Ask Maria: What is the Most Timeless Colour?

I get asked this so often and I have stated this many times on the blog but I think it needs it’s very own post.

When I was a new decorator my first ‘decorated’ apartment was beige-on-beige.

And back then, I also declared that the reason I preferred a room decorated in beige and cream was because I worked with colour all day and preferred to live in a calm and neutral environment.

But the real reason (and of course I didn’t realize it at the time) was that I had no idea how to decorate using colour.

Neutrals were ‘safe’, something I could attempt on my own.

When we think about decorating using neutrals, it seems like it wouldn’t be that hard to just make every choice some variation of grey or beige or white and you’ll end up with something lovely.

However, colour is and always will be more timeless than the current trendy neutral.

You’ll learn this when you renovate or build your first house and then watch with dismay as the trendy choices you thought were so ‘timeless’, date quickly. Just like my very first official furniture purchase as a newlywed many years ago.

It’s the same reason most bathrooms currently look like some variation of this one because we’re inside the grey trend:

There’s nothing wrong with either of these bathrooms. In both cases, the tile doesn’t appear to clash with the countertop which is nice. Potentially, you could still paint the vanity any strong bright colour and paint the walls a colour.

However, whenever a space has TOO MUCH of the current, trendy neutral in it, people stop saying things like “OMG I love the colour of the vanity?” WHAT IS IT, I MUST HAVE IT!

However, this wood stained kitchen with the blue-green island makes us pause.

It’s a good balance between the warmth of all the wood, and you can see that the colour also relates to the nearby stone fireplace.

The countertops are white, which is perfect because you won’t be bored of them in 10 minutes.

Crown Point Cabinetry

That is why I often say that the hard finishes in kitchens and bathrooms should be primarily white or cream. This way you can change the paint and decor whenever the wind moves you.

For those of you asking for a wood stained kitchen, there it is (above).

It’s also why you should choose your favourite colour for your sofa (instead of brown, charcoal or black).

It’s why my yellow sofa (below) shows no signs of being dated even though it’s 8 years old.

I installed it the year that Pantone declared ‘Mimosa’ to be the ‘colour of the year’. However, that was not accurate. Yellow was no where to be found then or in the years to come. It’s been on the periphery of colour trends until this year.

When I suddenly found 3 pairs of shoes in yellow this year, I knew, it’s here. And I predicted that it would be in my 2018 trends report here.

Yellow sofa | Living Room | Decorating with Pink | Decorating with Black | Styling Ideas

However, if my sofa was brown or charcoal, not only would we instantly be able to give an approximate date as to when it was purchased, we’d probably be bored of it already.

I installed a navy blue sectional in one of my clients living rooms 15 years ago. She recently called me in to help her re-decorate because it was faded from the sun and being moved to their media room.

When I asked her what colour she wanted for the new one, guess what she said?

“Navy. All blues are my favourite, and once you introduce a new accent colour with pillows and accessories, It’ll feel different,”

And, she’s exactly right.

I see MANY HOTELS in my travels around the country leading my workshops, and what saddens me the most is seeing the prolific commitment to the current trendy neutral in all of them.

If they are not currently entirley brown, they are all being re-decorated into varying tones of greys and charcoals.

The hotel we are currently holding my Specify Colour with Confidence event in Boca Raton is mostly brown. The guest rooms are brown, the lobby is primarily brown and the meeting room has brown carpet AND brown drapery.

However, we took a drive to West Palm Beach this past weekend and had lunch in the Circle Restaurant at the Breakers Hotel and here’s the colourful tour.

Tell me at the comments which photo/room looks like it was most recently renovated?


Here I am in the lobby where every single person stopped to snap a photo in front of the flowers!

Is this Haint blue? Must be, we are in the South!

It’s so rare to see such a fabulous floral arrangement in the hotel lobby these days, and so smart because literally everyone paused to take a photo for their social media account.

After brunch when we walked around the hotel it rained and I caught it in the pretty courtyard with bright orange umbrellas.

When a hotel is decorated with colour, they only need to renovate when the furnishings get tired, not simply because the colours are dated.

Okay which image look like it’s had the most recent update? Post your guess in the comments below!

Related posts:

Grey is OUT (maybe)! The Colour Trend is IN!

Danger: How you Know You’ve Fallen for a Trend

How to Decorate with Black (And how NOT to Decorate with it)











leave aREPLY

  1. So glad you got to visit Palm Beach, Maria, and you certainly found the color at The Breakers! You’d love it at Christmastime. Thank you for a great three days of Specifying Colour with Confidence which I will always remember and hold dear. It was such a pleasure meeting you, Tereeria and all my fellow color seekers. I look forward to my new career as a True Colour Expert!

  2. I have a beautiful green velvet sofa but we are now purchasing another for another ‘room’ in the open concept. I think one coloured sofa is the maximum. What do you think?

      • Hi Maria,
        That is exactly what I am thinking. I love the cover of House Beautiful with one green sofa and one turquoise sectional but do worry about turquoise looking dated down the road. I am thinking of cream or white for sure. Thank you and I hope this question helps others.

        • In the sofa store yesterday, 90% of the fabrics were grey. There wasn’t really enough choice in whites and creams, so blue it is!

  3. Michelle Macchiarella

    I believe it’s the lounge with the blue and orange chairs and mid-century modern flair 🙂
    Mid-century is a big theme right now and the carpet in the room seems to hint that was the inspiration.
    Great post! Always very informative.
    Thanks, Maria!

    BTW-I have two rooms painted a deep, lovely gold by Benjamin Moore. Glad to hear it’s coming back!

  4. I think the dining room has been recently remodeled! I love the navy chairs! I have a fairly new gray sofa. It’s depressing and I wish I had gotten a navy one! I may even have it recovered! Great blog!

  5. By the way, this was a fun post! The navy and gray dining chairs are nice, but they don’t go with the carpet!

  6. My guess for the most recent update is the dining room with the blue/teal chairs, orange/beige chairs and large floor lamps.