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True Colour Expert

True Colour Experts Know Colour

By 03/09/2015February 21st, 201710 Comments


In the fall of 2012, Gwen Debruyn, the proprietress and designer behind Bayberry Cottage, came to Toronto from Michigan to attend my Specify Colour with Confidence™ course. She was a delight to have in my class. At the end of the first day, she said “Only two more days!” On the second day, she said, “So sad, only one more day : ) : )”

“Loved the class! First time ever and was sorry for each day to end!”

– Gwen Debruyn

I happily bumped into Gwen again at an event in High Point this past fall, and she confided that one of her projects was going to be in Coastal Living this spring! And guess what! Here it is!

yellow doors It’s the happiest cottage ever!



yellowOf course, I love all the yellow.

colourfulbedroomLove the lamp!! Gwen shops the world for her clients; see more from her shop here.

windowseatA gorgeous window seat overlooks a colourful spot to hang with friends by the river!


My courses are open to designers and design enthusiasts, professionals and amateurs. How can that possibly work? It’s because true colour expertise is not taught in schoolsMy students all arrive on similar footing in regards to their understanding of colour, and when they leave, they know their stuff better than 90% of the professionals out there. Their eyes are totally transformed to see colour in new ways, and they go back out into the world to do amazing things!

torontosamplesLeft to right: Barbara Southwick, Cathleen Clucas, Faith Varghese

TorontoBack row, left to right: Faith Varghese, Joanne Galbraith, Barbara Southwick, Richard Rabel, Dena Houssian, Ginny Truyens, Elaine Keire
Front row, left to right: Cathleen Clucas, Janice Ha, Angela McKinnon, Maria, Beth Batke,
Barbi Williams, Dalia Tunaitis

Remember the post I wrote about New York Interior Designer and Art Consultant Richard Rabel in December? Well here is what he said about the course:

“There are so many things in life that we think we know just for the mere fact we are breathing beings. One of them is color. Correctly understanding and specifying color is a learned skill and understanding the almost invisible color nuances that make or break a space is a priceless skill as a designer.  This is why I loved Maria’s course.  It developed me into a more skillful specifier of color.” Richard Rabel 

keatinMaryAnne Ryan and Keatin Holly

vancouvercourseBack row, left to right: Heddy Bing, Barbara Miller, Lyla Veinot, Sandra Wiebe, Sheri, Keatin Holly, MaryAnne Ryan
Front row, left to right: Jane Baker, Elaine Zulak, Nancy Stevenson, Maria, Marnie Martin, Kimberley DePiero, Cindy Abiko

thegirlsColour Experts: Kayla Lok, Janet Riediger, and Allison McKenzie

Two weeks ago, I spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at Benjamin Moore. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to learn about colour and whites, and thanks to the staff at BM who decked the store out entirely in white to celebrate!

Teaching live is one of my favourite things because I get to interact with all of you in person and show you real-life examples of colour done right (and wrong). Getting to know all of you has been the absolute best part of blogging so far, and it is always so gratifying to know that the things we learn together in those rooms have such an impact on your personal and professional lives.

As many of you know, I’m taking my show on the road again in a few months. Spaces in my classes are limited to allow for hands-on training and interactivity, and the classes are  filling quickly. Register here.


Register here.



  • Cynthia says:

    Loved this blog, it’s so true!! I have been a designer for over 22 years and that has included many creative jobs as well as an owner/designer of my own firm. I moved to the Texas Hill Country 3 years ago, it has stretched my creative skills to the max and changed my business model completely!!

    If you are traveling to the US, please consider Texas!! I am happy to host a workshop and have a lovely place that includes B&B’s

    Thank you!!

  • Cherie says:

    What a charming cottage! Love, love it!

  • tara dillard says:

    Adore the Coastal Living spread. Congrats to BOTH of you.

    And it seems the match between Gwen & cottage owner was a marvelous HAPPY match.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria,
    I love the cottage Gwen designed. Her use of color & pattern is so fun!
    I wish I could have been at your BM class. I have so much to learn.

  • KA says:

    Definitely looks like a color me happy house! Well done!

  • sandyc says:

    What a delightfully happy cottage. I love that green lamp too and I’m really digging the green & white chevron base lamp in her shop – if it were the right shade of green, it could be a wild touch of whimsy in the midst of the green & white chevron lamp shades in my D’office. Lots of inspiration here. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on the BM presentation. I remember your open letter to the paint companies a couple of years ago – look at you now – handling SW as well as BM; so wise because BM is just not big everywhere here while SW is. That’s why I was thinking a summer school color workshop for paiant store color consultants and other staff might be a way to cover those parts of the globe where you can’t go easily. There are the challenges of working with color on computer monitors, of course, but perhaps you’ll attract some brilliantly creative technology type who will develop a system for calibrating any computer monitor to show “true” colors. Talk about growing your business.

  • Nancy says:

    Oh I love this colourful cottage! Great work Gwen. And since I’ve taken your course, I still hear you in the back of my head when I am working with my clients (using your colour boards) to always use a white background when looking at colour options.
    So great to see Gary Brown – he was my first boss here on the west coast!

  • paula Ryan says:

    I’m SOOO bummed I can’t go to your class in Chicago!! I have been waiting and waiting for you to come near by…unfortunately a trip with my siblings and mom who recently got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s takes precedence…or it’s a fortunate thing that I get to spend more time with her. Only that would keep me away! LOL I hope you come again!

  • Deb says:

    Saw this spread in the magazine and loved every inch of it. In particular those gorgeous front doors with the window panes painted black. I could move in tomorrow! She was obviously a good student.

  • megeranski says:

    Loved this so much, not to take away from Gwen, but I swear I saw echoes of you and your teachings on every photo.

    Not sure why, but was very moved.

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