Hello, everyone! I’m Laura Brzegowy, a True Color Expert from Bloomington, Indiana.
Discovering Maria’s blog in 2011, and making reservations two weeks later to attend her Specify Color with Confidence™ training in Vancouver, was a personal lucky strike of the highest magnitude. Not only did I meet fellow color mavens from around the world, but I also learned Maria’s unique system for selecting color.
As a Benjamin Moore store color consultant, the knowledge I gained from Maria’s seminar totally revolutionized the way I see, interact with, and choose color for my customers. Not a day goes by that I don’t put Maria’s color theories to great use. Because of her, hundreds of homes in my small Midwestern town sport “Maria-approved” colors.
What is your favorite color, and why?
My first color love continues to be my favorite color to this day: pink. No other color compares to the joy I feel when feasting my eyes on a room, an accessory, a piece of clothing, or a lipstick in the color pink.
There is a soft and playful nature to pale pinks, an “I’m comfortable in my own skin” to medium pinks, and a powerful kick-butt attitude that accompanies hot pink.
For those afraid of its little girl connotations, get over it. Pink is a sophisticated color option in both the home and fashion, where even a small amount conveys femininity and inner fortitude. Seriously, what other color holds as much controversial energy as pink? Those who incorporate it into their lives are self-assured, grounded, and decisively happy people. Kinda makes you want to run out and pick up can of pink paint, a pink home accessory, or pink scarf, doesn’t it?
What was your biggest color mistake?
I’m acutely aware of two big color mistakes I’ve made in recent years. One was prior to Maria’s training, the other after.
Prior to working as a color consultant, I worked for a residential construction company, where I selected interior and exterior finishes. The Midwest was quite fond of beige exteriors at that time (the late 1990s), but I’d grown weary of them.
In an effort to spice things up, I chose a “new to us” warm, creamy off-white color siding named Heritage Cream. It looked decisively different from the cookie cutter beige homes we’d already built, and it paired beautifully with the sandstone masonry I’d selected to accompany it.
I’d been warned multiple times by the builder I worked for that “yellow” homes don’t sell in Indiana. I thought this lovely creamy off-white would be a hit because it was different from all of the other homes in the neighborhood. Little did I know that the little Heritage cream sample chip, once installed in a large expanse, would turn into a “yellow home.”
It took what seemed like a lifetime to sell the “yellow home”, and I never lived down that color mistake. Interestingly enough, I drove past the home last week and still feel pride for the beauty I’d created. To this day, I think the home looks great, but I respect that, as a whole, “Indiana Hoosiers” don’t appreciate yellow homes.
The second big color mistake I made was directly after my seminar with Maria, and thankfully, it was in my own home.
My husband and I saved for ten years to renovate our home’s flooring, wall coverings, paint colors, and furniture. While selecting the family room couch fabric and flooring, I inspected the respective colors side by side, rather than the way they’d actually be installed (and the way I’d been taught by Maria).
Side by side, the chocolate brown carpet and moss green couch samples were distinctively different. Once purchased and in place, however, the color of the horizontal carpet and vertical couch were exactly the same depth of color, and quite similar in shade. Had I placed the couch fabric vertical to the flooring, I would have recognized my error. A Maria Killam lesson I didn’t take seriously enough, but have certainly since “learned!”
What is the most important color lesson you’ve learned?
I’ve learned that “collaborative color” makes all the difference in the world when working with clients. Instinctively, each client understands how influential color is to their well-being, but they don’t understand how to select it for themselves.
Yes, my eye tells me which options work in a given room, but not which colors will excite the homeowners to live with. A good color not only relates to everything in the room and pulls it all together, but also makes a client feel good.
During my consultations, I ask an array of questions about the colors each client likes and dislikes, while taking into consideration the fixed elements, lighting, and use of the room.
These are all things I learned from Maria. Each of these aspects helps me formulate a selection of appropriate colors, but none is as important as my getting quiet and studying each client as we look at color.
Why? There comes a moment in each consultation when I know we’ve hit upon the perfect shade because the client’s demeanor changes. They may let out a relaxed sigh or become animated, their eyes may perk up or they may smile and scoot forward in their chair.
Whatever it is, once I notice it, I know we’ve achieved everything we set out to do. And I know that, once again, “collaborative color” has resulted in the perfect choice for my client’s wants and needs.
When it comes to colour, what is hot?
I have the weekly task of replacing each of the Benjamin Moore color chips, giving me a unique pulse on which colors are popular in my section of the country. In the Midwest, all shades of blue are currently popular.
In recent years, gray shades were most in need of replacing. Now, I find that all types of blue, from clear to muted, are every bit as popular as the grays. Why do I believe this is the case? I don’t believe grays, or any other muted color, will ever go completely away. Not only are they easy to live with, but they’re also truly easier for most of us to associate with and decorate around. Yet clean colors, including blues, perk up typically somber grays.
Regardless, the last three months tells me that blue is the color that stalwart Midwesterners feel most comfortable with.
Which colour do you think is timeless?
When I think of timeless colors, creamy off-white is the first to come to mind. While hues, shades, and tints of ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) will come and go, creamy off-white is a classic. Clean whites are a fairly close second in my book, but they can frequently read as cold and sterile. Creamy off-white is the most classic color to build a strong or soft color palette around, making it my choice for the color to transcend the ages.
Image from Benjamin Moore
You can see more of Laura’s work here.
Thanks so much, Laura!
Which colour do you think is the most timeless?
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