Ask Maria: Do’s and Dont’s for Installing Encaustic Tile

Subway tile backsplash – via Pinterest Every time I see a badly installed Encaustic tile or just too much pattern, even if it’s not badly designed, I get further validation (in my mind) that my job on this blog, is to direct you towards the most classic, simple, solid tile which is often subway tile. Period. And just in case you’re rolling your eyes (Hey, I can see you :), I’m ... Continue Reading

The Stunning and Classic Home of the Giannetti’s at Patina Farm

Roses from Brooke’s garden to greet us in the guest house Many of us in blogland followed Brooke and Steve Giannetti when they built their dream home in Ojai, California and moved from their previous house in Santa Monica. They have lived there now for three years since it was finished, but in the Spring of 2014, Brooke posted photos of her gardens here, only one year after it was installed. ... Continue Reading

Help! My New Kitchen Makes the Rest of My House Look Old

Source This post is written by Tricia Firmaniuk, my design assistant who handles my eDesign: So often people find Maria’s blog AFTER they have already made some costly mistakes in their renovations; when they realize it’s not coming together the way they had hoped, and they go looking for answers on Google. DIY design has some common pitfalls. One of the biggest ones is making decisions without the context of ... Continue Reading

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream)

Pinterest Trends are always moving. You can’t pin them down. When you’ve been in the colour business for as long as I have, it’s fascinating to watch. And it’s also the reason I’m so jaded about each new tile trend fad that comes along. I’m talking about hard finishes because they are the most permanent. I really would like to save the world and especially YOU from so many unnecessary renovations.  It’s ... Continue Reading

Trendy or Classic? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions

Photo by Maria Killam at Maison & Objet When I wrote my trend report from Maison & Objet last week, truthfully, I was kind of depressed that all evidence points towards black as the next trendy neutral after grey. In this case, I hope I’m wrong. It seems that in my 20 year colour career I’ve now seen trend colours go full circle around the wheel.   Understanding Undertones – The Colour ... Continue Reading

How to Save Money (While Renovating) With a Second Opinion

Home Bunch Sometimes I think people get fixated on the wrong things when they’re renovating. They spend wildly here, then get stingy there. Even worse, if you’re doing a renovation on your own without the input of a design professional, you’ll swing back and forth even more. For example, you’ll think the more expensive fireplace insert is important, but then forget about the colour. One client showed me a brochure and the insert they were ... Continue Reading

Tread Softly When Choosing a Plain (True) White

  Notice the background of the roman shade is cream along with the carpet but the trim, walls and chair is WHITE. Image via pinterest So the renovation that I mentioned here is starting next week, hooray! Habitat for Humanity is coming to remove all the espresso cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms and install them somewhere else. So everything is moving along and that’s great right? For the kitchen cabinets I chose a true white to ... Continue Reading

Encaustic Tiles: Should You Embrace the Trend?

Tiles via Amazon Those of you who have been reading my musings about accent tile for years now could have easily predicted that this post was coming. Well, here it is. First, you should know that I did not even know how to say Encaustic before January of this year? I still worry when I say it that I’m not pronouncing it right. The reason I’m telling you this is because until ... Continue Reading

Best Colours for a Basement Kitchen (1 Kitchen, 3 Ways)

I recently received this question from a reader who sent me a photo of her kitchen: Hi Maria, I SO want to make my little basement apartment a haven that I love to call home. I want it to be as light and bright as possible since there is so little natural light… and I LOVE lots of light. Everything is being painted… the cabinets, all the walls, etc. So I ... Continue Reading

The Timeless Flooring Everywhere in Italy

It’s hard to take pictures for a blog on a trip because I never know what I’m going to talk about until I start gathering photos for a post. Then I start thinking “Darn, I wish I had taken more pictures of floors.” But it wasn’t until the end of the trip that I noticed how much of the same flooring I’d seen everywhere. Underground tour in the Colosseum | ... Continue Reading

Bad Design Advice: Fall in Love with All Your Finishes

  Statement tile, Herringbone Carrara {House Beautiful} Pattern quota done. Keep your countertop solid or almost solid. {Source} I had an interesting conversation with one of my readers while I was consulting on her kitchen renovation. She had already installed tile floors in her kitchen and couldn’t decide on a countertop. She had some options selected, but she told me, “I’m not in love with any of them, and I’m paralyzed with indecision.” It made ... Continue Reading

Warning: Rant Alert on The Tackiest Advice Ever

I'm not usually this cranky, but I recently came across some of the fluffiest, dumbest interior design advice I've ever read. ... Continue Reading

How to Take Charge of Your Bossy Tile

When we walked into our room at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport last May, I declared, “This room was decorated BEFORE the brown trend!” It’s a game I like to play with anyone who will listen everywhere I go. What’s the dead giveaway? The colour of the wood-stained furniture: it was all orange and yellow with no espresso brown in sight. This hotel was built in 1999, so that means this colour scheme ... Continue Reading

When White Walls are the ONLY Solution

{via pinterest} In the very beginning of my design career I was fortunate enough to have some great mentors. One was a very talented designer who probably couldn’t tell you about undertones but she had amazing spidey senses when it came to choosing colour. As designers working in a paint store, our job was to book in-home appointments with customers who came into the store looking for help with colour. After the consultation, we would clip colour ... Continue Reading

Before & After: The Pinterest School of Styling

Interior design & styling by Maria Killam As I lay by the pool on my recent vacation in Kauai, I had already read both of the beach novels that I brought, so I went through my client’s library  and pulled out The Alchemist. My sister Elizabeth posing for my photo Three years ago, when my client was building this house in Kauai, I helped her choose hard finishes and select furniture (Something ... Continue Reading

The Right Way (and the Wrong Way) to Install Porcelain Wood Floors

I’m here at the same house in Kauai we were in last year! This time, Terreeia and I are with my sister Elizabeth and her family. This is the view from the tub in the master bathroom ensuite. Elizabeth is enjoying a  quiet moment with her book. We passed by a charming diner and coffee joint that I want to share with you. Here it is from the outside: I love that the flowers match the ... Continue Reading