Learn to be Bossy Yet Charming

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 you know what I’m talking about.

My friends had hit an impasse over the look and feel they wanted for the interior of the house they were building and their “discussions” were ending up in unhappy places.

“Could you come and see if you can help? We can’t agree on anything and we have to start ordering the finishes so we can actually have a completed house to move in to.”

So off I went, with a brain full of Maria-inspired guidelines and principles for design and colour.

My friends are building a 6,500 square foot house. It’s not their forever home as they’re planning to live in it for a year or two, sell and move on to their next build. He has always wanted to build a house with lovely French roof lines and this was the perfect time to indulge his creativity. The house plan is gorgeous and will look similar to this style (pictured below):

West Vancouver, BC

West Vancouver home photographed by my client

So pretty. But here’s where their planning starts to fall apart. They both love the clean lines and look of modern interiors and were planning to fill the house with elements like a linear fireplace, waterfall counter, glossy, flat-panel cabinetry, contemporary hood fan, pencil tile, etc, etc. Even though they were both on the same page with their modern design aesthetic they still could not agree on a single element.


via Pinterest

We sat down and first she gave me her list of what she wanted and needed in the house. Then he had his turn and gave me his list of what he wanted and needed. Yup, they were pretty far apart on their wishes and wants and I could see why they were stymied.

Then it was my turn and I leaned forward and channeled Maria:

“Oh, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re not the boss of your house,” I said in a charming but bossy manner.

Bossy But Charming Design

They looked taken aback and I could see they were wondering if I thought was the boss of their house.

“The house you’re building is the boss of your house,” I said.

“You made that decision when you decided on the French Country exterior. The style of the outside of your house is now dictating the inside of your house and you need to listen to it.

All these wonderful modern elements you’re in love with are waiting for you in your next house build. When you create a modern house design you can fill it with all these finishes and it will be perfect. But for this house you need to fill it with elements that continue the look and feel of the exterior.”

I could see that they totally got it and within 20 minutes we had put together a list of the “rules” for their fixed elements and a plan they were both excited about. We created a shopping list with criteria they found easy to follow.

Bossy But Charming Design

They went shopping for medium brown wood flooring, cream cabinets with cream subway tile for their backsplash, a plaster hood fan with lines that mimic the roof line, un-bossy floor tiles and a beautiful French-Inspired fireplace.

Now every discussion they have is with a listening ear to the true boss of their house. Apparently it’s them against the house and the house wins every time. I don’t think the house talks back, it just stands there in its loveliness and argument is futile.

They no longer spend hours looking for all manner of wild and wonderful finishes because their house won’t like it. Picking paint colours for the interior was a breeze because I brought Maria’s colour boards and they could immediately see the right colours to coordinate with all their finishes.

I had worked in design for almost 15 years before finding Maria and taking her True Colour Expert training, but can honestly say that the learning and language I’ve gotten from her was like nothing I’d learned before.

Before Maria’s training I was so focused on giving my clients what they told me they wanted that I never considered the dictates of their house style and fixed elements that were not changing.

I’ve learnt so much more than just colour. It feels amazing to be able to communicate design concepts and principles in a way that cuts right to the chase and gives people the confidence to feel I know what I’m talking about. Understanding Undertones™ was just the first step in this learning – the lens of timeless design, creating flow, the rules of colour, where to start a decorating project, yesterday versus today, the list goes on and on.

The more time I spend in Maria’s world, the clearer and more useful my design sensibility grows. And it works because now when I tell a client or friend what’s what, they totally get it. And they’re happy.

Because that’s the goal, isn’t it?

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. Vancouver in September and October in Toronto. Dates for 2014 coming soon.

The winner of my the $200 gift card for my Uncommon Goods Giveaway is Felecia! Congratuations!

Bossy But Charming Design

Related posts:

Maria’s Colour Training is IDCEC Approved

Do you Give your Clients Exactly What they Want?

Undertones in Fabrics and Countertops

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk up to the front door, become a client. On-line or In-person.



leave aREPLY

  1. Maria,

    I love your colors and your blog. I look forward to reading it and seeing the beautiful pictures.
    Love the French Country house story.