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10 things I learned (so far) from my Designer; By a happy client

By 11/23/2009November 29th, 202219 Comments

A few weeks ago, I helped my good friend Gloria Lemay buy some lighting, an area rug, as well as some toss cushions.

She started reading my blog on Facebook a few months ago and then bought a couple trays after reading my “How to create a Tablescape” post. Then she even created one all on her own, and wrote a very funny post about her experience which I mentioned here.

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Yesterday (after the recent transformation of her apartment) she wrote a post called “10 things I learned (so far) from my designer”. Click here to read the entire post. And just before you do, I wanted to elaborate a bit further on a few points she made:

‘2. A lamp in every corner of the room.’

When I saw Gloria last week at a fund raiser, she told me she had just read my “Atmosphere, the one thing you cannot Buy” post and she said, ‘Yes you can, as long as you stick a lamp in every corner of the room!!’

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And she’s right, lamps placed in your living room (or large master bedrooms) either on a table or standing, sconces, up-lighting, all go a long way to creating atmosphere (even without a designer).

Even when I’ve done small “one-day decorating” jobs, my client and I are coming back with 4-5 lamps.

‘3. Cut your flower stems to be in proportion to your vase. I was taught by a florist that “length of stem is everything”, my designer will not permit any of that nonsense.’

When you receive a bouquet of flowers with the long stems, they must still be clipped to fit the vase you own. I notice this when I go to my sister(s) house. Unless it’s a hand-tied bouquet, flowers simply plunked in a vase, are usually many different lengths and no longer look attractive.

So the stems should be inside the vase and the blooms outside. If this means cutting off 4 or even up to 12 inches of stem so that it works for your vase – do it. Then they will look like they’ve just arrived from the florist!

If you don’t have greenery to fill in around the blooms, clip them close to the vase for a great contemporary look.


Anyway, click here to read the rest, it’ll make you smile!


That’s 70’s House actually took my off-the-top-of-my-head reply to her question “What do I do with the colour in this living room? I can’t figure out the undertone in my furniture?”

It looked greeny/brown to me so I suggested (BM) Bleeker Beige, advised her to paint out the skinny door next to the entertainment unit ( it was too big of a focal point and had to go) as well as paint out the 70’s wood molding. Click here to see the transformation.

Have a happy week!

If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

Attention on Area Rugs

When to use Light vs. Dark Colours

10 Ways to save money Now by Creating a Focal point


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  • Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    It seems I always recommend lamps in a decorating proposal. I am always surprised when I walk into a prospective client's home and there are none or one floor lamp. I love lamps and use them throughout my home ~ they are so much nicer than harsh overhead lighting.

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    This is the sister that just "plunks the flowers into her vase". How kind of you to give us a tutorial on how to put flowers into a vase properly!

  • DesignTies says:

    Hey Maria's sister… I'm a plunker, too 😉

    Maria ~ enjoyed Gloria's 10 things and thought the Bleeker Beige in 70s House looked terrific!

    As for Brooke's 10 finalists… it's a hard decision!!!!

    Victoria @ DesignTies

    P.S. Thanks for the compliment on my bathroom reno project!!

  • Marlo says:

    I just love your blog Maria.
    It's my go-to for all my decorating questions.

    I remember Gloria's tablescape and I just love her humour; the "10 Things…" is a hoot.

    What a beautiful transformation with Bleeker Beige. I like the idea of painting out the door. For some reason we're programmed to paint all doors white – why is that?

    I've used Bleeker Beige in my guest bedroom, along with BM Raindance as a colour block, and it's one of my favourite rooms.

    Four lamps in one room. I can see how extra lamps would make an atmospheric statement. Lamps have been added to my shopping list.

  • Color4Charlotte says:

    Your photography is great – I like the "up shot" of the vase.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Charlotte,
    Unfortunately I can't take credit for the photos (I found them on flicker and then forgot where so I couldn't link them)!

  • Ideezine says:

    Everyday is a chance to learn something new about yourself, clients, friends or family. People get excited about sharing what they've learned. Fun post for sure.


  • Velvet and Linen says:

    Yes, stem length does seem to be key! Otherwise your flowers look like they are standing at attention!

    Thank you for mentioning the give away and for helping to select the 10 finalists.
    I can't wait to see which rooms win!


  • Cristin says:

    Hmmm. A lamp in every corner. I haven't heard this one before.

    Love the tips on arranging flowers too.



  • Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) says:

    As a painter of floral still lifes, I can vouch for the importance of proportional flowers. Although plunking is ok on occasion too! Your friend is a lucky girl to have your help, must read her "10 things" next!

  • The Blasphemous Fiendess says:

    Great post, Maria. The ten things is wonderful because it is both funny and informative. I am committing many decorating sins right now and not enough lamps is one of them. Not enough money in the budget is the main problem. After doing a reno where we chose to spend money on quality and architectural details, decorating is going to be a slow process.

    If you suggested tablescapes to my husband and son they would think you were from another planet.

  • Brandy says:

    Hi, I'm one of the 10 finalists on Brooke's blog and wanted to thank you for your participation. I found your blog earlier this year and thoroughly enjoy it—you keep it short, direct, and packed with information. I love it.
    (I also noticed one of the other Top 10 finalists employed a trick of yours on her white chair–she tucked a folded blanket down the middle of the chair to photograph better. Nice!)
    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  • Brillante Home Decor says:

    Hi Maria, great advice as always. I agree with lamps in every corner, they make a huge difference. Flowers arrangement is also important, just a few inches (or many more as you suggest)shorter they can be much more beautiful (and by the way the shorter the stem, the longer flowers last!)

  • Brillante Home Decor says:

    Hi again,
    referring to your comment on my blog…yes I was told so by a few top florists and it works.

  • Lauren says:

    definitely need lamps in at least every corner!! I'm waiting on 1 in my living room (backordered until Feb- ordered in August!! argg) and the room is driving me INSANE at night without it!!

    Off to read all the links!

  • Francine Gardner says:

    Bleeker page has become part of my vocabulary. I love that color, and it is such a great warm neutral for any room. I so agree with you for the length of the flower stems…it will make or break an arrangement…
    Happy Thanksgiving, Francine

  • Donna @ dh designs says:

    Totally agree on the lamp in every corner. The proper lighting is such an important element of an interior space and can create atmosphere where there was none before. I am so NOT a fan of overhead lighting and have had some heated discussions with hubby on the topic :)!

    Love your blog Maria – I learn something new with every post!

  • The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after says:

    Tastefully charming, thanks for sharing.
    All the very best.

  • chanteusevca says:

    Maria, I really got a kick out of Gloria Lemay's "10 Things…" post. And the amazing transformation of That 70's House rooms just shows that you are phenomenal in knowing what colors and design advice to give us to give our rooms the beautiful transformation we all want to achieve. Can't wait to say "my designer!"

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