How I Create My Client Inspiration Collages

Over the years of running my own interior design business, I’ve refined a process for my client work that includes making Inspiration Collages. I create an Inspiration Collage after each new in-home Design Consultation as a part of the overall Project Guide and Proposal that is included with my consultation fee. I find they are a great tool for communicating my preliminary visions for the project and making sure designer and client are on the same page from the get go. I’ve gotten a few questions about how I make my Inspiration Collages lately and thought it would be fun to dive into my process and share some favorites that I’ve made recently!

Donecker Inspiration Collage.jpeg

I make my collages using Keynote for Mac, but there are tons of program out there: Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, there are even some phone apps that you can use to make something similar.

First, I hit Pinterest to source some inspiration images. I actually prefer to start with images that are more conceptual in nature and not necessarily an example of the type of room I will be designing. I have a board I titled “INSPIRATION” for just this purpose. It includes little furniture vignettes, flat lays of materials, lots of photos of floral arrangements and gardens (I get so much color inspiration from these!), fine art, textures, fabrics, architectural photos and landscapes. Really anything I come across that I want to hang onto, whether it portrays a mood and feel I’m drawn to or a color combination that I find really striking. Then I’ll go through my boards that relate to the type of rooms I’ll be designing, like “LIVING ROOM”, “BEDROOM”, “KITCHEN”, “DINING ROOM”, “ENTRY & FOYER”, “HOME OFFICE & LIBRARY”, “CHILDREN’S ROOMS”, etc. I like to look through images I’ve connected with already to see what that sparks in my mind. Then I’ll use Pinterest’s search bar to find more specific things to add to my collage, like “historic tile flooring patterns” or “rust velvet interiors”.

Next, I pull out my fan deck and start choosing paint colors as references for the overall color scheme that’s in my head. Not all of these colors (and sometimes none of them!) will end up being actual paint colors for the room. If I was a graphic designer, I would probably pull out my Pantone swatches. As an interior designer, going off of paint swatches is just what makes sense to me! Sherwin Williams and Farrow & Ball are my go-to paint brands. I choose about 5-7 colors for each collage, including at least 1-2 neutrals in the mix depending on the project. I then copy color swatches off their websites and resize them to fit in my Inspiration Collage layout.

Lastly, I play around with the layout of the Inspiration Collage until I’m happy with it! My goal is to make a collage that feels cohesive and visually balanced. So if I have two inspiration images that are similar in color tones or content, I try not to put them next to each other in the collage. For example, I won’t put two photos that include a couch right next to each other or if I do, I make sure they are from different angles. Another example would be two photos that have a strong color as the background. I try to dot these evenly around the collage instead of creating blocks of that color by putting them all in a line. The paint color swatches can also help balance the design out. For example if one corner of a collage has a lot of images with red in it, I will make sure to put the red paint color swatch in the opposite corner.

The collage format I use is pretty simple to recreate! I make all the inspiration images and paint color swatches the same width so that I can fit them into a three column layout. Sometimes I end up cropping the individual images a little bit to make the arrangements work. So each of my Inspiration Collages are the same width, but they can be slightly different heights depending on how everything fits together.

Here are a few favorites that I’ve designed recently. Click on any of the Inspiration Collages below to view them larger! And if you’re feeling super inspired by one, feel free to pin it to your own Pinterest Board!

Would you try making an Inspiration Collage for your own home design projects?

Let me know if you have any questions about my process! I would love to see the collages you make. Tag me on Instagram @steviestorck! To learn more about my interior design services, click here.

My 6-Step Design Process

If you’ve never worked with a professional interior designer before, you may be wondering how the whole process works. While each designer has their own methods, I want to share the steps my full-service projects go through, from start to finish in completing a room makeover. You may know I also offer E-Design Minis and E-Design Consulting to clients nationwide, but this blog post is focused on my in-person services which are available residents of south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.


Step 1: Your Design Consultation

When I receive a new inquiry, the first thing I do is spend some time getting to know you! I usually ask a few questions in that first email and then will often schedule a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation where we talk through your needs and I answer any questions you may have. Next we will schedule your in-home Interior Design Consultation, a two hour appointment where we will lay the ground work for your room project, from defining your style to problem solving tricky areas and practical considerations that suit your family’s lifestyle.

Step 2: Your Project Guide

After your Design Consultation, I get to work preparing a custom proposal I call your Project Guide. This will include a visual inspiration collage that captures your style goals, a project budget sheet to help you plan your investment, a floor plan and summary of my design notes from your consultation and a quote for design services moving forward. Your Project Guide PDF will be delivered via email, typically 2 weeks after your consultation date.

Step 3: Design Concept

The next step is to pinpoint the direction we want to take your project. I design 2-3 Mood Board concepts for you to choose from. These Mood Boards will have photos of real items you can actually purchase for your space, with a focus on just the main furniture and key accessories to get started. So for a living room, that might be the sofa, chairs, rug, coffee table, etc. I order samples and research materials where applicable and compile the options into a Specification List with product info, pricing and sources. I’ll present all this information to you at our first Design Meeting, where we can talk through the options and settle on one favorite concept to move forward with.

Step 4: Design Development

After the Design Concept has been approved, then we can set to work finalizing the details. In this phase, I’ll create more developed drawings of your room design and source things like accent furniture, lighting, textiles and accessories. Depending on the size of your project or if it includes renovation, we may have one or two more Design Meetings before we move onto the implementation stage of your design. I will finalize your project Specification List and total up the costs for furnishings and assist you with getting estimates for any work involving the trades (i.e. electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc).

Step 5: Implementation

Next up is shopping! I provide full-service purchasing, order management and implementation for local interior design clients. We start with custom orders, which take the longest time as these items are made to order, then work down the list completing online orders and shopping in local stores. I follow up after orders have been placed, keeping track of estimated delivery dates, being on-site to accept deliveries if you can’t be, troubleshooting any issues with shipments or making returns/exchanges if necessary.

Step 6: Project Completion

Once all of your orders have arrived, we’ll schedule an Install Day where my team and I will arrange your new furniture, load-in new accessories and accents, hang artwork, install window treatments and style out your room. While we’re there, make a punch list of any last items we need so we can come back to put the finishing touches on your space and photograph it!

There are many variables that make each design project unique, but all of my client projects more or less go through these same 6 steps! I hope this was helpful in illustrating a bit more of what I do and how my design services work.

Have a question? Comment below or shoot me an email at