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How to Create Unexpected Style in Your Home

By 07/06/2010January 16th, 202026 Comments

Since I’m currently decorating my new townhouse, I’ve been shopping for me and so not impressed with what I see out there. Writing a blog has taken my aesthetic to a whole new level which means I have store and website envy at everything that is available in the US that is not here in Canada.

Thus my shopping trip to Seattle early next week. The city was booked so I’m going Sunday (11th) to Tuesday (13th) instead! (If you are there and need a consult, let me know).

So, at first I thought I should have more of a plan—like I do when I shop for my clients—but then I decided that would be too hard. Also since I need so many things I can’t have a big plan because that is more expensive. So I decided to only buy what I love and have patience if I did not see everything I loved in one weekend of shopping! Who can relate to that?

Since I made that decision I have been gathering evidence that it’s the right thing to do. Ever notice when you are focused on something–like when you buy a car and suddenly you see the same one everywhere.

The Sept ‘08 issue of Elle Decor Magazine was about Fearless Style and in the Editors letter, Margaret Russell said she was having dinner with a designer who was grumbling about clients who impulsively buy chairs and lamps without a clue to where they would fit in. She went on to say that she sees many uninspiring photos that land on her desk that are ‘overplanned’ and ‘underwhelming’.


So I’ve gathered some tips from a few designers including my own and they are in my July newsletter going out this week! Click here to subscribe, it’s free and won’t clutter up your inbox because it’s only once a month!

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:

The most Overlooked Colour for Exteriors

10 Ways to make your Home look more Expensive

Should your Art Coordinate with your Home?

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  • Vanessa@decor happy says:

    So true – having patience and buying what you love are key to a room you will be happy with in the end.

  • Melissa @ Veranda Interiors says:

    It is frustrating to see what you love to only find out that they will not ship to Canada.

    I can relate to not being impressed, we are at our cabin right now and I am looking at a lot of blank spaces that I can't seem to fill since the perfect item hasn't been found.

    Best of luck with your trip and I am SO excited to see how you put your new home together!

  • DesignTies says:

    Good luck on your Seattle shopping trip!! In envious and wish I were buying new furniture too! 😉

  • pve design says:

    hope you get to meet lecia from day that is just desert.
    she lives in seattle.

  • Laura Trevey says:

    It's so exciting to decorate your own home! I can't wait to see what you come up with ~~

    xoxo Laura

  • Sally@DivineDistractions says:

    Have fun on your shopping trip, Maria. I think doing your own space is about the hardest thing we do as designers. I started a redo on my bathroom this weekend…on a whim! I would never do that for a client! But somehow I know it will all work out, because it always does. It will looked a bit lived in when I'm done as well. Good luck!

  • Staci Edwards Design says:

    Have a great time on your shopping trip! We need to get some more goodies up here in Canada, I feel your frustration!

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    That's brilliant. You came up with a good one. Can't wait to read it. The people that buy random furniture without a plan have too much money to spend.

  • Kathysue says:

    Hi Maria, I think you will have so much fun in Seattle but I know it is so much harder shopping for ones self than it is for a client. I can make split second decisions for a client but not for myself, too many emotions involved. Sometimes I play a game with myself and pretend I am the "client" that usually works but it is a process to go through, that is for sure. Enjoy and have fun, Kathysue

  • Lissa @ After Adornment says:

    I agree! You should definetly just go without a complete plan and buy pieces you love. That will get you started and the rest will just fall into place. Best of Luck and happy shopping!

  • Miki says:

    I have no patience but wish I did!I love so many things and price is always an issue for me. So instead of saving up and buying the one thing I know will make me happy and be perfect for my room, I go with something less expensive, RIGHT NOW… But then it doesn't "feel right" and so I end up spending more in the long run because I try and try to find something take the place of what I loved and should have bought in the beginning! I was thinking, maybe someone in the states could do your shopping and ship stuff to you?

  • Poindexter says:

    hope you have fun on your shopping expedition! And I'm finally getting to the place where decorating my home is about the process. I will never have a large enough budget to get exactly the right furnishings and appointments, but as I locate slices of inspiration, I can gradually improve my surroundings. And that makes me happy.

  • Christina - The Diva's Home says:

    I hope you find something great on your shopping trip! I also find it hard to choose for myself. So much easier to choose for someone else since it isn't as emotional, but nice to see them light up!

  • Jen @ Bloggers Abode says:

    Can you share on what you're thinking? What you'll be on the hunt for? I'd love to keep an eye out and yes, like the other comment said, maybe one of us yanks can ship to you. Have fun!! Don't stress over it!! Half the fun is the hunt!!!!

  • Donna says:

    I'm sorry you don't have better shopping opportunities. Seattle ought to be a great place to shop though. My hubby grew up near there and we love to visit when we can. It's a gorgeous city and has lots of shopping selection plus a great view!

    I pretty much always buy what I love and then figure it out later. Like that funny old antique gold chair that you had me use as the accent color in the living room. I adored it! My mother, husband, and kids all thought I was crazy. But I can't help it. It makes my heart sing. :o) Now, thanks to you, I'm vindicated!!

    Now, finding the gold fabric to match is becoming rather difficult–but armed with my color cards–I'm sure I will conquer and get the cushions for my couch covered to match. Follow your heart Maria. I think you can safely trust your eye!

    I've done a big post–all about you and your wonderful color consultation with me last week. It was life saving and FANTASTIC! I can't wait to start painting!

    Donna @ Comin' Home

  • Marcus Design says:

    I so agree with your envy of the stuff they have access to in the States, I feel that all the time!! Even some of the shops are in Toronto but not here on the west coast and it drives me nuts!!! Not only so they have WAY more variety, but at incredibly reasonable prices as well. I hope you find some amazing stuff 🙂

  • Denise says:

    I always buy what I love and it always manages to find at least one place in my home where it looks gorgeous. I'd rather do without something (for years, if necessary) than buy something that isn't quite right.

    I don't know if you're interested in Oly furniture, but if you are, Maison Luxe in Seattle is having a 30% off sale on everything Oly! I'm thinking of buying several pieces and having them shipped to Victoria if the shipping isn't prohibitively expensive.

  • Anne-Marie (10 Rooms) says:

    Maria, I just sent that top photo to my husband, who is not yet convinced about my plan for the living room, because it is very close to what I have planned! Thanks for the wonderful imagery, again!

  • mrsben says:

    Maria try living in Ottawa where the word 'selection' is not in the vocabulary … and that is for just about anything! With the rise of our $ my Visa Card has recently taken a beating as what I cannot find here I have absolutely no conscience ordering from the States. 🙂

    Sooooo, good luck on your shopping excursion to Seattle. -Brenda-

  • imaginationlane says:

    You have a beautiful blog..I've had lots of fun looking at your page!

    I saw a comment you'd left on 'A stroll through Life', and had to come visit as we share a last name, (mine is by marriage) and we're both on the Lower Mainland.

    Anyway, nice to meet you, and I'll see you at the Cloche Party!


  • Kat says:


    I find if I buy things I love, they always seem to go together. Hope you get lots of inspiration when you are here in Seattle.

  • amymeier says:

    Too funny! As a designer, I find it so hard to approach my own home as I do my clients. I love so many things and end up creating a space that embraces them all!
    Good luck with your new place!
    Amy Meier

  • Donna says:

    Hi Maria, I just read your newsletter and Wow–am I ever glad that I subscribed! I loved these tips. I feel a lot better about some of the unusual objects in my house– I guess I was doing something right after all.

    On the other hand–I think I was trying to stick too close to rustic–but I've added some very modern lamps in the livingroom–on the piano. I worried that they didn't 'fit' the theme but now, after reading your post, I'm not worried. They look great.

    I had wanted to get a large gold (sort of Italian glass style) bottle for the coffee table for an accent piece but had avoided that for fear of it being too modern. But that might be just fine.

    I especially liked the idea of an odd chair–but I will say no more. I don't want to spoil the surprise for those who haven't subscribed yet–but will be soon. :o)

    Now my antique gold chair makes sense. You're the best Maria!

  • Melissa Rakowski says:

    Maria, do you know what color is on the exterior? I have been working with a client and we have been trying to find the right Ben Moore paint for her exterior? That one really looks dead on!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Which exterior?

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry the picture is dark, the light from the windows always creates that with a snap and point camera!

    Try this: Point the camera at the ground, or at one of the pieces of furniture and partly press the shutter button.

    HOLD THE BUTTON right there.

    Swing the camera up to take the whole room shot and finish pressing the button.

    With most cameras, you will have turned the windows into a glaring mess, but the rest will look OK.

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