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Vancouver Colour Designer on The 5 Designer Secrets that will Make or Break your Paint Colours

By 04/01/2009November 2nd, 201726 Comments
Question: When will you [or your client] really second guess your colour choices?
Knight & Day – Denman Street
Answer: When the colour doesn’t relate to anything.

For example, in the above image, the client had chosen black and beige striped fabric for the banquets in addition to black carpeting and black leather seats. When the wainscoting was painted in the Lenox Tan (below), it was perfect because it matched the stripe in the fabric [I was a star!]. However, when the red went up, the client called me immediately to come down and take a look to discuss whether it was the ‘right’ red for the space. Was it dark enough? Did I think it was too orange, and so on. In the end, we kept the colour but it didn’t look ‘right’ to my client, until the artwork was installed.

Here are the 5 steps to achieving perfect paint colours every time:

1. Pick your tile and/or granite first. It’s the fixed finishes like these where your selection is the most limited. Or even worse, you select the tile and then when it comes time to order, it’s gone! It’s much easier to get excited about the wall colour when you can see how beautifully it relates to the tile or granite you have chosen.

2. Select your fabrics and finishes. It’s much harder to run around and try to match a $4,000 sofa or custom drapery to a $50 gallon of paint than the other way around.

3. Buy the bedding. This way you will just love the master bedroom colour! Otherwise you will stare at it–convinced there is something wrong with it–because it doesn’t go with your bedding or you haven’t purchased bedding that relates with the wall colour.

4. Buy the art or shower curtain for your bathroom. Unless you can pick a colour that relates to the tile, you are back to wondering if it really was the right choice.

5. Hire a designer to pick a colour palette that flows throughout your home. Sometimes, clients do not have a choice because they need to paint before they have even thought about buying new furniture. If you hire a colour professional to pick a palette of colours you are happy with, it makes it easier to pull the space together later. Just remember you won’t initially be as happy as you would be, if your finishes were already chosen.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

Related posts:

Best way to prepare for a Benjamin Moore Colour Consultation
Hiring a Designer: Luxury or Necessity
Three ways to beat the High Cost of Buying a new Paint Colour

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  • Joyce says:

    Maria, does this mean to pick the main focal point for your room that you really like and work off of this for the color of the room?

    I love what you did with the client’s color choice in this post.

    Enjoy! xoxo

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Joyce,
    If the focal point of the room (fireplace, kitchen countertops) dictate the colour in the room then yes is the answer. The only time you should ignore the ‘focal point’ in the room is if it’s dated and you don’t want more of a ‘dated’ colour painted on the walls.

  • Maya says:

    I did just that, paint the master bedroom first (dark blue/grey), then trying to find bedding, with no luck! So I stuck with plain white and beige, it’s nice but I kind of wanted a vibrant pattern and repeat (of course) the wall color. I’m sure that eventually I’ll make the room over (buying bedding, then paint).

  • Brillante Home Decor says:

    Great lesson as always.
    Now I want to go to Knight & Day and brag about knowing you!

  • Under a Green Roof says:

    great post! This is great advice that I am definitely listening to!!!

  • Imogen Lamport says:

    Wow – I’ve never thought about that order before – it’s a whole new way of looking at design for me – I’d have always bought the bedding last!

  • Meade Design Group says:

    We all want to brag that we know you that is the true! You make us so happy with your posts. They are clever, interesting and very professional.

  • Rebecca Sherman says:


    Regarding your problem with readers not getting your posts via Feedburner. I have this problem with some subscribers, too.

    I did some digging around on Google just now and found this really helpful site, which discusses and address the common problem. See if it helps:

  • Hill Country House Girl says:

    Maria, I feel your pain! I will poke around on Feedburner, too, and see what I can come up with. Thanks for your help on my blog. It is still posting weirdly on some blog lists, but looks fine on others. I just posted yesterday and it is saying that the post was five days ago. When I checked my dates on my settings they were correct – it’s making me crazy. Maybe the website that Rebecca sent will help – I will let you know if I find anything else. Great post, too!!

  • Hill Country House Girl says:

    Thanks for your comment. If you love “quirky little faces” go to Mrs. Blandings blog post today. Quirky is just one word for the art she has featured!

  • chanteusevca says:

    Maria, I am getting your updates daily. I have, however, been out of town in NYC for our niece’s wedding and didn’t log on while there.

    This post is the reason why I love what you do. Giving us these tips and tricks of the trade help those of us who may not be able to afford to hire a professional at the time. My daughter is working with tons of paint samplesl on the walls of her newest nursery (#3 on the way). I counted 27 paint color samples she painted on the wall and I couldn’t count how many samples she has. After trying to look at each individual color to determine what would be the best for the room, I told her that I liked all those little patches on the wall and could she just leave them all. I could never decide and now believe it makes good sense to hire a professional to help choose the colors. Otherwise, a lot of time and money would be spent painting and repainting.

    Thanks for another wonderful post, Maria!

    ~ Victoria in Texas

  • GardenDesigner says:

    I just wanted to let you know I received your post just fine! ??? Thanks so much for the insight!!!


  • Anita says:

    I just missed one post but got the last two. Maybe your blog feedburner is moody. You are very good at the ‘how to’ posts. I always get so much out of them and immediately get ideas/where to start to redecorate my place when otherwise I would draw a complete blank.

  • Annie Edelman says:

    I have had trouble signing in today, so i hope your don’t get a lot of repeat comments from me. But i wanted you to know what a pleasure it is to pop by and enjoy yet another informative post from you.

  • Michelle says:

    OH, such a pretty room…the high ceilings and colour…looks just like you Maria!

  • Awesome Sara says:

    that is very interesting. you like the buddah of color. you it all!

  • Renae says:

    Thank you for posting these things! This the way I always go about it…seems a bit backwards but it works so much better. Loved what you did with the restaurant!

  • Love Where You Live says:

    What a pretty space! -susan

  • Things That Inspire says:

    How I love posts like this that tell us step by step what we should do!

    I was just looking at my master bathroom yesterday, and admiring how well the stone relates to the wall color. I picked out all of the stone and trim, and after it was installed, a designer friend came over to give me advice on paint color. She immediately suggested BM pale almond, and it is perfect. I will send you a picture.

  • Haven and Home says:

    Very interesting story about the restaurant. I love all your color advice!

  • Ashley says:

    What a great post! I think a lot of people want to pick the paint first and then find items that go with that colour. It makes so much more sense to pick your paint last, there are so many shades etc, that it will be easy to match the wall paint to the colour of the branch detail in the $5000 sofa’s pattern! Thanks!!

  • kathleen says:

    Very wise advice. I wish your blog had been around last year – it would have made my life much easier!

  • Lauren says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes this can be hard to convince ppl of!!!


  • Kim Lemmon says:

    Your blog is the absolute BEST because it educates and entertains at the same time. Gotta run, I am going to read each one of your previous posts!

  • DJ Braun says:

    Yet again, a great post! I have learned a lot from you. I made an international move from to a fabulous European capital but our rental is tiny and our budget now is almost as small:) I have understood undertones since my impoverished university days (why does this paint colour make all my thrift store furnishings look dirty, but this other colour makes my place look cosy and put-together?) but I didn’t have the theory or the words for it. I ge
    t both from your wonderful posts!

  • DJ Braun says:

    Gahhhh! Typing on a phone causes a lot of mistakes! Sorry:)

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