Interior Designer Michelle Canny

Style Sourcebook Profile: Michelle Canny

Interior Designer Michelle Canny in Living RoomPhotographed by: Lauren Jones Photography.


Michelle Canny is an interior decorator based in the coastal town of Nelson Bay on the mid coast of NSW. Michelle has a keen eye for interior design and injects personality and life into all of her projects. Having lived in her fair share of houses, Michelle’s strives to create a sense of belonging and a place for her clients to call home. Michelle has been a frequent user of Style Sourcebook for quite some time now. Creating mood boards that make us want to live in whatever interior she is creating, we took the opportunity to chat with her and get to know her a little better. Michelle has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things interior design and she shares with us how she got into the interior design industry, talks us through her design process and shares her favourite homeware stores to shop at.

Coastal Living Room by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Illuminate Photography.

Coastal Living Room Mood Board Style SourcebookCoastal Living Mood Board here.

Coastal Living Room with Rattan ChairsPhotographed by: Illuminate Photography.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have led a bit of a nomadic lifestyle having moved around a bit in my life. I have lived in different states in Australia and countries around the world including the US and UK. I originate from Canberra, spent the last 20 years living in Melbourne and abroad and in the last few years made a sea change with my family to coastal town of Nelson Bay on mid north coast of NSW. Because I have moved around a lot, I know what it’s like to want to a create a sense of place in a home. It’s what became my tag line  - ‘bringing a sense of place to your home’ as I wanted to help people create homes that represented their personality, lifestyle and the environment around them. I work with clients to define their interior style and vision and bring this to life by removing the stress and overwhelm that can come with interior design. I often joke with clients, especially those that are married couples that I am part Interior Decorator and Stylist and part marriage counsellor as I am often the mediator between the two people when it comes to decisions about the home and the age-old battle of the head versus the heart.

Coastal Bedroom Mood Board Style Sourcebook

Coastal Bedroom by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Illuminate Photography.

You’ve been a regular user of Style Sourcebook for a while now. Talk us through how you begin your mood boards for your projects.

Before I begin any project, I have a process I work through with clients that helps me ascertain what interior styles they’re drawn to and why. From there I get to understand what the vision is for a space and how a client would like their home to feel and I use the mood boards to visualize this by showcasing furniture, décor, textures and colours.

How important do you find planning a mood board for your interior project is?

I think it’s really important as it helps create consistency throughout a project, so that you have the same look and feel translated throughout. It gives you a foundation to work from so that you can see what works together, helps keep you on track and is a visual queue that you can keep referring back to when it comes to making decisions on furniture, décor, fittings, fixtures, colours etc.

Contemporary Open Plan Living by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Thorson Photography.

"One of my biggest tricks is rugs! Rugs are perfect for anchoring a space, so I use them to define individual areas especially in open plan living spaces."

- Interior Designer Michelle Canny

Contemporary Living Room Photographed by: Thorson Photography.

Contemporary Living Room Mood Board Style SourcebookLiving Room Mood Board here.


How did you get into the Interior Decorating/Styling industry and why do you love it?

I have always been creative from a young age and worked in various creative industries, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to pursue my love of interiors and apply to study at the International School of Colour and Design (ISCD). I was pregnant with my first child and working full time when I first started studying Colour and Design and once I completed my studies and had my son, I started a design blog which grew in popularity. From there I had people asking me if I provided interior decorating services because they enjoyed the blog and the idea for the business was born. I’m passionate about interiors because I love exploring the possibilities of what a space can look like. A person’s home is a really personal space and for so many people their homes don’t tell the story of who they are because they don’t know what their style is or how to showcase it, so I love working with people to explore this and making it a reality.

 Where do you find your inspiration for different interior projects?

One of my biggest forms of inspiration would probably have to be the natural environment. I like to look at where a person lives and what the natural surrounds are, whether this be an urban landscape or rural, as it can inform the types of materials I choose and the colour palettes I use.

Modern Dining Room Mood Board Style SourcebookModern Dining Mood Board here.


Contemporary Dining Room by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Thorson Photography.

We are seriously crushing on your latest ‘Contemporary Coastal’ project that you’ve recently completed! Tell us a bit about this project and your inspiration behind it was.

This project was definitely inspired by the natural surrounds. It’s located in the coastal town of Shoal Bay, not far from the beach, so I used the colours and textures from the environment to inform a lot of my design choices. When I began working on this project there were aspects of the house that were very clinical and dated such as white gloss tiled floors, heavy curtains and walls that were really dark which made the whole house feel really depressing. The brief was to create a space that was contemporary, relaxed, and coastal. This look was achieved by painting the walls a cool white, replacing the dark and heavy curtains with new sheer curtains in a softer neutral tone and introducing furniture, décor and materials such as timber that resonated with the style and softened the space.

The floor plan of this project is more of an open plan style. How do you seamlessly connect the two spaces in open plan floor plans?

One of my biggest tricks is rugs! Rugs are perfect for anchoring a space, so I use them to define individual areas especially in open plan living spaces. I also consciously choose furniture pieces and materials that complement each other and the style so that there is a cohesiveness to the look I’m creating.

Contemporary Coastal Open Plan Living by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Illuminate Photography.

Contemporary Coastal project by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Illuminate Photography.

We love how you’ve styled the open shelving in this project. Tell us your top tips when styling open shelves.

The trick isn’t to fill each shelf with items, it’s to be intentional with what you put on the shelves. 

I like to use items that have some meaning, whether it be books or photos and mix this up with other items that have different shapes and textures such as vases and plants.

Play around with layering items, such as placing a vase on some books that are lying horizontally and place this next to an item that has a different shape such as a bowl. 

The more you change up the shapes, heights, and textures of items the more interest you will create.

What would your advice be to someone who is trying to discover their interior style?

I find Pinterest to be a really useful tool. A tip I often give to people who are struggling to define their interior style is to create a Pinterest board and start pinning images of different rooms that they feel drawn to. I ask them to do this for a few minutes and then look back at the images they have pinned. What I find is there is usually common themes, looks, materials, colours that they are drawn to which can be really helpful in identifying personal style.

Contemporary Coastal Mood Board Style SourcebookContemporary Coastal Living Room Mood Board here.

Contemporary Coastal Open Shelf StylingPhotographed by: Illuminate Photography.

Contemporary Coastal Living RoomPhotographed by: Illuminate Photography.

What are some of your go-to tips when it comes to styling home interiors?

Less is more. I try to focus on the interior style that I’m working with and accentuate this with certain décor choices and textures that I know will work with the style.

I don’t fill every surface; I keep my styling fairly minimal as I don’t like spaces to feel cluttered. 

I go back to the colour palette and choose items such as cushions, throws, artwork etc. that I know will compliment the colour scheme.

Your interiors seem to be quite minimal and timeless. Is this a conscious decision or something you aim to achieve in each project? 

I never set out for it to be a conscious choice, but I think over time I have become more specific on the items I choose. My interior choices often come down to the look I’m aiming to achieve but I always make sure I have one hero piece in a room that the other interiors compliment but not compete with.

How do you go about deciding on a material/colour palette for your kitchen projects?

It all depends on the interior style of the client and/or the home as this usually dictates the type of materials and finishes I choose. I also look at the natural lighting in the kitchen because this plays a big part in the types of design choices I make. Once I know the interior style I’m working with, I will create the look using paint chip colours, bench top samples, tapware, flooring, and tiles to create a visual of the design and how it will work together.

Modern Kitchen Mood Board Style SourcebookModern Kitchen Mood Board here.

Modern Kitchen by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Thorson Photography.

How do you tend to introduce colour into your interiors?

If a client is open to it then I would suggest a paint colour for the walls, but artwork is probably one of the biggest ways I introduce colour into a house as I will often use the colours in the artwork to inform my décor choices.

Tell us about some of your favourite interior homeware and furniture stores.

There are so many that I love, there’s probably too many to name but some of my favorites are Globe West, Adairs, Freedom, West Elm, Six Fourteen, Boho Luxe Trader, The Print Emporium, Warren Brooke, Loughlin Furniture and Bay Garden and Living.

What are some of your non-negotiables when it comes to styling an interior project?

There’s always need for a rug, whether it be to anchor a living area, define a dining space or add texture to a bedroom I find them to be one of my go to décor pieces. 

Plants are always a must in any of my styling projects as they’re timeless and an easy way to add interest and vibrancy to a space.

Modern Bedroom with large artwork by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Thorson Photography.

Contemporary Bathroom by interior designer Michelle CannyPhotographed by: Thorson Photography.

Now more than ever, people are spending a lot more time in their homes. What would be your advice to someone who is wanting to make their house a bit more homely?

Think about what it is that resonates with your personality and makes you happy and have these items on display.

Introduce natural materials and textures that are relaxing and comforting such as linen, wool, jute and timber.

Bring the outdoors inside by having different indoor plants on display and play around with different types of hanging plants such as Devils Ivy and larger style plants such as Palms for more of an oasis feel.

If 2020 has taught you anything, what would it be and why?

That when nothing is certain, anything is possible. When the pandemic hit, I had just had a new baby and had no idea of what it meant for my family or business. Whilst it was a really hard year in a lot of respects, it also became one of my busiest years because it changed the way many of us live. Our homes became not only our havens but also our workplaces so I found people were willing to invest in creating a space they could both live and work in which I was fortunate to be a part of. I also witnessed the way many businesses adapted and changed the way they offered their products and services which was inspiring to watch and showed that anything is possible.