It’s my Birthday Plus an Update on my Colour Wheel

This photo was taken at 10:00 pm in Finland by my mom who’s already there.

Last summer and now again this summer we have ended up on an epic trip to Europe. Last year we had a three week trip to the Amalfi Coast planned and then Terreeia generously invited my mom to join us halfway through, so we extended it another week. We ended up being gone for four weeks.

Mom also went to Finland exactly two summers ago with one of my sisters and when she did that I realized that all my sisters have been to Finland with her except me (being there when I was 3 years old doesn’t count). On previous trips I was always too busy or just didn’t have the money and I really wanted to go while my mom is still fit and healthy! Hopefully she stays that way forever and ever!

Anyway, we planned to go this summer. My mom figured going the following summer was too soon to impose on friends and relatives.

Helsinki, Finland — Photo taken by my mom Hellen

Then last year Terreeia and I signed up to attend another Tony Robbins Business event which happened to be held in Amsterdam, so then it made sense to tack on the Finland trip with my mom to those dates in June.

But then I thought if we were going all the way to Amsterdam and I was going on to Finland to join my mom, it made sense to go somewhere a week before the event. Terreeia has never been to Paris so we decided to go there the week before our Amsterdam course


Are you still with me? Haha. This means, I will be gone for 5 weeks which, given how much we already travel, is a long time to be gone.

I will still be working and blogging on my trip — that is one of the perks of owning an online business.

Anyway I just thought I’d tell you about how things are going with me, it’s been a while since I’ve written a personal post.

It’s been a little over 7 years since we moved to Yarrow, the little village we live in now (that’s actually considered Chilliwack). It’s kind of been like a best kept secret that’s a secret no longer. We can’t believe what houses out here (one hour East of downtown Vancouver) are selling for now. We feel lucky that we got into the market when we did.

This town is still missing a great little grocery store and a local pub but a cute coffee shop did move in a few years ago that serves great espresso and organic pastries. I helped fix the exterior colours here.

One thing we love about all the travelling we do is the fabulous restaurants all around the country that we get to enjoy. We don’t dine out much when we are at home because there’s only one restaurant worth going to out here and that gets boring.

My mom Hellen and I drinking green juice (well it’s hard to say what I’m drinking 🙂

We live very close to the Vedder River (above) and in the summer the locals hang out and sunbathe and watch their kids splash around in the pools created by the river.

Markus and William

I really love living so close to my sisters, nephews (above) and my mom. My sister Elizabeth and her husband were the first to move here, along with my mom, then my second sister Lea and her partner Greg moved into a townhouse in the Eco Village literally down the street from us, a few years ago.

I’m still a mad scientist/artist, geek and at times, socially awkward, and my family means everything to me.

In one of my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops this past spring, one of my students said she lived on the same street as her parents along with four other siblings and their families. I loved hearing that, I feel blessed living here and I really love my frequent early morning visits with my family, especially when we hang out in the most beautiful room in the world, haha.

Okay, so many of you have been asking about my new colour wheel I hoped would be available this May. Well, we printed 10,000 of them and learned a hard lesson about printing processes that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Colours printed on a press will never be as accurate as the identical colours in paint. Not going to happen.

The ONLY way to make sure the colours are 100% accurate would be to paint them which would make them expensive. As a side note, did you know that fan decks are painted? They would simply never be accurate otherwise. I only learned this while going through the process of creating my Understanding Undertones colour wheel.

Here’s an example of a strip in one of the fan decks that got swiped before it dried (below):

My new colour wheel is not a tool to create colour palettes anyway. For that matter, taking any colour wheel — mine or a traditional colour wheel and creating colour palettes is an exercise in theory, not one that helps you in real life when you are building, renovating or decorating your home.

I created this colour wheel as a way for you to have confidence in identifying nine useful neutral colours that you will use over and over again when working with the category of neutrals. This wheel will let you see the key difference in warm and cool neutrals, an important part of understanding how to specify colours.

And here’s where the blessing in disguise steps in. To make this colour wheel even more effective and helpful, I created the ultimate cheat sheet that lets you customize it for you. I’m calling this cheat sheet Maria Killam’s Curated List of Neutral Paint Colours and it gives you the equivalent paint colours in four major paint lines: Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball.

When the wheel is ready to launch, you’re not just going to get the colour wheel, you’re also going to get a list of each of the nine neutral colours on the wheel in lighter and darker versions. In the paint brand you use.

How is this going to be a game changer? Once the wheel shows up in your mailbox, you’re going to take my curated list, go to your paint store and pull the paint chips in the paint lines you actually use.

Now you’re going to go home and have fun with scissors and a glue stick. Cut the violet grey paint chip (Collingwood for Benjamin Moore, Popular Gray for Sherwin-Williams and Moth Gray for Behr) down to size and glue it on the violet grey area of your new colour wheel.

That’s step one of creating your customized, personalized neutral colour wheel. One that is completely accurate in your favourite paint brand. Step 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9? Do the same thing for the rest of the neutral colours on the wheel.

And here’s more good news. I’m going to give this first run of colour wheels away to anyone who wants one. All you need to do is pay for shipping and handling.

That means I will need a fulfillment house that can process and handle the orders, so if anyone has any suggestions, please email our office here.

PLEASE DON’T EMAIL US WITH YOUR ADDRESS OR ORDER YET. When we find a fulfillment house, as I just said, we will set it up and my subscribers will be the first to know when you can order one! Hopefully very soon!


Printed version front and back

Understanding Undertones Color Wheel - Maria Killam

Digital Version


And it’s my birthday tomorrow, Friday (June 7). This year, I want to ask for the same favour as last year:

Will you leave a comment telling me one thing that my work has helped you do? That would be the best birthday present!

It could be building your dream house, or your dreamy white kitchen. Or your business experienced a transformation after you completed one of my colour workshops.

Also I’d like to know what kind of posts you’d like me to write more about.

This is what makes writing Colour Me Happy worth it!

All I ask is that you be specific, include actual numbers if that’s appropriate. Share your story.

Thanks in advance — and here’s to the best year yet.

PS. We leave for Paris on Monday, follow along on Instagram and my insta stories, it’ll be fun!

I love my community of followers and am so grateful for you all!

Related posts:

My 50th Birthday Party

10 Happy Years of Colour me Happy

My 5 Best Tips When Travelling to Italy (Including packing Carry-on ONLY)



leave aREPLY

  1. Hi Maria,
    In consideration of your printing process problem, it would be useful if you could specify a paint color from a fan deck that illustrates the undertone specified on your colour wheel. That would help us appreciate the differences accurately.

  2. Never thought I would style a table or shelf. Been discovering that it can be fun and really kind of relaxing to live with a bit of planned housescape. Thanks Maria Happy Birthday

  3. Happy Year ahead Maria! Looks like you will be enjoying spectacular places while you are away. I am not sure what one thing I appreciate most about what I have learned from you….but helping me organize and think through colors in my own mind has helped me choose and explain colors to my clients. A real benefit and something I wish I had learned decades ago when I went into this business. Thank you

  4. Where to begin? Your guidance, both online and in person, has helped me tweak the colors in my house to perfection. Plus, it has been a joy to get to know you and Terreeia. I loved your workshop and learned so much. Thanks to you, I’m doing some color consulting in addition to writing about interior design. Your blog is educational and fun, and I always look forward to reading it. I hope you had a very happy birthday and that the coming year will be your best ever!dd

  5. Happy Belated Birthday! I’ve been following your blog since the beginning. When we started a remodel last year on our retirement home, I bought one of your sample paint board packages. Using your advice I kept the cabinets, the quartz countertop, and the tile backsplash all in the same off white and cream undertone. I also read your two books on using with whites. I was going back-and-forth between seashell and natural wicker for the primary wall color throughout tthe house. I knew I didn’t have it quite right when I accidentally rolled BM Natural Wicker over a wet patch of an older formulation of Swiss Coffee (from back when it was a more ivory color rather than a version.). The heavens parted and the perfect cream ivory showed up. We just moved in and with your advice our ivory home is perfect ((with no clashing undertones) and the walls work in all lighting. Thanks for all your advice and examples across the years!

  6. Happy belated Birthday! Workg with Colour for over 20yrs in Ireland. Specifying many paint brands for over 6yrs and now Benjamin Moore.I Purchased lot of your Ebooks and I will do your course one day. I don’t need to,I want to as we are never finished learning. My work is my hobby so my treat would be to do your course in person. I am going over soon as I can or else I’ve got to get you to Ireland! Love your work Maria. Niamh Courtney

  7. Your wisdom and generosity in sharing that wisdom is making houses all over the world (including mine) into happy homes their residents love. Many, many thanks! And many, many more happy birthdays to you, Terreeia, and the rest of you family.

  8. I celebrate you, Maria, with the joy, brightness, and warmth you bring to us through your work. Happy Birthday!
    I would love a post with photos that demonstrate your “Light Test” described in your Whites Book. I’d like to see what “light streams through filling the room” looks like. Sure, the extremes are easier to determine, but how much light is needed to make a room look luminous after painting walls the creamier offwhites, greiges, and whites? I also wonder if, as you say, whites appear dingy with gray shadows in a room too dark, why do greige wall colors present as a better alternative? Aren’t greiges already dingy/grayed whites that would also present as lifeless in a room without enough light? I welcome learning more! In the meantime, best wishes for a wonderful trip. May it be a year of health, happiness, and color for you and your loved ones!

    • Yes technically greige in a dark room would also look wrong. . . or if you took a dated house with bad carpet and painted the walls greige that would look bad as well. Greige needs lots of crisp white trim to look right. Basically the best rule of thumb with neutrals is that they should relate to the undertone neutrals in the room. Or, like my living room, have lots of bright colours so that greige becomes a good backdrop. I will have to think about how I can write that kind of post! Thanks for your comment, Maria

  9. Wishing you a very happy birthday Maria. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your knowledge over the years and thank you for your honesty and your personal posts. Including your personal stories and being yourself keeps you real to your audience. Could you do a post on balancing colour/pattern in a room please…… when purchasing items for a room how do you know when the balance is right up front.
    Sorry to hear your luggage went missing. A friend suggested that it’s a good idea to put some of your clothing/accessories in your partners luggage so that if your bags go missing at least not everything is lost.

  10. Happy Birthday Maria!
    Some of the best things I have learned from you:
    1. white subway tile is timeless and then you can change up decor more often and it will not be as expensive as ripping out horrid accent tile 🙂
    2. If a horrid thing is not going away because it would be too expensive to replace it or a spouse loves the ugly thing, ignore it and decorate around it. That really gave me a huge sigh of relief!
    3. Your color wheel is genius!
    4. 11 X 14 painted boards are the only way to compare and determine undertones.
    Best wishes to a fellow Gemini!

  11. WARNING: overuse of the word “literally” in this reply, but necessary for proper emphasis! Becoming a TCE has changed my entire life. Literally. I now see the jobs of designers I once thought knew it all and see ways the colors could be changed and improved. I LITERALLY see the world in a whole new way. I was on the (pink beige) beach recently and a gold bird landed nearby. “Poor bird”, I thought to myself. “You’d be so much better if you were the right shade of blue”. It was automatic – you taught me how to LITERALLY SEE in a new way. Your three “basics”, for example clean vs dirty, etc. was the foundation for understanding. The traditional color wheel that is taught in color theory be GONE! YOUR system is the way. I also learned to compare, compare, compare!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY PLUS 27 DAYS!!!!! xoxoxox

  12. Any update on your neutrals color wheel? I have trouble telling green undertones from pink and this is exactly what I need before I go carpet shopping.