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Advice for Homeowners

Do You Listen to Unsolicited Advice? Yay or Nay

By 06/10/2014January 28th, 201745 Comments


My favourite unsolicited advice

Since I started posting 3 times per week on my ‘Fix your Colours’ series on Facebook, I have noticed that when I don’t comment on every single part of the room in question, people start asking “What would you do?”

Last week, when I posted a link to a step-by-step tutorial on How to Mess up your Kitchen remodel someone asked “Maria, how would YOU have fixed this kitchen?”

So here’s the thing. Ever notice when advice is free, you really could care less about it? Especially if you’ve already made irreversible and expensive mistakes that will not change anytime soon. I mean, what good is that kind of unsolicited advice (especially on hard, permanent fixtures like countertops or flooring) if you don’t have the budget to change it?

A consultant is paid to help their clients make decisions, to give direction, feedback and guidance.

When someone is PAYING their hard earned money for my advice, especially because they are about to spend money on changes they don’t want to regret, they expect all of my advice and I give them my everything I’ve got! I’m committed that they have a home they love when they walk in the door.


My favourite unsolicited advice (another one)

And I’m guilty of giving unsolicited advice just like anyone else.

A couple weeks ago, I clicked on a post to a site I was subscribed to and read a totally generic, preachy post with advice I could easily get if I typed in a single google search.

There was nothing in the post that would have me relate to the writer in any way. Their personality was no-where to be seen.

And I couldn’t stop myself, I posted a comment that said basically that. I figured, she is working hard to make a difference and make her mark in the blogosphere and maybe she doesn’t know that the only way to differentiate her blog from everyone else’s is by expressing her personality.

When I write generic but helpful posts like this or this, I barely get any feedback, but when I give advice or show interiors while at the same time weaving in something personal that readers can relate to, well, those posts are the most fun for me because I feel like I’m having a party with my friends the next morning when I’m reading the comments.

Anyway, who knows whether this blogger appreciated my advice, but I also think some people (including me) are more open to unsolicited advice than others.

If you’re participating in any form of social media, you’ll get opinions all day long whether you overtly ask for them or not and there’s no way to avoid it.


My favourite unsolicited advice (also a really good one)

Over to you, my lovelies, where do you stand on unsolicited advice?

Do you appreciate it or would you rather tell the deliverer of said advice to ‘Back off sister!’

PS. Join me Wednesday on Twitter at 9:00 am PDT time and 12 EAST for 1 hour.


Related posts:

Clients and the Law of Attraction

The Secret to Having the Life that You Want

Happiness is. . . Being Uncomfortable

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in the door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want and to make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 

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  • Ginny says:

    Sometimes it is very helpful, but in small doses. When someone continually hands it out, it can get annoying. I love the Arabian Proverb, great to remember!

  • Kathy says:

    I guess for me, it all depends on the “spirit” the advice is given in. If the expectation with the advice is that it’s a suggestion to consider and make up one’s own mind about, that’s fine. If the person giving the advice gives it with the expectation that I have to do it their way, or I am wrong, that’s not ok. We can all make up our own minds and personally, I usually have very specific ideas about things and have invested time already thinking it through. But sometimes an unsolicited fresh perspective solves a problem in a wonderfully unexpected way and is a blessing…

    By the way, I think I was the one who asked what you would do with the kitchen, but I only meant the parts of it that she would still be able to change, like paint, not the hard surfaces like countertops, etc.

    I really enjoy the fact that you speak your mind and have a definite opinion. I don’t always agree, but we wouldn’t be reading you if you were wishy-washy or passive. 🙂 Liked the “holding a grudge” one the best…

  • Robin says:

    Maria, I read EVERYTHING you write but rarely comment. I read you early in the morning as I am getting ready for work but don’t have time to respond. SOmetimes your posts stay in my mind all day and I can’t wait to apply your advice, or I see the color distinction you pointed out all over on my drive to work.

    I agree with Kathy on the spirit with which the advice is given in regards to unsolicited comments.

    Have a colorful day, ya’ll!

  • You tell em Maria!

    and yes, we all learn how not to ‘tell others how it really is’ only after we ourselves have become the receiver of the same sort of ‘advice’.


  • Maggie S says:

    I agree that it depends on how the advice is given but also if the person has expertize in the area.
    Unsolicited advice on color from Maria –I’d listen but unsolicited advice on color from my sister –not so much.

  • Georgene says:

    Love this post! My friend and I are renovating a house that he is buying from me. We have done 3 others but I was thinking that he finally trusted my opinion and that we had learned to work together. The whole house was planned out – removing walls and gutting Kitchen, color scheme, kitchen appliances/cabinets/countertops, etc. it was a blank canvas.i was soooo happy, having just returned from the Color Class in Toronto. It was going to be fabulous! Then he started talking to his friends, a few of which do renovations for a living. One in particular works on high end homes and really wanted us to use his higher-end cabinets and beautiful granite that was pulled out of a million dollar home (why was it pulled out – maybe the colors). These were offered at a great price of $2500 and he really likes his friend. Well, my pre-planned white Kitchen will now be cream with brown/gold countertops in a 50s ranch style home. Darn, we had already painted. THIIS IS WHY THEY SAY CHOOSE YOUR PAINT LAST! Bye-bye beautiful walls that I so lovingly painted. Then entered friend #2 who did greatly help out but thought that the Kitchen should not be an open concept so built back half of the wall that took 3 people a day to take out..we had even put in the new beam. I did put my foot down and told him to go in there and tell those guys that they had to tear out that wall.. He said that he didn’t understand how the cabinets wouldn’t need a wall to adhere to. OMG…just trust me, I know what I am doing. Turns out that you can show all of the pictures of ideas that you want but some people just need to see it in person. Enter IKEA…my savior. Thank goodness IKEA has a lot of this type of Kitchen design. Can’t wait to see the new Kitchen. The cabinet guy is over for the next 2-3 days trying to retrofit those darn cabinets into this awkward space. I think that we figured it out but we will see. Now I need a granite fabricator to re-cut this granite! The saga continues. Free advice…in this case it is for the birds! Wow, this would have been a great blog!

    • Brooke says:

      Oh Georgene! Don’t let this happen. Can you stop the granite? If you don’t love the granite it’s just not worth it. What color did you paint your walls? Not everyone understands how much color means to some of us. We are unique. : )

      • Georgene says:

        Brooke, it is his house. We found a Behr color, Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It is a nice color and he is an artist. Cabinets are going in over the next 2 days and he was very happy with the color yesterday. He even thought that it went with the gray – I don’t think so but it was night time when I saw it – when it is all pulled together we will see!

  • Deirdre Fahy says:

    I was at a tile showroom reecently with a client. The salesperson “designer” knowing nothing about who I was or what we planned for the backsplash told me that my idea of tile for the perimeter area was an awful choice. She thoughtfully said this to me and my client. She was unaware that I too have worked in tile and stone showrooms for over 25 years and I knew way more than she did about materials and suppliers. We were specific about what we asked for and she kept trying to “steer” us another way. When asked for a plan, I drew it quickly which bothered her. When asked for cabinet colors, I showed her a photo on my Ipad, to which she responded, “I can’t possibly be asked to look at a photo on the computer. (!!!). It was interesting to see the “advice offered” from the customer’s point of view. Her advice was not only bad, she was obnoxious about it. I’m buying our tile elsewhere.
    Which is a topic for another blog.

    • Kathy says:

      makes you wonder if she wants to sell certain tile only because they have a greater profit margin in it…

  • Mary says:

    My goodness, Maria, didn’t know you were an advice guru too. Are you offering courses?

  • Loribeth says:

    It really depends. If the advice is good, I might take it if I don’t think my own idea is better. But the same is true for solicited advice. Advice is advice whether it’s solicited or not. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes you just have to go with gut no matter what the advice is.

  • franki says:

    Of course one should “listen” to advice…how do you learn…however, it is “up to the individual” to use it or lose it. franki

    • mrsben says:

      @ Franki: Ditto!
      @ Maria: Not long ago was looking at slate flooring and after three complete strangers came up to me and advised me not to even consider it, I took their advice as each one basically said ‘they had it in their home and cursed it’. Good advice and lesson learned that ‘two heads (in this case three) are sometimes better than one’. ☺ -Brenda-

  • judy says:

    I wonder if there is a difference between advice and opinion. My sons are middle age and will become annoyed with my conversation-which is just me offering an opinion of what I might do in a given situation- not meant to be anything more- so in the next conversation I nod and agree and I invariably get an impatient- well, what do you think Mom-you’re not saying much? Leaves me puzzled-probably no solution either way.

    • Mary from Virginia says:

      Judy, been there and I am still there with two sons in their 20’s! Is it just sons?

  • alana says:

    We all have blind spots in our lives. I will listen to the advice with an open mind however I may not heed the advice. If I hear the same thing being repeated to me by others, then I will take a closer look at the advice. I will ponder if there is truth here for me to hear that I may not be hearing in my life. But the final decision is mine and I definitely have to have that gut feeling saying the same thing. I guess the thing is being open enough to hear yet making my own decision in the end.

  • Carol says:

    I love it and appreciate any advice I can get. I am always wanting someone’s opinion and for them to HAVE an opinion, maybe because I live with 3 men one being my husband and they seem to never have an opinion. With that said, I sent you a picture of my living room 2 to be exact, for your critic and wish you would comment on EVERYTHING, especially the lamps, since the man working at pottery barn said it looked like a frat house when I showed it to him. I need help becuase I do have a lot of unmatched hand me down pieces. I value your opinion and what you do. I love all of your designs and read your blog posts daily. I am looking forward to your opinion, and if you agree with the guy at pottery barn let me know it won’t hurt my feelings, I just need to start working to change it!

  • Mary-Illinios says:

    I only listen to advice from experts. Everyone else is just giving me their opinion.

  • Kari says:

    In general, I appreciate unsolicited advice. However, I DO consider the source before giving it much weight.

  • Lynne says:

    Depends mostly on how it is delivered. I’d much rather receive an email if the advice contains a rebuke of some kind. No one wants to be embarrassed in a public forum.
    As for advice in general, I’m all about bettering myself. I will listen to advice and see if I can use it in this particular case, or learn something from it to apply in a future scenario.

  • Rhonda says:

    We are all ready and willing to give unsolicited advice, aren’t we, especially mothers! 😉 Graciousness and sincerity make advice more palatable, as the tongue is a tiny, yet powerful thing! I think, as we go through life, we eventually learn the ones we can trust to give us the best information. (That would be you on color, Maria!)

    “A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!” (James 3:3-4)

  • Susan S says:

    If the person/s offering advice are persistent and insistent, then I generally tune them out. You know the ones— people who incessantly keep chirping in your ear, “you should do this, you should do that. ”
    BUT if I’m given advice that hasn’t crossed my mind and it rings true, then I’ll take heed.

  • Maureen says:

    Kathy expressed my thoughts on how the way I receive unsolicited advice usually depends on the intention of the person giving it. I am more inclined to give serious consideration to advice that takes a collaborative, problem solving approach than advice that feels like I’ve been scolded for having an opinion that differs. Some of us are more sensitive than others, but I think most people appreciate encouragement when the giver has taken the time to say it kindly.

  • sandyc says:

    Depends so much on how it is given. My now deceased best friend used to have a horrible habit of saying “you need to…” about everything to me and to just about everybody else. She lost a lot of friends almost including me. Eventually, she learned a bit of a lesson and changed to “If I were you, I’d…” Unfortunately, that was only a little bit better because it always made me want to snap back with “Well, you’re not me”. The most helpful and enabling response, even unsolicited, is something like “Have you thought about…?”, particularly if I’ve expressed some doubt about my decision.

    And I don’t trust “experts” for advice just because they bill themselves such. I’ll never forget the “color consultant” at my local S-W who has been doing it for almost 20 years now with no formal training and who twice didn’t get it right for me (not before Maria and certainly not after Maria).

  • Diane says:

    Always a good idea to listen…who knows, they may actually say something worthwhile. After all, none of us know it ALL. It is up to you to decide to take the advice or not. Open your ears and eyes and you just might learn something.

    • Farha Syed says:

      I agree with Diane – you ever know what you will learn. Don’t disregard advice, listen with an open mind, consider it, and see if you can apply it in your situation. If not, maybe some other time, it might be the best thing to do. Listening never hurts. Of course, phase out if they are the nagging type.

      But I have learned a great deal from Maria, and from all who have participated in discussions here. I have applied them where I saw fit and have earned credibility with my clients. So thanks to all of you for presenting your perspectives.
      My dad says, “If you think you know everything, then you have stopped the learning process. And we learn something new everyday.” He has been my rock to whom I turn for the best and sincere advice. And I have held that close to my heart.

  • sharon says:

    Words are powerful, as Rhonda (above) reminds us, so I try to choose my words wisely.

    Do I heed unsolicited advice? No. And I don’t expect my clients to either.

    So, if we are discussing paint colors, and there are other elements in the room that need to be addressed, I first ask permission, before offering any opinions or suggestions.

    If they agree, then my ideas are no longer unsolicited, but I do remind them that these are only my opinions, and we all know what opinions are worth!

    Secondly, I explain why I make a suggestion, showing the benefit for doing so. (ie. If you move the cabinet here, you will have more light in the room)

    In making a suggestion for improvement, I’ve found asking questions is more effective than the dreaded “you should” or “you need to” statements. These put the client on the defensive and make them feel inadequate about their decisions. “Have you thought about….Will you be adding….Would you consider moving….” For me, these are better phases to use because they keep the client engaged.

  • Barbara says:

    When my husband and I purchased a lot and started to build a house, we decided not to tell anyone, not even our close friends. We did not want to hear about everyone’s $20,000 remodel job that ended up costing $100,000, took five years and turned out sloppy. The project took two years, and we started telling people about it 3 months before move-in. Result: Totally stress-free project without a bunch of “unsolicited advice” coming at us. Got along great with builder and all subcontractors because we knew what WE wanted. Stayed right on budget, right on time, and after 12 years still love it. We’re starting now to do some updating and keeping that quiet too!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Haha that’s so awesome! Great comment, thanks Barbara! Maria

    • Stephanie says:

      So smart. I’m envious, wish we could’ve remodeled this way. Your comment sums up the way I feel about unsolicited advice. Usually leaves me defending decisions along the way, but when people see completed project(s) I only receive complements…?!? Go figure. For example, I wanted to paint my hallway a color & every person had to tell me why white’s better. I finally painted it BM Quiet Moments & not one person has said white would look better. Plus everyone’s amazed at how great the moldings look 🙂

  • no body is living rent free in my head – it’s full of enough thoughts of judgement, criticism, and wtf am I doing.

    I will listen to constructive criticism of course, but if someone is telling me to change the way I look to get more respect from my clients, I think twice, and stay focused on the value of my information not the pants I’m wearing.

    • Farha Syed says:

      I agree a 100%. sure you do dress for success, I also believe that everyone has their style, and what makes them comfortable is just as important. If you respect yourself, others will also respect you.

  • Ann says:

    My husband and I built a new home. Our realtor was generous with her time to help us pick out everything in the builders design center. I went there with a concept of what I wanted in mind. I learned quickly that some of my choices would not be possible or affordable as they were deemed “custom changes.” I listened to her suggestions, as I know that she sells a lot of homes! I went home from the design center completely frustrated and a bit let down. I re-worked the design in my mind without the other “opinion noise”. I just needed my own thoughts and ideas. I was able to come up with some ideas within our budget and with what was offered by the builder. The only custom change I made the builder did not offer was the paint color! We had to pay extra to paint the interior of the house a color the builder did not offer, but it was worth it! I picked everything myself, and boy did I have to stay strong! The realtor, my spouse, and the “designer” from the builder tried to convince me to pick some of their personal preferences. In the end, I now live in a home where I have very few regrets! I was able to stay on budget and keep the look I was going for! My realtor ended up telling me that my home was her favorite even though she had built many homes with this builder with other clients. She even brought her spouse to look at my home when it was finished! I love to listen to others, there is so much to learn! But in the end I need to go to my quiet place and get in touch with my own thoughts. Its my home and it has to reflect who I am. Thanks for this post Maria.

    • Ann says:

      Oh and I forgot to mention how much my mother tried to talk me out of selecting white cabinets! She told me she hates hers and how dirty they look! ( Her whole kitchen layout is bad and the cabinets are very dated and low end ). This was before I found Maria’s blog and I had been dreaming of a white kitchen for at least ten years! So despite her advice, I chose to go with my white cabinets! Best.Decision.Ever.

  • Great post Maria! I don’t mind the advice but it really depends on who is giving it to me and in what context. Does that make it hard or what? LOL!!!

  • Mary from Virginia says:

    I am wishy-washy about advice. Sometimes I wish people would stay out of what I am doing, other times I really need an opinion. I think it is because I really don’t know my own taste. I like so many styles. Which is a bad thing! LOL

    Hands down, I listen to you about color Maria. I wish I knew about you when I re-did my bathrooms 5 years ago.

  • Kathi says:

    This was quite interesting to read,thought about it and hell no, I don’t like unsolicited advice-if i am paying a pro in their fields for it, then yes, by all means,but I have such a strong sense of what i want or like, that I am not the least bit wishy washy in stores-the few times friends have told me their advice and I don’t go along with it, I felt a tiny bit quilty, so now I never ask anyone , I just go by what i like, and if I make mistakes, they are at least my mistakes. I guess I am a stubborn ole fool!

  • Brenda says:

    I think it depends on the source and the timing. We are moving to a new house and when my mom saw it she said “oh, this is the same floorplan as my friend’s!” (ironically our “new” house is 14 years old and I think her friends about 10 in a totally different part of the city but same home builder) And then proceeded to go on and on and ON about how her friend decorated like this and have I considered that in this space, etc. She did this on multiple occasions. I finally told her to stop. I felt like she wasn’t excited for US but more about how I should decorate like her friend. Whom I’ve only met once and have no idea what her taste is like at all. My mom’s attitude is that advice is free and that the recipient can choose to ignore or not but sometimes it’s just TOO much. Alternatively, I have a friend who is a designer that has helped me on several things. I like her taste and when she sees me “off the clock” she will sometimes tell me about something she saw that she thought would be perfect for my home. Unsolicited but still appreciated because I know she has my style in mind.

  • Joanne G. says:

    Unsolicited advice is fine if considered as input that can be considered and discarded if need be. Just because someone gives an opinion doesn’t mean that it’s the right one for someone else. As a mother of grown children, I still find myself giving input, but I respect when they choose to disregard my opinions, too.

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