Probably the best part about renovating or building is choosing the colours and finishes. It’s exciting to have the freedom to choose exactly what you want, isn’t it? But it can be a bit overwhelming too.

Every week I get queries from clients who know what they like but don’t know how to turn their medley of ideas and colours into a cohesive interior design and style. They come to me with folders overflowing with images and samples showing beautiful designs for things like flooring, benchtops, splashbacks, cupboards and wall colours. But, rather than helping to refine their ideas, the sheer number of options has only added to their confusion.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve started your own collection of images or you’re about to. Well, read on because, as an interior designer with over 25 years’ experience and hundreds of design projects under my belt, I’ve learnt a few strategies that will help cut through the confusion to find your definitive design and style.

When you look at your images, you might think there is no common denominator; all the images appear to be different. However, take another look, and you might find that you have a majority of images featuring airy spaces that are bright, light with lots of white. Or perhaps the opposite is true, and your images are more atmospheric, favouring darker, moody colours accented by gleaming lights. Or your common thread might be the pairing of white and timber, or contrasting surfaces such as textured and polished.

When you’ve identified the common visual thread, start trying to work out how the designer has created that effect. For example, do most of the moody bathrooms you favour have dark walls teamed with paler floors and distinctive lighting? Do the kitchens present as a mass of clean white lines with a few timber accents to make it pop?   Or maybe it’s a certain style of splash-back that has caught your eye.

Once you’ve found the common thread and worked out how the favoured effect is created, you will find that you’re more in tune with your own style. It should then be easier to start selecting colours and finishes. But don’t just copy the designs verbatim. Instead, use the ideas as inspiration for your own space, and you’ll end up with something that feels fresh and uniquely you.

But what if there really isn’t any common thread in your images? What if you’ve got 30 different pictures in front of you and they all look completely dissimilar? Start by sorting through your images. Choose the one picture you like above all the others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a kitchen, bathroom, alfresco area or living room, just narrow it down to one image.

Once you’ve done that, identify every single surface and colour in the picture. You’ll end up with a list of materials and colours that will become your master design template for the master room.

Don’t confuse a master room with the master bedroom; a master room is the one room that includes all the colours, finishes and textures from your template. Everything you design will start from this and from here you can begin to select colours and finishes for the remaining rooms.

Don’t worry; it doesn’t mean that every room is going to look like a carbon copy of the one beside it. In fact, the opposite is true.

The idea with a master design template is to use only some of the colours and finishes for the remaining rooms, not all. For example, you might choose your living room as your master room, using colours/finishes a, b, c and d. You might design the ensuite next and choose to reuse a and b but add in e, f, and g. On the main bathroom, you could reuse b and d but then mix things up by adding another two new finishes.

Doing this creates a visual theme that links each room, producing a ‘flow’ throughout the entire house.
Design possibilities are limitless, and thank goodness we live in this day and age where colour visualisers and the abundance of images on the internet allow us to glimpse what could be. But you will never truly know what your selections will look like until they are actually there in the house, so advice from a designer can be just the guidance you are looking for.