Danger: The First 24 Hours after you take Possession

I have a client that has just taken possession of her house this past weekend. We have met several times prior to discuss flooring choices, renovations, colours, etc. Walking through the empty house with her yesterday, helping her finalize and prioritize her renovation (including her new paint colours) had me realize again how dangerous it is when you first walk into your new house.

My client loves turquoise – these images are for her!

Remember this article I wrote on the 10 ways to save money now by creating a focal point. Read it again, right before you start sinking money that you cannot afford into renovations. My clients honey maple cabinets are very orange right now. She has a black/charcoal formica countertop with white specks in it and her backsplash is 4 x 4 black tile. The floor tile is going. Right now the kitchen looks very dated and orange. So here is where the danger comes in:

Her daughter’s room will be turquoise and orange

When you first walk into your empty house [unless it’s brand new] this is what you see:
1) It’s dated.
2) None of it is or would have been your choice in the first place.
3) The colours are [generally] so bad it’s hard to see past them to how great it would look if just the right colours were on the wall.

She also adores white and would have painted her entire house white if it wasn’t for this post I wrote.

Prior to my arrival yesterday, my client and her husband had just completed a conversation about the kitchen. She is clear she wants to paint the orange cabinets white so her husband said “Well if you hate it that much, why don’t we just renovate it?’” He left and we proceeded with the consult. Since I have been working with her already, I have an idea of what their budget is, so I asked her this question:

Her powder room will be turquoise

“Would your husband spend the same money on decorating and furniture [they are moving from a small condo and will definitely need new furniture] that he would on a kitchen renovation?”

Well we all know the answer to that question right? Men seem to understand nailing something down to the house. They seem to get the value of that piece of making a house beautiful. Furniture and drapery? Not so much. Their ensuite bathroom and laundry room is currently the priority for a renovation, a kitchen would stretch them to the limit. So they would have a brand new kitchen and nothing great to sit on.

Because I understand the power of colour, this was my advice to her:
All images from the House of Turquoise

“Even if you did renovate, the footprint of your kitchen would not change that much, it’s already open into the great room. There’s nothing wrong with the cabinets [except for the colour], and they will look a hundred times better painted white (which, in my opinion, is the best cabinet colour anyway) with new hardware, flooring and paint colour (right now the walls are a bright, screaming, clean, wrong yellow) your kitchen will be like new and you’ll even have some money left over for furniture!”

And that’s exactly what she did. . . and it looks fabulous!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me for on-line or in-person consultations.

Related posts:
White Kitchen Cabinets
White is a Snob
Why is it so hard to choose yellow paint colours?
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  1. I totally get you on the men not understanding about spending money on furniture.

    They would all be using the same crap they brought to dorm room if it wasn't for their female counter parts.

  2. sounds like you gave her the best advice! and she'll be thanking you in the end when there is money left over to amp up the decor after the first renos are done…

    I have had a few instances where when I have sold a client a home,met them at the door to give them their keys…they walk in after the seller is all moved out and they are overwhelmed at all that potentially needs to be done thinking.."What have I done"????

    Scary moment! but..I am GLAD to say, everyone has managed to ease in, and make their homes their own.. it is so much fun to be invited over after they make their mark!

    Happy Monday!

  3. This is so true about men! Very good advice you gave her though. I too love white cabinets.

    Sounds like her home will be just lovely…how could it not with all the turquoise?! 😉

  4. Kelly, Arte Styling

    Maria – great post. New homeowners definitely have "freak out" moments, when they look at their home – after all the staging has been removed – and say, "now what?" And I think it's a little scary when these new homeowners dive right into a full-on kitchen remodel without ever having even lived in the space. I completely agree with you that the money could be better spent at this point in the game. If they decide to do a reno later, after they've lived in the home for awhile, then they will be more familiar with what they need – and what the house needs. Great advice!!!

  5. What absolutely beautiful images. The bathroom is simply amazing.

    I too have painted many cabinets white in favour of a complete reno to save clients money.

    Your advice is excellent as always.
    Susan

  6. Maria, fantastic images….and great words of advice! I am trying to convince a client right now to paint her kitchen cabinets white and her fireplace as well!
    xo

  7. Things That Inspire

    You are a wise woman! I remember 12 years ago when I moved to Atlanta – we closed on our house, then learned that Georgia has a law where the sellers of the house have up to 3 days after closing to move out! We had travelled from Boston for the closing, and were SO bummed that we could not claim the house for ourselves right away.

    I enjoyed reading this post and seeing the beautiful pictures!

  8. Maria,
    Love the snaps and the great advice. This reminds me of advice one of my interior design instructors gave us one semester. She said you need to be a designer, a psychologist, and a friend to you clients. Most people don't like change and moving into a new home is one of life's most stressful events. I have been and I do treat my clients with extreme care.

    Bette

  9. Such great advise. I hope she knows what a gem of a designer she has and follows your advise! It is so hard to know where/when to spend money and a bummer when you make a mistake.

  10. Maria! Thanks for this post. Having moved from a brand new house to a 22 year old house (due to job move), what you say is soooo true. Seeing the house empty, without the staging that sellers do, can be a shock as there is nothing to distract except the bad colors, the scratches and dings and – in our case – the dirt!

    (Note to sellers – Clean, Clean, Clean when you leave, please.)

    My husband says that if men were in charge of decorating, we would still be drawing stick figures on the cave walls.

  11. Great post, great advise…at least her hubby did not say make the kitchen work and do not paint, I have had that happen…makes you want to sit in the middle of the kitchen and cry…lol

  12. Amazing Amazing, I just love the blue horizontal striped chairs space – I don't care too much about reno's at the mom (understandably) but your post is great!

    PS, I stole your pic (of the 2 chairs) and put on my blog (with link to you of course!)

  13. Loved all of the turquoise photographs!!! And, hopefully, we'll get to see the finished product once she is finished painting that new kitchen of hers!

  14. Ruthies Renewed Treasured

    Love to hear that you give such practical advice. Too many are ready to just gut the whole place and you are right, the floor plan would have been the same. Paint can make the biggest impact for the least amount of money. Good counsel. Part of being a good decorator is saving the client money, directing them to different options that they can't think of and most of all a good listening ear. Seems that along with the many unexpected hats that we wear with this career, the biggest one is marriage counseling; trying to keep the peace.

  15. I am moving to a new home in four weeks. I am excited to get busy decorating. I wouldn't do turquoise but I sure do love all those photos. Some of them are such happy rooms.

  16. AMEN! Men never see the value in furniture let alone drapery! I totally agree, a little paint goes a LONG way!

  17. Linda at Lime in the Coconut!

    Perfect advice…I think we could all use your sensibilities walking next to us walking through a new home!

  18. such good advice maria!!!! i so often have to explain to people (when funds are limited- which they often are) that it's the overall feel that's more important than details at a certain stage of design. if they did redo the kitchen and got the perfect cabinets a& loayout , like you said, there'd be no money left for the house to "feel good." So even though obviously a barnd- new custom kitchen would be better than a painted over one, it's not worth the cost when you see what you'd be losing. (the rest of the house!!)

    i'm working with my mom trying to convince her to paint her kitchen vs leaving it or spending on new cabinets and she says she hates when you can see the woodgrain through painted cabinets. do you have any advice for me on how to get through to her that a little woodgrain is better than doing nothing at all (currently bad orange oak cabs) ?? or what is your opinion oin the wood grain? would love to send her over here for another opionion. (you know how moms don't trust their kids!! 😉 😉

  19. Jane Hall The Voice of Style

    Hi Maria,
    I loved this post. I used to speak about these issues at the home shows. Moving into a new home empty devoid of the "staged lifestyle" that has become newest trend in the real estate market ( you know what I mean, chocolate brown couch, neutral walls, hotel look bedding and accessories , candles lined up in perfect rows and bows of lemons and limes for that touch of colour)The new owners overwhelmed now notice things like the colour of the kitchen cabinets, and the state of things that couldn't been taken out in boxes.

    This is the time to bite the bullet and hire a designer who is going to help you come up with great advice that will not only make your home look like a place that reflects your personality and design dreams, but also helps you to find real and practical solutions that suit your lifestyle and budget. I help my clients come up with a short term plan and a long term plan. I am often in there lives for a long time so understanding what they need is a vital part of my job. A good designer has to be a good listener.

    On the subject of men and design, a few observations are they have a reverence to wood, even ugly wood, and leather! They also seem to be drawn to bolder colours then women.

  20. You always hit the nail right on the head, Maria. I need for your blog to be priority reading for my advanced DIY husband whose attic storeroom and pristine garage shop are the best and most coordinated and outfitted areas of our home.

    And those turquoise photos from House of Turquoise have me drooling. One of my favorite colors!!! Can I paint my powder room turquoise??? Ha!

  21. Just last night, I was looking for pictures of white houses with gray shutters because the new brighter blue door looks terrible with the old navy shutter color the builder chose 18 yeas ago. I only found pics of white houses with black shutters, which husband doesn’t want because he is afraid they will fade and are a real pain to repaint on a two story house.

    I let him know that Houzz didn’t have pics white with gray shutters and included a mention of that design blog I read and that you say black is the way to go. He simply said “okay, black it is” and went about his business in the garage. AND my orange wood cabinets will be painted in the next week or two. He was a convert the first time I had a pro come select paint colors with me. Men can come over from the natural wood and leather side.

    Mine realized it is much less expensive to do not well the first time.

  22. Such a timely post for me, Maria. Just coming out of one of those occasional funks when I see a new neighbor in the community with a dumpster and a half dozen pickup trucks out front and a beehive of activity going on inside the house, the garage and on the driveway. Much of the time, they haven’t even officially moved in. Not really resentful but sometimes a little frustrated that after two and a half years, I’m still cash poor and for my biggest project – re-doing the floors throughout my 1350 sf home – I don’t yet see any sign on the horizon that my ship is coming in.

    On the very blessed and positive side, I’m so glad I didn’t have the big bucks – I was forced initially to choose a house within my budget that I could live with satisfactorily until …, and by doing so, I’ve learned so much about what I really want and don’t want. I really love my little house now (I’ve claimed it as my forever home) but I also know when I finally make the big changes, they will all be the right ones and I’ll be even happier. Thanks for bumping me out of my funk!

  23. Great post and still relevant so long after it was written! We are moving in one month so i completely see myself in this scenario. Great country style kitchen with beautiful maple cupboards with the most God-awful colour! They look yellow with a green tinge! I am not replacing them but definitely will be painting them. I will hire someone to spray them (some shade of white but as yet undecided) since i figure this is my third house and my last one so i better get it right. My last kick at the cat, so to speak…lol.

  24. Loved your advice for your client and loved the colors and design in the photos ! I like to live vicariously through your blog and imagine it is my home in all of your makeovers ! Isn’t it amazing how much a gallon of paint can change your life !

  25. Kelley Brown Designs

    Help! I just read your post and your last sentence is “and this is what she did”. There are no pictures or links to follow. I scroll down and it just has your ads and arrows to go to the “next and previous” posts. What am I missing?