Skip to main content
Decorating My Home

Here is a Method that helps keep me Sane during Decorating

By 06/18/2010February 10th, 201723 Comments

Since I’ve been in the design industry (the past 10 years) I have never started with an empty house. I’ve always had ‘something’ to work around, which of course, is much easier.

Windsor Smith

Many of my clients call me because they are starting fresh. An empty house is intimidating for new designers (it was for me in the beginning), and I have become very good at defining a new palette which is important because otherwise it’s very hard to begin and mistakes get made.

Anyway, back to my point. On the one hand it’s really great because I have had almost two years of blogging to truly define what my look is, and I’m loving that, but on the other side, I’m very impatient. I cannot stand walking around my house right now because the only cute space is my office (so I’ve been spending a lot of time in there).

I have always wanted a foyer big enough for a round table for flowers like this one! (source)

Early this afternoon I went out, determined to find a chest for my entry (along with an area rug) lamp, etc. so that at least I could walk into my house and feel good. I found one at the very end of my day that I’m thrilled with so it’s a start.

I also have a niche going up the stairs that needs something (and I think a vase with sticks is too contrived) so I found a tall, simple urn and a green boxwood ball for the inside. It’s cream and needs to be painted but that will have to wait on the area rug for the entry (which I still haven’t found). But it’s just the right scale for the niche and I’m loving how clean it looks. At least I can be happy walking down my stairs.

I was surprised to discover a part of myself that I wasn’t really aware of and it is this; I am so highly affected by my surroundings, I am a bit difficult to live with right now. And I KNOW what to do (it’s just that it takes time that I don’t have a lot of at the moment) plus if I custom order something, I have to wait!


So here’s my tip if you are in the same decorating dilemma: Start with the smallest room and work from there.

Along with getting my office painted turquoise right when I moved in, I painted 2 bathrooms as well; this way they look finished so I can feel good when I’m in there. It’s not enough instant gratification for the rest of my house but it’s a start. Some new white towels, seashells, and it’s done.

Of course your living room palette needs to be defined before you can do the little rooms because of flow but not every room in the house needs to be varying colours of the living room—that would be boring. However you do need to consider clean vs. dirty and how to make all that work with different colours in the same house!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! 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 e-design consultation packages here.

Related posts:

When it comes to your Decor, your Friends are Polite

Victoria Webster’s Renegade Regency + Top Trends for 2010

All About Hermes Orange

New to this Blog? Click here ; Subscribe to my Monthly Newsletter; Become a True Colour Expert

While you’re here, subscribe to this feed so you don’t miss out!

50 pins


  • Karena says:

    Excellent advice Maria!! It gives one such a boost to vomplete something no matter small!!

    Art by Karena

  • Linda in AZ * says:

    * How true, Maria!

    We moved 28 times in 38 years in my husband's first career (no, Sweetie, he was NOT a cat burglar!).

    We've NOW settled down & HAVE been in this new house for 5 YEARS~ HIGHY UNUSUAL for us! I dreeeamed of "no more moving", but I find, NOW, that I did some of my BEST designing when I had to get each new home "ready" & set-up for entertaining/large parties within weeks… IMAGINE my surprise that I am now "antsy" again (but the joy of having THIS home, our dream home, so "put together" IS truly SHEER JOY!!!)…

    Great, encourageing article for all!

    Linda in AZ
    [email protected]

  • pve design says:

    I am working with a client on color for their home, they are moving from a sweet 2 bedroom condo to a HOUSE!
    I have advised them to begin outside, since it is Summer and they will no doubt love being on the patio. The kitchen is move in condition, and I advised the color "Stone hearth" so I had a good laugh from your "Stone Fireplace" color. I love gray with stones too.
    Enjoy the little things, soon enough your place will have all your wonderful touches to make you feel right at home.

  • Elements says:

    I am opposite in that, most of my clients are in the process of building their homes so we are always starting from scratch…..
    For me personally I can't wait for the sale of our house to be finalised so I can go and purchase all the things I have had my eye on..I understand the frustation though…..Good luck with the next stage Maria.

  • Annie@A View On Design says:

    I always wanted a double story home large enough for an entry round table toO!!! great minds…!

  • Laura Trevey says:

    In my next house, I want a HUGE foyer!! Gorgeous photos!!

  • Kim@Chattafabulous says:

    This is excellent advice Maria. I can't wait to see what you've done in your new place. I am certain I will love it!

  • Annie @ The House That Jade Built says:

    GREAT post! I am so much like you! I was just thinking today, oh if I had to live in an all tan house – I wouldn't last a week 🙂

  • C.J. says:

    hi maria, i completely understand your level of frustration. as I was ready to leave on vacation, my bath water started coming out of my kitchen ceiling! Needless to say the entire house now is a mess!!! I am having an entire new bath room put in ($$$) and my kitchen ceiling has a huge, gaping whole in it. Newly ordered furniture is being delivered on or before the 26th so another dilemma… sheesh! Does any of this affect my mood??? hell yes, but I am trying to smile as when it is done it will be amazing. Take care.

  • thewelcomehome says:

    I completely inderstand the challenge of starting from scratch. I just staged a completely vacant house. Not only did I have no decor to start with, I also had to imagine who would live there. I took my cues from the granite and cabinetry in the kitchen as well as the hardware throughout the house. I can't paint anything but the space now feels warm, inviting and calm. I anticipate a quick sale!

  • Mariska Meijers says:

    You are so organized. Love that! Have a great weekend xox

  • Donna says:

    Blogger Donna said…

    Maria that is a great topic to talk about! I am not happy either unless everything is in place. As you may remember, we've moved 23 times, and the same thing is true for organizing or cleaning a house as is true for decorating. You should get one room pulled together–let that be your 'haven' and then you can get your emotional support and refreshing from that room even if the rest of the house is chaotic.

    When I go into a friend's house to re-organize or declutter…I try to start with a small room where we can get immediate results. To try to fix it all at once is overwhelming. Too many decisions to make. But I think that most people feel as you do.

    I always say that my house 'talks' to me.I simply can't function in the 'unfinished'. The rooms shout "Fix me! paint me! clean me!". I have to get at least one room into a finished state just so I can quiet all the noise, relax, and think. Great suggestion, Maria!

    PS. I linked to your bathroom tile color post today..and your stone color post. You've become my 'escape' hatch when I get the blahhhs. I just drop over here and hang out. :o)There's always something interesting to read and learn..and your photos are so gorgeous too. :o)

  • Lauren B. @ The Untitled Truth says:

    I fully understand the impatience thing! I'm redoing both my own house and my parents house and all I can think about is how I wish I had an unlimited supply of cash and time to do the things that I'd really like to do. I'm highly affected by my living space as well, so I understand your frustration.

    The important thing is that you're a brilliant designer and that all of the waiting will result in a beautiful living space that is perfect for you, that you will love and feel warm in. 🙂

  • Kat says:

    What you said makes so much sense. Even though I am in the middle of this kitchen renovation, and have waited a long time for it, and know it will be lovely, I hesitate to come down stairs in the morning to the "project" I seem to find more and more things to do upstairs where everything is already finished. I need my finished spaces so much right now.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Annie Wilcox Designs says:

    Mind if I ask which turquoise you chose. I am working with BM fairy tale blue, is yours more aqua?

  • Ideezine says:


    Great topic and many individuals can identify with your position. I have unlimited patience, but, I'm intuitive so I reach a solution quickly. Before someone knows what they need I have the solution waiting for them.

    One of my clients was in the position (unlimited funds) no patience. To achieve her design goals we rented items to
    solve the empty nest, hollow house feeling. Staged every room and she was quite thrilled. This gave her a full house wrapping her in "Love" while custom items made arrived.

    There is always a solution and it arrives at the right time. Set your intentions, price, color, location, before you map out hunting n' gathering trips. It works everytime.

    Get comfortable being uncomfortable because it means your onto something bigger than your use to careerwise.


  • Grace @ Sense and Simplicity says:

    Well I don't think your being out of sorts right now should surprise you, given that your blog is called "Colour me Happy" – you obviously need to surround yourself with the right colours (and the rest of the bits and bobs too) and then your happy mood will follow. It's a bit of a pain that it takes awhile to accomplish, though, isn't it.

  • Marlo says:

    You are so right Maria. I had the foyer undone for over a year and every time I walked into the house I didn't have a welcoming feeling. Now that it's done it feels really good coming home.

    I have a niche in the hallway too and it's 4 ft tall. Other than branches I don't know what to put in it to fill the space. I can't wait to see how you transform your niche.


    Great post. Glad you have a few happy spots. I always have to have some familiar things around me, and always travel with books, candle, etc. For a short time, I can ignore an unfinished project – if I have enough things I love available.

    Sorry this transition is rough. For us in blog land, we just look forward to seeing each new are completed.

    Thanks for your practical and beautiful thoughts.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Annie,
    Yes mine is more green. It's the palest shade of Tiffany blue which is 652 Caribbean breeze. Tiffany blue matches 655 Coastal paradise which is several shades darker on the chip. I will post it soon!!

  • Ivy Lane says:

    Sounds like you are making good progress in your new home spaces! I hope you'll give us all a sneak peak! Have a Great Weekend!!!

  • Emom says:

    Great Advice! thank you….smiles.

  • Alexandra Rae says:

    Love these photos! And all the great tips. Thanks!!

Leave a Reply