Sneak Peek – Introducing my New Colour Wheel

Before you read this post, please read this:

The new colour wheel is NOT AVAILABLE on the site yet. It will be printed soon and my subscribers will be the first to know when it’s for sale.

Maria Killam in Dallas

So this was what my wheel looked like when we printed it last year (above).

After giving it to all the True Colour Experts who attended my live colour training in 2018, we then sent out a survey. Before I printed thousands, I wanted to make sure it was clear and easy to understand.

This was the primary feedback we received:

People were confused why I included the primary colours


Everyone assumed the whites on the wheel related to the nearby undertone – they did not

You can technically use any of the whites with any of the undertones. Whites don’t relate to neutral undertones.

In other words, if you have blue walls or blue grey walls, the ‘answer’ to which white trim goes with either of these is NOT a blue white. It could be, if you were in a bathroom with Carrara marble for example. But it could also be any of the other gradations of white in my system depending on what is happening in the room.

Whites should always be chosen or specified based on:

1. How light or dark the wall colours will be as well as how earthy they are.

For example, you can choose a crisp, true white for a navy blue or dark emerald room, but if that room is dark brown or gold beige (because the latter two are earthy colours), a true white will be too white. Then you might need to specify a white closer to cream.

2. Which gradation of white you identify in your existing fixed whites in the interior or exterior.

I have seen too many kitchens and bathrooms where the white on the cabinets is either too stark or too creamy or in no way relates to the countertops.

The countertop and/or the tile. That’s the first place to look to coordinate the right white or colour your cabinets should be painted.

Studio 52 (The whites here are perfect)

And, since the background of most fabrics is off-white or cream, true white should be used less frequently than an off white.

If you really want to learn the best process to find the right white to specify in any situation, my White is Complicated eBook is what you’ll need. 

This way you’ll actually get your whites right. Much better than the other way: endlessly polling friends, family and famous designers to find out which white is their favourite. How does that help you be sure it will relate to YOUR room?

So here’s what I learned: I was trying too hard to have both my system of understanding whites and my Understanding Undertones® system on the same wheel.

And, as it turns out, you cannot print whites accurately.

All fan decks are painted, not printed. Otherwise it would be impossible for them to be accurate. The printing process can cause the product to vary widely from the start of the job to the end.

So here’s the new wheel:

Much easier to see right? It’s cleaner, so you’re clear that this is about neutral undertones. And it doesn’t need the primary colour wheel on it because it just added an unnecessary layer of confusion.  Besides, everyone knows what the primary wheel looks like.

Simple is always better.

In Palm Desert last month, one of my fabulous readers who lives there, generously came to meet with me so I could understand firsthand, how someone might use the wheel.

I’m too deep in it to be able to imagine different ways of interpreting it. I’m obviously not consulting my own wheel the way someone else would.

When I asked her how she might instinctively use the wheel she said, “Well, I like red. So I would find red on the wheel and then look to see what undertone corresponds with red.

Well pink beige or taupe are the neutrals that correspond with red according to the wheel (below). However does this mean they are the only or best two neutrals you could use to decorate with red?

Absolutely not.

So we removed the primary colours and whites altogether.

And I’m so grateful for that insight.

On the back, I’ll have the instructions for how to use the wheel and how not to use the wheel.

But let me show you how powerful this wheel will be:

You might remember this kitchen from a previous post I wrote here:

My reader had chosen a taupe and when the cabinets were painted and they looked so pink in comparison to the slate floor, her cabinet maker suggested she ‘observe the cabinets in all the lighting throughout the season’ before she decides to repaint them.

If you read the post, you’ll know that it had nothing to do with the lighting. It was simply the wrong undertone.

If you missed the post, test your eye next.

Look at the following image and notice which undertone looks the closest from my colour wheel:

It’s pretty obvious right? If we could go back in time and give my lovely reader the new colour wheel, before making such a huge, expensive mistake, she would have been able to place the wheel directly on the tile floor and discover that the right colour was in fact in the realm of green beige.

Then you would go to my curated list of colours (4 or 5 per undertone) and choose the one that works the best.

You can download my How to Choose Paint Colours that includes my Bonus Book of Curated Paint Colours here.

It’s really that simple. Here’s what the same kitchen looks like, photoshopped in the right colour:


Here’s another room by Sarah Richardson. Which undertones do you see here with my wheel to guide you?

Answer: Walls, blue grey | Drapery. taupe and orange beige | buffalo check chairs, taupe

What about this lovely room seen on Cote de Texas blog. What’s the undertone of the walls? If you’re not sure by looking at the lighter one, make sure you view the darker one as well to keep you on the right track:

Orange beige walls (I know, they’re back)

Or, what if you’re shopping for rugs? It becomes a lot easier when you know what colours you’re looking at:

One Kings Lane Top left | Top right | Bottom Left | Bottom Right 

That’s how you use the wheel. In fact, when it’s available, it’s probably best if you don’t leave home without it.

The new wheel will be printed soon. I will launch it first to my True Colour Experts and then on the site.

PLEASE NOTE, it is currently NOT AVAILABLE for sale on the site yet. Blog subscribers will the the first to know as soon as it’s available.

However, the first group to receive it will be participants who attend my Specify Colour with Confidence workshop this Spring.

I have added a new exercise to include the wheel and I will show you how to use it powerfully, to shop online AND specify the right colours in your eDesign business on Day 3.

If you understand undertones, you can snag the wheel from this blog post and start using it immediately.

You’re welcome.

True Colour Expert  Michelle Marceny with the Color Concierge had this to say about how she’s using the wheel in her business every day:

A year ago I launched The Color Concierge, an online color consulting company.  I have always loved color, and was inspired by your blogs.  I flew to Dallas for your Live Color Consulting training, and I am proud to be a True Color Expert. 

I believed so much in your training that I also invested in the course for Maddie, the other color consultant at The Color Concierge. 

The course was the best investment I ever made. 

I can honestly say that after learning your color system, I see the world without filters, and it is the foundation for The Color Concierge business.  I learned so much that I came back a year later to retake the course, and it was also a great investment in the business.

One of the amazing tools is your Color Wheel.  I use the electronic version every day as an indispensable tool to diagnose colors in my e-design business.  The color wheel goes with me to every consultation.

Keep up the amazing work.  I am always learning new things from your blog, and the True Colour Expert Facebook page.

One more thing. . . even without my business the Live Color Consulting training would have been worth every penny.  We are building a new house, and without the training, it would have been a disaster. Thank you!

Specify Colour with Confidence Spring schedule

TORONTO, April 1-3  is SOLD OUT

Seats available in these courses below:

ATLANTA, April 10 – 12 (We won’t be back again for two years)

SAN FRANCISCO – April 15 – 17

HOUSTON, May 8 – 10 (We won’t be back again for two years)

NEW JERSEY, May 14 – 16
Come join me for the best colour training in the world.
We have a few seats available for a few True Colour Experts who’d like to review the course in Atlanta or Houston. Email [email protected] to learn more.


leave aREPLY

  1. Love the photo with the combo of the Blue Grey, Taupe and Orange Beige. So in other words you can use a combination of the 3 undertones?

    • They don’t clash, however in that image the drapes are taupe and orange beige and the buffalo check on the chairs is taupe so in actual fact a taupe on the walls would have made more sense than blue grey. However, the room is styled so beautifully no one cares. However the general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t repeat more than two undertones in your decorating, it starts looking like you couldn’t decide on a colour so you just kept choosing a neutral. Hope that helps, Maria