The Most Important Moment In Any Colour Consultation

Hello, everyone! I’m Laura Brzegowy, a True Color Expert from Bloomington, Indiana.

Discovering Maria’s blog in 2011, and making reservations two weeks later to attend her Specify Color with Confidence™ training in Vancouver, was a personal lucky strike of the highest magnitude. Not only did I meet fellow color mavens from around the world, but I also learned Maria’s unique system for selecting color.

As a Benjamin Moore store color consultant, the knowledge I gained from Maria’s seminar totally revolutionized the way I see, interact with, and choose color for my customers. Not a day goes by that I don’t put Maria’s color theories to great use. Because of her, hundreds of homes in my small Midwestern town sport “Maria-approved” colors.

What is your favorite color, and why?

My first color love continues to be my favorite color to this day: pink. No other color compares to the joy I feel when feasting my eyes on a room, an accessory, a piece of clothing, or a lipstick in the color pink.

There is a soft and playful nature to pale pinks, an “I’m comfortable in my own skin” to medium pinks, and a powerful kick-butt attitude that accompanies hot pink.

For those afraid of its little girl connotations, get over it. Pink is a sophisticated color option in both the home and fashion, where even a small amount conveys femininity and inner fortitude. Seriously, what other color holds as much controversial energy as pink? Those who incorporate it into their lives are self-assured, grounded, and decisively happy people. Kinda makes you want to run out and pick up can of pink paint, a pink home accessory, or pink scarf, doesn’t it?

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Photo Provided by Benjamin Moore

What was your biggest color mistake?

I’m acutely aware of two big color mistakes I’ve made in recent years. One was prior to Maria’s training, the other after.

Prior to working as a color consultant, I worked for a residential construction company, where I selected interior and exterior finishes. The Midwest was quite fond of beige exteriors at that time (the late 1990s), but I’d grown weary of them.

In an effort to spice things up, I chose a “new to us” warm, creamy off-white color siding named Heritage Cream. It looked decisively different from the cookie cutter beige homes we’d already built, and it paired beautifully with the sandstone masonry I’d selected to accompany it.

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Certainteed Vinyl Siding in Heritage Cream

I’d been warned multiple times by the builder I worked for that “yellow” homes don’t sell in Indiana. I thought this lovely creamy off-white would be a hit because it was different from all of the other homes in the neighborhood. Little did I know that the little Heritage cream sample chip, once installed in a large expanse, would turn into a “yellow home.”

It took what seemed like a lifetime to sell the “yellow home”, and I never lived down that color mistake. Interestingly enough, I drove past the home last week and still feel pride for the beauty I’d created. To this day, I think the home looks great, but I respect that, as a whole, “Indiana Hoosiers” don’t appreciate yellow homes.

The second big color mistake I made was directly after my seminar with Maria, and thankfully, it was in my own home.

My husband and I saved for ten years to renovate our home’s flooring, wall coverings, paint colors, and furniture. While selecting the family room couch fabric and flooring, I inspected the respective colors side by side, rather than the way they’d actually be installed (and the way I’d been taught by Maria).

Side by side, the chocolate brown carpet and moss green couch samples were distinctively different. Once purchased and in place, however, the color of the horizontal carpet and vertical couch were exactly the same depth of color, and quite similar in shade. Had I placed the couch fabric vertical to the flooring, I would have recognized my error. A Maria Killam lesson I didn’t take seriously enough, but have certainly since “learned!”

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Photo Provided by Benjamin Moore

What is the most important color lesson you’ve learned?

I’ve learned that “collaborative color” makes all the difference in the world when working with clients. Instinctively, each client understands how influential color is to their well-being, but they don’t understand how to select it for themselves.
Yes, my eye tells me which options work in a given room, but not which colors will excite the homeowners to live with. A good color not only relates to everything in the room and pulls it all together, but also makes a client feel good.

During my consultations, I ask an array of questions about the colors each client likes and dislikes, while taking into consideration the fixed elements, lighting, and use of the room.

These are all things I learned from Maria. Each of these aspects helps me formulate a selection of appropriate colors, but none is as important as my getting quiet and studying each client as we look at color.

Why? There comes a moment in each consultation when I know we’ve hit upon the perfect shade because the client’s demeanor changes. They may let out a relaxed sigh or become animated, their eyes may perk up or they may smile and scoot forward in their chair.

Whatever it is, once I notice it, I know we’ve achieved everything we set out to do. And I know that, once again, “collaborative color” has resulted in the perfect choice for my client’s wants and needs.

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Photo Provided by Benjamin Moore

When it comes to colour, what is hot?

I have the weekly task of replacing each of the Benjamin Moore color chips, giving me a unique pulse on which colors are popular in my section of the country. In the Midwest, all shades of blue are currently popular.

In recent years, gray shades were most in need of replacing. Now, I find that all types of blue, from clear to muted, are every bit as popular as the grays. Why do I believe this is the case? I don’t believe grays, or any other muted color, will ever go completely away. Not only are they easy to live with, but they’re also truly easier for most of us to associate with and decorate around. Yet clean colors, including blues, perk up typically somber grays.

Regardless, the last three months tells me that blue is the color that stalwart Midwesterners feel most comfortable with.

Which colour do you think is timeless?

When I think of timeless colors, creamy off-white is the first to come to mind. While hues, shades, and tints of ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) will come and go, creamy off-white is a classic. Clean whites are a fairly close second in my book, but they can frequently read as cold and sterile. Creamy off-white is the most classic color to build a strong or soft color palette around, making it my choice for the color to transcend the ages.

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Image from Benjamin Moore

You can see more of Laura’s work here.

Thanks so much, Laura!

Which colour do you think is the most timeless?

If you’d like to become the next True Colour Expert™ in your area register here.

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  1. Laura, your gift of “listening” is truly remarkable. This is the best nugget I have learned all year! Body language is so much more powerful than our lips! Thank you!

    • You are so very welcome, Jane. And, I thank you for your sweet compliment!
      Body language truly speaks louder than words. I try to tell each new client that I’m 100% not offended if they don’t like a color I suggest.
      So often, people believe they know nothing about color and are afraid to voice their opinions.
      They’re also afraid that their opinion is “wrong”. The truth is, our bodies generally speak volumes about our likes, and dislikes, far before our voices do. If you’re watching for the signs, you’ll know what they like “before” they do! ; )

  2. Excellent color commentary. Your succinct writing is such a pleasure to read–I’m astonished to realize it’s such a rarity in the blogosphere that it’s refreshing!

  3. I, too, am a pink fan but rarely get to use it, aside from little girls’ rooms. That’s a shame, too, because there’s absolutely no reason it can’t be used in adult spaces. In its deeper tones, it has the energy of red, but with a happier, edgier feel.

    • It’s so true, Color Help Dallas! There’s no reason that pink can’t be used in adult spaces.
      I see men and women wear pink, so if people love it enough to wear on their bodies, I bet more would be willing to live with it on their bodies than we give them credit for.
      You totally had me at pink having the “energy of red, with a happier, EDGIER feel.” Pink and edgy go together perfectly!

  4. Really enjoyed your piece on pink, creamy white, and thanks for sharing your mistakes.
    I’ve been contemplating painting a room in ‘blush’ for a while now. So, your example is inspiring and I’m now thinking it will be my next choice for a ‘bedroom.’
    I’m also a huge fan of ‘creamy whites.’ It’s my canvas in my own homes as well as for my clients. My ‘go to’ is Cloud White by BM. For me ‘Cloud’ evokes that Woody Allen, Manhattan NYC apt. feel that just seems to wrap itself as the changing light creates shadow, depth & texture. Think.. ‘Hannah And Her Sisters’ (Hannah’s Manhattan Apt.).

    • Go for the Blush, Linda! I had two bds in that colour and both were relaxing retreats. I once had a LR also, and noone could guess the shade, but all felt comfortable. It’s a chameleon and goes with so many other shades… greens, blues, grays, browns, black and even orange (in moderation). It’s another neutral in my book.:)

      I loved this post and truly love the “yellow” house. It looks really happy to me, but I get the point. Yellow, is a difficult colour to get right, especially in an exterior. Your example is really pretty, especially for a newer build.
      Creamy is also my favourite white.

      • Now you’re a woman speaking my language, Teresa! Blush certainly can be a gorgeous, neutral backdrop. Thanks for reminding us of that.
        I love the “yellow” house I specified colors for. Maybe it’s because the first house that I can remember living in was yellow, but it still appeals to my aesthetic.

    • Blush is so beautiful and sophisticated, Linda! I hope you DO paint a bedroom with it and send me a photo (email address is at my site, yourlifeinfullcolor.com).
      Creamy whites are instant classics, and White Cloud is an excellent choice. Next time you’re at a Benjamin Moore Store, check out my latest fave; AF-20 Mascarpone. Somehow it’s able to be clean, rich, and warm all at the same time.
      BTW, I need to check out Woody Allen movie. You’ve piqued my interest big time!

  5. Laura, I love your post! As others have stated, your writing style is unique and spot on. I was wondering how often you are actually invited to see a clients home in order to see the fixed elements? I know it must be hard to give advise without seeing the actual space. Design and color is so personal and no two people are alike. Thank heavens for that because it keeps us in business!

    Thanks again for your insight.
    .

    • That’s a great question, Lucy.
      I’d have to say that I conduct 80% of my color consultations in our store, and 20% in client’s homes.
      Surprisingly, I’ve had excellent success with my in store consultations, but I’m extremely particular in what I ask the client to bring in. My list of interior requirements for an in store consultation can be found here: http://wp.me/p5bkNX-bu
      The biggest problem I have is with those choosing not to bring in the items and use their iPhone or iPad cameras for photos instead. I ALWAYS explain that I can’t guarantee great results with photos and then I explain why here:
      http://wp.me/p5bkNX-8u
      I thank the heavens as well that I’m kept in business because no two people are alike and that resonates all the way down to their color preferences. ; )

  6. I love the creamy off white picture you posted! Is it the lighting or are a few different whites and off whies in the picture? In corner of picture I see soft chamois. If you do the creamy off whites on walls, what is a color for the trim?
    Laura I’m also from the Midwest and I love the yellow house. I’m in Chicago I so wish you worked in the BM store near me! I wonder if Maria knows of any in the Chicagoland area that took her color course!

  7. I agree, Kathleen. The photo of the creamy off white room is gorgeous. I do believe that the differences seen in the photo can be attributed to the lighting. That being said, this is my favorite way to treat moldings with creamy off white walls. The featured photo shows a beautiful blue green colored wall, but the concept would be the same.
    http://wp.me/p5bkNX-6I

  8. Very interesting to hear about blue’s appeal in the Midwest. (I’m in Texas, but from the Midwest). Several years ago I redid my kitchen/family room in Benjamin Moore’s Wythe Blue. I know it is a very classic color, and it works in the way I used it. However, at times, I sense that the color (a very greenish blue) feels a little depressing. Have you seen much use of this particular blue? Any reasons why or why not?

  9. How color affects individuals is absolutely fascinating to me, Jane! I’m assuming when you chose Wythe Blue it was a color you were attracted to. That makes me wonder if your lighting (artificial or natural) makes the color feel depressing at certain points of the day, or even year? Here are 2 articles I wrote on natural and artificial light.
    http://wp.me/p5bkNX-3r
    http://wp.me/p5bkNX-3l

    4 years before we renovated our home, I selected Edgecomb Gray to run through the entire front of my home. Once I sampled it, I realized how ghastly it looked in my North facing home, and quickly rethought my entire color palette. ; )

    Here in Southern Indiana, the greener based blues such as Wythe Blue are among the chips I replace most frequently. This is followed by truer blues, and finally more purple leaning blues.
    Have you thought much about what color (or types of color) might feel less depressing in your kitchen/family room area?