How to Beautifully Update your Persian (Oriental) Rug

Often when I see a Persian or oriental area rug, I think DATED. In fact, I have an Ask Maria post about this very subject where I simply told my reader “This rug will NEVER be amazing”. Well, as I have said many times in this blog (often in the comments) I’m willing to be wrong. Last fall when I held one of my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops in DC, Erika Ward from ... Continue Reading

What’s Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?)

Recently I received an email that haunted me for days. This happens often by the way, when you send me a good one. It puts me deeply in my head and sometimes I forget to respond. I really get upset when that happens. This email from one of my subscribers, was one of those: “I have been reading your blog for about a year now, and I have learned quite a bit about color and undertones ... Continue Reading

Add Some Fall to Your Living Room Using Brown (I did)

For some time now, there’s been talk about browns and warmer neutrals coming back to replace gray. Last week, when someone asked if I would write a post about taupe because Sherwin Williams recently claimed one as their colour of the year I responded: “When my readers or clients start asking me for Taupe, that’s when I’ll know it’s real. And not just someone in the marketing department declaring ‘Well we can’t keep talking about gray ... Continue Reading

The Best Way to Display your Keurig or Nespresso Coffee Pods (A Styling Tip)

via Pinterest Since it seems like EVERYONE has a pod coffee machine because it’s the latest and greatest convenience, I thought I’d show you how I styled them last week AFTER a photo shoot. Not to be confused with the image I created for Pinterest and Instagram 😉 😉 First, here is what my clients butlers pantry looked like before it was styled for the shoot: This pantry was designed by my friend Jan Romanuk and built ... Continue Reading

How to Make Earthy Tile Look Expensive

True Colour Expert Traci Zeller had a budget to manage for the model house she had been hired to decorate and she had to spread it around strategically to get the biggest bang for the buck. This is what a great designer does best and I talk about it all the time in my events. My favourite part of helping my clients choose a look and feel for their new ... Continue Reading

Mixing Metals: How to Update a Brown Kitchen by adding Brass

Barbara built this house with her husband 5 years ago ago. He wanted a wood stained kitchen and although she'd love to have a white kitchen now, she wasn't prepared to paint it in this phase of the decorating project. Her biggest complaint was with the pendant lights, they created a lot of visual glare and she wanted them replaced. Also, she needed drapery to block out the sun in the wintertime when it slanted through the windows. ... Continue Reading

Transformation from Brown to Blue | Before & After

My client Barbara and her husband had built seven homes together. Every time they would start a new build, she would say, "Can we please save enough money to decorate at the end?" That day never seemed to arrive. Last year, her husband passed away, and Barbara decided it was now or never. She'd been following my blog for years, so she felt she could trust me to give her the look and feel she wanted. In January, we started the decorating project: the living, dining, kitchen, and master bedroom. ... Continue Reading

Ask Maria: Must my Kitchen Coordinate With the Dining Room?

I’m am a big fan and follower of your “Ask Maria” series. I’ve never done anything like this before so I thought I’d give it a go.  We’re looking to update our kitchen and our dilemma is what color to paint our cabinets and island. Our cabinets are in good condition so we can’t justify replacing them. The sink, faucet and appliances will be swapped out for stainless. We’re also ... Continue Reading

Best Ideas for Creative Kids Rooms: Before & After

This post is written by my Director of All Things Wonderful, Irene Hill: Last week at this time Maria and I were just finishing up the last touches of our magical home makeover for my sister, Aimee and five of her kids. They were all glowing with happiness and pride in their "new" home. Four months ago, when Maria and I started this project of love, I carefully interviewed each of my nieces and nephews to find out what would make them love their rooms the most. I found out what they were interested in and spent hours scouring the internet to get all the little pieces exactly right. At the end of the day I wanted to see wonder and awe in each set of eyes and was over the moon that we managed to do just that! ... Continue Reading

Ask Maria: How do I Find a New Area Rug to work with my Old Furniture?

  Since many of us are now incorporating fresh and happy colours into our homes, I have started seeing a lot of living rooms with bright new geometric area rugs that mostly don’t relate to the upholstery in the room. You don’t want a look in your living room that screams “Old, tired sofa, happy new area rug!”. One of my readers was looking for an area rug to go with her green/brown, ... Continue Reading

Can you have White Cabinets with Espresso Hardwood Floors?

I was on google recently, and three times in a row, with different searches, this post kept showing up right at the top: How to completely mess up your kitchen remodel: a step-by-step tutorial. This is the kitchen she coveted This DIY blogger named Kelly is a great writer and so entertaining. She generously shared her mistakes so that others could avoid making the same ones. Under ‘Huge Mistake #1″ here is ... Continue Reading

Earth Tones that Feel like 2014 NOT 2002

{Oak Bay Beach Hotel} Recently I received a comment from a reader saying it would be great if I would write an occasional post about earth tones because she preferred them over the current white/black/grey colours that are popular and trendy right now. Well, dear reader, the opportunity presented itself this weekend. It’s my Terreeia’s birthday and we arrived yesterday, here at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel in Victoria to ... Continue Reading

Is Cognac Leather Furniture as Neutral as Denim? Yay or Nay

I’m so happy that camel coats and cognac leather furniture are on trend. Although last week I bought a camel coat from Nordstrom and when it arrived it looked like a sack on me so back it went. Sigh. I guess it was a little too late in the season to have any kind of selection.   {Click on images for source} Here’s what I’ve noticed. Cognac or caramel or ... Continue Reading

I know you thought you'd never see the day when I'd stick a wood stained kitchen in this blog, but there's a first time for everything! ... Continue Reading

Builders Don’t Care About Trends: Yay or Nay?

I know this is not a complete absolute truth because it won’t apply to the high end market but I do a lot of design and colour consulting in brand new homes and the homeowner is usually saying things like, “The builder only gave us two options, so we chose the lesser of the two evils”. Barbara Barry’s Classic White Kitchen I was recently in a $750,000 house (2 years ... Continue Reading

My Sister’s Fresh New Backsplash: Before & After

My sister Elizabeth inherited her kitchen with glazed creamy cabinets, chocolate brown walls (that’s what they were before we painted the walls CA100 Beechwood or BM HC-45 Shaker Beige or PPG 414-4 Dusty Trail) and a very busy and blotchy laminate countertop. The first thing we changed was the colour soon after they moved in. “Can I have blue walls?” she asked. Elizabeth loves blue. “No”, I said, “Your countertop ... Continue Reading