Don’t Hire a Designer The Same Way You Buy Oranges

Source The other day, my design assistant, Tricia, received an email from one of my readers: “We found a designer who charges $100 per hour. If Maria can match that rate, we will go with her.” My rates are a lot higher than that, with different price points for consulting work and decorating work. I don’t post them online because they’re subject to change, but if you want to know what they are, email ... 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

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} 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

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

5 Best Ways to Choose your Roof Colour

PLEASE NOTE THE COMMENTS SECTION IS CLOSED ON THIS POST. If you need help choosing a roof colour, you can take advantage of my Exterior Colour Solutions. About a year before I started writing this blog (in 2007), I was partners with another interior designer and we were specifying finishes for spec homes. One day we were sitting in a meeting with the builders who had hired us, discussing exterior colour and ... Continue Reading

This is a post written by Irene Hill, my Design Associate: It’s been two years since I’ve started working with Maria and it’s been about the same amount of time since I had a paying client, but occasionally I get an emergency call from a friend. Just recently my phone rang with a plea for marriage counselling. Over a design project. If you work as a designer in any capacity ... Continue Reading

My Design Studio: Before, During & After

The transformation of my design studio is so amazing that it needs few words: The day we took possession. After we renovated it last Spring six weeks later. After the flagstone was installed this Spring. After   Here’s an updated picture in June 2014 Here’s another angle while shooting pictures so that my talented Landscape Architect MaryAnne White could start the design all the way from New York. During the ... Continue Reading

Danger: Your Designer has Left the Building

Have you ever had this happen to you? You hire a designer, consult with them on all the decisions you need to make. All is well. They leave, and then the contractor, painter, tiler. . . in other words the trades who will be executing your project, arrive on the scene. You tell them what you want and they say “That can’t be done or that’s a bad idea, or ... Continue Reading

First Rule of Design: Boring Now Equals Timeless Later

In June 2013 when I was working on my landscape transformation, I was at the Nursery and I called Mary Anne White (my Landscape Designer) because I was shopping for Hostas and this was how our conversation went: “Mary Anne, I’m here and there are so many beautiful Hostas, I can’t decide! There’s yellow ones, I love those, then there’s these green and white ones, green and creamy ones, should I ... Continue Reading

Danger: Free Advice will Sabotage Your Expensive Renovation

I was recently consulting with a client from Upstate New York. We were finalizing the colours and finishes for her kitchen renovation. As one last piece of advice, I told her to make sure she did not install the 4″ slab of granite on the backsplash so commonly found in kitchens. source She said “I am so glad you mentioned that, because my countertop guy said that my walls were ... 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

Bad Colour is totally Unacceptable

So the final coats of paint are going up in my house as we speak. And since this is my business, I am confident that the colours I chose are right. And as each room gets completed I am filled with happiness. So it got me to thinking. How on earth could anyone watch paint colours going up in their own home without being clear and confident that those colours ... Continue Reading

Knowing your Options Helps you Move Forward

The biggest problem with renovations is deciding exactly what to do in any given situation. There are so many questions to resolve. Here are a few my lovely client in Dallas had when analyzing her kitchen. 1. Should I paint these cabinets or is the current colour okay? A. The existing colour is definitely pink beige. I would paint them to update them but it depends on how you feel about them. ... Continue Reading

This Colour Mistake will make Your House look Bad

One of the biggest mistakes designers and homeowners make when choosing colours is definitely around the world of undertones but next up is mixing clean and dirty colours. Yes you can break any rule but most of the time the combination of clean and dirty will make perfectly good tile or fabric look bad together. It’s hard for me to show examples of clean and dirty combinations on this blog ... Continue Reading

Vancouver Interior Designer: What Should You Charge for the First Consultation? (For Designers Only)

When you complete my True Colour Expert Workshop you get access to a Private Facebook page for graduates only. This page has truly taken on a life of its own. It’s completely optional, it’s free (so far) and to date we have 50 members. This page has become a great place to not only get advice about projects you are working on but to brag, vent, and everything in between. ... Continue Reading