Vancouver Colour Queen on the cover of BC Home

Remember that wall of artwork I showed you a few weeks ago when it was being installed?  Well here it is now on the front page of BC Home for their Design Issue in September!  I have recreated the entire article here for you to see!


Have you ever splashed your space with paint only to discover, a little too late, that you hated the end result? It’s a common occurrence among today’s DIYers, emboldened by television’s crop of home reno programs. It’s also one of the leading reasons behind the growing appeal of hiring a specialist, such as Vancouver-based colour designer Maria Killam.


The colour queen – clad in white capris and a sunny yellow top – is all smiles as she proudly unveils her latest project, a tri-level Yaletown loft occupied by a 35-year-old corporate lawyer.  Killam has every reason to smile. The space boasts a style far removed from the stark and sober aura that one might expect in the home of a corporate lawyer. Indeed, it shatters stereotypes with a punchy, playful vibe – one, Killam says, that reflects the young lawyer herself, a Twilight fan who shares the rental unit with her two Boston terriers, Lucy and Polly.

“My client, Kareen [Zimmer], is definitely not a stuffed shirt corporate type!” says Killam. “She’s young, vibrant and feminine, so she wanted surroundings to match.” She also wanted the residence, accented in Zimmer’s favourite colours of purple and green, to be elegant, leaving guests in no doubt that they’ve entered the domain of a successful career woman.


When a newly hired Killam first entered the loft four months ago, the 1,300-square-foot unit was just an empty builder box containing whitewashed walls, yellow-beige carpets and zero personality. Undaunted, Killam’s first task was to select furniture, and she chose contemporary shapes in colours that would coordinate with the carpeting.

“It’s a rental, so we needed to work with the colour of the flooring,” she explains. “I suggested we go with a fabric covered sofa instead of leather because in terms of colour, texture and pattern, the choices are endless, she says, gesturing to the grass-green sofa and twin footstools upholstered in a polka-dotted fabric.


Fun furnishings aside, the home’s biggest wow factor is arguably the living room wall – an expansive white backdrop that has been boldly colour-blocked in a shade of moss green. Its eyepopping impact comes as no surprise to Killam, who believes that the best way to create maximum bang for minimal buck is with a gallon of paint.

Minimizing costs is important to this designing woman, who has a knack for mixing high-end indulgences – like the custom-made, tri-colour curtains lining a set of windows overlooking False Creek – with wallet-friendly finds. One of her best buys was a $300 dining room table from Ikea, which left enough money in the budget to adorn it with eight chairs custom-upholstered in a chenille stripe.


If God is in the details, Killam paid heed to this mantra right down to the minutia. Thanks to her, future dinner party guests needn’t fear of any awkward lulls in conversation. That’s because the dining room wall boasts a striking photo gallery chronicling Zimmer’s world travels. This dynamite detail was an easy (and inexpensive) way to personalize an otherwise featureless wall.


And, as every Yaletown trendster knows, accessories can make or break a look. Together, Killam and Zimmer trawled various retailers for funky finishings, including whimsical table lamps shaped like eternal circles. After all, Killam declares, there’s no point in giving your place a 21st-century update if your accessories still scream 1999.



One of Zimmer’s favourite retreats is three flights up a carpeted staircase, past her cosy loft bedroom, to an outdoor patio overlooking the city. “I wanted an outdoor space where I could do gardening,” she says, adding dryly: “As a corporate lawyer, I don’t get a lot of creativity in my day.”

This flower-filled patio, worth every step of the tri-level climb, is outfitted with an outdoor sofa and chair set, whose apple-green and coral cushions are as bright and cheery as the surrounding pots of gerbera daisies.

It’s a mood shared by Zimmer herself, who says Killam’s services were worth every penny. “Maria did a great job,” she raves. “I had an unformed view of what I wanted, just some ideas, and she pulled it all out of her hat in a way that wasn’t outrageously expensive.”

Praise like that? For Killam, no doubt, it’s priceless. Maria Killam is a Vancouver-based colour designer who runs her own design firm. mariakillam.com

Photography by Anna Beaudry Photographic Design, Interview by Anna Dupas.
I have included a few extra photos that were not in the magazine and will write a different post soon to show you all the before photos!

Related post:
My interview in BC Home
Maria Killam on Decorating with Yellow in Alberta Home
Maria Killam in BC Home Magazine
Warning; You are the Colours in your Home

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  1. Congratulations Maria! Linda and I are so pleased for you…fab post of all the pictures, I love the drapes…just love the whole design…well done and congratulations again! Regards, Carol Ann

  2. A Gift Wrapped Life

    I was sent over by friend Lisa Porter and I was delighted to meet another Canadian blogger…..and one with such fabulous design talent. You certainly deserve this cover, in my humble opinion you have handled the colour in this project perfectly, just the right amount and in the right places. Congratulations and will add you to my bloglist.

  3. Congratulations Maria! You have extraordinary talent and truly deserve the "Color Queen" title. Every one of your blogs is beautifully done and fun to read.

  4. Maria, of course I know first hand the magic you create with colour & design. I'm just glad to know the rest of the city (and beyond) know it now too. Huge congrats on the cover – way to go!

  5. The Blasphemous Fiendess

    Very beautiful. I love the colours purple and green and although modern contemporary s not my style at all I could live in this place. Ms Zimmer must be very disappointed she is a renter and not the owner. I love the green sofa!

  6. Maria, This is such a great concept! I love it…so many possibilities for clothes and walls. :o)I honestly wasn't sure what you meant, exactly, by color blocking when you mentioned it in previous posts, but this article makes it a little clearer to me.

    Now I realize that I actually had done something like that in the sewing room because up until now, I hadn't had the option or time to paint. I simply made some table covers (for portable computer desks) and a tablecloth in the color that I really wanted in my sewing room to add that green that I love so much.

    Even though the whole room wasn't that way, the big pieces of furniture could be and it gave a similar effect. I am a fabric and texture lover and loved how you simply hung gorgeous colors of fabric on the wall in one of those bedrooms. All of a sudden I pictured my three Beatrix Potter prints in frames mounted on a huge Styrofoam board (maybe 1" thick) or something like it…a frame maybe, but covered in the olive green I want. The whole room painted in that color might be too much, but not a huge block. It's one of those walls with tons of white space and nothing but three symmetrical prints that I adore, but seem lost on the wall.

    I will have to spend some time musing over this post and see what sort of possibilities open up both in decor and fashion.

    Another thing I like was the comment you made about the photo showing the inside of the shelves being painted to compliment the fireplace. I like what they did, but I especially like the idea of doing a small room that way. I have a dining room which opens immediately into the living room. I had been considering painting it a contrasting color of some shade to make it feel cozier and somewhat separate from the living area. Your post confirmed that decision.

    Now about clothes…that would be a fun thing to ponder altogether. I'm working on a bright orange lace cover up (kimono style) which is about as bright as I've ever tried to wear..but I do love orange!! I need to think about what to wear with that orange..something out of the box I think. So much food for thought!

  7. Maria, This is great. I am so HAPPY 4 U. Great publicity
    and you deserve it!!!!!

    also I have the same green couch.