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Advice for HomeownersAtmosphereColour Consultation

Do you Dream about Decorating your House?

By 05/06/2010December 18th, 201715 Comments

Sometimes when I get to the “Here’s what my fees are” conversation with a client, they say “But I just need colour/s”. And it seems really simple and straightforward—like anybody could come over and just choose a colour.

However, rarely do the people that hire me have a simple colour problem. If colour was all that was required, you could take your sofa cushion or drapery fabric and head over to your nearest paint store and get a colour chip.


No, you hire me because what you want to create in your home is a look and a feel which (as I have said in previous posts) equals atmosphere. My clients have said “I am tired of thinking about my house, I would just like to enjoy it!”.

Sometimes I’m called in to choose colours from scratch. ‘It’s an empty house and we’re moving in’. In this case, major colour decisions regarding furniture have yet to be made, and I am a part of that conversation. Sometimes it’s tile or granite (or which colour cabinet?) that’s about to be installed and you want to be able to sleep at night!

Sometimes, major purchases (sofa/loveseat) have already been made and my client is convinced they have made a mistake and they are stressed out!! My job then becomes about pulling in all the missing elements of a room that have simply not been purchased yet. Maybe the drapery is still old and needs to be replaced before the new furniture has context in the space, maybe toss cushions are missing, or coffee tables, etc.


Years ago (in my 20’s) I bought a sofa for my apartment. When it arrived and I placed it in my living room with my existing furniture, I was horrified. Convinced that I had made a terrible mistake I was about to return it–thanking the furniture Gods that the department store had a return policy–I got on the phone with a designer friend of mine who came over, re-arranged my furniture, took me shopping for end tables and lighting (which were sorely missing) and suddenly my sofa looked right as rain.

One client called me, worried that she had bought too much brown furniture for her living room (as her blinds were brown as well). We went shopping, bought a great striped area rug in blues, toss cushions, an upholstered slipper chair, lighting and accessories and then her living room too became a sanctuary to relax in. (Sorry it was too long ago for a good picture, if you want to see my work click here.)


The main living areas of your house, the kitchen, great room and living room are the most important because that’s what all your friends see when they come over and a True Colour Expert needs to be a designer too, otherwise you will be left with pretty paint chips and no plan to pull it all together.

So, before you start throwing good money after something you think is bad (because now you are willing to spend anything to take away the pain), it’s best to call me (or your designer) first to see what can be done that might not be obvious to you. After all if you don’t like your house, you won’t want to spend time in it.

We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous email consultation packages here.

Related posts:

The 3 Most Important Words in a Consultation

Is Hiring a Designer a Luxury or Necessity?

The 5 Designer Secrets that will Make or Break your Paint Colours

Insider Secrets to Testing and Selecting Paint Colours

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  • Marcus Design says:

    Totally agreed Maria!! You make some great points, there is so much more to pulling a room together than just colors on the wall.

  • C.J. says:

    Maria, wise words! When I think of the money most people throw away they could have hired you or me, (home stager) for some concrete ideas and formula's. Love your blog.

  • Red Door Home says:

    So true! It is so worth hiring a professional to guide your choices and tie in the things you already have. It is money well spent.

  • Sally@DivineDistractions says:

    No truer words have been spoken, Maria. Our job is to be the problem solver, the magician and the therapist when color mistakes are made. And the good part is that we CAN! I love helping choose colors, but it's so much more than that. It's being able to see the whole finished picture and then convey that vision to the client. I love what I do!!! Great post…I'm inspired!

  • Laura Trevey says:

    Wise advice… as always Maria!!

    xoxo Laura

  • Linda@ Lime in the Coconut says:

    Makes perfect sense…but somehow I can never just push the "easy" button!

  • Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Great points {as always}, Maria! I am in total agreement with you, and you always seem to be able to pinpoint a situation I've dealt with myself.

  • Erica at Decorica says:

    So true, sometimes it just takes a little tweeking and adding paint or accessories to make a space work. And sometimes it's better to have a second opinion, no one should be afraid to ask for help and hire experts.

  • RoaringS says:

    I found your blog through Penelope Trunk and I have fallen in love/agony with it. 🙂 Do you ever get over to Victoria for consultations?

  • DesignTies says:

    Perfectly said, Maria!

  • zees5 says:

    This is a great post. It would be really great if you had a gallery of your work on your blog. You show so many beautiful interiors, but if people are going to pay you, they would probably be more interested in seeing your work. I hope that helps!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Zees5,
    I'm glad you asked, I do have a gallery of work on my blog, it's located at my website,

  • Mona Thompson says:

    All very true and very well said.

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    OK!I'm calling you immediately! . . and every day after that . . .

  • Kim says:

    I enjoy your posts and pointers, but may I please point out one thing before the grammar police must be summoned? Apostrophes are for contractions (such as “don’t” or “isn’t”) and are used to show ownership (as in “the dog’s bone”). They are not used in plural words (unless, of course, the plural is possessive, such as “all of boys’ papers”). I hope that is helpful.

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