How to Get Light to Play in a Room

In 2013 I attended the  LA Design Bloggers Conference.

NOT Ordinary

Sign at HD Buttercup at the first nights reception

Barbara Barry was the one that gave the lesson on light at the sold out Design Bloggers Conference in LA this week.

The first morning Windsor Smith was the keynote speaker.  When I looked for my notes on what she said, I realized I had been too busy following the twitter feed on screen to get anything.


My Pinterest feed that morning showed images from her interiors, obviously not a coincidence since she was speaking. And I noticed that she had re-done her pink living room (above)! I remembered it clearly because when I posted this room on Valentines Day two years ago, my mom emailed me and said ‘This is the pink I want for my living room.’ And that is what we did.

windsor Smith's Grey Living room

So here is the same room. Which one do you prefer?

Both designers said they loved black and thought it was the most elegant colour.

Then, Barbara Barry spoke this morning.

Barbara Barry

I love her branding images. For years, I have had this image (above) as my wallpaper on my laptop screen and I never tire of looking at it.

Barbara said you should paint a room 10 times lighter than the paint chip you are looking at, so the light can play in the room all day. 

I love that visual.

And it also reinforces my post, A Light Colour will Never Come to Life in a Dark Room yet again. Pale, barely there colours need plenty of light to come out and play.

Barbara Barry does not do dramatic interiors colour wise. Most of her spaces are filled with barely there blues, celadon greens and greige tones.

She said she loves neutral interiors because people create the pattern with the stuff of life.

I also prefer lighter colours to lots of darkness and drama. I like drama in dining rooms and powder rooms.  I have never specified a charcoal gray for anyone yet, even though charcoal bedrooms and dining rooms abound all over the internet. I just think they are so trendy. But, as they say, it’s only paint.

Last month I was helping a client chose a grey for her media room. She said she wanted something darker and so I actually said (or maybe I thought it) “I need to have a breakthrough in specifying charcoal” and I gave her a darker grey.

Then she emailed me the other day and said “Maria, the first coat is too dark and it’s soooo green, should I change it or wait and see it go up.”

I said, “Change it”.

Funny that the one time I break down and specify a darker gray, it doesn’t work out.


The first night we were at an event at HD Buttercup. I instantly loved these cute owls.

First night party

Traci Connell, Maria Killam & Barbara Gilbert

 Then I met these two lovely designers (above) who follow my blog from Texas.

Buttercup carpets

A fabulous chandelier in the area rug department!


Ruthie Staalsen, Maria Killam & Kimberly Ward

Trad home party

Courtney Smart Stone & Maria

I met so many people who follow my blog, it’s been a fun 2 1/2 days! Back to Vancouver tomorrow!

So my lovelies, which room do you like best, the pink or the grey?

Related posts:

10 Things I’m Taking to the Design Bloggers Conference in LA

What it’s Like to be the Boss of a New York Magazine

How Important is Pretty?

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Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 

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  1. I saw you had pinned these rooms the other day and as I hadn’t kept up with the order (as in, which came first – the pink or the grey?) I found myself hoping that the grey had come first and she’d replaced it with the pink. I was kind of disappointed reading this post that it is the other way around! I’ve LOVED that pink room of Windsor’s and always will.

  2. I love looking at the pink room. Makes me think an interesting person lives there, full of life and personality, and that I’d be welcome. I’d need to edit it to prevent me from being overstimulated if it were my room.
    The grey one is relaxing but looks like a do-not-sit-down corporate lobby. It would benefit from some bright colour and prints – not in a crazy way – just to inject some life and movement.
    I still find Windsor inspirational.

  3. I do prefer the grey as I feel that I would tire of the pink fairly quickly. I prefer neutrals that can be enhanced with pops of colour.

  4. I absolutely adore the pink room! I could spend many winter afternoons curled up with a good book. It would put a smile on my face every day. In fact, I am planning to paint my dining room pink very soon. I’m sorry but the gray room is dull and I loathe it. It looks like it belongs to a very unimaginative, timid person.

  5. That pink room is my favorite of the two; it makes a statement. Color psychologists have stated for years that Bubble Gum Pink color calms folks down. Supposedly that’s why it was used in psycho wards, because of its settling down qualities. Also, I have heard football coaches had their rival teams’ locker rooms painted that color thinking it would calm the players down so much they wouldn’t be as tough.

  6. I am not a fan of any room in which the wall color screams, “Look at me, look at me.” Which is what I think the pink room says. I think the furnishings should be more the star of the show. On the other hand the gray room doesn’t do much for me either. It seems a little bland, but I could live with it a lot longer than the pink.

  7. If in a northern cooler climate would pick the pink room, feels warm and cozy if in the south with hot summers would pick the beige as it seems cooler and relaxing!