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Navigating neutral colours and finishes can be tricky. Basically you have three options when working with pale neutrals. Let me explain.

Here’s what happened in our kitchen this week. By the way, we’ve named our home.

We’ve named the property Timeless Acres Farm.

Decorating our new home

Last weekend I made the decision to move my main inspiration piece (the floral artwork) into the bedroom along with the lavender decor so now I need to come up with a new palette for my main rooms if I want some fun paint colours to go up.

The more inspiration and decorating decisions you’ve made BEFORE your renovation or new build, the more interesting your colours can be, so far I have created about 50 mood boards because I’m also looking for wallpaper. Want to learn how to create mood boards for your home? My Shop Online course is available here.

This is exactly what I teach in my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops, and there’s one more course this Fall. The last chance to register in plenty of time to receive your box of course materials is THIS Friday, November 4.

New kitchen wall colour

The painting has started and the first place we started was the kitchen walls. Notice how the cabinets look really creamy here because the existing paint colour is currently a deeper taupe (close to BM Stonehearth).

The contrast between the darker walls and the cabinets, make my green beige complex cream cabinets look creamy, don’t you think?

Here I am holding up one of 4 of my botanicals from my existing living room. I brought it over because I am contemplating painting my sunroom green or a shade of orange/apricot. So far, green is where I’m leaning. 

But which green? That is the question. Still working on my mood boards and sourcing fabrics so when my painter asks for colours, I’ll actually have them ready.

My yellow sofa is staying because my favourite colour, SURPRISE, is still yellow. 😉 

Anyway, I’m keeping the cabinets for the time being. They are in perfect shape, better actually than the wood stained island in this kitchen (which will be painted too, colour TBA) because it seems like after you paint cabinets that have been installed in your home they rarely hold up as well as the first round of paint.

3 ways to choose a pale neutral wall colour for a kitchen

My Calacatta subway backsplash is off-white so I chose an off-white paint colour from my system for the walls because there’s so little wall space left in this kitchen. And I don’t want them painted a random paint colour that doesn’t relate to any of the finishes.

When your dealing with pale neutrals like this you have 3 options for paint:

  1. Either two shades lighter (which is what it is now)
  2. Two shades darker (which is what it was before)
  3. or a colour

Otherwise the paint colour starts to look like you tried to match it and you failed.

For option number 3, I could have chosen a pale blue grey to relate to the blues in the backsplash but I’m not decorating with blue grey so I didn’t choose that option. Had I chosen a pale blue grey, I wouldn’t have needed to worry about the value of the paint colour. Curious about value? Take my course! 

In case you are as alarmed as me to see that there’s no tile above the hood fan, rest easy, the moulding is sitting on the island. It was just removed to paint that area.

The island will still be painted. Colour TBA.

Now that there’s an off white on my walls, the fact that the ceiling was probably a 1/4 strength of the taupe walls has been illuminated (below):

That’s because the less contrast you have between neutrals, the more you’ll see them.

I wanted to paint this ceiling a colour but I might just go back to white since there’s so many cheese lights in it.

By the way my existing violet grey countertops will also be replaced but that won’t be happening until we move in. I’m keeping the timeless marble backsplash because I love it, so that demo will have to happen VERY carefully.

But now that the walls are no longer taupe, you can actually see the green in the green beige cabinets a lot more clearly.

Coordinating neutrals isn’t easy

Navigating neutrals is tricky. Learn how I do it in my last workshop this Fall, November 10 & 11, 2022.

Register here.

PS. After last weeks tree removal in the back of the property, our Arborist and his crew came on Monday to remove the dilapidated green house that was located beside our red barn as well as the swing set and did a lot of good general clean up.

Then I spoke to my neighbour who told me that this used to be a Christmas tree farm so that explains all the overgrown Christmas trees that were located exactly where our vegetable garden will be.

They were also shading the fruit trees behind them. We’ll create an orchard there probably. MaryAnne White is on it, and I can’t wait to show you her designs!

Related post: Professionals Know When to Avoid the Obvious

Here’s the before:

And here’s the after!

Hey local friends! Does anyone want a play shed with electricity (the lavender structure below)? You are welcome to come with a flatbed truck and a crane to pick it up! Let me know.

Here’s the overhead view:

Here I photoshopped out the play shed, nobody asked but I don’t want to turn it into a storage room, garden shed, or she shed. I just want it OUT.

It’s all very exciting, I am so grateful to have found a house with such a beautiful view and endless new projects for the blog!

Follow me here on Instagram if you want to see the day to day action!

PS. It’s my 14 year Blogoversary on Halloween! Here’s the first post I wrote. I had no idea how much my life would change from starting a blog! Thank you so much for following me, for all your love and support! I love you all! If you’ve been following me for more than 10 years I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Well I’d love to hear form you no matter how long you’ve been following me! Bloggers live for comments!

Related posts:

Our Next Chapter; We’re Moving

A Colour Expert with an All White Garden?

Even Minor Alterations Need Drawings: Before & After

41 pins


  • Hi Maria,

    I have been following you since Day 1. Congrats! on your new home. It is GORGEOUS!!!! The property is SPECTACULAR!! Looking forward to seeing how you make it your own.

  • Mary says:

    I can’t remember when I started following but have enjoyed every post more than you’ll ever know. I have learned so much from you! Thank you. Your new home is beautiful!

  • Marilyn S Fruit says:

    Mary, joyfully following you since 2014. You are the best. My goal is to take one of your courses.
    Regards, Marilyn

  • Aurora Vanderbosch says:

    I can’t recall EXACTLY when I started following you…but I’m guessing it was around your second year of blogging. You were still sending out your entire blog posts via email then, and Google hadn’t yet discontinued their feed reader, so I never missed a post. Still love reading your blog as much as I did Day ! :). (And congrats on the new house!!! :))

  • Stacy says:

    I guess it’s just me, but I don’t think the backsplash works with the cabinets. In the last picture, it makes the cabinets look dirty to me. I would put that marble in the blue gray category, not a match with the greenish cream.

    We had fruit trees when I was growing up, so we had our own crab apples that my mother made applesauce from. We also had a cherry tree, but the birds beat us to the fruit all too often!

    • MC says:

      Honestly, I was thinking the same thing about the backsplash and the cabinets in the last photo. I don’t see how the undertones between the green beige cabinets and the blue gray in the marble relate. Maybe it’s the lighting of the photo? I keep staring at it trying to figure it out.

      • Faellie says:

        I think there’s a bit of reflected violet colour from the worktop that’s making the backsplash more ot of tune with the cabinets than it really is. Maybe?

    • simply crs says:

      I was thinking the same thing! Maybe it’s the way the color is coming across on the computer and not in real life. It really clashes on computer screen.

    • Maria Killam says:

      The tile has both undertones in it but it is more blue grey than green beige. . . Maria

    • Vicki C says:

      I hate to disagree with Maria but I hate that backsplash color w/that cabinet and wall color—that marble is too grey/cold
      I think it should come out—wallpaper and use glass over the wallpaper for backsplash—
      One piece of marble or whatever for the backsplash looks so much better—so together (obviously) and that tile just doesn’t work IMO

      I have followed your blog and used your techniques for three house repaints/interior, two bathroom remodels, and we may build a new house in future and I would always refer fact to your philosophy

  • Sharon says:

    You have been brightening my days since 2011 when we were building our dream home. I was researching carpet online and an interesting review by you took me to your Colour Me Happy website and I’ve been learning from and loving your inspiring and honest writings ever since. Watching this next great adventure of yours is so much fun! I love that you are taking us through your thought process while you make decisions. It’s so much more interesting and educational than just before and after pics. Congratulations on this lovely new property and thank you for sharing it all.

  • Deb Landy says:

    I’ve been a very long reader of your Blog. The course I took in DC with you many years ago was fantastic, and I do not honestly know how I chose color for clients before I had your large color boards. Even my friend at the Ben Moore store borrowed them from me occasionally. This is going to be fun following. your thought process through this new home. Thank you for bringing us along.

  • JJ says:

    Maria, I only recently discovered your blog, but it has become my go-to resource for color advice and tips on redecorating. Your new property is stunning, and the kitchen is simply fabulous. I am looking forward to posts about your progress, and to seeing how you bring it new freshness and express your personalities through the decor and gardens.

  • Maggie S says:

    Maria, I started following you 12 years ago –and I spent the first week reading ALL your old posts. You have changed my life!! When I started reading your blog you had a list of other blogs that you liked on your website. I started following some of the others….including Kristy Barnett. I have since started a Home Staging business and finally took your online color class this past May!! Loved all I have learned from you!!

  • Pamela says:

    IDEA – Take off the trapezoid trim piece on the stove hood. That accent trim dates the hood and keeps it from being clean and classic – and timeless.

    I’ve been following and learning from you for at least 10 years. So thankful for everything you’ve freely shared through the years, Maria!

  • Becky says:

    Don’t remember exactly how I found you, but your advice has been crucial for me to understand why some elements of my home (a resale) made me uneasy and others were just fine. It’s all undertone conflict. I’m rather conservative when it comes to color (so I don’t always agree with your choices), but our new furniture choices, new bedding choices, and the minor remodeling that has already happened now make color sense thanks to YOU. And future projects will be that much more easy. Best of luck and success to you regarding your new home, your business, and your blog.

  • Jenna says:

    I found your blog back in 2012/2013 when we started working on plans for our renovation/expansion. Your suggestions and color perspective saved my sanity and helped our home look cohesive and pulled together! I am forever grateful to you! Congratulations to you and T. on your lovely new home!!! I know it will be absolutely fabulous when you are done renovating it.

  • JanetDR says:

    I just wanted to endorse green for the sunroom walls. One side of my house has large windows with French doors and I painted a granny Smith apple green and have been so happy with it! I lived without curtains (we are out in the country) until I could find the right shade to go with the walls. (Probably did that backwards), Every day that color lifts my spirits , snowy, rainy, sunny, spring green, summer green, fall color. A bright yellow ceiling is the perfect contrast.
    Whatever you chose, I know I will love the result and I love that we get to follow along with your new place!

  • Kelly K says:

    Your view is stunning. Does your sunroom have that view? If so I would probably live in that room and but care about the rest of my house!

    I agree with others I don’t think I like the backsplash with the cabinet color, but it could be the lighting in the photos. I know a different countertop can change that too and you plan to replace it.

    I actually liked the pine trees a lot, but that’s because it looks so bare otherwise. It does open up the view more. I live in Texas where shade is a precious thing!

  • I started following you shortly after I started doing home staging about 10 years ago. Lots of joy with your new home, love watching you make it your own.

  • Jane says:

    I also found you in the very early days, when you were an email blog, Color Me Happy, even through at least one change of its design. Been following ever since, even though I’ve retired now. Young designers are so fortunate to get your course in the early stages of their careers! I know I used the “white is not right for a dark room” reasoning many times. I’d love to take your online course, because color always fascinates me, but find it hard to justify, if I’m not going to come out of retirement! I’m not Tom Brady!

  • Alex says:

    Your hard work has paid off. I love your forever home. 😊

  • Rene says:

    I just read your first blog post! Thank you for sharing. I love your new property and home and I know you are in your element choosing colors and making it beautiful!

  • Cynthia says:

    I started to follow you 10 years ago. I was looking for information on painting oak kitchen cupboards. You included my before and after kitchen photos on your old blog. You are amazing, talented and so helpful! Thank you!!!!!!
    Your new home is gorgeous!!! Would that “shed” not be helpful for the pool house? For the chemicals etc?
    Congratulations on your blog anniversary!!🥰🥰

  • Linda says:

    Congratulations on your new home! I look forward to watching for all of the improvements.

  • L. Ashley Casserly says:

    Congratulations, Maria!! I’ve been following you for at least 13 years, and I am SO grateful for all that you and your team put out in the world. It’s been fun to watch you and your business grow. Throughout the years, I have purchased all of your resources and attended your Specify Color with Confidence course. It is a gold mine of information and truly has changed my life. I’ve always had an eye for color and design, but getting the training and language to explain the “why” besides “just trust me” is invaluable. In 2016, I attended your course as a color enthusiast, but I am now a Color Consultant with Benjamin Moore and I use the large color boards and what I’ve learned from you daily. Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge and for being a kind human, too. She’s the real deal y’all! 🙂

    Congratulations again on your continued success, and I’m thrilled to see how you transform your dream home. Looking good so far! XOXO

  • Louise says:

    I’ve been following you since your first post. You helped me so much with my new build 9 years ago now. Enjoy your new home. I know it will be beautiful

  • Sheree L says:

    Happy Blogoversary, Maria! I’ve been a fan for about the last 4.5 years. I wish I found you much earlier; I would have avoided a lot of mistakes (luckily, none of them were terribly costly)! Thank you for all you do to help us “average homeowners” to make our space more beautiful. I’ve always loved the posts where you show “real life” before and after photos and explain your process to us. Your beautiful new home will allow us to see more of these posts!

  • Fran W. says:

    That kitchen is gorgeous, and with your magic touch will be even more so. I bet Terreeia is excited about cooking up some healthy dishes in that beautiful new space!

  • I’m remembered it’s your blogversary! It’s amazing how far you’ve come and look at you now girl!
    I’m so impressed you have your tradespeople all lined up and ready to go.
    You both must be so excited!!

  • Erin McGinnis says:

    I just looked back through my email, and I subscribed to your blog in Feb 2012! I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! Your system of undertones and color boards has helped immensely in my home staging and real estate business. I finally took your course last year and I learned even more. My husband thinks it’s funny that I subscribe to a “color blog” — like, how much could there possibly be to know about color? Plenty, right?! Thank you for all your wisdom, and I love my house every time I drive up because you picked the absolute perfect colors for it.

  • ronda hoxsie says:

    I can’t when I started following you. Thinking it was 2011 or 2012. I love the countertops. Is the dark one granite or soapstone? I love my soapstone counter. I love Carrera marble but not liking the backsplash tile. The range hood would better without the added molding. Love your new house and yard. Looking forward to all of the changes and posts.

  • Elaine Hamann says:

    I started following you after I flew all the way from NJ to Vancouver to take your color workshop. I think that was back in 2010?? I was the only non-designer in your class. So fun. I still have your first set of large painted color boards! I’m still following you because I’m continuing to learn something new from you with every post. So excited about your beautiful new house and look forward to seeing how your plans come to life!

  • Ryan says:

    I just found Maria in 2019 when I became a semi-empty nester. I actually had time to look around my house and I was horrified! Thank goodness I also had time to read and I landed almost immediately on Maria and her advice on sofas. My education began from there 🙂 I don’t know much except that I can’t wait to see that beautiful kitchen decorated. I have no doubt that the undertone queen will make it amazing. 👑

  • PursuitofPerfect says:

    I can’t recall when I discovered you, but it was waaaaayyyyy back. Following you journey is so much fun, and I appreciate your willingness to speak your mind which you do but always with the best intentions of helping us understand how the world of colour works and how to avoid all the pitfalls that exist in building and renovating one’s home – that’s such a rare quality. Having moved from Kelowna to Vancouver Island a couple of years ago, so many of your posts are about places familiar to me. We live just up the road from Shawnigan Lake in Cobble Hill, BC.

    Looking at your yard, I wonder if the wind blowing up the valley will be an issue now all the trees have been cleared. For sure, spruce trees are messy and their sap causes a lot of damage but perhaps you will want something else as a replacement. I guess, with winter approaching, you’re going to find out!

  • Diane says:

    Started following you just before you bought your rancher and have learned so much. Thank you for sharing! I was fortunate to get a couple hour consultation with you when you were still doing those. We have 2+ acres and seem to never have enough sheds or outbuildings but I understand where the shed is not at the ideal location. In the PNW a greenhouse is so useful for starting seeds and holding over plants and you aren’t restricted to buying starts from the local nursery but can experiment with varieties from so many seeds available (Territorial Seeds has NW varieties). I’m sure whatever you do it will be beautiful. Congratulations on your new home and your blogging anniversary.

  • KNJ says:

    Hello Maria,

    I can’t remember how long ago I started reading your blog but I remember it being Colour Me Happy and I read it for a few years and then you switched the banner to be really colourful and then you changed its name all together…I think it was within the first year of blogging since in the beginning there were also many, many tips regarding setting up a blog etc. I also recall using your paint colour tip about dark colours look best in dark rooms and light rooms should use ethereal colours when we painted our addition…which was back in 2008/2009. I’ve been loving all your posts and have loved all the transformations all your abodes have taken….I can remember you lamenting that you’d never be able to afford a home…well YOU DID IT! Couldn’t be happier for such an altruistic person! All the best to you and Teeria!

  • SusanS says:

    Count me in as a long-time follower! I have learned so much from you through these years and I get excited to see your posts as I know they will be a take-away from each one. You’ve been so generous to share your expertise and I’m grateful. Wishing you and Tee a warm and prosperous life in your new home❣️

  • Virleen says:

    I followed CHEZERBEY which led me to Colour Me Happy in 2008. And I never left. We were fixing up a 1911 house, starting in 2006. Ironically, by 2008, I had made so many decisions already. Yet when I found your blog, I discovered that I wasn’t that far off base. That house went to a new owner in 2021, and everybody’s happy.

  • diana says:

    Good Morning Maria – Your new home is beautiful and once your mark is put on this beautiful home, it will be charming.
    My only negative is the island is much too big and has no style. Even in another color, the shape is all wrong.
    I know everything takes time and living with your new home gives you time to let the home talk to you.
    My best wishes and blessings to you and Terreeia and the many years you will have together in this home.

    • Maria Killam says:

      The island with regular dining chair seating where your feet don’t dangle is my absolute favourite part of it! Thanks for your comment, Maria

  • Mari Jensen says:

    Hi Maria,

    I think your new home and all of the changes you are making are beautiful. I have been following you for 8 years and have learned so much. We are in the process of a new build and I can make decisions with much more confidence, having learned so much. Just out of curiosity, what is the color that you chose for the kitchen walls? I don’t see it mentioned in the post.

  • Christine says:

    I have followed you since late 2014 when I started trying to figure out our kitchen remodel. I learned so much from you and it kept the kitchen I was putting in timeless just like the advice you give. Your books on Colour and Choosing the right white saved me from so many mistakes – even my husband will say. “what does Maria say?” Not letting him have the choice on countertops and he sometimes will say “I’m so glad you didn’t go with my crazy countertop choice” since it was your blog that stopped me from letting my husband have his one choice when I knew it was wrong for the overall look.
    Your books, the consultation to pick tile and your advice on the blog and in messages have been so critical to helping develop my own sense of style.
    So grateful you started “Colour Ne Happy” as with your advice everyday I walk into my kitchen it makes me smile! And now as I redo other areas I keep applying your logic and sharing with others.

    Happy Blogiversary and on the new house. I’m loving seeing what choices you’re making along the way – especially the colours of the ceilings.

  • Maryrose Wolodzko says:

    Hi Maria,

    Your kitchen is beautiful. Would you care to share the color that you painted the walls please?

  • Heidi Marie Kelner says:

    Hello Maria,

    I love your kitchen and am so happy to have seen that you chose a green/beige color for your cabinetry. I recently determined that a similar color was the best option for much of my cabinetry as it goes so well with the tile, grout and quartz options that were chosen for our house. My fear had been that I now need both a wall and trim color for the space and was unsure what to do without going with a pure white shade for both (not loving this thought). Am I to understand that you took your custom cabinet color to 2 shades lighter to use for trim and wall paint? If a custom blend of “putty” such as my cabinets, how do I ask for 2 shades lighter? I tried a to have the paint store mix a 50% and a 25% mix and the options both pulled either pink or silvery undertones that I do not see in the cabinet color. Any advice would be appreciated. I have read your ebooks and have used your color wheel. I find your knowledge of whites to be incredibly helpful.

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