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

Sell Your Classic House in 24 Hours Flat

When Terreeia and I were in Toronto for my Specify Colour with Confidence™ Event in May, we had dinner with a good friend. We were talking about the extremely hot real estate market in Toronto (and Vancouver). In the last two weeks for example, homes in Toronto are selling for up to a million dollars OVER the asking price with bidding wars everywhere. Terreeia’s friend had her condo up for sale in ... 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

The Real Cost of DIY Advice

I've been thinking about this a lot lately: why is it that so many of us don't seek out professional advice until there's an emergency on our doorsteps? Why do we so unquestioningly pay for certain services, like dentistry or health care, but then think we can do it ourselves when it comes to others, like home renovations? When is the best time to hire a professional to save ourselves the most money? ... 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

What Women Want vs. Men (In a House)

Overheard at a birthday party with some of my designer friends last weekend: “When I work with builders I always tell them that WOMEN buy houses, not men.” Men want a large TV room {via pinterest} A Garage {via pinterest} Isn’t this amazing! Now this is an organized person! {source} And, No Nagging! {via pinterest} Women want above all else a really nice kitchen, with good finishes, {via Domainehome.com} This kitchen is sooooo ... Continue Reading

“I’ve Got This” and Other Unrealistic Thoughts about Renovating

So, just in case you were wondering and losing sleep over this topic like I have, I’ve figured it out. The third week in my Renovate with Confidence™ Focus on Finishes for Renovations and New Builds is coming up and it’s my best work yet! Now that I’ve organized all the advice I’m constantly giving my clients into a step-by-step format, the good news is, I’m adding stuff I thought I’d forgotten over 15 ... Continue Reading

How Long will You Wait to Get The Sofa You Want?

I once helped a client decorate her guest room. She wanted everything NOW. The painting had to happen IMMEDIATELY! The furniture, delivered YESTERDAY. In my experience, there are two types of clients who want furniture that fast. When you move into a new house and you don't have any furniture to sit on, that has people get pretty impatient for new stuff, RIGHT NOW. Second, the client who cannot decide. They don't want to make a mistake so they wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And put up with old, bad, and cheap for a very long time. ... Continue Reading

Why Choosing Granite is so Hard

I came across this comment on my blog the other day, I had forgotten about it. This reader expressed what so many of my clients have told me over the years but she was just super entertaining in her distress. . . How did I end up with this crazy granite choice that is glaring at me from the counter?! I’m crying at this expensive new member of the family. Ugh!! My ... Continue Reading

Why You’ve Never Had a Good Contractor

Obviously this statement doesn’t apply to everyone, but I’ve heard it a few times lately from clients. And I’ve been thinking about why. And since that’s what I do best – figure out the answer to the question why – I’ve come up with a theory. Here it is: Since I’m a decorator and not a renovator, I’m not consistently managing trades. Via-Sara-Kate-Studios My experience in managing trades happened when ... Continue Reading

Two Magic Words to Move Your Design Project Forward

Pinterest This post is written by my fabulous Design Associate Irene Hill: For about the past year I’ve been telling people my husband and I are in the middle of a renovation project. That’s not really accurate. Three years ago we purchased this little 1,000 square foot rancher in a nice neighbourhood. As Kevin and I are both self-employed and have been for years, we are our own pension fund. ... Continue Reading

The Quest for the High End Client

It’s pretty much agreed among most designers that the measure for success seems to be to design for the upscale, high-end client with lots of money. It’s kind of like this, once you get this client, you have hit the pinnacle to some degree. We all know that’s never enough and once you get there, you’ll need the next level of success, building a design firm, perhaps a furniture or ... Continue Reading

Ask Maria: How to Coordinate Finishes with Oak Cabinets

Dear Maria, We have those dreaded honey oak cabinets in our kitchen.  We are not interested at this point in changing or painting them.  I just want to choose a laminate countertop and a backsplash and a wall colour that will look reasonably good together.  I prefer lighter colours for the counter and backsplash.  Could you give me any suggestions?  I know now to avoid beige-pink.  Any little tips would ... 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

What it Takes to Have a Classic House

This not-to-be-missed post about what kind of house to shop for and what constitutes ‘good bones’ in an exterior or interior has been percolating in my head for months. I could not figure out the best way to articulate it, until today. Sadly, I did not write this post. Joni from Cote de Texas did instead. However, it is so good, I want to make sure you don’t miss it ... Continue Reading

Vancouver Colour Expert: How Long does Beautiful Take?

The other day my mom reminded me of an old Finnish proverb that goes like this: When a job is done right, no one asks how long it took, everyone simply says “It’s beautiful”. A client recently called me in a panic, her subway tile backsplash was being installed and the advice she had received on the layout was clearly wrong and she already knew she would hate it after ... Continue Reading