A to-do list is a must-have for professionals of all stripes, and designers are one group that must have all their ducks in a row before embarking on a project. One of the best ways to do that is not the old-fashioned way – making lists – but rather, to construct a mood, or vision board.

To the casual observer, vision boards may not make a whole lot of sense. But through the process of assembling fabric swatches, photos, inspirational quotes, charts and magazine cutouts, a vision begins to take shape, and eventually comes to fruition.

According to Payscale’s Career News, vision boards work for these three reasons:

• It’s concrete. Creating a vision board helps you conceive of and focus on tangible goals.

• It serves as a reminder and keeps goals close at hand.

• Visualization works. Visualizing what you want and what you’re working toward, helps you get where you want to go.

These are the reasons designers use them. We spoke with four local designers about their visions and goals for 2021, and they created vision boards for us to reflect those trends and goals.

Jess Been, owner Wired Collaborative

Mixing scale and styles are two trends Been is witnessing.

“We are seeing a lot of that,” she said, adding that younger designers are employing it generously.

The design market is changing, and as millennials enter their late 30s and early 40s, they are wielding their influence in the design sector.

“Millenial clients want flexibility and options; they don’t want to be tied to a specific type of design,” said Been, explaining that there is a mix of contemporary and traditional design that is growing in popularity.

Been’s Wired Collaborative specializes in Turkish rugs and unique lighting, and while people often associate oriental rugs with traditional style, they are being used quite successfully in transitional or contemporary schemes.

Color trends are hard to call, she said, because they are client-driven.

“I have been seeing more pastels, such as key lime and mauvey purple,” Been said.

Color is subjective and regionally influenced, she said.

As far as lighting goes, brass is still in, but unlike the matchy-matchy 1980s, mixing metals is in. And, Been said, even when people have a traditional home design, lighting choices are becoming more modern, as is door hardware.

People like the juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional.

“The blended look will be the new norm,” Been said.

Adrienne Elsberry Interior Designer Mary Bryan Peyer Designs

“I love mixing different textures and am looking forward to thinking of new ways to do this in upcoming projects,” she said.

A simple way to mix textures, she said, is to add a fringe or bobble trim to a piece of furniture.

“I find small details like this really make a room more special,” Elsberry said.

A new Asian-influenced lighting trend is exciting.

“A lighting product I am looking forward to using in 2021 is Noguchi lanterns,” she said. “I love the look of the oversized Japanese paper lanterns, and can’t wait to find a special home for one in a client’s house.”

Elsberry is excited about new furniture trends, which include the return of wicker and rattan, and the two tropical-flavored finishes are also popular in lighting design as well.

“This is a great way to add another texture to your space,” she said.

As far as “hot” colors go, Elsberry says green is really popular.

“Thankfully, I naturally tend to gravitate towards blues and greens,” she said. “I love mixing the two colors together in unexpected ways.”

Kate Dart, owner Merci Bouquet

Flower Truck

Even in floral design, there’s a move away from the traditional look of arrangements, and toward creativity.

“I love seeing how flowers are being used as an expression of art,” Dart said. “We’re seeing a trend toward flowers that are outside the box, leaning away from the trusty traditional stems to more statement-making blooms.”

Proteas are a perfect example of the current trend, she said. They make a statement, but are low maintenance.

“These flowers have an incredible out-of-this-world look to them, and some varieties can last more than four weeks,” Dart said.

Dried flowers are also gaining in popularity, and not only because they last forever. Dart says they add texture and drama whether they’re arranged alone or mixed into a fresh bouquet.

Of course, colors are a careful consideration when it comes to floral design. Color-blocking arrangements with high-contrast colors like bright saturated pinks and yellows is one trend, but on the other end of the spectrum is a move towards incorporating more greens and natural elements. For example, floral designers are allowing what used to be “filler” become the star of the arrangement.

“The silvery blues of eucalyptus, and dusty miller mixed with the rich greens of ferns, palms and ruscus are colors where you can never go wrong,” she said.

As far as the look of on-trend designs go, Dart said more organic and free-form styles are gaining a foothold.

“When arranging flowers, ask yourself, ‘Would you see flowers like this in nature?’” she said. “In nature, flowers grow at different heights, to the sides and up and down. Don’t be afraid to have uneven lines when putting your stems together.

“Flowers aren’t perfectly arranged when growing wild, so your arrangement doesn’t have to be perfect either.”

Elizabeth Carmichael, owner, Elizabeth Carmichael Interiors

Carmichael is deriving her inspiration this year from cozy shapes and colors that are soothing, calming, dreamy and inspired by nature.

“Greens, blues, earthy pigments like terra cotta and golden honeycomb connect our homes with nature,” she said, adding that joyful, bright accent colors, like limeade and ultramarine, also inspire her.

Bold and highly detailed wallpapers are also in favor.

Even furniture is softer, she said, with fewer sharp edges and more curves.

“Think comfort, cozy,” Carmichael said. “We are all craving feelings of comfort, like a warm hug.”

In addition to brass being a popular lighting choice, hand-blown glass and colorful, patterned lampshades are also in vogue.

“My clients are spending a lot more time at home, even working from home,” she said. “They are looking for their home space to bring a sense of comfort, stability and solace.”