Free Training Call: Three Ways to Guide your Client to the Right Colours, Even When They Disagree with You (it's Easier Than you Think)

Free Training Call

I'm really excited to announce a free training call for all design professionals, stagers, decorators, interior designers and architects:

If you’re like so many of my clients, these situations may sound familiar:

  • You don’t have a system to walk your clients through as they choose the different elements of their project, so you end up following their lead in your efforts to make them happy. You feel like your client is in control of how you work and you’re following along, trying to keep up. Talk about time consuming!
  • You can’t always explain WHY a certain colour is the right choice, so your clients lose confidence. They end up opinion-shopping with their spouse, their best friend, even their mother. When you return for the next stage of the consult, you waste time in a lengthy discussion, and it’s exasperating!
  • You know your clients want to get the most for their budget, and sometimes struggle with the concept of paying a designer rather than spending your fee on the upgrade they’ve been longing for. You want them to know they will save money by hiring you and not wasting their money on making mistakes. Your fee will easily be less than the money they will spend in places they don’t need to spend it, or on mistakes that are so easy to make.
  • You work so many hours as a result of this cycle that you can’t justify billing them for all your time. You end up making far less per hour than the rate you quote. You’re working hard – but not smart – and you’re definitely not making all the money you should be.

Paint Chips

Here's what you'll learn:

  • Why your job goes WAY beyond choosing paint colours for the walls – and what this means for you as a colour consultant or designer in terms of dissolving any myths, theories or objections your clients have.
  • The absolute best (and first) response to a client’s colour question or objection (you’ll be surprised at how simple this is – and how it transforms the way you treat design and colour consultations!)
  • How to get past the “your opinion versus theirs” dilemma: Learn to see and hear beyond what your clients THINK they want, to create a look and feel that makes them happy each and every time they walk in the door.

Here's an example of what we'll be talking about:

Recently, I received this Ask Maria question from a reader, it was headlined:

HELP, I don't like my new granite!

 "I stumbled across your blog & am really hoping you can help me out.  I saved up for over a year to replace my tile countertops with granite and now I think I made a big mistake with the granite color.  It looks much more yellow & busy than I expected.  

I have two questions for you.  Do you think changing the color of the wall paint might help, maybe to a warmer color?  What color would you recommend?  Also, they are planning to put a similar 4" backsplash behind the cooktop, but I think it will just emphasize the busyness of the granite.  I'd love to do subway tile.  What do you think for the color of the tile?

Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for how I might make this room look better."

Help: I Don't Like My New Granite!

So, over to you, what would you say? Can you identify how old this kitchen is?

What happened? Why is the granite more yellow then she expected?

Is there a wall colour that can save this kitchen or do we need to repaint the cabinets?

What would be your best, money-saving advice?

I will talk about this kitchen and have many more real-life examples to share next week so if you want to learn more, then make sure you sign up for my free tele-seminar on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM PST time.

See you next Thursday!

42 Responses to Free Training Call: Three Ways to Guide your Client to the Right Colours, Even When They Disagree with You (it's Easier Than you Think)

  1. StagerLinda says:

    Your training is invaluable. Thanks for offering the Free Training Call. What a super idea! I will be register immediately.

  2. I Think that the granite color works quite well with the cabinet colors of the kitchen. It looks yellow because of the painted back splash color which doesn't relate to the greenish undertone of the granite. For me panting it in a greenish grey would solve the color problem but not the business of the granite. Have a great day!

  3. claire says:

    1) I'm guessing the kitchen is from the '90's.
    2) The first reason the granite appears so yellow is the wall paint with cool undertone
    3) a deep shade of warm green, like BM Old Salem Gray might harmonize the granite and cabinets. Not sure about the floor tile though.
    4) I would not introduce subway tile.
    5) Best money-saving advice is to change wall paint.

  4. Maggie S says:

    Yikes! Here is a perfect example of getting advice from a professional would have saved $$ and a lot of anguish. I'm not a professional but I can see so many clashing colors (thanks to Maria!)

    I hope that you will post your advice after the call

  5. Mary Anne says:

    Is it possible for a non-professional to sign up to hear what not to do as a client? Would love to know the best solution for this client. Thanks.

    • mairi says:

      I was wondering that too Mary Anne. My 'clients' (pro bono) are friends and family who trust my decorating style as it's what I do best and love spending the time studying it.

  6. Linda Leyble says:

    Hi Maria – I will be on the call. I love all your color advice.

    I don't know hiw old this kitchen is…maybe from the 90s? The simplest thing to do would be to change the paint color – the gray that's there is too cool and the rest of the palette is warm. It's all in the undertones!! The yellow undertones of the cabinets are boosting the purple undertones in the wall color.

    Best possible solution would be to add a warm toned backsplash, if that wouldn't break the budget. Then she could choose a warm brown or chocolate wall color – something mid toned or even dark, to add some contrast.

    That would be my advice – it would be less than repainting the cabinetry. But, of course, I would love to hear what you would do.



  7. Robin says:

    Oh dear, I feel so bad for her! The floor tiles are pink and her countertop is green. I went through this in the foyer of my last house. Thanks to help from a talented color consultant, we painted the walls in BM Smoked Oyster and it made my pink floors look more like white. The trim was painted BM atrium. I had chosen a series of colors with green undertones and it never worked.

    Any solution is going to be expensive. I am now getting a quote to paint my kitchen's pink beige cabinets to a neutral dark charcoal. It's very small and I am looking at $1000.

    • ka says:

      Painting cabinets is a PITA job.

      One of my neighbors just did this in Feb. when they bought the house–I told them it was a steal. Then I saw the contractor a couple of days later and told him his guys did a good job. He said, "Yeah, I underbid it. I should have charged more."

      Theirs is a 10' galley kitchen with no uppers on half of one side because of a pass through. Plus no cabinets where the fridge, DW, stove and microhood are.

      You all will be happy to note that they were painted WHITE! :)

  8. Beth says:

    Why is the granite more yellow than expected? It appears that the wall color is a grayed violet, and since violet and yellow are complementary colors, they'd each make the other pop more. Change the wall color and the yellow will quiet down.

    I can't tell if there's also a bit of pink in the cabinets?

    (I'm never certain about colors on line since our computers and tablet all show color differently, so the above is only a best guess!)

  9. Babs Loyd says:

    I blog about color and use your expert advice frequently. May I join in on your upcoming training? Seeing color is important to me as a painter, and I have used your suggestions about decor more than once in my paintings. I am reevaluating some of my older work to apply more color in unexpected ways. Your bold use of color has opened up my eyes! Thanks, Maria.

  10. Emilie says:

    I am not a truly professional decorator since I only advise myself but I know that dead grey on the walls is totally wrong. Not only the back splash could be warmer but the wall color needs to warm up as well. I'm signed up and hoping for insight. Thanks, Maria.


  11. jane says:

    Maria, I would love to hear this, but am already scheduled for that time, and is something I can't change. Will you be recording this so we could listen later? Hate to miss this!

  12. Sweet! I'm there! :) Thanks for this.

    As far as the picture of the kitchen, I think the countertop and cabinets are ok together (although there might be a little pinky undertone in the cabinets? Hard to tell from the pic). The blue in the paint color is the main problem. She should definitely remove the 4 inch backsplash regardless if it matches anything or not, and do a simple subway tile.

    Would you use a darker grout color to tie in with the darker colors in the granite in this situation? Or would that start to look busy because the cabinet hardware is already providing that tie-in and contrast?

  13. I'm bummed I can't make the call. I always get something out of your real life examples. I learned so much from True Color Workshop! This sounds like a mini session and I'm sure it will be packed with good information. I'm hoping you'll publish the recording.

  14. Kay says:

    This nonprofessional agrees with the consensus–the gray wall is what makes the granite look so yellow. On my monitor, the granite relates well to the cabinets, which appear to have a yellow undertone, but not to the floor, which looks pink. I personally can't stand those four-inch back splashes and would like to see it removed, in which case the right color subway tile (that is, a white with yellow in it to tie together the granite and the cabs) would look peaceful. However, the quickest fix is the paint. And then, when the budget allows, the floor.

  15. Amber Sanders says:

    Classic case of "Clash of the Undertones" The walls definitely need to be painted, subways installed if possible to clean up the "my-walls-are-half-busy-granite-look". So choppy looking. The cabinets look too pink against a yellow countertop so paint them and simplify the look. I am always looking for ways to balance and simplify (colors and undertones). I see oak cabinets so my guess is the house is 15-20 years old.

  16. Donna Lockman says:

    Hello Maria

    Unfortunately I can not make this training call. Is it possible that you will have this recorded so that we could listen to this later?


  17. sandyc says:

    Got to be a 90's kitchen with those white-washed looking cabinets and pink-undertone beige tile floor. I'm not a color expert but given what I've learned from you, Maria, #1 – the paint color has to be changed, of course; #2 – I would forget about a backsplash AT THIS POINT, #3 – no matter what you do above the floor – changing the wall color, painting the cabinets, adding a back splash – something HAS TO BE DONE about that "screaming pink" tile floor – not cheap. I have a lovely version of that tile floor scattered throughout my house now and there is absolutely no hope.

  18. Connie says:

    The cabinets look dirty and dated because of the "antique-type finish" that looks pink on my screen. I would paint them a clean white. After that is done I would assess the wall and counter colors. The wall color likely has to change also. I love subway tile and would use it in white.

  19. Janice says:

    My first step would be to replace the cabinet hardware with something more neutral. It's much busier than the granite – it makes the eye jump around too much. Next I would change the paint color to have the same undertone as the granite (removing the granite backsplash). I think the granite and the cabinets are OK together as they appear on my monitor.

  20. Fran says:

    The only thing that could help this dated kitchen is a match.

  21. Ann says:

    If she saved for a year to get those countertops, then i'm assuming that her budget is not very large for a redo. On my monitor the cabinets and flooring look pink while the granite has a yellow undertone. Thanks to you, Maria, I know they will never get along! I would change the wall color first. I really hope she has money to repaint the cabinets because they look like they are very nice and I love the glass doors! A contrasting painted accent color behind the glass would also be a nice touch. I really hate the bin pulls hung vertically. I would have her patch those holes before paint. The flooring also needs to be updated to a better undertone but who knows how much money she has? In the meantime, I would put some great runner rugs down. I can't wait to hear how you solve this, Maria. Are you letting your non-professional decorators listen in? I really love to learn from you!

    • ka says:

      Those sideways bin pulls bug me, too, but they probably have a 3" on center hole pattern and she can change to something else since that hole spread is so common.

      In a kitchen where people actually cook, this is my least favorite pull. Hard to clean well and flour, chicken, juices, etc.,…it could get icky under there, especially with kids….

  22. Looking forward to your tele-seminar!

  23. Kat says:

    Clever girl, not showing appliances which always tell a kitchen's age. But, from the look of those pickled oak cabinets I'd say this was a late 80s/early 90s kitchen. Similar to the current trend of limed oak but the pickling brings out a pink undertone while today's liming tends more towards grey. I assume the homeowner wants to me on trend with the wall colour – however, the grey wall paint selected is a cool blue grey and it clashes a bit with the pinkish cabinets. They have selected a St Cecilia granite I believe, which is lovely as it has lots of movement for interest with predominantly light warm neutral tones with dark flecks that pick up the bronze tones in their cabinet hardware — it definitely tends toward green and not pink so, again, not working with the cabinets. The pulls on the drawers are fine but I'd suggest replacing the door hardware with simple round knobs in a matching bronze to make them less prominent and to elongate the doors visually (not changing all the hardware is a cost savings, however slight). So, the paint is a cool grey and it seems a bit off (tends to read a cool blue next to the green toned granite and pinkish wood) so first off, I would recommend changing the wall paint colour. To what you ask? In keeping with their desire to stay Grey, I'd offer a mid toned warm colour like BM 1553 Equestrian Gray to offer a dramatic CONTRAST to the lighter cabinets and a depth that picks up the granite and hardware while sharing their green undertone. I'd love to go all in and update the cabinets by painting them too – it will make them uniform and not contribute to the 'busy' feel with the wood peeking through the pickled paint (a very affordable option for most homeowners too). I'd like to recommend an almost khaki colour, SW 7043 Worldly Gray, which compliments the other green undertones of with it's gold/green cast. Still in the neutral airy feel of the existing cabinets but without the pink cast and offering an updated painted finish that plays nicely with the bronze hardware and St Cecilia. It appears there are no under cabinet lights and this photo does not show the natural nor added light sources in the kitchen space so, in the event they want a pop of colour – I might suggest an alternative cabinet colour such as SW 6164 Svelte Sage, again a soft neutral choice with a green undertone. For the cooktop's backsplash, subway tile would be a lovely and timeless choice, perhaps in a soft white or even khaki (not a harsh white white or we're back to the blue grey paint mistake) that again has undertones that tie in with the elements we've selected. I'd begin the subway tile at the cooktop/countertop line and run it to the top cabinet/vent – and omit the 4" granite strip entirely to keep the lines clean and simple. As for the floors, a simple grout dye to match the tile is an affordable option until they can reselect a flooring that works with the new scheme. With a uniform floor colour, it will become less noticeable and less of a design feature (contrasting grout again makes flooring appear 'busy'). Then add an area rug or runner to conceal much of the floor until they can be upgraded. A seagrass rug will add texture and warmth to the space and a nice 4" canvas banding in a sage green would make it tie in nicely. So my recommendations are a few hardware changes, a bit of paint and grout colourant, an area rug and of course accessories in the cabinets and on the counters and it's a very affordable upgrade that harmonizes.

  24. Kat says:

    PS Sorry for the long post, I get carried away. Oh and I can't wait for the seminar Maria, your advice is always fabulous!!
    Kat, KTJInteriors

  25. Diane says:

    The wall color definately has to go…and the cabinet hardware is much too heavy and dark. It needs to be changes as well and if they painted the cabinets a warm white, oh my what a difference it would make.

  26. Jennifer Curtis says:

    We had a similar problem in a past kitchen where the back splash was green beige and the floor tile was pink beige. We got advice from a kitchen remodel company when the kitchen designer bailed on us in the finishing stage and we decided to wing it (not wise) and they recommended a brick red back splash to tone down the pink. I couldn't imagine it at all, but by then my husband said he could replace the back splash at least twice for less than the cost of replacing the floor. The kitchen company didn't have the recommended tile in stock and sent us somewhere else with color instructions, not style. But we found a nice 3" x 3" that reduced the pinky beige to beigey beige. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. And I didn't have a desire for red in my kitchen at all, but I liked it very much in the end!

    • Kat says:

      I totally agree, introducing a Red or Terracotta toned backsplash tile or paint will certainly make the pinky cabinets read more neutral than they do now. Excellent point and no doubt the most cost effective fix in this example. Nice suggestion!
      KTJ Interiors

  27. Can non-professionals sign up for your tele-mar?

  28. Carol B. says:

    Hi Maria! Just wanted to know how long the seminar will be – want to be sure to block out enough time because I don't want to miss a WORD!!

  29. Kate says:

    Darn, I missed the seminar! Will you be doing it again?

  30. I was SO disappointed when I missed the Front Door Colors webinar and now I'm crushed that I couldn't make either date of this one!
    PLEASE tell me you are going to make the recordings available!!!

  31. Just found out about you and your website. Do you have a pre record of the call on March 20 about the kitchen and colour that I could listen to.



  32. LisaE says:

    If she doesn't mind looking trendy, Cole's "Woods" wallpaper instead of paint would solve the problem. Not the problem of the floors, but at least the problem of the walls.

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