Maria Killam’s White Garden Transformation: Before & After

Maria Killam's White Garden Transformation- Before & After

It’s fascinating to have a Perennial garden designed like mine. There’s always something that takes turns blooming, so finally when my white Shasta daisies along with my white hydrangeas were looking their best, I had my photographer Tracey Ayton come out to take photos.

She also photographed a summer house I’ve been working on for a client and when I received all the images, they were so beautiful, I got a teeny bit depressed.

I never want to take another photo, on my own, ever again.

If you don’t have a photographer that shoots entirely without lighting and ONLY using aperture, you should find one. The days of lights blazing in the middle of the day along with additional lights added by the photographer during a photo shoot are OVER.

It’s no wonder her work is featured in every issue of Style at Home, including my house here, this past April.

So, you’re in for a treat, because almost exactly one year and three months ago, our front and back yard full of concrete and ugly shrubs was entirely demolished. This is what it looked like with two bobcats at work.

I don’t think I’ve ever written a post showing you the entire before and after of everything. So here it is. Designed by MaryAnne White entirely long distance from New York.

Red & Yellow Succulents

First, there are a few hits of yellow in my garden. When I bought these succulents in May for my concrete urn, they were yellow and green. The raspberry came later and I thought it was pretty fun that the colour scheme of my living room (below) got accidentally repeated inside the urn right outside that window.

My living room

Elizabeth Avenue Before

So here’s what our house looked like April 2012 when we took possession. That’s my nephew William, excited that we have moved to live nearby!

Front View Elizabeth Avenue

Here’s what it looks like now. We are having all kinds of problems with our grass. We have had 7 or 8 grass experts out to look at it and the final conclusion is that there’s too much sand in our dirt. The other day I was pulling weeds and they came out super easy, roots and all : ( obviously a sign that there’s not enough dirt.


A close up of my white petunias.


Side view Front Yard


White Daisies & Hydrangeas


Love the Annabelle Hydrangeas! They last a long time in a vase as well.

Side View Before Elizabeth Avenue


Sandy Pathway

Here’s the sand freshly installed waiting for the flagstones.

Side View Front Yard


My favourite part of the transformation of our front yard was that MaryAnne designed an extension to our portico. Then she told me to get our lonely 2×4 column beefed up, in addition to removing the downspout from such a huge focal point at the entry to our house.

The gutters clearly needed to be replaced anyway so then it was easy to move the downspout to the side of the house instead. 

Flagstone Pathway

Our Wooly Thyme is coming along and I think I’ve mastered keeping the Lambs Ear under control and looking like ground cover.

Shasta Daisies

Such a pretty picture of my Cosmos Daisies around the decorative fence.


Here’s another shot of my succulents. How often do they need watering? I still haven’t figured that out. Aren’t they a little like a Cactus?

Studio Before

 This is the obscene amount of concrete that was in our back yard!

Studio Backyard

And here’s’ the after photo.

Design Studio Before

This is what my design studio looked like before for those of you who haven’t seen this picture.
Maria's Studio Office


Evergreen Vine

I have since replaced these painted Muskoka chairs that peeled and cracked instantly with white vinyl ones with a 40 year guarantee that I can leave sitting out all winter long.

The white umbrella I had from another house so I installed it here. I leave it open even when it’s pouring rain. I think a closed umbrella just looks lonely and sad and I like the resort feel of having it out and open even though we actually rarely use this area.

Firepit Area

Shasta Daisies

Studio before

Before photo of my design studio

Inside my Studio Office

My studio – After

Vegetable Garden Before

Vegetable garden Before

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden After

I had the Tutears made this past winter.

Purple Tree

Garden Shed Before

The first year we lived here, Terreeia and I were raking and raking the leaves that fell from this purple tree in the Fall.

One day I emailed MaryAnne and said “Should we just get rid of this big ridiculous tree in the middle of our yard?” She emailed me back “Off with her head”.

The big Rhododendron beside it we moved in front of the cedar hedge on the left side of the vegetable garden to cover up the bare spot in the cedar after we removed a storage shed during the renovation.

Garden Shed After

Garden Shed After

Patio Before

Patio Before

Maria's Whit Garden Transformation

Patio After

Since we can’t replace our deck until the siding gets replaced and that is NOT in our current plan, I decided to decorate our deck instead this Spring.

This is my favourite corner this summer. Our deck is so big, now that we have this kind of seating and outdoor dining, it’s extended our living space by 1/3.

Maria's Patio

I chose brown from the Restoration Hardware Provence collection because it coordinates with our house. The coffee table is from Wayfair. So many other sectionals I saw had individual seats you’d buy and attach to form a sectional. I liked that this one was only three pieces because of the bench seat on both sides.

Anyway, back to the colour choice, our roof is brown and the siding is a pale taupe. Cream was not an option because all the trim and windows on the house are screaming white and charcoal was obviously from out of no-where.

Their light grey colour (below) is gold and taupe combined to achieve the read of a lighter grey and since I would always look at that furniture and think “Gold and Taupe”, brown was what I ended up with.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 2.14.38 PM

Outdoor Dining Table

And I repeated the brown in the Chatham Collection dining set that I bought from the Pottery Barn.

outdoor tablescape

Outdoor Console Table

Photography by Tracey Ayton

And you saw a sneak peek of this vignette here. The x ottomans I picked up from Target when they were on sale for $59.99. Could not resist even though they are not outdoor.

You can see that the light teak colour was repeated here. Does anyone know how to keep teak this colour or do I have no choice but to apply a wax turning it orange?

Hope you enjoyed the full tour! We are having a hot and fabulous summer here in the West Coast, how about you!

Related posts:

Danger: Your Designer has Left the Building

Easter time and my 500 White Tulips are Blooming

My New Decorative Gate: Before & After

If you would like help creating a palette for your home, become a client. Online or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBookHow to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.



leave aREPLY

  1. Maria, I think there is a spray can version of water proofing treatment you can use on the x stools. It might be made by Thompson water seal. I think they also might have a uv protective chemical in there, too.

  2. Gorgeous, Maria.

    Talk with a furniture finisher in your area about the teak. I think you can seal it with a clear coat it with UV protection to keep the light color.

    As for the umbrella, just watch out for mildew. Mine here (Puget Sound area) mildewed after I left it out in the rain.

  3. Beautiful transformation! I was taught to water succulents when a pencil stuck in a few inches, held there 10 seconds, and withdrawn wasn’t dampened. You touch the wood between the lead and the yellow paint. The slightest amount of water in the wood means not to water yet. Hope that helps. I learned this at Cactus and Tropicals in Salt Lake City.

  4. You did such an amazing job! I love it all. Every time I start a new garden I begin with all white and green. Then somehow a little faint pink will find it’s way, followed by a blue….then it’s all over. Purple follows and fuchsia peonies. You stuck to your guns. I LOVE it.

  5. Very nicely done…love all the different varieties of hydrangeas…word if advice; the Pee Gees (cone shaped flowers) need to be severely pruned back in late winter/early spring, otherwise the grow 7-9′ tall. Was wondering, can u ask Maryann what variety of daisy she specified. I hv never seen such tall thick bunches….the ones outside the studio doors. Thanks

  6. Love, love, love! This will be my inspiration when we get ready to re-do our yard. White flowers are really the only ones that will look good with the type of brick we have.

  7. Maria this is lovely! The daisies, hydrangeas, cosmos and petunias look so lush! Love the sectional and green cushions. Love the trellis, tuteurs, fence and gate. And I loved your white tulips in the spring. Wondering where you found Adirondack chairs that will withstand the elements for forty years?

  8. Is your vegetable garden fence custom built from wood or is it a composite? You have inspired a whole new bigger and better vegetable garden with raised beds. My knees are not fond of crawling around anymore.

    • My fence is vinyl! Thank goodness. A little power wash and it’s clean! No peeling white paint to deal with ever!

  9. Maria,
    You are truly one of my heroes! What you’ve done with your home inside and out is magic (rooted in talent and hard-earned skills). Thank you for all your inspiration, and I hope to purchase your products, soon, and perhaps sign up as an email client for my home projects.

    All the best,

    Brenda Hurst
    Chesterton, Indiana

  10. Hi, Maria,
    What kind of tree is planted in the planting bed that replaced gravel driveway in the front of your house?

    • They are Dogwood trees. My landscape designer originally suggested white dogwood but our neighbours said that when it sheds it’s sticky and clogs up the gutters so we went with the Dogwood. Maria