Ask Maria: My New Cherry Desk Makes the Room Look Dark! Help

I have seen rooms like this so many times and heard this question so often that when I received this Ask Maria question the other day, I decided to post it.  Not everyone has the luxury of having every single spare room or office look like it belongs in a magazine right? So here’s the question: I recently bought an office desk, cherry wood in color. I’m still working on ... Continue Reading

Before & After: The Easy Way to Brighten a Dark Room

Today I’m sharing another one-day transformation with you. Y’all know how much I love the instant gratification that styling brings to a room! Laura and Craig on their wedding day My personal trainer Laura works at Innovative Fitness (owned by my sister Elizabeth and her husband Bill).  Laura’s husband Craig, is currently in California studying to be a Chiropractor. Laura and Craig were married for less than a year before ... Continue Reading

How Much Furniture Do You Really Need? (More Than You Think)

image source I had two client visits yesterday. The first client had a great room with a fireplace. In her interior, the best place to install the TV will be above the fireplace, so we talked about installing wing chairs to flank the fireplace. She mentioned that no one would sit there because you can’t see the television (example above). via Design Sponge The second client had a very awkward and narrow living/dining ... Continue Reading

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

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

Tablescapes for Dummies; The Beginners Guide

BHG Hasn’t everyone bought one of those “fill-in-the-blank for Dummies” books when you really don’t know something and you’re thinking “Talk to me like I’m 5 years old?”. I certainly have. Years ago I dated a guy who was into philosophy and I just felt stupid every time he started talking about it, so I bought Philosophy for Dummies.  I’m not convinced I’m any smarter about that topic, but I did buy the book. ... 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

Why Stone and Accent Tile are Not as Important as You Think

I have worked with many couples over the years as they plan their renovation or new build. And here’s what I’ve noticed. They get overly worried about the exterior being boring so they go with a combination of stucco, siding AND shingles. Oh, but we’re not done yet, don’t forget the stone AND brick. When I’m consulting on new build colours, I often ask if they have their landscape design ... 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

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After

I often receive emails like this: Hello Maria, I retired a couple of years ago and I have been taking interior design classes at the local community college. I would love to take your color workshop. Do you think this would be beneficial for a novice, Interior Design student? This post covers two questions. What does it look like to get a Room Refresh (after my last post where so ... Continue Reading

How to get an Inspired Room Refresh

Todays post is all about my interior e-design services. For approximately one year now, I have been offering e-design colour consulting for paint colours and hard finishes. But so many of my readers need more, they need a room refresh and if that’s you, you might be in one of these dilemmas: You need to buy a sofa but would like to avoid the obvious ‘trendy neutral of the moment’ ... Continue Reading

Do you have an Odd Chair in your Habitat? (Well you should)

  I am seriously delayed in posting about Lauren’s book, Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating, she said her publisher sent me one last year but I never received it. So I stopped waiting and bought it myself last weekend. I’ve known Lauren as long as I’ve been writing this blog because we started our blogs around the same time, almost 8 years ago. Lauren and her husband Dave made the ... 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

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Rue Magazine Okay so a while ago when I changed the ‘Ask Maria’ questions to ‘Send me your what’s bothering me’, questions, ya’ll pretty much stopped sending them, so obviously that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever come up with. So please keep sending them to me here. And by the way, when you do, remember to include an image (and clean up the room puleese), it has very little chance ... Continue Reading

3 Ways to Add More Colour Without Pattern

When I was in New Jersey leading my Specify Colour with Confidence™ event and the second evening at dinner, I was sitting next to a designer who asked me a question about kitchen valances she was designing for a client. She was having trouble finding a fabric that her client liked. I suggested a solid fabric (below) with contrasting tape or a band of fabric, this way you’ll get two colours without a pattern ... Continue Reading

It’s a Charcoal Tile Intervention (Don’t Miss This One)

Pinterest I’m depressed. My Mom is looking for a cottage trailer up in Vernon (as a second home). It’s 5 hours from here, warmer and dryer in the summer and she already spends a lot of time there. This means less time with my Mom here in the country (where I already moved to be close to her) because she’ll be up there more often. Yesterday morning over our 5:30 AM coffee, ... Continue Reading