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Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After

By 08/28/2016February 11th, 20178 Comments

I often receive emails like this:

Hello Maria, I retired a couple of years ago and I have been taking interior design classes at the local community college. I would love to take your color workshop. Do you think this would be beneficial for a novice, Interior Design student?

This post covers two questions. What does it look like to get a Room Refresh (after my last post where so many of you said “Well let’s see some before and after pics”)

AND, how comfortable is a colour enthusiast or brand new decorator in my courses? Read on to find out:

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

Style at Home Inspiration picture

Here’s a fun and happy colour scheme I helped one of my lovely readers create, first by consulting with her on-line and then she subsequently came to my course when I was in Dallas this past March!

Here’s the before picture of Flora’s dining room:

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

Flora was undergoing a renovation, I advised her to continue her existing medium brown flooring into the dining room.

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam


She replaced the faux moulding with real wainscotting and I choose a blue for her ceiling to coordinate with her existing dining chairs. SW Icicle. We talked about colour for the walls in this room but like so many of you now, Flora wanted white walls throughout.

Here’s Flora’s email:

I found Maria’s blog in January 2015 after of course being frustrated with selecting a new color scheme for my 80s ranch home that I had never purposefully ’styled’.  I immediately purchased her e-books and read nearly all of her past blog posts.  I then also purchased her online 3 hour course.  For me, the online course was the biggest impact because of Maria’s approach to the design process – Color Confidence Method.   It put her undertone classification to work for me.  I’m an engineer and yet while I had always looked at my home for functionality, I had never looked at a room to see if when I walked into a room did it make me happy.  
Maria’s design approach to look at the fixed finishes  – what will stay, what will go, and what inspires my space (and me)  then determine which undertones I needed to work with was transformative.  It helped me both arrive at the undertone I needed and wanted to work with as well as identify future “fixed” element changes.  At this point I decorated my formal dining room using artwork inspiration, Maria’s design approach and her undertone system.  I loved it!  
In October 2015, after decorating the dining room, deciding on a green/grey undertone main neutral, and wanting to replace some of those fixed finishes I decided to do a home remodel project.  I turned to Maria’s online 3 hour consultation process where my primary objective was to determine a comprehensive color scheme with flow to pull together my decorated dining room, kitchen, family room and formal living room.  
In my consultation, Maria confirmed my off-white trim choice, helped refine my wall neutral from green/grey to griege, chose ceiling color and provided me with a color flow path that included furniture, lighting and rug proposals.  In those 2 hours, Maria helped me to love where my home was going.  I had the confidence to commit to the color selections including a pale blue sofa with deep red rug in my living room.  In June 2016, The remodel finished and I’ve implemented most of the design.  It’s stunning on it’s own and provides flow throughout my home that I am continuing to implement.   
in March 2016, while my remodel was underway I had the opportunity to attend Maria’s True Color Expert Training in Dallas – just 15 minutes from my home.  
I felt I probably had learned what I needed to from the ebooks, online course and personal consultation, it was money I should put into the remodel, but I decided to take the leap and hope there was more.  
I am so glad that I took the TCE course!  
I was able to build on the foundational color UT knowledge gained from the ebooks and previous materials and focus on the how to use the knowledge in settings other than my home.  
The hands on exercises with paint chips, fabric color swatches, hard finish samples, design examples and best of all the color boards were incredible.  It was so eye-opening to see the effectiveness of the color boards and how Maria held the boards with the samples and showed how to eliminate the UT that didn’t work and fine tune to get the one that works great.    
I especially liked when she asked the group to analyze the room we were in as it was OK, but uninspiring and as it turned out changing wall or trim colors wouldn’t help the room as other elements were too bossy.  It would be left to “Style to the Max!” – #8 on Maria’s 10 Lessons from 15 years of Decorating. 
Although I won’t become a design professional, after Maria’s training I have the knowledge and confidence to see and use colors in decorating. Flora Sanders
Here are more pictures of Flora’s remodel:


Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria KillamFlora is a big Disney fan so she sent me these cookie jars as her inspiration colours! She has Disney artwork in her dining room as well!

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

The inspiration palette we created during our consultation (above).

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam


Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

After Walls SW Incredible White

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

Turquoise and Red Colour Palette After

The following testimonials are from colour enthusiasts who participated in my courses, as I mentioned in a previous post, my last course in Dallas, almost half of those who attended were not professionals:

I enjoyed Maria’s class so much and felt very comfortable among all the professionals in attendance. I learned so much from Maria. She is a wonderful teacher and her system is easy to learn and apply even for the average home owner. The color boards are a wonderful tool and I have used them successfully to assist my sister in choosing a paint color for her bedroom.  She was working with multiple fabrics and although she had a color in mind, once I applied Maria’s system it was easy to see it was not the correct color, narrow down the selection, choose the correct color and still achieve the look she had in mind.

I am looking forward to continuing to chose colors with confidence!

Thank you, Maria! Denise Massaro


“I began following Maria’s blog about the time my husband and I were building a new home five and a half years ago.   About half of my color/finish choices were informed by the lessons learned from the blog (and continue to bring me delight daily!), but I wish I had attended the TCE training BEFORE we did our custom build!

The things I love in our home:  our great room wall color relates very well to both the granite on our island and the white painted cabinets, the white subway tile in our kitchen still looks very fresh, and the colors in our house flow from area to area which is so important in a rather open floor plan.  Now that I have attended Maria’s class, however, I look back and believe I would have had the confidence to make some other choices.  I chose what I thought was best for the house in certain rooms instead of what I LOVED.   It is true that we “define and then we see” in so many parts of life.   Maria’s class gave me the confidence to SEE and know that I can choose the RIGHT color that I also LOVE.  I highly recommend the class to “non-design-professionals” like me!”  Kendal Hauck

“As a color enthusiast, Maria’s course really helped me understand the science of undertones in selecting colors while considering existing hard surfaces. Her system made it click…as Oprah says, “an aha moment”! What a joy when you can make a decision, knowing with certainty it is the correct, or in some cases, the only right choice. Her course is worth every penny. Plus, what a wonderful opportunity to interface with fabulous design professionals!” Nancy from New Jersey


I’m a busy stay-at-home mother of three and have been following Maria’s blog for many years.  I always dreamed of taking her course so when I learned it was being offered near my home I jumped at the opportunity!  Although I’m not a design professional, I am a design enthusiast and a serial painter (I’ve literally painted every surface in my home at least twice!).

Although I have a good sense for color, I still second guess my decisions and have difficulty creating harmony within connecting spaces.  Maria’s course taught me how to do that and more.  She has created a unique and easy to follow system that takes the guess work out of color selection.  The course was fun, enlightening and taught me how to choose the right color the first time.  Once you see the world of color through Maria’s eyes you’ll wish everyone would take this course!  Lisa Brady

Maria’s course in colors is truly enlightening. It provides thoughtful insight into understanding and using colors, hues, undertones… to achieve a desired ambient effect. Although her class is participated by many professionals, her teaching technique allows for non-professionals to greatly gain from her knowledge.

Straight from the beginning, Maria made you feel comfortable by talking about her family, her work and her experience as a color specialist. She was encouraging and conducts an intimate and exploratory learning atmosphere.

During her lecture, Maria provided assignments. Her team always ready to patiently explain and help us with the task at hand.

It was both fun and educational. I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet Maria and to take her informative and creative class in colors.  Edna Sohnis

The following story is from Gina Pardoe who participated in my course as a colour enthusiast and someone who was very interested in turning her passion for colour and design into a business:

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

Gina Pardoe

There is no question that becoming a True Color Expert changed how I do business. Little does Maria know how it changed ME on so many levels.

I was married in 1982. My husband had I had purchased a 1920’s Craftsman style house which needed a lot of work. It had great bones and I knew it! We painted and bought a few pieces of furniture to start. A few years later, the renovations began.

My first hideous mistake (one of many) was the dreaded clash of undertones. I didn’t know what an undertone was, but I sure as heck knew something was wrong when I looked at our new tan carpet with the obvious pink undertone! How could it be? I ordered tan carpet!! I could have cried. I probably did. Because I didn’t have the proper education taught in Maria’s Understanding Undertones workshop, I continued for years making hit or miss color choices in my home.

I’d been a busy stay at home mom for years and in 2014 our youngest was off to college. I’d been watching HGTV and decided that decorating and home staging were of great interest to me. I’d found an on-line course and studied staging, redesign, marketing, branding, etc. I was hooked on the idea but scared as heck. After so many years out of the work force, this middle aged woman had little confidence venturing into the business world. Thankfully, I had the loving support of my husband, children, friends and family to encourage me every step of the way! After all, I’d been decorating for years. Now I would be getting paid to do what I love.

I’d been hooked on Maria’s blog and finally made the trip to Canada for her workshop. This decision has proven to be the greatest investment I’ve made in my business. I really grew as a person AND a business woman over those three days in Toronto. I came back with enthusiasm, knowledge, confidence and the proper verbiage to recommend the best design choices to my clients. More importantly, WHY I’d made each choice. This is a big focus during the workshop. No being wishy washy!

Maria’s teaching method is so effective. Her course is an intense three days mixed with lectures, visual aids, hands-on team projects, and humor. We all connect through our love of interior design whether we’re professionals, decor enthusiasts, home stagers, or someone lucky enough to be building their dream home. I’m fortunate enough to belong to each of these groups.

Graduates of Maria’s course continue to bond through our True Color Expert private Facebook page. We can post every aspect from our successes and failures, knowing there’s a sincere group of people who are eager to help. I find this invaluable! We continue to learn from Maria and her True Color Experts long after her workshop is over. I was able to raise my hourly rate last year, too, with the confidence of knowing my service is worth it. I am so grateful to be part of such a wonderful group of people.

I was recently hired by a local home building company as their designer. When their customers are ready to choose the interior and exterior finishes for their home, I’m there. The first time I pulled out one of Maria’s color boards everyone in the room was in awe. Suddenly the tile, carpet, hardwood, cabinetry and countertops were pulled together like magic! I rely on Maria’s sample boards for every job!

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

Being a True Color Expert has had a huge impact for me personally, too. My husband and I purchased a farm nearby and began extensive renovations on the 1860’s house and barn. Construction of our new home began last spring. Every decision I make is crucial to the final look and feel of the house. Because of Maria’s course, I have the confidence to choose everything from the roof color to light switch plates. There is no doubt I would have made costly mistakes without this training.

Motivated by Maria’s blog, I’m planning to delve into this unknown territory on my own blog next winter. My goal, like Maria’s, will be to educate people regarding the choices I’ve made throughout the process of building our house. I want everyone to be happy with their homes for years to come! Gina Pardoe

Ask Maria: Can a Novice Benefit from my Course? Before & After| Maria Killam

Illustration source

Then I received another email just yesterday with a slightly different worded question:

“Maria, I am very interested in the workshop and was wondering if people who take the plunge and attend are able to be a colour expert as a profession. I have been a makeup artist for Lancome and I have a background in fashion illustration.  I’m wondering if the workshop will teach me the tools needed to start a business.”

Here’s how I responded:

There are many people who attend my course as a complete novice and my course gives them the tools and the confidence to start their business but obviously results vary from individual to individual because to be in this industry you fundamentally have to have to be born with the gift of creativity and good taste

It sounds like you have that from your background and my course will be exactly what you need.

So there you have it! The course attracts and benefits professionals, newbies, enthusiasts and home owners alike and all are welcome. As Gina said, we all bond through our love of colour and Interior Design, and everyone comes out with new knowledge, connections and confidence.

Register here.

Related posts:

What it Looks like to Be in a Private Forum

How to Re-Design a Bathroom that’s too Big

Anyone Can Pick a Paint Colour; It takes an Expert to Choose a Neutral

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  • Bobbi Hart says:

    Hi Maria, I love following you, sad that you are not having a NY appearance. I need to replace an old sleeper sofa. Mattress upgrade options are air pumped or memory foam. I can find no reviews of which is more comfortable for guests. Any recommendation? Thanks!

  • mrsben says:

    Beautiful ‘refresh’ in so many aspects! Re your course; personally I feel why would any one not benefit if interior design interests them and they have the desire to learn something new. -Brenda-
    P.S.: HAVE FUN IN PARIS Cheri and stay safe.

  • Nancy says:

    Maria, great post as always enjoyed .
    Loved seeing the before and after pictures.
    How exciting Paris.’
    May you both have a great time.
    Thanks for all your blogs and great inspiration!
    I know how I decorate and look at color has changed because of you .
    Hope to one day attend one if your classes .

  • Judy says:

    Maria, when will your next course be in Vancouver, BC? I live in Seattle and would love to attend.

  • Roberta says:

    Maria…’Please come to Boston in the springtime’ 🙂

  • Hi Maria,
    I want to sign up as an early bird for your fall course in Tampa. Do I need a special code for the early bird reduction?

    Thanks so much!

  • Pop O Color says:

    What do you think of Sherwin William’s new color of the year? Poised Taupe. It appears to have pink undertones. I thought that was a no no. Are we really leaving greige and going to taupe?

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