We’ve all seen them: arrangements of fabric swatches, furniture photos, tile and wood samples and strategically placed paint swatches. Designers use storyboards to see how colors and textures will work together in a space. They’re essential for us to illustrate design and decor ideas to a client.

However, when designing I don’t always have exactly what I need at hand — especially when inspiration strikes and new ideas pop up. That’s when I create what I call storyboards on the fly (SBOTF).


I’ve used utensils to stand in for stainless appliances. I’ve grabbed sticks off the ground to show certain colors of wood. You’d be surprised how everyday objects can help bring a vision to life.

This particular SBOTF was for a client’s daughter’s bedroom. I was trying to decide on window treatments, but needed to see how my choices fit with the rest of the room. The components from left to right are: blue fabric for bedding, dark brown wood for a headboard, beige window treatments, white paper for another part of the bedding, wood for the flooring, my assistant’s Swarovski-studded iPad cover, and silver nail polish that I had in my bag. (These last two mirror ideas for finishes and accessories.)


I wanted earthy, neutral window treatments that would contrast with the white while bringing the other colors together, from the bedding to the warm flooring. Putting these elements together — including the paper, iPad cover and nail polish grabbed on the fly — helped me see that I liked the combination.


Finally, as helpful as storyboards are, you also need to view the components separately where each one will end up in the room. Take the window treatment: it looks ver different laying down compared to against the window. See how the texture and transparency really become evident?

By the way, after taking this picture last week, a new, even better inspiration came to me a few days ago. In fact, it inspired a whole new design palette for the room, so now everything but the floor will be changing. Oh well, back to the drawing board … oops! I meant back to the SBOTF!

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