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Before and Afterwhite kitchens

How to Make a Man Love Pink (Carriage House Tour)

By 05/04/2015August 16th, 202034 Comments

My mom, Hellen

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know that my love of colour comes from my mother. One of the big reasons I moved out to the country (from Vancouver) is to live closer to her. She is one of my best friends, and I will do pretty much anything for her.

Once in a while, I get an email asking to see some more of my mom’s carriage house. Here’s what it looked like when the first coat of paint went up four years ago, and since Mothers’ Day is coming up, I thought this would be the perfect time for you to see what her house looks like now.

Two years ago, when I ripped out my front and backyard and worked with my landscape architect, MaryAnne White (long distance, all the way from New York!), she was big on curvy garden beds. Everything had to have a curve. She did not draw circles around big trees for beds, but instead included the tree in the garden bed.

So one day, my mom decided she needed a real, professional-looking garden bed, too! So we had the gardener come by and carve one out for her:

momsgardenSo much better! I’m sure MaryAnne would approve!

I had left-over green paint from my front door so my Mom painted her’s the same colour!

When we were choosing the colour scheme for her house, she saw this photo of Windsor Smith’s living room on my blog one day and said, “That’s the pink I want!”

Pink living roomWindsor Smith

And here’s the pink we chose when we decorated her living room, which is located upstairs:


Walls: BM 2011-40 Old World 

My mom had a ceramic kick a few years ago where she painted the 7 dwarves. She has them all over her living room. Above, one is having a rest on some of the pink and yellow books I brought over to style her coffee table for the photo.

Everyone (including men) loves spending time in this room. There’s something really wonderful about the feeling in my mom’s pink living room. I bet you can feel it right through the screen. So the trick to getting your Man to agree to introduce more pink into your decor is have him sit in a pink room!

Because this is a carriage house, the garage is located on one side and there’s a kitchen, dining area, and sitting room on the main floor on the other side:


I tried in vain to convince my mom to buy a more attractive pair of recliners, but she would not go for it. The off-the-shelf colours were not that great, so this caramel, brown shade is what we chose.

Hey, when I’m in my late 60s, maybe I’ll break down and get one too, haha. And let’s be clear, everyone fights to be the first to get the seat beside my Mom when they visit! I have had many wonderful 5:00 am talks with coffee on this recliner!

We opened her French doors for this photo. It was a gorgeous sunny, Sunday! Those crayons and books are for when my nephews come over from next door:


At the last minute, I had the builder include a built-in bookcase, and am I ever glad I did. This corner of the house is also my mom’s office (it didn’t look this styled when I arrived this morning), and an off-the-shelf bookcase would never have looked as good:


He also wanted to install the fireplace in the corner! I nixed that idea ASAP. Builders always like to install them in corners because it’s easier to vent them but furniture arrangement around a corner fireplace is mostly very difficult.

I chose this colourful polka-dot drapery so that we could change the colour in this room. The existing blue-green feels a bit cool (especially in the kitchen, which you’ll see in a moment), and my mom wants to change it:



Art from my late uncle’s home. Notice I chose lamps that coordinated with the height of the paintings:


You can tell this artwork was purchased in the 80s because the frames are pink! Since that’s one of my mom’s favourite colours, this does not bother her in the least. ; )  )

She also has doilies everywhere. I did leave one here underneath the angel for the photos!


Here’s her kitchen:


My mom was definitely on a budget when she built this carriage house, so I chose a light grey laminate counter that would go with any happy colour!  The 4″ kick here doesn’t bother me because half of it is right underneath the window. And you need it if you’re not going to install backsplash tile.

If you already have a kick and can’t remove it, I would not install backsplash tile unless it was an almost perfect colour match to the countertop (which is impossible if you have granite). If you do, just paint it the wall colour.

One day, her builder arrived with this laminate floor (for a good price), which I approved and my mom absolutely loves it. She says it always looks clean. (I don’t have the source information, unfortunately).

This is an IKEA kitchen with an off-the-shelf island from IKEA as well. So far, it’s held up quite well.

My mom definitely needs to replace the builder lights. I was thinking about something like these. The pendant light is small, but Mom doesn’t want a big light fixture above her island:


Surface Mount / Pendant Light

My mom is a healer and massage therapist. She has given many a client a horsetail bath because of its many healing properties. You can see it in a vase below:


I spoke to someone recently who said she has made green juice every day since I posted the last recipe from my sister Elizabeth. When I mentioned this to my mom, she said, “You should remind your readers that it’s important to rotate your greens.” Here’s the reason.

The greens are all from my Mother’s greenhouse (below). The Swiss Chard is in the vase in the second image:


This is the dining area, all ready for a puzzle the next time my nephews pop over. This was my late uncle’s dining table and chairs, so my mom is attached to it even though it’s a little big for the space:


So that’s how far we’ve come with my mom’s carriage house. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

xoxo  Maria

2 pins


  • Sheryl says:

    Love the green sofa!!!

  • Adelaide says:

    Thanks Maria. I’ve often wondered how your Mum’s house was coming along. Very Pretty. I get the feeling you may have gotten your amazing generosity from your Mum, and that is very special. I know will you all spoil her a little for Mother’s Day, so have a lovely day together.

  • Tess says:

    Loved seeing your mom’s home. She’s so lucky to have you for a daughter! Loved the comment about those ugly recliner chairs! I think we’ll all want those in our late 60’s for sure!
    We’re in the process of buying a new house now…I can’t wait to paint and plant my tulips!! You continue to be an inspiration to me Maria! xo

  • Missed headline opportunity…”Don’t forget to rotate your greens” would have been a great post title for your colour-based site! 🙂

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria, Thanks for the tour of your Mom’s lovely home.
    Have you ever thought of getting out your staple gun out & recovering your Uncle’s dining chair seats? has some very affordable & cute outdoor fabrics that would stand up to your nephews.
    It would be a cold day you-know-where before my husband let me paint anything pink. I don’t get it. How does having an attractive, feel-good room make men react to in such a manner?

  • tara dillard says:

    Due to selling 2 homes, buying a home, work, travel, etc I cannot have my new home painted before move in.

    It’s an ‘issue’.

    To carve out a spot for sanity during this coming chapter, one of the bedrooms is an incredible light pink. Will keep it, use it as my office, and put a bed in it, it’s a large room with fireplace, 11 foot ceilings, wood floors. This room will be ‘perfect’. Can shut a door to the chaos beyond.

    Have always admired a pink room Hamish Bowles has. Never knew I would get one !!

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  • Kathi says:

    Your mom is a doll,Maria-I know you realize how lucky you are to still have her-my mother has been gone 18 years now and I still miss her everyday-Moms are irreplaceable – Her carriage house is fantastic-it was probably one of your favorite jobs to help her-I love her pink and I love the way you listen to all of your clients, (especially your mom) regarding those recliners-lets face it-her chairs are more comfortable than anything you or I own!

  • Gina says:

    What a home designed with love! It’s beautiful. Tell your mom I loved all of the veggie inspiration, too! I’m currently working with a client who is purchasing two pouffy leather recliners, but I think she’s getting a dark gray, anyway! Even a power lift! Thank you for the earthquake relief opportunity, too. Love, talent, and a big heart! You’ve got it all!

  • Lisa says:

    My Mom painted my niece a picture similar to the one your Mom has from your Uncle’s house!
    Couldn’t believe it!

  • Ellen says:

    What a wonderful home for an independent lady of a certain age (same as me!). I had to laugh about the recliners. I was a designer too before retirement, and I would never allow one in my house. Lately, after one knee surgery and another one coming, I am beginning o rethink that decision! Beautiful chairs, even comfortable ones, can be hard to get up from when your knees are sore.

    I do love her pink LR, and I am especially crazy about the apple green sofa. I have two leather wing chairs that color, and I can’t tell you how many people have tried to buy them!

  • D, Gibbs says:

    Your Mom sounds like a very cool lady! I’m ab the same age and..BOY! do I need a healer/massage therapist in Houston TX!
    When we ‘downsized’ to our townhome a few years ago, the dark blackish granite and its kick stayed. My solution was to have my H install MDF(?) beadboard which we then painted…very reasonable and gives a more finished look. (I know kicks are outré but there are situations where they can’t be avoided!)
    Weirdly, I’ve been Thinking Pink, lately, but much paler…such a flattering color! Enjoyed this post very much!

  • mairi says:

    I was one of those asking to see your Mom’s carriage house, thank-you so much for sharing Maria! Truly serene. This year my husband and I moved to a ‘carriage house’ and the experience of living smaller and living simply is so freeing. I highly recommend it to other empty nesters!
    On the subject of rotating greens, your mother is right on- I learned from a naturopath that we need a minimum of 24 different greens species over a two week period to replace the many micro-nutrients we need to function optimally. So my kitchen garden goal is variety. Happy Spring!

  • Lorri says:

    I love your mother’s house! Especially love the fireplace with bookshelves.

  • Julie Cade says:

    Such a cute cottage. The polka-dot drapes are a great, versatile idea. Funny about pink; I woke up a few days ago dreaming about pink velvet drapes. Maybe pink will be a color of the year soon. BTW, Maria, what is the color of the walls in the kitchen please? Even though your Mom wants to change it, I like it! Thanks!

  • sandyc says:

    What a treat, Maria! Your mom is beautiful and she exudes healing energies. No wonder everyone including the men love to be in her pink living room. And how very lucky you are to have her.

    Her carriage house is delightful and thanks for the tour. I love her sweet white kitchen and it’s already been saved to my fav white kitchen inspiration file.

    And the info and links to greens rotation are helpful.

    I’m with you on the recliners. They can be so comfortable but they are so bulky and ugly. When I moved into my small new home, I felt I needed some kind of recliner for those very rare nights when I needed to sleep more vertically. I finally settled for a
    Newport swivel recliner w/ slanted ottoman in vanilla for a corner in my bedroom. Very comfortable for me, rather graceful and not terribly expensive; however, kitty Claire uses it as her bed most nights so not sure it will be available to me when I need it.

    Happy Mother’s day to your mom, Maria, and thanks for sharing all with us.

  • Connie says:

    Love how you incorporated furniture from the past (including reclines, dining set, art) with her new scheme. Most all of us have to do that, so more ideas like that are very helpful. Thanks.

  • Susan S says:

    Your mom’s place is happy and serene! And I love that she keeps some meaningful tchotchkes scattered about. Although some relics of the past may seem “kitschy”, when one becomes older and the past recedes farther and feels like a dream, it feeds the soul to have these mementos
    to see and touch as a reminder that it was real. I have a favorite quote from many years back that I love: “Keep some souvenirs of your past, or how will you ever prove it wasn’t all a dream?” Asheigh Brilliant

    I can’t even wrap my brain around the devastation in Nepal. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes . . ., are the most frightening phenomena as they are beyond any control. Choosing a top-notch charity such as CARE and others listed on Charity Watch is the best place to start.

    P.S. Swapping out your greens in smoothies: great advice, Hellen!

  • Lucy Haines says:

    HI Maria, what a wonderful daughter you are. I know that your mom is most proud and vise versa. You have made her house so warm and inviting that everyone would feel comfortable being there! As far as the recliners go, I have one in my family room (and I hate their looks with a passion). However when my husband insisted that he have one, I was able to find one that does not look at all like a recliner. In fact I find myself sitting there with my feet up quite often. Recliners have come a long way over the years! (But probably not long enough he he).

    Your mom is the picture of health. She is so pretty! I too have been drinking a green drink daily for years. It certainly gives one more energy and builds the immune system.

    Have a happy mothers day with your mom Maria. We never stop loving our moms even when they are gone.

  • Gary says:

    Nicely done!! of course many of us have a tight budget in today’s times.

    You have raised the bar with budget in mind!!

  • Maryanne says:

    Love the big bold bed curve!!! Maryanne

  • Carol J says:

    I love the transformation of your mom’s garden. It’s absolutely beautiful!

  • BillP says:

    I love the curtain fabric in the sitting room. So fresh and crisp. Ties all the colors together in a subtle way.

  • Monique says:

    Hi Maria,

    You did a fantastic job with your mom’s home, it’s adorable and I love the fireplace and bookcase!!! You nailed the pink, you’re mom must be so proud of you. You are so lucky to have each other!

  • Ok, I have GOT to find a place for that beautiful pink paint color! 🙂

  • Linda says:

    Thanks for the heads up. Please tell your Mom I will start rotating my green So!

  • Victoria says:

    How did I miss this post? I love that your sweet Mom is featured, Maria! Love what you two have done to this wonderful carriage house. Very touching post and always love your amazing styling! Wish I could clone you here. 😉

  • Char says:

    I like your advice to use colors that you love and you won’t tire of them. Also to listen to your client. While building a new home, the designer on the team is not good at listening. In fact, every step of the way I feel like I am fighting to get the colors I like verses everything trendy gray or the lighting and tile I see over and over winding up in many of the builders homes. Your blog and books have been helpful!

  • Michelle says:

    I just discovered your blog today, as I have been researching blogs (wanting to start blogging myself.) I’m an Interior Designer and currently redecorating my own living room at the moment. I was intrigued by the title of this post regarding men and pink rooms. I was shocked when my husband, who has a good eye for design himself, suggested pink for our new living room!His suggestion stemmed from a picture of bright pink Kate Spade chairs he saw in one of my shelter magazines. The chairs are on order and I can’t wait, it will be fabulous. I’m a lucky girl to have a forward thinking husband who isn’t afraid of pink!

  • Jill says:

    Such a perfect post to honour your Mum just before Mothers Day! love her carriage house

  • LEONA PIRO says:

    I really enjoyed this blog, Maria. I have a lot of older clients that have pieces that they do not want to part with because of comfort or for sentimental reasons. These photos show how it is possible to get a fresh look without replacing everything. I always feel that in the end, what is more important is that the client is happy and comfortable in the space. This should be the top priority rather than having a perfectly designed room.

  • Julie says:

    Maria, thank you for sharing some of your personal life…your mom’s home and your love for her. Our past is part of our future to become who we were meant to be. Nicely done as always!

  • Sheila Kazmierczak says:

    This is my first visit to your blog and I’ve spent over an hour and a half already just browsing and clicking on one link then another. I came across your blog when searching for rod widths for the windows in my new senior housing villa style home. I’m not sure what I want to do as far as window treatments go but I like the idea of scarves trailing across decorative rods. My daughter-in-law is more than willing to help me out with this project.
    Your love for your mother is so obvious it just seems to leap off the pages as I’m reading. What a lucky lady she is and what a fabulous home the two of you have created for her.

  • Vicky Howard says:

    I love chrome faucets but have oil rubbed bronze cabinet hardware on stained maple cabinets and brushed nickel light fixtures. I like rustic, vintage, farm house decor with color. What is your opinion on mixing brushed nickel with chrome. I have been told not to

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