When Did Interior Design Become Amateurish?

I’m done with 3D Mood Boards.


I’ve been aware of the prevalence of ‘3D Mood Boards’ for a few years now.

Before I go any further, let’s get something straight, there’s nothing ‘3D’ about these mood boards.  They are itsy, bitsy images, made up of smaller images, that are trying very hard to appear in perspective, and at scale, and usually, they’re failing miserably at it.  I’m guessing the vertical hanging rugs and floating furniture, has something to do with that.

They are amateurish, crude presentations, that many Interior Design studios are using to try and communicate their product selections and overall design scheme, to clients.


I’m going to be honest, objectively speaking, this style of presentation, has all the traits of a high school project.

And in case there’s any confusion, that’s an insult, guys.

I will however, admit that it might be acceptable for an Interiors Blogger to use this communication method, to illustrate a design scheme.

Maybe.  At a push.

So, my question is:

When did Interior Designers decide that it was acceptable to produce this calibre of work, for paying clients, to communicate their design concepts?  And when was it decided that this communication tool was basically going to be the standard ‘approach’?

Ok, I’m guessing there wasn’t a formal announcement that these mood boards were going to be the standard form of communication, but a random Google search for ‘Interior Design Mood Board’ will throw up hundreds of these types of presentations.  And I’m not gonna lie.

I’m sick of looking at them.

Yes, I’m biased because I’m a 3D Visualiser.

And yes, I’m biased because I teach Interior Designers how to create their own watercolour illustrations, using SketchUp.

But, as someone who is Creative and Artistic, and who is very design led, with a very good eye for detail; the only message that’s being delivered to me (loud and clear, by the way), is that the creator of a ‘3D Mood Board’, like the one above, doesn’t really take pride in their work.

It gives the impression, that perhaps, the Designer isn’t really interested in providing a quality presentation.

Of providing value to their client.

Yea, that’s a brave thing to say, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of mood boards. When I studied Interior Design, I had to produce LOADS and I enjoyed the process.  But my mood boards weren’t trying to be ‘3D’.  They were simply a visually pleasing, group of images, that had high VISUAL IMPACT.  In my personal AND professional opinion, I feel the more traditional mood board below, is much more visually impactful than the ‘3D’ mood board above.  There is visual order and cohesion to my mood board, that is simply not present in the ‘3D’ one.

What do YOU think?

I feel that perhaps in the haze of the digital revolution, combined with the increase of e-commerce and specifically, e-design services, AND the resulting ‘I want it and I want it NOW’ consumer mindset, in our society today, that the presentation standards and communication methods of the Interiors industry, has indeed been compromised.

And this causes me great concern.

It’s the same with ‘3D Renders’.  They have been reduced to weird, cartoon style, images that have absolutely no right to call themselves ‘renders’.

Call that a render?  This.  THIS is a render!

Photo-real 3D Visual by Anita Brown 3D Visualisation

And a good quality render doesn’t have to be photo-real either.  It CAN be illustrative, (or conceptual) too.  Like this one I created.

This is a 3D interior, created in SketchUp, and then exported to Photoshop, where it was enhanced with shadows and highlights.  It was also transformed into a watercolour illustration.  It hasn’t been created using complex rendering software and, with a little bit of practice, can be created in a few hours (even less).

There’s a big difference between this watercolour illustration, and the cartoon render above.



I know what you’re going to say, ‘but I don’t have the time’.

We’re all in the same boat!  None of us EVER have enough time!

But when you’re providing a service that focuses primarily on how things LOOK, then you have a responsibility to present your ideas in an acceptable format and at an acceptable standard.

But here’s the thing: I’m not asking you to hand draw plans, or elevations.  I’m not even asking you to learn complex rendering software.  I’m asking you to use a user-friendly and intuitive CAD software application (SketchUp), that will COMPLETELY transform your workflow and ability to communicate your designs to clients.  Thereby, ensuring that, as a business, you’re providing value for money, AND kicking your competition to the kerb!  Doesn’t really sound like a chore, when you put it like this, huh?


My mission, at the SketchUp Hub, has always been to teach Interior Designers and Interior Design students how to create their own floor plans and elevations QUICKLY, ACCURATELY and PROFESSIONALLY.

I’m now going to add, ‘and to help raise the standard of client presentations within the Interior Design industry, by wiping out the use of dodgy ‘3D’ Mood Boards and cartoon renders’, by encouraging Designers to use SketchUp’.

I’ve already started this process by providing a FREE PDF download of my top tips, when creating digital Mood Boards (the traditional ones), you can download this PDF by registering with the SketchUp Hub, or signing up to my newsletter, and will be putting a video tutorial together SOON, of how to create a digital Mood Board using GIMP (free image editing software, a bit like Photoshop).  I’m also going to create a new course soon, of how to create a 3D interior and present it as a watercolour illustration, as I have received many requests for this.

Soon you’ll be able to create an amazing, illustrated 3D visual, just like this!

Join me, in my mission, to rid the world of amateurish mood boards and cartoon renders, and replace them with inspiring, whimsical and professional looking illustrations!

Because your designs and YOUR CLIENTS deserve it.

PSST!  It’s not just me creating these SketchUp illustrations, SketchUp Hub students are creating them too!

Join the discussion, leave a comment below!


5 responses on "When Did Interior Design Become Amateurish?"

  1. Hi Anita,

    What programs did you use to create that 3D photo-real image?


    • Hi Roxana,

      The vintage Edison bulb 3D visual was created using SketchUp and Maxwell Render. If you register with the SketchUp Hub, you’ll receive updates on the launch of future courses, including our new 3D course where we’ll show you how to create photo-real interiors 🙂 You can register here.

  2. One thing that should be noted is that 3D modeling, although often producing gorgeous results, is very time consuming. When I went to school for design, I learned Revit, SketchUp, 2020 and AutoCAD. As a full time designer, the ONLY one of those programs I use is AutoCAD. I have only been asked to 3D model something for a client once.
    Sometimes, it boils down to if clients are willing to pay for the time it takes to create a 3D model. I use AutoCAD to create scaled drawings for both simple projects and complete home renovations alike, and beyond those floorplans and elevations, my clients have been pretty happy with the digital concept boards I provide. Its a matter of spending 2 hours on something vs. 8, which really makes a difference if you’re billing what you’re worth 🙂
    These skills are absolutely something to have in your back pocket as a designer, but you have to be upfront with your clients on what it would cost to 3D model something so that you don’t get screwed over in the end. I think the standard consumer is used to seeing a sped up play-through of a Property Brothers rendering on TV, and they don’t always understand how much time it truly takes to create something that detailed and realistic.
    Either way, you do gorgeous work and I’m glad you’ve shared your perspective on the topic!

    • Hi Megan,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! I agree, it takes time to produce high quality 3D visuals but my blog post didn’t focus solely on 3D Visualisation! My blog post was also about the overall standard of presentation within the Interior Design industry and the horrid ‘3D’ mood boards that are a dominant presence in the Interior Design field. There’s no getting away from it: they look amateurish. And I’m certainly not alone with having that viewpoint. I also mentioned how much more visually pleasing traditional mood boards are in comparison, and I provided an example. I see you mentioned using AutoCAD to create floor plans: you can use SketchUp to create 2D floor plans and elevations too. And that’s what the SketchUp Hub does: we empower Interior Designers with the right skills to produce accurate and professional floor plans and elevations. These are a thousand times better than floating chairs and vertical rugs on a ‘3D’ mood board every day of the week! We teach Interior Designers efficient workflow and good practice when it comes to using SketchUp so that they make the best use of their time, whilst still producing work that is precise and of a high standard. So, as you can see we don’t place emphasis on 3D at all! Admittedly we’re planning on launching 3D courses really soon and we’re also launching a new mood board course because we feel there is a huge skills gap in the Interior Design industry when it comes to Designers presenting their ideas in a professional and polished manner. You should sign up to our newsletter to stay updated!

      Thanks again for your feedback, we really appreciate it.

  3. 100% agree with all this
    it bothers me also that DIYERS create this 3d moldboards because they can’t use sketchup

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