As you probably can tell, I don't start many things in work and life without some sort of mood or inspiration board. Like a sketch on a slightly larger and more tactile scale, I highly recommend this process. Your mind will feel less overwhelmed and cluttered when taking on daunting projects when you have everything right out in front of you. You won't forget that genius moment of inspiration (that perfect blue-gray of that beach stone) AND you can physically toss out anything from the board that no longer works for you ("Pink?! What was I thinking?").
Start with how you want the room to feel.
Verbalize it out loud, write it down with colored markers—whatever it takes. It can be descriptive ("organic modern") have a persona ("Jackie O goes punk-rock!") or mimic a place ("our trip to Tuscany"). Whatever it takes to get you to commit to the feel and objective. You need something to base all of your design decisions on, going forward.
I started with wanting:
My goal here was to create warmth and coziness but without a cavernous, dark feel. The balance, or "serene" side of the equation will come from the Palladian Blue (both colors from Benjamin Moore). This color combination is not "new"—any form of earth and sky/water has always been a great way to achieve a balanced, organic feel. Brown is deep, rich and grounds the room. The muted blue-green is quiet yet uplifting. And these updated, unexpected versions of those colors keep it modern and in step with our overall house palette.