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Ask Maria: Is My Bedroom Colour too Clean with my Antique Sari?

I’m learning something new about colour from all the photos you’ve been sending me. Well, maybe it’s not new, but I’m feeling validated on a statement I constantly make in my workshops.

There are a multitude of decorating faux pas including ‘clean vs. dirty’, or ‘my-paint-colour-changes-with-the-light’ mistakes that you can hide with the right amount of styling.

And here’s another good example of that in a question from one of my lovely readers:

I have been struggling with this room since having it painted about 6 months ago. I have changed the bedding and rugs to try to make the wall color work. I had it painted while I was out of town and came back and felt the color was too bright. I really want to incorporate the antique sari I had made into the pillow and bed scarf. Any guidance you have would be wonderful! I just cannot seem to get this right!

This is actually a good argument for a much earthier colour scheme which is what her antique sari and pillow sham needs.

However, lets find out if we can still make it work shall we?


Her existing decor is white, fresh and glam. There is no white in her dark Sari and sham, and when I see this kind of bedding, I immediately think of room with a 4 poster or iron bed with moody walls.

image source


Also, the way the accent wall has been designed– in a perfect world–the headboard should have been custom made to fit inside the arch.

To make the Sari work, you need fabric that coordinates with it, and I found this duvet:

Canopy bed | Duvet | Night Stand | Table Lamp |

Once I hit Anthroplogie, I actually saw lots of bedding that could work with all the white in this bedroom and her antique Sari.

Here’s another colour scheme that works with the turquoise accent wall, I photoshopped the wall above the bed because I think it looks better in one colour:

Area Rug | Duvet | White Ottoman | Jujuhat

I also love this dreamy bed from Anthropologie which would be beautiful covered with Saris:

Rattan Bed

So my lovelies, that’s the lesson of the day. If all else fails and the colour isn’t working, start looking for items that coordinate with it, or paint again. Those are your two options to make the room fill you with happiness when you walk in the door.

If you have a room that needs a different colour, we can help you find one with our single paint colour eDesign package. Or if you have a room that is just not working and needs a rug, pillows, end tables, we can help you with our Get me Started package here.

If you have a space where you think the colour has changed with the light or you suspect you might have a clean and dirty issue, email me photos (taken in good natural light without flash) here.

Claire Jefford launched her design business when she attended my Specify Colour with Confidence workshop 6 years ago and she’s officially re-launched a Youtube channel that’s all about colour and she’s using my large colour samples so that you can actually SEE what she’s talking about!

Check out her video below:

Subscribe to her channel here.

Related posts:

Your Clean and Dirty Images are IN and Here’s my Take

Pink and Navy Master Bedroom + Ensuite: Before & After

How to Work with Bedroom Carpet you Don’t Like

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  • Gail says:

    Woooeee you’re good!

  • JanetDR says:

    My impression is what really doesn’t work is the bed itself.

  • Lucy says:

    You are certainly right on the money! Your examples are perfect!

  • Shannon says:

    Great post, as usual. I love the turquoise color, but it is too peppy for that beautiful sari. I love Claire’s video, thank you for sharing it! Sea Salt is my “default” color for my house, nice to see a couple more options. The navy/sea salt/white is one of my favorite ones.

    • Claire says:

      Cheers for watching my video Shannon. Sea Salt is just so lovely, and Hale Navy with anything is my favourite! Be sure to look out for my upcoming colour review video on Hale Navy. 🙂

  • Liz says:

    The sari is beautiful, but it doesn’t relate to anything in the style or colors of the room. I don’t think the sari will ever live there happily. So, the decision is….which do you love more, the sari or the room? If it’s the sari, the room will need to have a bohemian vibe as in the first two photos (love them!). I honestly think the sari is too heavy for the Anthropologie duvet. If it’s the room you love, use the sari in an earthy eclectic or boho guest room or sitting room.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Agreed! Great comment thanks Liz! Maria

      • Liz says:

        Thanks so much, Maria! You’re the teacher! You and I have very different styles, but what you teach can be applied by anyone. You’ve unknowingly helped me decorate three rentals in six years. I finally got to use my happy colors. 🙂

  • Claudia says:

    Hi Maria, new to your blog, got your e-books, I just want to say that I LOVE LOVE posts like this, please never stop writing them! They are so so helpful to see how you analyze a color/design dilemma and come up with options. I read home decor books in the past, read design articles, watched tons of HGTV, etc, yet, I never felt like anyone really gave away their secrets or walked you step by step through a situation and showed you real life solutions – the way you do. I find the information you put out incredibly helpful and I am now avidly reading your past posts.

    I may just have to take some pics of my space and send them to you, who knows maybe you will feature it in a post 🙂 I think my living room is almost there but it still needs a little somthing something to make it “sing” 🙂

  • Kristin says:

    Hi Maria!
    I’m confused by something. You have said that you need to see a color next to another color to determine whether it is clean or dirty. But aren’t colors inherently one or the other? For example, olive green (dirty) vs. Emerald green (clean).

    • Maria Killam says:

      That’s an extreme example, but mostly colour is not extreme. And that’s when you need to compare one colour chip to another, or the colours in the room or whatever you’re doing. Good question! Maria

  • Evaline says:

    If your reader would like to reduce costs and effort, she could simply remove the coverlet and pillow and decorate with different accents. Maybe some solid colours with subtle texture rather than a print on white. And change the small gold artwork on the right to something large and rectangular in garden like colours.

  • Norma Fournier says:

    Love this post Maria! Great examples!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I feel so validated when my first thoughts go with what you suggest!! Lol!
    A dark moody room would be perfect with the beautiful sari. And it would be so much affordable (not to mention faster) to just repaint the room. Of course if someone is being hired to do the work it would cost more. And maybe the white nightstands & bench can be swapped with pieces in another room. Always shop the house first.

  • Adelaide says:

    The beautiful sari and pillow just cannot fit in the room I feel. Saris are very hard to find in fresh colours I have found. I can understand how coming back to this painted room may have been slightly shocking to the owner, if the sari colours are her usual picks. If this is so, maybe the sari and pillow can be placed in another room to be loved and admired. For me, I would need moodier colour to make these work, so I am trying to understand why lots of white would work? Can you comment or extend this ideal further Maria?

    • Kate says:

      I think she’s saying to look for coordinating bedding with lots of white in it. Like the one she included in the photo, it is mostly white but has colors from the sari in it.

  • Claire says:

    I love the new bedding you showed over the image! What a great visual that really conveys the better option in this situation. Thanks also for sharing my YouTube video link of Sea Salt. More TNT – THE NAKED TRUTH – colour reviews to come! Your large painted boards make it easy..and fun for me to create these videos! Cheers for all that you have taught me my dear friend! xx

  • Cynthia says:

    Like Adelaide I am wondering how lots of white will work? Thanks Maria!!!!!

    • Maria Killam says:

      The reason I showed the two sample photos of the rich and more dramatic colours is because it would be better suited to her Sari. However, I also found a way to pull it off since she has already has her bed, white ottoman, end tables etc to make it work. Hope that makes sense! Maria

  • Sandra Berube says:

    Hi Maria – Your advice is right on – as usual…
    It seems the reader is torn between light and bright and moody and rich …
    And being of of town during the painting doesn’t always have the expected outcome…
    Thanks for your original and informative posts …

  • celestial says:

    I’m really confused. To me, the bed upholstery is cream/beige, which doesn’t go with anything else in the room. The base of the bed is white, just like the side tables and lampshades. Some of the bedding appears to be a gray/blue, which may go with the sari fabric, but doesn’t seem to have any other anchor in the room. Do beds come in two colors now; white and beige together? The upholstery is what seems off to me.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I simply chose an option that would allow her to keep everything she has but have her Sari work much better and relate to what was happening in the room. I’m ignoring the beige because it’s repeated in the floor so it’s not from out of no-where. . . I should have explained that better, thanks for your question! Maria

  • Vicky says:

    I think the wall color makes the bed itself look dirty. I’d change the paint and go from there.

    • Luisa says:

      I agree with Vicky – the best fix would be to change the paint colour to something moodier such as the navy or purple found in the sari and adding an antique rug with the sari colours in it also would help to tie everything together without having to change the furniture or bedding.

  • m says:

    What if she repainted the light blue color to the deep teal from the sari?
    Its hard to tell if the bed matches the grasscloth wall or not since it
    looks different in both spots. But it does work with the floor.
    Also the other bedding is too tailored and formal with the sari…maybe a simpler duvet cover???

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