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Decorating Advice

Why Homeowners Mix Styles that Don’t Work

By 06/22/2012January 28th, 201718 Comments

Now that I’m a homeowner I get it (because I notice I want to do it too).

I have been in so many homes where there are conflicting styles all over the place. Interior and exterior.

Tudor style trim slapped onto a 70’s box house.

Horizontal stacked stone that should never have seen the inside of some homes.

And I could go on and on.

But I’ve figured it out.

Most of us want a CLEAN look and feel in our interiors right now (source)

It’s that we buy the home we can afford in the neighbourhood we want to live in and for all kinds of other reasons and unless we’ve built it, we inherit finishes we don’t like.

We hate them in fact.

And then we try to insert the style we like into a home that is quite the opposite.

I consulted with a client today who hired me to help her because she didn’t like the advice she received from two previous designers.

She didn’t much like mine either, but at least the undertones were correct in the colours I specified. Plus I could explain WHY the colours she wanted in her kitchen and family room would not work in her house.

This client loves colour but her bossy fixed finishes dictated neutrals, at least in the wall colours anyway.


If I suggested colours that did not take into consideration the existing fixed elements, she would have got more of what the house already had when they took possession. Clean colours mixed with dirty colours in addition to colour schemes that already completely ignored the fixed elements in the house.

Pink beige ruins so many great colour schemes it’s no wonder I’m on a crusade to banish that colour forever!

Related posts:

Why Pink Beige should be banished Forever

What everyone Should know about Beige

The 3 most Important words in a Consultation.

Download my eBook, to make sure your finishes are chosen correctly. How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

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

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert. 

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  • Jen says:

    YES! So true.

  • Marlo says:

    I’m with you on the pink beige. In the last 16 years, and three homes, pink beige has tormented me but at that time I didn’t know what the problem was; now I do thanks to your blog.

  • I’m smiling as I see the words “pink beige” – the bane of your existence I think.

    But you are so right about getting a house we can afford and then living with the fixed elements. I’m lucky in this house as I like MOST of what’s there.

  • justlemmon says:

    I have pink beige paneling in my library and family room. I’m will not decorate until it’s gone. I know almost anything I put in those rooms I’m going to hate. It’s been 3 yrs and I think I have courage to paint all of it.

  • Oh I am so with you on the ‘pink beige’ issue.
    I guess I am one of the few who loved their home when purchasing it, however I am soooooo tired of beige and brown fixed elements that I want to scrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrream. Yep, its definitely time for some drastic upgrades, inside and out. 🙂

  • Linda says:

    We live in a 200 year old farm house. I am still trying to figure how she and I can meet together for our family’s lifestype and my creative bend. All the obvious hideous detailing done to her simple functional exterior have been removed. Others we cannot at this point for fear of stirring up unwanted toxic insulation. My husband is finally convinced I can indeed paint and repainting is not a sin!

  • I always say to my clients that if the fixed elements can’t change, then embrace them as best you can and work with them. Working against them just creates more grief. You are so right , Maria. Seems like you’ve banished all your fixed elements in the new house in favor of what you like. I’d love to be able to do that!!!! Have a great weekend.

  • Carol Anne says:

    I think I know what your talking about but not sure… could you post a picture of “Vertical stacked stone” to this post so I get it? No truer statement “we buy the home we can afford in the neighbourhood we want to live in ” also we mostly buy someone elses colours… I design around so many new to them homes…with clients that will not change the paint… good thing I know what I’m doing, hehe but it is so much harder to give them a fabulous room…
    Pinky Beige… If you get a petition going against it I will be the first to sign it…

  • Squeak says:

    Homeowners aren’t the only ones who mix styles that don’t work together. I don’t know how many supposedly upper-end new homes I’ve seen where the builder has mixed cheap, tacky, modern lighting (envision the cheapest light fixture you can buy at Home Hardware) with so-called “Colonial” doors and door knobs. Or modern kitchen cabinets with traditional pulls. My former next door neighbours recently bought a bigger house in a different neighbourhood, and the place looks like the builder had a checklist of must-have “features” he felt he needed to include, none of which had a common style theme. Since most homeowners have at least some furnishings they can’t afford to replace, the house ends up looking like a garage sale instead of a beautifully decorated home.

  • Susan@Susan Silverman Designs says:

    Hi Maria

    I am so not a lover of pink-beige, however I am confused about one thing. In your e-book you listed Shaker Beige HC-45 as a pink-beige where I always read it as a dirty yellow-beige and a colour I use quite often for clients when some of the grays, greiges, or taupes don’t work. Please clarify this for me if you can.


    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Susan,
      Compare Shaker to any Greeny gray like HC-96 and you’ll see the pink in it. It’s not a screaming pinky beige by any stretch but it’s definitely in that category. It was a huge colour during the tuscan brown trend because it looked so good with brown sofas. Maria

  • teresa says:

    I guess I fall into the “love my house, that’s why I bought it” camp. That’s not to say I haven’t changed wall colours, etc, but the fixed elements (often unearthed beneath crummy vinyl) fit the original aesthetic of the house, which happens to be one I adore. I detest changing things like that in houses that have a true feel. Better to find a house one likes or a newer home which so often lack a consistent design aesthetic as Squeack describes. In that case I wouldn’t feel at all bad about ripping it all out.

  • kimberly says:

    Hi Maria, I love your term bossy fixed finishes! I couldn’t agree more! Your home is looking lovely!!!!! Hope to see you soon, XO

  • So true about having to live with things you didn’t chose and don’t like. I was hoping for some pictures of really good examples of really bad mixes of styles and instead we get gorgeous pictures – oh, well I enjoyed them.

  • Carol Anne says:

    I hope I’m not a wrong… I use Shaker Beige too ( I lived with in 2 condos also, just works for me) I know it’s got a bit of pink in it but it doesn’t come out much to put it in the bad corner…lol … just specked it the other day with 2 purple sofa’s, the rooms going to be amazing… (its a few posts back on my blog)

    • Carol Anne says:

      that should have been ( I’ve lived with it in 2 condos also, just works for me)
      long day… lol

  • Lazy Gardens says:

    You would cringe at my new house … pinky beige plush carpeting (strongly peach-beige), yellowish beige painted woodwork, and a very pale grey-beige walls.

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