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One bad decision pays for the designerRenovating my HouseTimeless

First Rule of Design: Boring Now Equals Timeless Later

By 06/28/2013December 11th, 202085 Comments

In June 2013 when I was working on my landscape transformation, I was at the Nursery and I called Mary Anne White (my Landscape Designer) because I was shopping for Hostas and this was how our conversation went:

What do Hostas and Subway Tile have in Common?

“Mary Anne, I’m here and there are so many beautiful Hostas, I can’t decide! There’s yellow ones, I love those, then there’s these green and white ones, green and creamy ones, should I get some of each?”


“Get 12 Yellow ones.”

“Oh, Okay” I said. “You’re right.”

I’ve probably told this story to most of my clients since then when we talk about finishes for the house.

Here’s a sample of an email I get almost every day in some shape or form:

Loved your backsplash article. I am at the point of our kitchen remodel where it is the moment to choose a backsplash to compliment Neptuno Bordeaux aka river Bordeaux granite counter tops.
One thing I have already realized is that I need to wait a day or two until the LED under counter lighting is installed.  I realized this when I used an LED flashlight to look at the granite and saw quite a bit of golden hues I never knew were there with regular or daytime lighting.
I love the movement in this granite, and know I want it to shine as the focal point.
My husband and I are going bonkers trying to decide…. He is wanting, I think the size is 1×3 split faced rough marble that has different thicknesses in a beige/ ivory. While I love it on the sheet 12×12, I fear it will be too much. Based on your article – you will probably agree.
I will be thrilled to send you photos of my granite and cabinetry if you like. I would appreciate your thoughts and/ or suggestions.”

Here was my response:

“Yes absolutely the choices you are considering are WAAAAY too busy. Cream subway tile is the most timeless choice and will allow your granite to be the most important element in your kitchen as it should be.

The end.
Stop Looking.
I mean it.
Are you still reading this?
You will hate everything else very soon.
Okay that’s it, haha.” Maria

My reader was a great sport and replied:

“Haha!!!! We loved your response email…  Tell us how you REALLY feel!! Ha!

Bottom line – after reading your email, my husband said, “I think she might be right.”

I can’t wait to get some samples now instead of my previous floundering.”

I have written so many posts on keeping your finishes simple I’m always kind of amazed when I get yet another email like this, Secretly I’m thinking “Do you really think I’ll say something different from subway tile?”

However, since landscape design is not my area of expertise I notice that I’m behaving in the same way my clients do!

I love everything, I’m so happy to have the luxury and privilege of designing my yard so it looks exactly the way I want, I think it should all be there (within reason, you know what I mean).

And over to you my lovelies. How many kitchens in our lifetime do we get to renovate and then choose exactly what we want? For some of us one, if we’re lucky.

So then we think EVERYTHING THAT WE LOVE has to go into it.

That’s when it gets crazy and we end up with a look that we don’t love because we did not follow the simple and boring rule.

Read on and you’ll see where my Hostas were planted.

What do Hostas and Subway Tile have in Common

Remember this (above)? This was what we inherited beside the house towards my design studio, I can’t wait to show you what it looks like now, it’s so incredible, every day I can hardly believe this is our house! I’m waiting until some more flowers bloom before I show you the after picture.

I owe it all to Mary Anne’s vision of course, she’s spectacular. If you can even do a consultation with a drawing and a plant list with her you will be sooooo happy like me.

What do Hostas and Subway Tile have in Common?

Here’s the after I posted last year after I cleaned it up, but I had to look at this for a whole year.

Funny story, after the demolition of our yard, we were having a chat with our neighbour who said:

“If you’re not going to maintain it, you should hire someone!!!!”

Later I said to Terreeia “Do we look like people who would not maintain our yard? They have seen the inside of our house right???”

Then of course I realized it’s because we did not even pull weeds at all last summer. The only thing we did to maintain our yard was cut the grass. The dandelions would grow along the side of the driveway beside the bed that sat there and only if there was a really large one in front of me when I stepped onto the walk did I stop to pull it out.

First Rule of Design: Boring Now Equals Timeless Later

I mean truly, was it going to look any better pulling the weeds out considering it was soooo ugly? No.

So we left it as is. Understandable that our neighbour would be worried. No one needs more dandelion seeds blowing on their grass. I get it now, haha.

Boring Now Equals Classic Later

So here are my 12 beautiful yellow hostas along with white Astible and bleeding hearts. Oh and white hydrangeas towards the front of the house on the left.

My entire garden is white flowers with the exception of the yellow knock-out roses that will grow long my white decorative fence in front of the vegetable garden in the backyard.

It’s so exciting to watch it come together!

Related posts:

Danger: Free Advice will Sabotage your Expensive Renovation

Sneak Peek of my Boxwood: Before & After

Professionals Know When to Avoid the Obvious

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, become a client on-line or in-person.

Download my eBook, How 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!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. Fall dates now open for registration.


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  • Missi says:

    Beautiful! We have huge landscaping in our front/back/side yard, can’t throw a stick w/out hitting a hosta (they’re our favorite). We have a big variety everywhere..I wish I could show you that sometimes it’s different w/landscaping and all different kinds can be jaw dropping!

    • bfish says:

      Missi, I feel the same. There are way too many beautiful hostas to limit oneself to a single variety. There are some large ones that are stellar focal points, though I usually surround them with a mass of a different variety of hosta or other plant mass (e.g. one kind of fern, one kind of hakone grass) to set off the starring hosta.

      My husband has been a good influence on me to combine more drifts of the same plant, whether perennial or shrub, with the focal point plants. Admittedly I’m a nut for specimen planting; e.g. I’m crazy for Japanese maples and want to cram in one of every kind I can find (so far we’ve added over 50 of them to our yard; most are different varieties and I’m always looking for ways to include more).

      • Maria Killam says:

        I love Hostas too, we’re putting blue ones at the front of the house to relate to the winter creeper and hebe’s.
        I’m sure there’s room for other varieties elsewhere. I love the mass planting look of just the yellow here.

        • Sarah says:

          What an improvement! I like the yellow hostas too. They really help brighten up the shadows of the laneway.

  • Maria…just loving the look of those crazy pavers and plants beside your house!

  • Maria– Great post! Twelve yellow hostas could not look better! Your yard is looking wonderful!


  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    What you are saying is absolutely true—K.I.S.S…. –Keep It Simple Sweetie and live happily ever after. I LOVE “drifts” of all the same color in a garden for impact. The eye doesn’t find rest on crazy quilt design whether indoors or out. Same with advertising: edit out every excessive word and use ONE great photo to sell about anything.

  • I have almost the exact same look between our garage and house 🙂 We have a ‘path’ made of paver bricks. I might send you a photo so you can compare. Lovely, lovely!

  • Love love LOVE your new path, Maria! Sticking to one of anything is the hardest thing for me when it comes to plants, but you make an excellent case for restraint. I just adore the way your yard is coming together, and can only imagine how thrilled you must be! Enjoy!


  • Ginger Kay says:

    That is exactly how I garden – a little bit of everything that I love, all thrown together. It’s not cohesive, but it still makes me happy.

  • It looks fantastic – what a difference. I’m glad you listened as your garden looks amazing.

  • Jennifer Johnson says:

    Maria this is lovely. You have been so good to get good “before” pictures. They really tell the story. I have sometimes forgotten to get all the angles of “before” and regret it later! The “after” of this area is amazing. I could not believe ahead of time that such an uninviting space could be transformed. Makes me want to study landscaping as well as interiors!!!! (But at least I know to HIRE a good professional in the meantime!!!) Have a wonderful holiday at the Lake!

  • Kelly says:

    Is a marble subway tile considered too busy with a steel grey patterned granite?

    • Maria Killam says:

      I would say yes but I think one pattern in hard finishes is enough in any space. Maria

      • Carol J says:

        I am so grateful for your kitchen advice. I used white subway tile for a backsplash with a volga blue granite countertop (it has a mostly black/grey appearance) and NO 4″ granite lip edge. The look is fantastic — simple, elegant, classic and I know I will always love it. I had such a habit of overdoing things, that crazy quilt look a poster above mentioned — but I got it right on this chance of a lifetime to make over my kitchen. Again, I will always be grateful for the advice you give on this website. Listen to Maria folks, listen well. She is spot on!

  • Debbiecz says:

    Pretty, pretty. Plant choices are perfect…my first thought was your colors will blend so nicely with your interiors. Make sure you snip some flowers and foliage for inside display. Ok, compliments done, here’s the gardener in me speaking out. I agree about the walkway. If this will be your entry for clients you may want to consider using larger pavers for safety reasons, cohesive flow AND for fewer joints for weeds to grow in. There are too many small pieces running down the center. Second, the hose. I have this same spigot along my house and I squish plants every time I use the hose. On my “to do when I have an endless landscaping budget” list is putting in drip hoses (Gardeners Supply) and a hose reel I can move around the yard as needed. Third, what will we see as we enter your design space out back? I like how the tree out front provides screening from the road and a focal point as we leave. But truly, great plant choices. Just like choosing accessories for a bookcase it’s hard to avoid color chaos. It’s called onsie, twosie s and it can make a mess out of a design. Your improvements are looking great.

  • Ilona says:

    Just to clarify…is Mary Anne White a Landscape Designer or Landscape Architect? I am a Landscape Architect (4 years of university) and there is quite a difference between the two designations. I’ve noticed you’ve used the titles interchangeably.

  • Lynne says:

    Your side garden is stunning !! I love the different tones of green foliage bound together with white flowering hydrangeas and astilbes. Just gorgeous !!

  • Holy cow. That is the most astonishing transformation from gap to great!

    As for subway tiles, I love them too, just not for every kitchen. In some homes I’ve worked in (thinking about some contemporary ones), they haven’t made sense, and other simple backsplashes have made more sense.

  • Beth C. says:

    Oh that is so pretty Maria!

    I am going through a similar problem as the homeowner who wrote you. We have a newly constructed home and we chose a black granite for our white shaker style white cabinets (I wanted white marble counters, but not in the budget). To satisfy my yearning for marble we chose a marble tile for the backsplash that was the tiniest chicklett mosaic I had ever seen. It looked fabulous on the 5″x 5″ sheet but once installed my heart sank! An entire field of it reads very speckilly (is that a word?), and the granite has speckles so they fight! And it was EXPENSIVE! But…there is a good ending to the story (sort of). The install on the backsplash was so bad the contractor has agreed to re-do it–in white subway tile! Now my husband wants a beveled subway tile because he thinks it mimics the profile of the shaker cabinets, but I’m afraid of making another mistake. Can you offer an opinion? Best, Beth C.

    • Carol J says:

      To Beth C: I wanted a beveled white subway tile when I first planned my kitchen — I saw a photo of a kitchen with it and thought it beautiful. My contractor suggested I go with regular white subway tile. I followed his advice and have never been sorry. One thing I did, which worked well in my kitchen, was to get a handful (yes, just 5) of 2″x2″ square copper look ceramic medallions featuring a celtic knot. My contractor placed them at a diamond angle in various intervals/heights amidst the subway tile. The medallions go well with my door knobs/drawer pulls. It’s a really great look, providing an interest point, but nothing overwhelming and nothing which takes away from the overall classic look. Good luck on your kitchen!

  • I love, love, love it!! I’ll bet your neighbors do too. I’m heading out right now to spruce up my front yard, which I haven’t had time for… you’ve inspired me to really get to it! I’m also planning to move things around out there so your reminder to keep it simple was timely.

  • Joanne G W says:

    What a world of difference–from utilitarian to attractive.

  • Pam Dunn says:

    Oh how I miss a colder summer where hostas and astilbe thrive. Your walkway is beautiful. Hostas will grow here as well, but they take a lot more care and attention then they do in the north.

  • Megan says:


    There is a difference between landscaping and gardening. It seems the difference is landscaping is for public spaces and gardening is for private spaces. At least that is my current conclusion, but I am still exploring.

    In the front or public space, I would absolutely go for the same hostas, repeated across the entire yard.

    For me, Landscaping is a pass through, to invite or keep out. It is literally serving the same function of good architecture.

    In my back, i have a tapestry garden where it is all like a crazy quilt. It is stunning. Perhaps it works because it ends up being one unit, I’ll have to think on that.

    The back is intimate and rejuvinating. It invites lingering and breathing deep .

    As I look through some interior designers products, I see some who excel at design that looks simply thrown together without a thought, and yet we all yearn to be in those rooms.

    We also see design where things are more orderly and love those rooms as well.

    In landscaping/gardening, as in interiors, the first question is always: What are you going to be doing in this space.

    Once you know THAT, the rest falls in to place much easier.

    The repetition of the same hostas are a perfect choice for the side path, then. It serves the purpose of helping you move along the path, as there is no focal point or anything unusual to catch your eye and invite you to linger. It makes traversing the pathway very very enjoyable, while you are there. Well done!!

    Gardens, are just different.
    MY favorite gardens are for lingering and pondering and finding peace. Gardens can serve other functions as well.
    🙂 🙂 🙂

    p.s. if you are not a dandelion killer, you might consider a ground cover under the hostas. The mulched area WILL get weeds. I am trying my hand at using herbs as ground covers, and there are several varieties of ajuga that are nice.

    love your blog!!!

    • Some landscapers specializes in private spaces. One where we used to live would design semi-hidden surprised in back yards – where something grabs your eye and when you walk over to it, it reveals a little hideaway with bench, for example.

      Our mulched areas get very few weeds and are easier to pull, but I agree, groundcover helps. We only plant native, and last year planted some low, creeping phlox in a front bed that’s taken off like crazy and there’s only the rare weed.

  • brenda says:

    Isn’t is extra-special when an area transformed is so small yet impacts us so greatly. I’m so happy you discovered yellow/”Sunny” KO roses-They are one of my favorite plants and I have 12 of them in my yard:) You may already know this but they are the only KO’s with a rose scent. FYI Some Hosta have a wonderful scent while others have none~something to consider when making your plant selections. Happy Canada Day and happy camping!

  • Dana Brown says:

    I think I see ferns!! 🙂 Let’s hear it for gorgeous, timeless design in landscaping!!!
    I love your nature journal pic of the dandelion. If you need another punch of yellow color accent (like the roses you mentioned) somewhere that will be low maintenance, consider the dwarf daylily called “Happy Returns.”
    It blooms all season, and I think you’d like it over the “Stella de Oro” which is a yellow, but has a bit more of an orange color to it. (However, I’m not YET a true color expert! 😉

    The Stellas are the ones so heavily used in commercial lanscaping because they are so hardy. They are nice, too, but I’m always going back and forth between which color yellow is more awesome….

    Truthfully, now you could accent with almost any color, and it would be great! But you know this, because good design principals transcend different arenas. 🙂

    My roof is looking great (in case you remember me). It’s helping me to look at my place from a new perspective, and I’m enjoying thinking about how it will all tie in together each step of the way.

    Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  • Jann Newton says:

    I love your new landscaping! The hostas look great, they are one of my favorite plants too.

    I also agree with keeping things simple. I recently met with a client who wanted me to help her update her kitchen window treatments. (I did the original ones 10 years ago) She is in the process of updating the whole kitchen, and has already installed new granite countertops and backsplash. As soon as I saw what she had picked out I inwardly cringed. Unfortunately, everything is very busy, and I think she will tire of it soon.

  • Joanne says:

    Great job! Regarding weeds, I think you’ll find that the plants will soon get large enough to completely fill the planting area, shading out most of the weeds. Good reason to plant densely. I think you may even find that your plants get a bit overcrowded before too long, as the bed is quite full even though the plants are newly installed.
    Many gardeners don’t realize that while having a small number of many varieties/colors satisfies the urge to “collect” plants, it reduces the impact of each plant’s best qualities. Also, relying on flowers alone to be the “stars” often disappoints because shrubs and perennials usually bloom for a short time. If you focus on foliage shape, color, texture as much as flowers, your garden will always look amazing. Your LA knows her stuff!

  • Susan S says:

    I share your design aesthetic, both interior and exterior so I’ll just say, “now, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!”

    P. S. I don’t know if some of the American vernacular is understood across the border, so I’ll clarify and state simply: “I concur.” 🙂

  • Mdrive says:

    one question i have, maria, is about wintering over…i have some beautiful mature hostas that put on quite the display in one of my planting beds in the spring and summer, but during our midwest winters, the space looks pretty dreary…i have one large grass that gives some winter interest but that’s about it! any suggestions from mary anne on that one?

    • Donna T says:

      Maria can leave the plumes on the astilbe all winter. They will be brown but graceful. I value having a winter garden too.

  • Mary says:

    …and no bright green hose hanging on the side of the house to become the focal point!

    • Mary says:

      Hi to another Mary,
      I had to laugh when I read your comment. My husband washes our cars all the time. So our green hose is always hanging to the side of the house. Drives me nuts but my car is clean.

  • Joanne says:

    For MDRIVE, a good way to overcome the winter issue is to focus first on winter during the initial design process, then add the rest. If you do a search for “gardening winter interest Midwest” you’ll find lots of articles and blogs with advice. There is an arborist/designer, Jim Anderson, with very good, succinct advice on winter interest that applies to much of the northern US where winters are cold. Hope this helps.

  • Amy says:

    I LOVE it! To me gardens are just outside rooms. As time goes on you can add interest with annuals, statuary, trellis and even “art” on the fence. They can easily be rearranged, lit, decorated, updated, shared and will evolve as time passes. You will find yourself just walking along the path to see how the garden changes from day to day, year to year. I don’t know if you can grow this where you live, but Creeping Jenny is a great low ground cover in a fabulous yellow/green/chartreuse color. It likes some shade and a bit of water. It would grow great in there. Google it. Beautiful and thank you for sharing!

  • Kimba Haas says:

    Be careful with the hostas. The propagate and grow like crazy. I just bought a foreclosed house where the hostas have been left to their own devices for a couple of years. I feel like I’m never going to finish pulling them out. They’re like weeds.
    Consider hydrangeas.

    • Does it depend on the type? Ours behave themselves – about the same number of years, no babies.

      Our green & gold on the other hand? They are absolutely crazy for propagating. They must have quadrupled their size the season they were planted, and are trying to take over two beds. In the fall we’re going to dig some up and put them on the wooded hill in the back yard that still gets some sun, to see if they’ll help fill that in.

  • Ellen Rush says:

    Oh Maria, it is so simple and beautiful, hard to beat hostas and astillbe for that! Thanks for sharing, Happy Camping

  • Kay says:

    It looks so beautiful, Maria! You’re fortunate to have such a great LA. We have a lot of standard green hostas that came with our house. Occasionally I’ve tried to get rid of the ones in the front border, but when I throw them on our yard waste heap in the back, they take root! Very hardy and tough plants, but unfortunately the deer simply love them. If I don’t spray Deer Out assiduously, they look chomped on–not very attractive.

    I second the advice regarding your stone walkway. It looks gorgeous but in time will become a trip hazard–but maybe where you live there is no frost heaving? That’s what makes unset stone so difficult in the northeast. It will, however, require regular attention to the inevitable weeds. How to combine beauty and practicality is a constant challenge.

    BTW, my new kitchen is almost done–will send pics after the hood is installed. The hard surfaces are not busy–just beautiful Carrara marble counter tops and everything else white. Cabs are chantilly lace, subway tile is a gloss white and shelves and trim match the tile. Floor is wood. You’ll probably think there is too much stuff out, but I’m a cook and need things to be handy. But the backdrop to all my stuff is very serene! Doing this kitchen would have been much more difficult without your advice, and I very likely would have gone wrong with the paint color. The room is flooded with light (I think about what you say regarding white in dark spaces, advice I frequently pass on to other people, attributing it to you, of course), and all the white makes it so bright and cheerful and welcoming. I love it!

  • Janet says:

    Great advice as always, Maria! Briefly, twenty years ago when I bought my first house, I was one of those people who loved EVERY plant at the nursery and wanted three of each! (Designers say to group in threes, right?) I re-designed and re-planted all the existing beds in my new yard all by myself over a period of about five years. It was fun. But I spent the next ten years “correcting” all of my mistakes and maintaining my poorly planned gardens. Now, it’s such a mess, I try to ignore it, weeds and all. (My neighbors surely are not happy.) Your advice of “keeping it simple” is so helpful!!!! And of course, as you always say, hiring a professional will save us from costly mistakes! Thanks for a great post!

    Have a happy Canada Day!

  • Lisa Sontag Kissee says:

    I would not have gone with the yellow hostas just because I don’t like yellow flowers but, I must say it looked awesome. Guess I better reconsider about yellow flowers. ugh

  • Love it, Maria! What will you plant in your pots and urns? All white, or color?

  • Fran Worrall says:


  • Barbara says:

    Absolutely beautiful Maria!
    In the second before picture, I was wondering, how did you get your neighbour to trim their overhanging bush/tree? Did they voluntarily do this, or did you do it for them!

    I love the tree planted to obscure the streetlight, I bet it drove you crazy looking at it…

    My tip would be to plant Hyancinth bulbs around the hostas in the fall. I did this at my last home, at my front door. They come up very early before the hostas emerge from the ground and the frangrance is wonderful as you pass by. Then the hosta leaves emerge to hide the fading and dying foliage of the bulbs, which will come back for many years.

    Watch out for slugs, they love hostas. So if something starts eating them, that is probably what it is. Here in the dry Okanagan, we have had so much rain in May and June that I’ve seen slugs 6 inches long while walking in the wilds near the creek. (Normally never see any)

    I smiled about your neighbour’s comment about upkeep. Our neighbours thought the same about us, when we moved into our house. It was newly built on a lot carved out from the one next door, so was on an established street. The builder left the side yard which faces the street unfinished. This is our main yard, it was a jumble of weeds and wildflowers, so we left it the first year and it grew three feet high.

    Had to wait for enough money to finish it properly, with a rock wall, an expensive fence and five truckloads of soil to level it out, but it is safe to say that I have the nicest garden and yard in the neighbourhood, it is quite beautiful. My Bonica roses are an embarrassment of blooms right now. I do have before and after photos, fun to look back at all the hard work.

    PS I love Christina Lake! The last time we camped there it was so-o-o hot. Have fun.

  • this post was hilarious…it is all about knowing your shortcomings and hiring experts….if we would only follow our own advice!! I love subway tile as well…and what is more economical?!!

  • Joan says:

    That path is truly a work of art. Beautiful plantings. Great space you’ve created out of something that almost cried for beauty. I bet your house gets a lot more folks walking by just to see how lovely it is…

  • mimi says:

    Fabulous look with the hostas, Maria!

    I agree so wholeheartedly about keeping things simple! I work in kitchen design and some of the combos people want to use…well, we gently try to redirect them to- as you say, “a timeless look”.

  • Kimberly says:

    Oh, Maria, it’s soooo gorgeous! So happy for you!

  • Tess says:

    LOVE IT!

    I made the same mistake with my wedding flowers– there were so many I liked, I couldn’t tell my florist my vision. My boquet was very pretty, but in hind sight — I wish I had kept it simple!

    Great article!! ox Tess leeds (AKA KAtherine Jenkins)

  • carol beck says:

    Hi Maria, it’s been so long since I’ve left a comment, but I still read along 😉 The after on your walkway made me gasp!! I LOVE it and am inspired to do the same. I have a bunch of hasta varieties, but am going with a sea of yellow for a spot in the back yard. Can’t wait to do it.

  • Karen says:

    Love love love the pathway and plantings Maria. Your yard is looking so beautiful! I also loved your honesty about how the garden area is not your expertise & you are acting like your clients. I thought that really cute. You are so down to earth and I love that too. lol

  • Loribeth says:

    Looks fantastic, Maria! I’ve been working on our yard this summer too. It’s a lot of work, but very gratifying when it turns out the way you envision it.

  • StagerLinda says:

    Happy Canada Day! Enjoy the time with your family at the Lake. Your transformations are amazing and inspiring. x Linda

  • Karena says:

    Maria you always astound me with that great eye of yours! The side yard now looks so very lush and restful! Enjoy the holiday!

    2013 Designer Series

  • BillP says:

    The plantings look great and will get even better as time passes. I think that now you need a better solution for the hose.

  • Marta says:

    Beautiful Maria! Love seeing the landscaping transform with the before and after photos.

  • M says:

    Another wonderful transformation. So pretty. Love Hostas, but unfortunately I don’t have the climate for them. They make me miss the Easr Coast. So many varieties, how did you decide on the yellow ones?

  • Maria, I love that you are frank with your clients and that you stand by your convictions about design and color time and time again. I was reading a local person’s blog and she posted a link to a friend’s recent reno that was for sale. The exterior was super-cute but the interior choices they made, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen with cabinets and tiles made me groan.

    Classic, people, classic!! Especially in a vintage-style house. It reminded me why we ended up building our own 1920s style Craftsman house. We couldn’t find a house in the area that we lived in that fit our tastes. Every house that had potential would cost too much to redo all the horror that other people installed.

  • How can there be anything boring about chartreuse hostas? That’s the last word I would use to describe them. And I don’t think there’s anything boring about your side garden at all: what you have there is a very nice, cohesive design. Adding any more plant varieties in that small of a space would have created no look at all, just a mishmosh of plants. Here’s the beautiful of gardens over backsplashes though: It doesn’t need to be timeless. Gardens are ever changing. Your beautiful side garden will never look the way it looks in that photo again. I’m sure it will be beautiful, but it will be different. The plants will grow, the look will change. You will have to divide them and some may die. It’s not really like decorating a kitchen, which remains the same until you or someone else changes it. But maybe that’s why I’d rather plant a garden than design a kitchen.

  • Susan @ Susan Silverman Designs says:

    Just spectacular….there are no other words! xo

  • Melinda says:

    Holy mutha of gawd… that is a stunning transformation.

  • Sylvia Engemoen says:

    Thank you for sharing your hostas picture.
    Oh my, what a great difference. Love the look. Mary Anne ‘s design has just uplifted that space dramatically. You are so right, it’s loving your home, your surroundings and this brings you joy.

  • Lorri says:

    If you stain your fence it will look brand new and last longer. It is a beautiful fence. Your welcome! Dallas Realtor, Lorri Terkelsen

    • Maria Killam says:

      Staining a fence is extremely high maintenance and funny that you said that, I’m just writing a post about fence colours that will be on the blog soon! Maria

    • Lisa B says:

      Lorri – I agree with you 100%. I inherited a grey and old looking fence 8 years ago. The first thing I did when I moved in was spend an enormous amount of time power washing it and then spraying it with a semi-stain in a natural wood color. I have to respray it every 3 years to prevent the need to power wash, but it remains beautiful and the spray stain goes very quickly. My neighbor’s fences look tired and grey. I understand a lot of people like the weathered grey look, but it didn’t match my house and it doesn’t look like it is taken care of.

  • Linda says:

    I think your point is that we would never walk into Pottery Barn and buy 1 of each candle holder that they sell. Yet, when I went to the garden center, I did the same thing – I bought every hosta that I liked, never considering the impact, and yes, my backyard could use some editing.Of course you can add some blue ones in another part of your yard, because you know that they will RELATE to another blue part you already have.

  • It looks marvelous! A narrow side yard is one of the hardest landscaping challenges but you were spot on with this arrangement. I love the yellow hostas combined with the other lovely green shades. Wow. I know hostas are sometimes mocked for their ubiquitousness – but I don’t care! Lovely. Just lovely.

  • Jeanne Dugan says:

    OMG! Could I love your blog any more than I do now??? I too love Hostas! And I want ALL the hostas! But I have held myself back and just went with different varieties of yellow. Are yours all the exact same variety of yellow? It looks amazing! PS… Something that has nothing to do with hostas. Is white beadboard timeless like white subway tile? Planning my bathroom reno…

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes if it fits the style of your house! Haha thanks for your comment 🙂 x Maria

      • Mary-Illinois says:

        What style of house is appropriate for beadboard? I believe you explained it in regard to shiplap. Does the same apply to beadboard? #futurepost ?

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    My husband insisted he design our planting beds. His reasoning was because I take control of the inside of the house. He went to the nursery & bought whatever he liked with no regard to how it would look or even if it would thrive in our conditions. He had no plan. It ended up looking like a hot mess.
    A landscape designer would have been a wise investment.

  • Susan says:

    When designing our kitchen, we got the best advice. He said to get the kitchen installed Except the back splash. What? We listened. So glad we did. We finally found the beautiful subdued glass backsplash (6 months latter ) the let the counter take centre stage. We still love it. If we had picked it before the installation, we would have chosen the wrong one. Love your site 🙂

  • Jane B says:

    I did timeless in my kitchen thanks to you (well, when I finally paint the cabinets, it will be). Wish I’d read “timeless in the garden” too, before I installed a gazillion shrubs and perennials in a riot of colors. Thanks for another great post and your sidewalk there looks awesome!

  • Dianne Tolar says:

    It is so relaxing to see how he beautiful
    hostas and your yard.

  • Amy says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I tell my clients this ALL the time, but not nearly as eloquently as you. 🙂 When renovating or building new, nearly all my clients want *every* element in the room to take center stage and that is always a recipe for disaster. Disaster with a capital “D” long before a stitch of furniture or accessories are moved in!

    I love your blog, your tools, your wisdom, your humor, Maria. I’d like to share a story with you and your readers…

    I met a sweet woman in a fabric store about two months ago. When she found out through casual conversation that I am a local designer, I wound up spending about 45 minutes helping her pick fabric for her new guest bedding. I had the extra time that particular day and she was such a sweet lady. In our conversation, she mentioned you. So of course, being the color addict that I am, I immediately googled you when I got in my car. Within a week, I read tons of your past blogs, purchased your White is Complicated ebook, and purchased a set of your Sherwin Williams paint samples. Within two weeks of receiving them, I used them for four jobs and OMG – those sample boards have made my life so much easier!!! It was an *investment*, but worth every. single. penny. I even found some great art portfolios to slip the samples into – making it much easier to find the colors I want, while protecting my precious boards. 🙂

    Overall, I feel very comfortable selecting the correct paint colors for my clients and I do understand undertones, but I have definitely learned more in the last couple of months from you, Maria, and am looking forward to learning even more! Your *process* for selecting colors is amazing. I am a process girl because processes make my business easier and more efficient. And with your resources and color selection process, my business has become easier, more efficient and more confident than ever.

    So spending time with a sweet lady and giving away lots of design advice has paid out in spades. Though I will likely never see her again, I will be forever grateful for her sharing your information with me. I am now sharing you with every designer and decorator, and DIYer I know!

  • Eileen says:

    Beautiful & Serene-wish we could have them, deer nibble on them before as they are sprouting!!

  • Diane Kipp says:

    This post is so important to me. I’m one of those who, by nature, wants to plant every pretty flower and shrub and use busy finishes inside my house. Gradually, over many years, I’ve started to figure out that simple and classic really is better and makes me happier. (I also think it’s more elegant.) Having this concept confirmed and reinforced by someone I respect so much is validating and relieving. Thank you, Maria!

  • Naomi says:

    Agreed, though if I see one more cream subway tile I might scream. Everyone took this advice regardless of the style of kitchen or bath and it’s as overdone as the old square bath tiles looked when people were ripping them out in the 90s.

  • Jeanne says:

    Hi Maria,
    I love your posts and your repeated messaging of boring= classic and timeless. I totally agree! But, can you weigh in with an opinion if a white hex floor + white subway tile in stall shower and around visible bathtub is toooooo much white with a white vanity? Is there such a thing as too much “timeless”? I hate the idea of accent tile, but maybe I need to rethink that. Thank you for your opinion!

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