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Advice for DesignersTrue Colour Expert

Do You Give Your Client Exactly What They Want?

By 06/09/2012February 20th, 201716 Comments

The best part about the designers, decorators and homeowners who attend my workshops is they already know me before they get there. So it’s like I’m your friend, teaching your colour class.

Paula (below) and I have been emailing back and forth forever because she comments a lot on my posts. Comments are almost like money to bloggers. Every single blogger, doesn’t matter how big or small they are, read every single comment. That’s the only way to know how you’re blog is doing!

Paula & Maria

As a new decorator, when I was helping a client choose a sofa, I would show up with an entire book filled with different styles. Then I learned that if you arrive with more than 2 or 3 choices, your client will worry that you don’t know which sofa is the right one.

Diane Golin

The hardest part about being a decorator/designer is finding the fine line between giving your client exactly what they want and guiding them to the look they want. You need to learn to be bossy but in a charming way.

Pamela Landry and Claire Jefford

When you call me to help you, you are looking for me to be honest when I assess your space because many times, something is bugging you and you’re not sure what it is.

You have an idea about the look you want, but to arrive there takes elimination. A conversation that goes something like this:

No that doesn’t work because. . .

That light is too modern for your bathroom. . .

That tile is too busy. . .

That beige is the wrong undertone. . .

The colour in your house doesn’t work because. . .

These styles don’t work together and this is why, etc, etc.

If your designer simply agrees with everything you say or asks you what you like, be very concerned!

When I meet with a professional, I expect that some of my ideas will be eliminated. That gives me confidence that I will get what I want.

The exact same thing happens during a colour consultation. Your client will say “That’s too dark, that’s too gray, that’s too. . . fill in the blank.” And you will learn how to guide your client so that they get the colour that works in their home, not just react to their reactions to colour that have no context without comparison.

I cropped this image before I realized my computer cropped the original, so here’s our group, with our feet cut off, sorry about that!!

Thanks everyone for a fabulous three days! I love my classes in Toronto and can’t wait to come back! I’ll set some new Toronto dates in a few days.

Have a great weekend everyone! xo Maria

Related posts:

Maria’s Guide to Starting a Design Blog

How to Sell Interior Design

5 Ways to Know if you should Quit your Day job to Become a Designer

Download my eBook, to learn what you didn’t get in Colour Theory. How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • Maria, well said! well written! Every single word is the truth. I hope gazillions of people read this. Thanks!

  • Claire says:

    Great post and fantastic course. I had a wonderful time meeting you and all the other ladies in the class. You are truly inspiring and fun to be around!
    Thanks again Maria.

  • Carol Anne says:

    such a great post, my clients laugh at me when I say no so quickly… then they seem to really listen to my reason for the no…
    I learned a long time ago to not beat round the bush and just say no and move on…
    I must say understanding the undertones as much as I do now after taking you class has made my design life so much better…

  • Maria Happy belated Birthday…45 is just a number don’t even think about it…you still rock!

    In this down economy, down clients, and businesses closing their doors learning is always a great mood booster and a great way to get away from the news. You classes are growing and your students look so happy to be there. Good for you!

    Great post!


  • Diane says:

    Maria, I can’t stop thinking about all the great information from the True Color Workshop. The 3 days flew by and I could have listened to your expertise for 3 more! It was great to meet everyone and share our stories and thoughts. I’m so glad I attended! Thanks to you and Irene for making it such a terrific experience!

  • Anonymous says:

    Gospel truth. I hired a designer. When she left, I spent the next weeks wondering if she picked a color (which didn’t work) because it was what she thought I wanted or what she actually thought worked. I realized, I hire a designer to give me their opinion. If you don’t, you are a waste of my money.

  • Linda V says:

    Maria, no need to apologize for cutting off the feet in a photo. You’ve put in the most important things (people’s faces) so all is fine. : -)

  • Susan @ Susan Silverman Designs says:

    Great post as usual. Wish I had been there…..maybe next time you’re in Toronto.

    How many times have I said “no, that doesn’t work because…..” and “that beige has the wrong undertone”. And how many times have I walked into a client’s house and every room had a different floor and there I was having to and trying to create harmony and flow. It is a daunting task when everything is wrong to begin with.

    However, this post has led me to your post on “How to Sell Interior Design”. I loved everything you had to say (especially about your wonderful mentor and friend Liz). I always charge for the first consultation but I have been asked on a number of occasions why I am charging if “all I want to do is meet you”. I’ve yet to come up with the proper answer.


  • elle oconor says:

    Great post as usual, although you might want to change “asses” to “assess” since I think you meant the meaning to be ‘to evaluate’ rather than ‘more than one derriere’ (just my guess LOL)

  • Susan says:

    Maria, we love your blog, I have turned on 2 friends to your great inspiration and words of wisdom. We discuss your ideas and thoughts daily. I have learned so much from you! Keep it coming. Would love top attnd a workshop, come to the US Midwest! Susan

  • One of the many valuable things I’ve learned from you is exactly that- “be bossy in a charming way.” I have remembered to use the word “because” in every design and color consultation I’ve done since reading that wisdom, and let me tell you, it WORKS! Whatever it is that I’m sharing with my client has credibility when I give them context and background…and it really helps the session to turn into me being seen as the professional instead of them just thinking it’s my opinion vs. their opinion.

    I appreciate you, Maria! You have helped me be more successful at what I love to do.

    We are moving from Denver to Washington state next summer, so I’m hoping to catch a color workshop once I’m up that way!


  • Sarah says:

    Maria! What a fantastic post. I learned so much from the course this past week – my head has been spinning with ideas and I am seeing colour a whole new way!

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Maria, WE DID IT!!!! It was a blast! You have my head spinning with ideas. Especially enjoyed the exteriors examples and working with everyone’s real life photos.
    Plus you just make me smile and laugh A LOT!!!
    Hated it to come to an end. Ok, how about an advanced version next year? :~)
    xo, Paula

  • Cammy mcbee says:

    It also bugs me when a decorator comes to my home and says, well you can really do anything. Then I don’t need to hire a decorator then do I.

    • Maria Killam says:

      That’s exactly right, but you get what you pay for. At the beginning when my rates were $75 an hour, I probably said the same thing. Now that I’m $375 for 1 hour, magic happens and everyone KNOWS why and EXACTLY the right colour to buy.

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