How to Get One More Season from Your Patio Furniture (Before & After)

Four years ago my sister Elizabeth and her husband bought this outdoor sectional (below). It was too modern for their house, but it was reasonable, so they snapped it up for the patio. Elizabeth and Bill love to entertain, and they also host their staff parties throughout the year. When it came time to pull out the outdoor furniture this season, I suggested that we select new stuff because the list of complaints about ... Continue Reading

Does your Floor Tile Have to Match your Countertop or Surround?

Does your floor tile have to match your countertop or surround? One of my long-time readers posted a comment recently still haunts me. Brace yourself today my lovelies, because my post today is a RANT. Here’s what happened to my reader:  “I recently stopped at a big box store to pick up some info about kitchen countertops. There was an older couple standing at the design table with a “kitchen designer” looking at samples ... Continue Reading

What Everyone Should Know About Taupe

You asked for it and here it is! Drumroll….. a discussion of one of the most challenging neutral colour categories, taupe. Tricia Firmaniuk, my virtual design assistant is writing about this one! When Sherwin Williams named Poised Taupe as their colour of the year I was not convinced. As this year has progressed however, I’m seeing it everywhere (I wish I’d snapped a picture when I arrived at one of the ... Continue Reading

How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Kitchen Mistakes

I’m travelling and leading my first, SOLD OUT Specify Colour with Confidence workshop in Chicago this week. The second one in Chicago is next weekend, we are ALMOST sold out but have 2 spaces left if you have time to jump in. Register here. Tricia Firmaniuk, my fabulous Virtual Design Assistant, wrote this great post about kitchens. Let me know what you think! ______________________________________________________________ Here’s a kitchen I found listed ... Continue Reading

Ask Maria: How Can I Update my Green 90s Sofa?

I recently received a collection of photos from a reader who said “I am not certain if I will retire here or move so I don’t want to do too many drastic investments, yet I would like to update my living room” First, before we proceed, notice that her room is pristine and the photo has been taken without flash and in good natural light. If you want me to consider ... Continue Reading

4 Images that Break the Undertone Rules I Work so Hard to Teach

In every Specify Colour with Confidence workshop,  I talk about how a beautifully decorated and styled room takes all my undertone rules and makes them look almost not important at all. So, I thought it was high time I featured some photos that just plain broke all the rules, because that is what designers do every day. A professional must know the rules, so she/he can break them like an artist. ... Continue Reading

How to Transform a Charcoal Sofa with Colour: Before & After

Shari and her husband couldn’t agree on a ‘colour’ when they went shopping for a new sofa, so they chose charcoal. The reason why they couldn’t agree on a colour, is because choosing a sofa BEFORE the carpet, artwork or throw pillows is like picking all the paint colours for your house BEFORE you buy a stick of furniture. If you don’t have an inspiration starting point, then it’s much harder ... Continue Reading

Contrasting Kitchen Island: Get YOUR Colour Right

Recently I was consulting with a couple on their new build. They told me they were definitely installing a white kitchen but they wanted a different colour on the island. This is the inspiration picture they showed me: Robert Elliot Homes When I asked what colours they were decorating with in their adjoining great room, they showed me a photo of their existing sofa which was a gold beige colour. Now if they plan on introducing this ... Continue Reading

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

Never Pick a Neutral Without Large Colour Boards: Pssst! They Do it For You!

Every time I hold one of my 3 day colour workshops we take some time in the afternoon on Day 1 and analyze the paint colours in the meeting room we are in and discuss whether the existing colours work or not (they rarely do). We do this so that my new True Colour Experts can see how to work with my large paint samples. The other very important reason ... 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

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

One Carrara Marble Bathroom: Four Colours

I was in Montreal a few weeks ago and snapped a picture of this classic Carrara marble bathroom in the hotel we stayed in. You’ll notice that this bathroom is painted a green beige. Since Carrara marble has a blue undertone, I wouldn’t call this the best choice even though it doesn’t clash. So I did a poll and I thought it would be fun to photoshop them so you ... 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

Trend Alert: Paint Your Walls and Trim White (or Cream)

Tricia and I have been noticing a trend with trim colours lately in our e-Design consultations. And that is if you have an earthier palette in your house either because you prefer cream over white or you have a Tuscan palette from that trend, AND you are craving a fresher look and feel, it’s hard to do without painting all your trim out white. Because the traditional way of creating contrast between ... Continue Reading

Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room?

Enise emailed me this photo the other day with a great ‘Ask Maria’ question: ”I have a very colourful antique kilim that I would like to use in my daughters bedroom. Since the kilim is so colourful, I am confused on choosing the bedding. I know that I can use some colours from the kilim pattern but those are very vibrant colours so I am afraid the kids may feel too energetic to ... Continue Reading