook”. I really like using these books because they are simple and pretty and you can also get refill pages for them.

    I would love to keep my magazines, but with about 10 magazine subscriptions, the piles just get too high too fast – plus I love to organize the pages by color, room, etc.

  • rachel
    February 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I love to cut things out of magazines and I do all the time but I agree: i can’t bring myself to actually clutter up my space with an inspiration board. Instead, I stick everything in a notebook but then I some times wish i could just look at it on the wall! I love the idea of taking a picture for my laptop though. Great idea!

  • becky
    February 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I agree about sketchbooks – I think they count as “boards” – even though semantically I suppose that is not true!

  • Shari
    February 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    the desktop wallpaper is a great idea. as you make more (if you decide to do that!) you can set your computer to choose random screensavers and rotate them through… i like the idea of making these collage type inspiration projects. i put them in a “dream book” which is a notebook of all the things i would like to have happen now, or in the future. i can take the book out whenever i want and, “dream” or, get inspired to take steps and make goals for certain things to spring into action. i have trouble remembering all my “great ideas” so, this helps keep all the ideas together in one place.

  • Sandra
    February 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I’m with you. Not inspired by inspiration boards. Project boards, on the other hand, rather rad.

  • Caitlin
    February 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Great idea with the wallpaper! I like to make pretty collages and other art stuff, but I don’t actually want to own them once I’m done, I just have fun making them.

  • Alex
    February 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Pretty board! (I love the girl holding the valentine!)

    I’ll be the lone voice that is somewhat “pro” inspiration boards! Keep in mind they are only as cluttered as you make ’em. I’m a very visual person and find it hard to work in a stark/pristine environment. For me it’s less about a proper “Inspiration Board” and more about surrounding myself with colors and visuals that make me happy. I have an inspiration “shelf” where I have a rotating collection of pretty things for me to look at while working (could I say the word “inspiration” any more times in this comment?? haha. Sorry!). In my office at work I have lots of visuals tacked up on the wall as well.

    It’s def fun to see what people come up with—everyone has such a different take and a diff way to reflect their style!

    Here’s my crazy board:

  • Travelingmama
    February 8, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    I love yours! It’s so you and so pretty! I had fun making mine too. I may have oversimplified mine since I wanted even the simplicity to reflect the way I want my blog to appear… but the longer I look at it the more I wish I added more! LOL!

  • Valerie
    February 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I’m with Alex, I also make my inspiration board, which is more of a Vision board I now realize, a pot pourri of goals and things I want for the starting year. I think the key to a good inspiration-vision board is when you look at it, you can already feel that it’s part of yourself, that you already have it all, it’s just that the moment hasn’t passed yet (is this sounding weird?)

    This year I hosted a vision-board party (with cupcakes and Champagne!) at my Studio, a fun way to thanks clients, friends and myself and dream of the upcoming year.

    You can have a glimpse of it here:

  • Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists
    February 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I actually do like the making of the inspiration board, but felt as you do after, what do I do with this now? I love the idea of using it as desktop wallpaper.

  • Patricia
    February 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Ah I can totally relate! I do it for putting rooms together at home and convincing my boyfriend to let me buy the green couch or that the red buffet looks good with the rug, but now that I’m planning our wedding and trying to get a mood board together I don’t know where to start!!!

  • Juliette
    February 9, 2010 at 1:58 am

    oooh, love the background you used for yours – so perfect!

    I catch you on this whole inspiration board thing. I do. Making my own wasn’t inspiring, it was stressful! However, I can make inspiration stacks….that’ll work. But arranging the pieces so I like how they look next to each other – that’s hard!

  • Reagan
    February 9, 2010 at 2:40 am

    A thought occurred to me as I was reading this thread: you could probably give away your “inspiration board.” (Keep the digital copy for your desktop, obviously, and for your reference. But give the actual paper copy away to a reader.) Like you, I find my board to be cluttered, but, also like you, I like looking at the boards other people put together.

    Seriously, Nicole, there are almost certainly people reading this would would be honoured to have a Nicole Balch original. It could be a regular feature!

  • samarahuel
    February 9, 2010 at 3:03 am

    I, too, like looking at others’ inspiration boards, but I’ve never made one myself. You make a good point that they’re really just glorified bulletin boards, which I do have a lot of here. But for me, those are more functional than decorative. I have a decent-sized file on my computer for pictures of inspiration, and I used to keep a binder of magazine clippings for inspiration too. I like to have my inspiration categorized and organized though, even if that means it is tucked away out of sight most of the time. I did just have the thought that I need to make some sort of inspiration board or shadowbox with some of the mementos and photos of our travels. That’s as close to a pretty inspiration board as I think I’ll personally ever get.

  • Melinda
    February 9, 2010 at 4:49 am

    I love the idea of mood/inspiration boards and have been procrastinating about making one for a long while. At the moment I have folders where I have sorted all of my inspiring pics by room or category (a little anal I know).

    I was inspired by this lovely mood board posted by Viv at Ish & Chi yesterday ( and after seeing yours as well, I think I’ll actually get mine done this weekend (it’s supposed to rain all weekend here in Sydney, Australia anyway).

  • PieniLintu
    February 9, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Soooooo cute colours!!! Lovely!!!! <3

  • Jessie
    February 9, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I wasn’t sure what to do with mine now that I’ve finished the board (I need my little embroidery scissors back!). I love the idea of using it as desktop wallpaper!

  • Cheryl
    February 9, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I love viewing inspiration boards of others online as I often get ideas from those–combining colors, textures, forms. I love your design boards, always learn from them. I clip out ideas from magazines, categorize those and keep them in separate folders. But last night, after I read your post, I made two boards, taking out those images/pictures I most loved from my folders. These were not focused on indoor decorating but on outside “rooms.” A friend who happens to be a gardener and landscaper by trade is helping us envision our new yard and he wanted us to come up with ideas on our own. ohmygosh, I love our boards and I know that they can’t be duplicated as it would cost a fortune! But we’ll do most of the work ourselves and we’ll find ways to fit our budget, just as we have to do for our home inside.

    My point is: getting those images out of the folder and onto the board really helped me see what makes me feel serene and I was able to more easily see what needs to go where and why. And I could see that what we’re attracted to is pretty much on the same page. Except I put in a puppy on a path because I really want one and my husband is dragging his feet. Form and structure and beauty.

    That said, this outdoor board was like your design boards — purposeful. So I’m not so sure I would want to do one just for the heck of it unless the germinating was part of the process of finding out what I wanted to do with the living room next. But it might be fun to keep a little clothesline of clipped on images that tell some kind of story and that focus my attention or make me smile each time I sit down at my work center . . . .

  • Ameya
    February 9, 2010 at 8:42 am

    AH! That’s a good idea! I’ve wanted to make one but I knew I wouldn’t want to hang it up anywhere.. but the desktop idea is perfect! :D

  • Samae
    February 9, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Sometimes it just fun to get out the glue and scissors!! I think I might have to make one of these soon, but also using some glitter. Glitter rocks!

  • Laura Gaskill
    February 9, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Ha! I do know what you mean about inspiration boards, especially done collage style they can feel a bit messy or something. I like keeping them in journals or folders :) But you did such a wonderful job really capturing the aesthetic of Making it Lovely! And that *is* a great idea to use it as desktop wallpaper :)

  • A Whimsical Girl Named Debbie
    February 9, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Ooooh, I love your board / desktop wallpaper! If you don’t want it, can I have it!? I would love to hang in on my bedroom door! So pretty – love the colors! Have a lovely day!

  • Lizcupcakes
    February 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Is that a cupcake I spy? How long would the cupcake wrapper keep if you decided to keep it? :P

  • Kristi
    February 9, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Beautiful inspiration board and now desktop wallpaper! Love the colors. ♥

  • Lauren
    February 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Nicole – Do you happen to know the source for the sofa in your inspiration board?

  • Nest Bliss
    February 9, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Yeah…this is cute but would look very wrong in your house ;)

  • May
    February 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Desktop wallpaper’s a great idea, Nicole. I’ve been making collages for my wallpaper for years. I save tons of inspiring photos, group them by colour and then add family photos and my own graphics and voila – a personalize wallpaper :) It’s a good way to display what you love without having to choose a single image, or cluttering up you space.

  • Amanda
    February 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    It’s so very pretty. I used your gorgeous office in a post of pink and red things. I hope you are flattered and not mad! I of course credited your beautiful blog.

    If you would like for me to take it down, I completely understand!!!

  • Aprill
    February 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I like inspiration boards but not an actual real-lfe one that just ends up becoming a part of the clutter. I can get behind digital versions, though.

  • Renee
    February 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Don’t you LOVE Real Simple Magazine? I recognize some of the pics from it… love it!

    I did the “inspiration board” thing in high school, and I agree that it is a wall-hung-collage-o-clutter. I dig the photos of the inspiration board, though… maybe you’re on to something…

  • .amanda.
    February 10, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I am an art teacher for an elementary school and I firmly stand being the idea that “its the process not the product”

    I’m glad you had a good time making it and that you felt great doing it! It doens’t have to be FOR something. :)


  • frauheuberg
    February 10, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    …its your style…and lovley to look at it…very well done…i can see this is your passion…your blog…;)…and love it here, too…amazing…thanks for sharing…cheers ines

  • pink
    February 10, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Dang, girl. I’d throw it into a shadow box and hang it on the wall or in the bathroom. I think it’s really cool, but then I’m weird about what I hang up. You can send it to me – I’ll take care of it (it is pink, after all), haha.

  • Bregan Hubbard
    February 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I can think of nothing better than having this sort of inspirational board as my work computer’s wallpaper. Right now, I set my wallpaper to an image of something I’m working on, so your idea is perfect! In a way, it’s sorta like a studio. You want your studio to be cleaned up, but the truth is, you’re more inspired when it’s a mess. Maybe this is the compromise. :)

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  • MelanieO
    February 13, 2010 at 6:52 am

    I feel exactly the same way. It was (sort of) fun putting it together, but I don’t know what to do with it. I like having files and putting stuff together temporarily, but my purpose is usually for a blog post. I don’t know why, but I always feel I need a purpose for the finished product. Maybe I need to go back to grade school to learn how to do things just for the process of doing it, like one of your other commenters suggested :)

  • Mina
    February 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Funny… I made a digital inspiration board on Paint and have had it as wall paper on my laptop for a few months now. It’s just a good reminder for me of what path I want my life to take. : )

  • The Design Notebook
    February 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I love your inspiration board!

  • Grace
    February 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I’m not a fan of inspiration boards either. I think they look pretty but hanging on my wall it just reminds me of high school. Your placement of it as a desktop backdrop is a great idea though. I could get behind something like that.

  • becky
    February 17, 2010 at 12:00 am

    I’m looking at this for the second time after about a week, and honestly, I don’t think you applied the eye you usually have digitally to this handmade board in any manner whatsoever (not trying to be a hater, just responding to the fact that you don’t like inspiration boards).

    I think it helps to bend your brain (I’m a total photoshop ho so I can relate) to do things in the old school inspiration board way and step out of your comfort zone. I’ve never seen something so busy with this lack of clean composition on your blog (been reading it since you began and usually love your eye and style). It’s almost like the neopolitan background says enough about you without all the crapola just thrown on top? I suppose I can see doing it that way in some kind of new agey life coach kind of way (ugh – of course I’d be dissing that kind of inspiration board the way you are dissing them here), but for me it helped to think about composition, and later, about what I had picked and what it meant to me. Did you play with rearranging things in different ways? I just left mine out on my coffee table all day and kept messing with it, adding and subtracting and rearranging.

    Honestly, we all know how talented you are, and how busy you are, so it seems very obvious that you said “oh crap, gotta turn in this homework, let me throw everything on my desk on top of this paper and then talk about how I don’t like inspiration boards.” Which is fine, but I think if you’d spend time on it you would have really gained something from the experience. I say this constructively because I love your eye, and I think if you gave it time you’d come up with something great.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 17, 2010 at 8:58 am

      No, I spent hours on it! I feel like inspiration boards have to be cluttered or they don’t look finished, and so I spent a lot of time moving things around. Adding, subtracting, rearranging, over and over. In the end, I think it looks pretty, but it is just not for me.

  • Bethany
    February 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Love the comments here!

    I’ve just started using inspiration boards (digital and real-life) for personal use, and now for clients too. I think they can be used in some situations, but not all… for example – our last clients thought the images were literal – and wanted every single item shown.

    Inspiration boards are about ideas and finding out the common elements of all the things that one finds attractive. I suppose it’s somewhat of a design language (visual perhaps?), and not everyone will speak it.

    Here is my commentary about the process: Your grace is appreciated – as I’m pretty new to this!

    I’d love to hear what you all think!

  • decor8
    February 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Is this for the Blogging Your Way class because if so, you nailed your homework Nicole. I love it!!!!

  • Allie
    February 19, 2010 at 1:00 am

    I love this! It’s completely gorgeous. I know what you mean about not wanting to hang it up though. I live in a dorm, and there’s just no vertical space for me to hang one, even if I wanted to!

    Yours is GORGEOUS though!!

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