Happy New Year to Maria’s colourful community!
Each one of you contributes so much to the Colour Me Happy blog just by being here, and we are all so very grateful for that. Both Maria and her team love reading your comments because so many of them turn my posts into so much more! If you don’t usually read comments, you should start!
I’m Kristy, Maria’s social media director, and to kick off a shiny new year, I thought it would be fun to gather our team’s thoughts on our very favourite “Maria-isms” and share them with you – you know, Maria’s bossy but charming juicy bits of advice that we’ve all come to rely on. They are the quotes we replay in our heads to help us make smarter decisions about colour and decorating.
There are so many wonderful ways we have all grown with the benefit of her design wisdom and gift for teaching. Be sure to click on the highlighted links. You might find an article you missed or maybe you want to PIN some of the best ones for later.
Tricia, Director of eDesign
I have been working with Maria since 2015. And because I have wholeheartedly on-boarded her system and teachings, it’s hard to remember how my design brain was furnished before. But among all the amazing things she has taught me, the piece I needed most is her timeless maxim: boring now equals timeless later.
As an artist and creator, I have a tendency to have way too many competing “interesting” ideas – trend, colour and pattern crushes – and my challenge has always been in practicing restraint. I’m so grateful that I got on board with simple and timeless before making updates to our bathroom and kitchen. Phew! I would probably be giving them both another go if I had gone with some of my more creative impulses.
It’s such a wise maxim. It shifts the common misperception that the hard finish choices are the finished look and should be full of interest, to the idea of the finishes being a canvas, a versatile backdrop for decorating. That’s a game changer, and it prevents so much waste. It’s hard to get tired of a clean and simple backdrop, changing up the decor and styling is so much more fun than living with a tile pattern you are so over. Making timeless and simple choices for the greatest versatility and longevity is a concept I am highly motivated to share with our eDesign clients to save them from endless wasteful renovations.
Terrence, Chief Technology Officer
My name is Terrence Murtagh. I have been working with Maria Killam since 2016 so I have heard my fair share of Maria-isms. However, the one that stuck with me early on was “Ugly Is On Sale.”
A lot of times when doing a home project we get overly price-conscious and forget that ugly is on sale. Maybe the cheap backsplash, countertop, tile, flooring, etc… is cheap (or on sale) for a reason. She is right. When it comes to any changes that I make in my home I always apply this rule.
I am not saying to go over budget or to spend frivolously, but rather to plan accordingly to get the better or best of something— especially if it is going to be permanent. And, as you probably know, Maria’s products or services are RARELY EVER on sale either… because, well “Ugly Is On Sale.”
Timeless light natural wood look floors are always a good choice, don’t get seduced by the sticker price of dated grey wood look flooring. Via Home Bunch
Kristy, Social Media Director
There are sooooo many witty nuggets of wisdom from Maria that have made me a much better decorator. But one of my favourites is “every decision is a colour decision.” It’s become the benchmark for all my design or home decor choices.
My husband and I are longtime DIY renovators and decorators. Over the years we’ve tackled lots of projects around the house. But since finding Maria, we affectionately refer to rooms as either before Maria or after Maria. Because, through Maria, I’ve learned (and then, in turn, I’ve re-educated my husband) so many essential design fundamentals that can be applied to any house, even our century-old Indiana home.
Thinking back to when my husband and I renovated our kitchen ourselves, not only did we make all the wrong decisions, but every decision we made was in isolation. We foolishly didn’t compare anything. And, Maria’s simple rule of pattern allowance would have had us rethinking most of our choices immediately! I really wish I had found Maria sooner, but when you know better you do better.
And if you’ve been following Maria for any length of time, I’m guessing you’re a lot like us… there are so many things we can’t UNSEE as a result (ex. too many patterns in one room, bad off-the-shelf white trim paint, dismal grey flooring everywhere, unnecessary stone cladding, shutters that aren’t wide enough). Of course, now we enjoy pointing out these flaws while watching home shows on TV. #IYKYK
PS – Maria really is so generous with her colour advice. Most recently I referenced this post to help me navigate my wall-to-wall carpet purchase at my house (and also my mom’s carpet at her new house). The results are beautiful and timeless. This post is a must-save-for-later, I promise.
Perfectly proportioned shutters by Architect Ben Reed via Southern Living
Sheila, Colour Designer and eDesign Customer Service
I was introduced to Maria several years ago by an instructor in a colour theory class I was taking. The instructor had added Maria’s two ebooks to the list of required reading for the course.
Maria’s books were the ones that taught me the most useful and practical lessons on colour! I completely related to Maria when she wrote that you can have ‘spidey senses‘ where you just “know” what works (or doesn’t) in a room. But what I have learned, and continue to learn, is how to justify and explain just what these ‘spidey senses’ are.
I now have a language to explain all of the nuances between the 9 different undertones of neutrals in clear language. I can see pink beige a mile away and I can tell you whether a colour is too clean (or dirty) and what the better option would be. Talk about spidey senses now!
Maria’s genuine thirst for knowledge is inspiring and it’s easy to learn from someone who is always expanding her expertise. This is another great lesson… Never stop learning and growing.
→ Read more: The 9 Neutral Undertones in the World
Carly, Colour Designer and eDesign Customer Service
Where do I start? In the last 4 years of following Maria, I really was drawn in by her teaching on white.
We installed stark white replacement windows on our brick and Tudor style split-level home (yes, I did just combine those two style descriptions 🤣 ). Those windows just “poked me in the eye” every time I drove up.
White really is a snob and just installing them on a warm earthy exterior or slapping it on your trim and walls with warm earthy flooring tile will not look fresh. It will look like “old meets new” and everything else looks dingy and dated In comparison.
Later, when we moved into a new historic home I have found myself saying many times, “I’m so glad I’ve been working with Maria or I would have ruined this house.”
I initially wanted to try and make the historic colonial home “open concept” and have pale Scandinavian-looking floors. But thankfully, while I still love light floors, I realized a medium brown would be more suitable and a more divided dining and kitchen better fit the era of the home. Remember, the house is the boss!
I’ve also come to appreciate the other aspects like generous trim and balanced large windows, even if I’ll never have an open concept-lounging-eating-cooking-style home. But, I can still enjoy dinner with adult friends while kids play in the closed-off living room. Open concept suits some houses, but not others.
→ Read more: Which Is Better: Open or Closed Floor Plan?
It’s important to stay true to the architecture when updating a historical home by EmilyClark.com
Lisa, Colour Designer and eDesign Customer Service
There are so many of Maria’s teachings to choose from it’s hard to just pick one! But I will tell you the one that sticks with me the most is her perfectly coined description of herself the “Lamp Tramp.”
Never had I realized how important balanced lighting truly was until I started following Maria. Lamps really do make a huge difference in creating a look and a feel.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought a paint colour was wrong because I expected it to do all the heavy lifting. When in reality all the spaces really needed were MORE lamps and of course decorating goes a long way too, which Maria has taught me.
So many instances I went straight to thinking a room needed to be repainted before I even started decorating or adding pretty lighting. Now when I tackle a room refresh I know not to throw in the towel until the space is completely decorated and packed full of pretty lamps 😉
There’s always room for more lamps – room by Mark D. Sikes
How about you? What are your favourite Maria-isms? Has Maria ever saved you from a colour mistake? Please share it below!
Cheers to the New Year! In an extraordinary year, we are grateful for your extraordinary support and we look forward to another exciting year ahead and hope to meet you in one of Maria’s virtual workshops.
Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy, and abundant 2022!