Today (June 7) is my Birthday. 2 Lessons I’ve Learned

See the before photos here.

I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog almost 10 years (the anniversary is coming up in October).

Because of my blog I was able to buy my first house, and renovate it from top to bottom. And if that wasn’t enough, rip out my front and back yard and turn it into an English garden.

It’s so beautiful now that it’s maturing, when people walk into my backyard they think they’ve arrived in a secret garden.

Garden design (Long distance eDesign) by Maryanne White in New York

Here are the 2 best things I’ve learned in my year of being 50 and almost 10 years of writing this blog:

You’ll NEVER get to the end of your to-do list

In the world of on-line marketing, there’s always another ground breaking article to read, social platform that you should join, or posting that needs to happen on the social media accounts you already do have. There’s always another blog post to write, and when you get to the end of all that, online programs to create and launch.

Depending on your business model, your list looks different, but if it’s on-line, it’s a never-ending list.

I’ve learned that I need to stick to what I’m good at, which is creating content that I’m interested in, rather than focus on a to-do list created by anyone other than me.

In the end, I’m just going to do what I want anyway regardless of any to do list I might have with a bunch of should’s on it. It’s floating around here somewhere (no idea where it is at the moment).

Maybe you’re OKAY just the way you are

I live in the country, where affordable housing exists (Downtown Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world to buy a house), but the biggest reason I live kind of in the middle of no-where (because I am a city girl) is because my Sister and my Mom are my two closest friends.

There’s no-where I’d rather be than in my Mom’s Carriage house at 5:30 am (located a 2 minute drive from my house) with my Sister Elizabeth (who lives in a house on the same property) on any given morning analyzing life with a good cup of coffee.

Maria and my Mom Hellen

Because I work alone and don’t get out much (unless I’m travelling around the country leading my colour workshops) I have no one to compare myself too. Except other people on-line, and their highlight reel, which always looks better than my life currently does.

I see other bloggers and influencers working with brands and I worry that I should be doing more of that.

I see other designers launching product lines and I worry that I don’t have my name on a can of paint some where.

And then, I read a book by Gretchen Rubin called The Four Tendencies. I saw her speak at a conference last Fall and immediately purchased her book.

It’s truly groundbreaking and I highly recommend it.

I am a questioner/rebel. I question EVERYTHING. It’s likely that side of me that had me create a system that is changing the way the world sees colour.


The rebel side of me resists being dominated by anyone. This perfectly explains why when I worked in the corporate world, I was fired about 7 or 8 times.

Writing this seems obvious now but it wasn’t so obvious until I realized my tendency.

And I’m grateful that the colour workshops I lead all around the country every Spring and Fall, are so popular and well attended! That people continue to buy my eBooks and colour boards online and that my eDesign department is such a big success!

The so-what of all this is that I have a very successful business model that works for me and my personality.

As long as I have wi-fi and a laptop, I can work from anywhere in the world, including Palm Springs where we’ve spent the month of January the last two years.

If you look around at the life you have right now, and notice what you’re doing right now, that’s what you’re committed to.

So the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year in my 50th year, is that I’m okay exactly where I am right now.

And it’s not like I’m going to stop growing and improving, but I really can stop comparing myself to everyone else that’s doing something a little different from me that looks more glamorous than what I’m doing right now.

This year as I turn 51, I feel blessed.

Last year my best friend and sweetheart Terreeia planned a fabulous 50th birthday party for me and this was my favourite photo, taken by my sweet Mama. It was the the best birthday I’ve ever had. Everyone I love was there, it was a very special day.

Maria and Terreeia

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.

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 Spain and the Amalfi Coast on Monday, follow along on Instagram and my insta stories, it’ll be fun!

Related posts:

My 50th Birthday Party (last year)

My Snowflowering Tree Blooms on my Birthday; Before and After

Refresh of my Mom’s Kitchen and Sitting Room; Before & After










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  1. I’m sorry this comment is belated. I hope you had a lovely day celebrating your birthday! I may have written you last year or at some point, but I have updates and I often think of you with gratefulness, so thanks for the invitation to share.

    I had been a stay-at-home-mom for 17 years, homeschooling our 6 children for 10 of those, when I flew to Toronto (first time out of the US by myself) to take your course. A year prior you, through your blog, had helped me through a major kitchen renovation and I was so grateful and inspired. Although I had gone to school to teach elementary school, my passion has always been interior design- I just hadn’t had the confidence to pursue it at 18 because I didn’t feel I could draw well enough. I saw your course as my ticket into the design field without the (impossible) task of going back to school for a design degree.

    Your course set me on a path- it gave me the confidence to pursue that passion for design I never dreamed I’d be able to. Also, watching your business grow has been an inspiration for me- I love how you don’t hesitate to share your failures along the way to where you are now. Your “realness” made me not afraid to fail. In the 6 years since taking your course I went from doing word-of-mouth color consultations, to getting a job in marble and granite sales, to going back to school and getting a certificate in Kitchen and Bath Design, to getting a job as a kitchen designer this past January- at 47 years old. I still want to pinch myself every day! I love what I do and I credit you and your course for giving me the initial confidence. From the bottom of my heart and most sincerely, thank you so much, Maria!

  2. Helped me do? How about STOPPED me from doing? I’ve been battling the beige/white fight forever and reading everything you’ve written has stopped me from picking the wrong beige AGAIN! (Just can’t get on the gray train.) I still haven’t decided what to do with our family room and knowing I could be making a huge mistake has forced me to question all of my choices at this point. Couch color, chair color, curtains, walls. Will it go with the adjoining kitchen? Will it work with the dining room and living room even though they’re a bit separated? My husband thinks I’ve lost my mind but I’m evaluating everything before deciding on anything. And that’s a good thing. Happy belated birthday and happy travels!

  3. Hi Marie
    I’m from Malaysia and this is my first comment. Happy Birthday and may all your wishes come true. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and it’s refreshing and inspirational. I’m not a fan of so much white in the house but still I love reading your blog. Thank You.

  4. Because of your advice, I am sitting on a navy-blue leather couch that makes my heart sing. It is my favorite color, and goes with everything I already own. I bought it used a week ago to replace a pair of chairs that were my only seating (divorce a year ago, ex-husband got most of the living room furniture). I had the courage to buy a blue leather couch because of you! Thank you Maria.

  5. Maria, I can’t begin to tell you the confidence you gave me by me attending your class. I know for sure I went from charging $65/hour and (sometimes not charging friends at all) to charging $125/hour! I’m so much more confident and secure in what I do for a living…and doing what I love. Thanks to you and Happy Birthday!

  6. I love your blog and have faithfully followed it for many years. The best part is your clear and simple explanation of the “why” your color/art/decor/hard finish selections. Some of the most valuable posts for me discussed exterior trim colors for orange brick. The post on black windows and how they need high contrast also very valuable for my friend. I truly appreciate Tricia’s art background and how she ties that in with her posts. Thank you for having highly qualified people work with you! I think your general advice to ask yourself “would they have done this when the house was built?” is also of tremendous value when considering updates and renovations. I love that you do not have a lot of sponsored content. Sometimes those are OK but mostly not. I think it would be fabulous if you could get your understanding undertones system in a series of coordinating paints that somehow made it easy for a homeowner to make foolproof selections. But its not necessary. Please continue with the fabulous work!

  7. Happy Birthday! Your courses and blog helped me feel confident in my decisions as I renovated my kitchen in my new house. White cabinets, white ‘marble look’ quartz counters and medium toned wood floor. I thought it would be so boring at first, but now when I walk into a clean, bright kitchen I just feel relief, it’s like a zen moment in our house! I’m currently deciding our exterior paint color scheme and did not feel confident in my color picks, but I purchased your exterior color course, found out I was on the right track with my picks and now I have a few to test and choose from. I know I’ve picked the color – green gray – that will make our hideous orange/brown shingle roof look the best it can! Thank you for all your help!

  8. Maria, happy belated birthday! Someone spoke a word from God into my life about 25 years ago. They said God was bringing me out of a black and white world into a world of color. I took that to mean emotionally/psychologically at the time, based on some things from my past. I didn’t know it also meant literally. All I can say is that my life has been inwardly transformed in many ways since then, and also outwardly. Much of it has been getting into the design industry, which I love. But the color part, that was from you!!! After following your blog for several years, I had an inner prompting to take your class, even though it meant flying across the country to where your next class was taking place. I am now doing color consulting and trying to grow my little business. But the main thing is, I love it, I love color, I love your system and it has changed me to know what I’ve learned through you and to help others enjoy their homes as much as I do. All through you!! Thank you.

  9. Have a great vacation in España! I lived in Madrid as an American teenager and loved every minute of it. We are currently building our home to retire in. It’s a semi-custom in a lakeside community. After hearing you speak as a podcast guest, I found your blog. Going to the builders design center, armed with a large whiteboard, I had so much more confidence when selecting from their minimal options. Of the THREE wall color choices, it was easy to choose the one with cream, with yellow beige undertone. All white kitchen cabinets, white quartz countertops(“No, I do not want the gray veining like everyone else loves, I need something to tie in with the light tan(yellow beige undertone) floor tiles”). They pushed the fancy, EXPENSIVE, back splash. “Nope, give me white subway, I’ll add my own color with accessories” THANK YOU for giving me the confidence to choose simple finishes. After seeing so many new homes with the dark wood floors, dark cabinets, glass mosaic brown backsplash, I KNOW I am going to be thrilled with my new home, #killamstyle

  10. Maria, I hope you had a lovely birthday. I don’t read your blog every day, so I missed your request for comments, but here is mine a few days late!

    Thank you for all your writing about color! I just started a new job at a framing shop. Coming from an industry where I was always very much behind-the-scenes and not involved in design decisions, this new role where I am helping clients make the right color and texture decisions for their artwork has been challenging for me. Reading your blog has helped me gain confidence in helping my customers put together a perfectly framed piece. I still have a lot to learn (and will continue reading as I plan to buy and decorate my first home soon!), but I want to know how helpful your writing has been in this new phase of my career.

  11. Thank you for sharing all of your helpful advice. I bought and enjoyed your ebooks.
    I know understand how undertones affect decorating choices. I also appreciate your support of those of us who like neutral decor and consider it peaceful and not boring. Happy Birthday!

  12. I’m tardy reading this, but wanted to reply anyway. I was in the process of creating my own color consulting business near Kansas City when I came across your blog over eight years ago. The timing couldn’t have been better! You became my role model and inspiration!!! THANK YOU! I’m nearly 65, and also spent those years as a family caregiver. I’ve never had the drive or focus you have. Now I’m widowed, and my business is in the background, but it still brings me joy. I love helping people feel better about their homes.

  13. Maria, long overdue response. I have been following you for about 7 years and I have learned so much from you. I have your books, your boards, and your online courses. You had me hooked with your passion for white cabinets, as I have always loved white cabinets) It’s hard to separate what I learned this particular year, but I think the lesson that resonates most with me is the importance of color, how a modest home can look fabulous with the judicious use of color (and conversely a very expensive home can look just okay if color is ignored). What I appreciate most is that you make beautiful living possible for anyone willing to learn. By the way, I was doubly hooked after reading White is Complicated, as it taught me a method to avoid the great sofa disaster of 1989 – one I had to wait about twelve years to correct.

  14. Hi, Maria..You gave me confidence to try new things! I was wallowing in a sea of mismatched whites! I would choose what I thought was the right white, which would be wrong, til I finally let you sink into my psyche. I would pick paint colors that I thought would work, without comparison, which has completely changed the way I look at things. It took awhile to get out of my bad habits, but I think I’m finally getting there. I practiced a lot in my last house, and feel confident in my new one, to begin any rejuvenating. I’m even not so worried about if things are not coordinated, just knowing why has been such a relief. Love you, Candy 😘

  15. I’ve been torn forever about my kitchen. It’s smaller and darker but was newly renovated before we bought it (with finishes clearly picked by a builder not a designer, you know how it goes). The backsplash tile is just a short accent brick colored glass that clashes with the deep cherry stained cabinets. But the cherry actually looks good and hides dirt far better than white would, and it’d be SO expensive to refinish them in a way that would hold up (and I hate DIY and hate chipped paint that I never bother touching up). Thankfully the granite countertops are a nice not too busy black and blue-gray speckle I quite like.

    So… I made a Maria plan! I spent about $400 USD on a curtain valance in a Dwell fabric with a blue gray background and a bit of rust and charcoal in the pattern to tie together the cherry with the granite. Eventually I am going to get a tile guy to take out the cheap looking brick-glass backsplash and replace it with clean white subway tile that goes all the way up to the ceiling, so I can splash and make messes fret-free and so can my kids. ( I ran out of project mojo after I had a baby, but I’m gearing up to get the tile work done sometime this calendar year. Before an eventual second baby, so I can actually enjoy it sooner rather than later!)

    This decision saved me money and was loads easier to make after reading your blog for many years. And to think, I thought I didn’t like decorative balances and didn’t think this window needed one! It looks much better now aside from the part where it ties colors together.

    Your blog also helped me think about scale when I had to replace my kitchen faucet and I did a bar height instead of the full-size one because the area we’re putting it wouldn’t handle the extra height and it wouldn’t have looked out of proportion. (but for faucet style tips I went elsewhere because we have really different styles and I wanted the best of the best so I got a Dornbracht. But your blog helped me avoid getting an all black faucet that wouldn’t have blended well with the rest of the fixed elements in my kitchen; there’s some black but it “disappears” more in the appliances and the trendy black faucet would have stuck out in a bad way.)

    Oh yeah, And your blog helped me very much in choosing the right color blue for the exterior of our home to not clash with our fixed pinkish mid century brick. And making sure it was a different enough value that it stood out from the neighbors’ home which is also blue and brick.

    So yeah, you’ve helped a ton! My next Maria tasks are painting the unremarkable, mottled, dirty toned brick fireplace a clean white or pale gray ( I am one of those women that has trouble painting over brick or wood on principle but I finally realized it really just doesn’t look good even though it’s original, and I read another blog Vintage Revivals that told me an easy way to refinish brick if you don’t like the paint so I feel like I have a possibility of reversing the decision now by using a Dremel which had never occurred to me before. So that option helped me get over the commitment phobia of painting brick.)

    Last thing is that I’ll finally paint our original fake cherry stained fir trim to match the walls because it’ll look so much cleaner and less busy. But first I have to find a magical primer that prevents the need to strip and sand it all because ugh.

    And next after THAT will be following your advice to hire a proper landscape designer but the $ for that is way down the road.

    Thanks a million for all your help!

    • Valances, not balances! Also I forgot to say that I decided to replace my kitchen/back door with one that has a giant glass panel to let in more natural light. Doing that was way cheaper than refinishing the dark cabinets and it helps loads with making them feel less heavy.

      That’s less of a Maria tip but I’m not sure I would have come up with ANY of these ideas without your blog causing me to rethink things differently!

  16. Happy Belated Birthday, Maria!

    I can’t tell you (but I’ll try! 😉 how much I have learned from you not only about color, but home design in general! I eat up every word you write, and it’s the most helpful info out there. Truly.

    At 53, I have just begun my career as a Redesigner and Occupied Home Stager. It is my dream job, but I really “messed up” my first project because I hadn’t read your ebook on undertones yet and ignored the fixed elements, the lighting was florescent, and I didn’t know where to start the decorating process. Thanks to you I know exactly where I went wrong.

    Your blogs and e-books are empowering me to not only help my clients, but my family as well. We are beginning a handicap accessible bathroom remodel for my son, and it’s going to be easy (thanks to you!) to keep it within our tight budget AND create a beautiful timeless bathroom that I will love, too!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! My family and business will prosper with your generous guidance. My next step, is to buy those color samples!

    Much love to you and yours. Your desire to be close to your Mom and sister is a beautiful lesson in family, as well.

    Donna Henderson
    Lemon-Lime Redesign

  17. I’ve only recently been reading your blog and I’m surprised at how I now look at undertones when looking at colors! I’ve never been an artist. Professionally, I taught fifth grade students for 23 years and incorporated art into my curriculum in addition to styling three homes that we’ve lived in. At times I hired someone to help me select furniture pieces and incorporate rugs.

    Now we have purchased a lake house with the intention that it will become our forever-retirement home some day. We have not moved permanently there. I have tons of ideas to make it ours (with needed additional rooms). There is no timeline for the renovation at the present and we are enjoying it as is for now when we can escape (it is two states away). From experience I’ve found that it is best to live in a home for a while to see how it functions and how WE function in it.

    My daughter and I have discussed color undertones together which is something I never would have thought of before. Thank you for this. There will be so many decisions to make when we take on this project that I will keep reading and perhaps contact you for advice as we go forward.