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Photography by Amy Batog

Okay, inquiring minds need to know, I have been thinking about the 2018 obsession with painted white walls a lot lately.

I can’t help it, in our eDesign consulting, whenever I specify the palest colour our client can get away with in their home, they often ask for an even lighter shade which brings us back to. . . you guessed it, white.

And not every house can pull that off.

Especially if your house is still decorated in the Tuscan brown trend.

Which means it has a lot of earthy fixed elements in tile, backsplash and countertops. If that is the case, ‘Art gallery white’ is rarely, if ever a good solution.

Anyway,  I realized that while I might have a bunch of theories on why the planet is obsessed with white, I haven’t actually asked YOU, my lovelies.

Coffee table | End Table | Carpet | Ottoman | Console | Sectional   {Photography by Amy Batog}

So here’s what I would love to know:

Have you painted your house something in the realm of ‘art gallery white’ similar to the images shown in this post in the last year or so? And if so, is it fabulous? Do you love it? If not, why not?

What had you arrive at the decision to go WHITE?


You have scheduled a painter and your house (interior or exterior) is about to be painted WHITE.

Why? What series of events, magazine photos, Pinterest or Instagram photos (or HGTV)  had you decide that art gallery white was THE answer for your home?

Please post the answer in the comments below!

And don’t forget, if you are about to choose a white, better to be informed and know what you’re doing, you can find the answer in my White is Complicated, A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White eBook here.

image source

Is it because there are so many rooms like this everywhere (above)? Rooms filled with lots of light?

Image source

However, notice that the walls in this room (above) are actually a pale yellow beige and not white it all (just compare them to the blue white ceiling)

Also, please leave a comment on blog topics? What burning question/s do you have that I haven’t already covered?

And, it’s been awhile since I wrote an Ask Maria post, but I need photos!! Please email photos for my ‘Ask Maria’ column here. Please include real dilemmas not just “What colour should this be?” since I’m looking for questions that have not been previously covered on the blog. I want this to be as helpful as possible!

Can’t wait to read your comments!

Related posts:

What Everyone Should Know About Paint

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream)

Trend Alert: Paint Your Walls and Trim White (or Cream)







The post Why are You Obsessed with White Walls? appeared first on Maria Killam - The True Colour Expert.

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Okay, if you are not planning a trip to Italy, skip this post, however I’m writing it because I have received a lot of requests for the details.

Here are some highlights of our trip to make a note of if you are travelling where we did:

Hotel in Seville here. Included breakfast in a lovely atrium in the middle of the hotel. This was the entry (below).

Real Alcazar de Sevilla, A castle and beautiful gardens to explore (below).

Historic hotel in Barcelona. Simply gorgeous breakfast room and outdoor dining area (below).

The best not-to-be-missed attraction in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia

The story of how this fabulous building is being built is extraordinary. And it’s still not finished. They are projecting that it’ll be somewhere around 2026 which will be 200 years after they started!

The Air B&B in Capri

The interior was not nearly as fabulous as the view but still charming, and the downside was the location, which was a 10 minute drive from downtown Capri. If you don’t have a car it was relatively easy to flag down a taxi because there’s only one way to get up and down from the Marina Piccolo which was closer to this location.

Views from the Air B&B

Hotel Onda Verde

A lovely little hotel in Praiano that one of my readers suggested, thanks so much!

I was disappointed with the first room we were given, (I sometimes think hotels give you the worst rooms first just like restaurants will try to give you the worst table if you’ll take it) because it looked nothing like the photos online, but they graciously gave me another room when I asked.

There is not much to do in Praiano which is a 20 minute walk from the hotel so unless you plan on boating or hanging out by the beach, I wouldn’t stay here for more than one or two nights.

The most beautiful spot by the pool (above) did not have umbrellas which made no sense to me (the trees in this image on the website are long gone).

Covo Dei Saraceni in Positano

A lovely hotel right on the beach with another beautiful breakfast room (below). Great location if you don’t want to navigate stairs constantly, which is what a trip to the Amalfi Coast is all about!

Photo by Maria Killam

Il San Pietro di Positano

I received so many comments to go to this hotel, and of course it was totally sold out (and wow like $3000 euros per night anyway) so I made a dinner reservation for us and this is me (below) in the water taxi from our hotel.

Our reservation was for 8:00 pm and we arrived at 7:45 much to my chagrin because the outdoor cocktail lounge area was simply divine. Make sure you arrive by at least 7:00 pm so you can enjoy it before dinner.

When I asked to move to a better table once we were seated, the maitre’d told us that since they opened way back in the 70s, they have guests that return every year and want the same room and the exact same table as well. So that’s when I realized there was a ‘tourist’ section of the restaurant and we were in that category, haha.

La Conca Del Sogno

We went back to Capri (and cancelled our plans to stay somewhere in the Amalfi Coast because we were worried it would be as remote as Praiano was) after my Mom arrived and the next day we chartered a boat for the day which was amazing, we swam in the grottos and had lunch in this gorgeous location only accessible by boat (below). Definitely a once-in-lifetime kind of day.

It was sitting in this restaurant that I realized why anyone would buy an elaborate bathing suite cover up. Whenever I see them in stores I think to myself “Why? Just to walk down to the pool at a resort and then take it off? Seems excessive”.

Well, it’s called boating life. Every single woman in the restaurant was wearing a cover-up (below) because you basically get off the boat, have lunch and get right back on.

And maybe I haven’t stayed in enough high-end resorts where naturally, if you were having lunch while lounging by the pool you would do the same.

Villa SanPaulo in San Gimignano

Hey, remember the post I wrote about rain showers in Europe and how impractical they are if you don’t want to wash your hair? Well here I am at the Spa underneath a rain shower, and see how my hair is wet? That’s why it’s hard if you don’t want to get your hair wet, haha.

We booked this hotel last minute so we didn’t get a room with a full view but it was a lovely resort.

However it was remove, so again you need a car to go anywhere unless you hire a driver.

The view at breakfast (or lunch or dinner) was this (below) though so that was beautiful. Here is Terreeia and my Mom enjoying the view.

Terreeia Rauffman and Hellen Junttila


We loved this little town in Tuscany where they are known for making all kinds of gift items and jewelry out of Alabaster. These are some ruins of the theatre.

I bought some alabaster fruit and a few other items that cost 90 euros and then 85 euros to ship. But still highly worth it when you average out the cost per item.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

What you need to know about this very popular attraction is that there is no ancient village to explore beyond the Tower of Pisa. Just a bunch of touristy shops and tents.

My Mom insisted that I take a photo of her in front of the tower. “How would anyone know we had really been there?” she declared, haha.

Okay so that pretty much wraps up the highlights and best details of the trip to help you out in case you’re doing something similar.

If you have any other questions, post them in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them!

I’m home for an entire month before I have to go anywhere and I’m pretty happy about it! Summer has kicked in here in the West Coast and it’s just gorgeous!

Hope you are enjoying your summer!

PS. The update on my luggage (cause people keep asking) is that it was never returned by the airline.

Related posts:

Outdoor Vignette on my Patio; Before & After

Maria Killam’s White Garden Transformation; Before & After

Happy Outdoor Living Before & After


The post Highlights and Not-To-Be-Missed Events from my Trip to Italy appeared first on Maria Killam - The True Colour Expert.

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Seville, Spain

I’m back from my four week trip to Spain and Italy. First we spent one week in Spain and then the Amalfi Coast and we ended up in Tuscany because it was one of my favourite places from when we were there three years ago.

Terreeia and I already spend a lot of time together because we work together, it was fun to be with just my wife and not my VP of Operations and Business Development. It was so amazing to be able to take this kind of bucket list trip together.

My Mom (below) joined us in Positano halfway through to travel with us for the last 12 days. Every time I spend an extended period of time with her, I’m reminded of what an extraordinary human being she is. I felt truly blessed that we could afford to treat her on such a memorable trip. She loved Italy and especially the old villages we explored.

My sweet Mom Hellen

Italy is truly a not-to-be-missed trip in this lifetime.

Here are my 5 best (I bet you haven’t read these anywhere else) tips:

Travel Days

When you are going on a long trip like this, I would work hard to minimize ‘travel days’. Even if you are traveling for only one hour to get to your next destination, hotel or Air B&B, that day still becomes kind of a write-off.

You get up, have breakfast, pack up your stuff, check out, wait for your transportation, then you’re on a car, boat or train for one or more hours, then you arrive, wait for transportation to your accommodation and then either leave your bags at the hotel because it’s too early to check-in and go for lunch, or you check in and now it’s closer to dinner-time.

Also, on travel days I recommend that you check-out immediately after breakfast. You’re just waiting to leave anyway so there’s very little vacationing you can have on a day where you have to move to the next destination, even if it’s a short distance away.

And I don’t know about you, but travel days are stressful, you have to wait in line, traveling in the summertime is hot and sticky and a debate or argument, however small is inevitable, doesn’t matter who you are traveling with.

Conversations that potentially go like this:

What time is the train?

1:00 pm

So I’ll arrange the taxi for 11:00 am?

11:00 am? That’s too early, it’s only going to take an hour to get to the train station?!?!

Ugh, do you have to do everything at the last minute, what if there’s traffic?

In Tuscany? I don’t think so.

Then you get there and you’re looking up at the screen and instead of the destination being Naples (like it says on the ticket) it says Milan.

You say to your spouse: The screen says Milan.

Okay, can you ask someone? I’ll stay here with the luggage.

Hey (you yell so she can hear you, or start impatiently tapping on your phone), ‘What are you doing in that line, our train will leave before you get the question answered, give me the ticket!!!’

You walk over to someone official (who is not behind a long line of people) and inquire “This ticket says Naples, but the screen says Milan, can you help me?”

“Señora, you are looking at the arrivals screen NOT the departure screen.”


Okay, thanks.

See what I’m saying? If you are on a month long trip and you are going to six different cities like we did, INCLUDING the traveling day or day and a half to get there, and the day to travel home. That’s eight days you might as well subtract from the trip.

My next fantasies of going to Italy involve renting one Villa for the entire time and taking day trips.

What do you think of this plan? Do you agree or disagree?


No one talks about the bugs in Europe but what you need to know is most of Europe does not have screens on the windows.

The perimeter of the villa we stayed at 3 years ago for one week in Tuscany was regularly sprayed for flying ants (which were rampant when we were there in September).

Terreeia had brought mosquito repellant and as she applied it to her ankles one evening during dinner because she was suddenly getting attacked,  immediately another diner jumped up and asked if she could borrow it. She said they were staying in an Air B&B with no air conditioning and the mosquitoes were eating them alive at night.

So if mosquitoes love you, bring repellent.

Lost Luggage

As some of you know from previous posts and Instagram, the airline lost my luggage one week into the trip when we arrived in Naples to take the boat to Capri where the first part of our Amalfi Coast vacation.

I have lost my luggage many years ago. The lesson I learned from that was to ALWAYS have carry-on luggage and pack EVERYTHING in there you would really hate to lose. And we travel all the time and I do that every. single. time.

Except for this trip.

Everyone said ‘pack light just take one suitcase for those cobblestone streets’. So that’s what we did. We took the next size up from carry-on luggage and packed carefully. And I just threw it all in there thinking “Well what are the odds that this ONE TIME I will lose it.

Well, that’s exactly what happened.

Here’s what happens when you lose your luggage:

First, depending on where you’ve landed and certainly, if you are in small villages in Italy, it’s pretty hard to replace what you have brought in your luggage.

Think about all the little things you have with you, they are impossible to replace on a vacation. If you truly tried to replace most of what you brought, all you would be doing is shopping. It would become like a job. Not something you want to do on a dream trip to Italy.

So the first couple days you hope that your luggage will arrive at any moment so you buy a few things to get you through, but you’re waiting and praying that it just gets delivered.

After 4 days, you resign yourself to that you probably won’t see it on this trip and that’s when I ended up in the ONLY store in Praiano which was stuffed with everything from underwear to bathing suits.

If you are traveling to Europe in the summer, it’s generally HOT.  Anyone who wants to take a 3 or 4 week trip with just carry on luggage, what you need to understand is that you get really sick of wearing the same thing all the time, but if you’re up for it, here’s the list of what you need, now that I’ve actually done it myself:

1 pair of beige linen pants with an elastic waist. That’s all that was available in the little shop and it turned out they are super comfortable and makes any top you are wearing look smooth. I wore these constantly, every morning we’d go down for breakfast and I’d throw them on, and they also worked well at night when it cooled down for dinner.

Also, an elastic waist is perfect because you’ll be eating more bread and gelato than usual, haha.

Two sleeveless linen tops (mine were blue and white). Here’s what I’ve discovered about linen, anyone who thinks it’s too wrinkly and doesn’t like the look has not worn a linen top COMBINED with linen pants, shorts or a skirt. Linen looks fabulous but as it turns out when you wear it together!

Terreeia brought two pairs of linen pants and a bunch of linen tops with her and she looked so great every day!

Hellen (Mom) and Terreeia

1 white sleeveless cotton blouse. It’s dressier than a t-shirt and good for when you don’t feel like wearing linen which can be a little scratchy.

2 Linen Dresses  Everyone wears linen in Italy. Even the men.

The first trip we took, I brought a pair of denim shorts (below) which I just assume are perfect for hot weather. When I look back now at those pictures, I got really tired of seeing those denim shorts.

I only brought one pair of white denim shorts on this trip and then they were lost after the first week, I didn’t wear shorts at all in Italy. And really, they are just not necessary (unless you don’t wear dresses). I could tell the tourists that were in Italy the first time because they looked just like me the first time. Shorts and a t-shirt. There’s nothing wrong with that of course but I’m just giving you the hot tip on how not to look like a complete tourist.

Our first trip 3 years ago

I wore the dresses almost every day because they are the coolest item of clothing when the temperatures hit above 25 degrees Celsius.

Because linen wrinkles so much, it’s important that you choose a dress that has a zipper at the waist so that it still has shape when it wrinkles (below), also make sure it is a little longer.

A short linen dress is not as pretty and feminine. The second dress I bought was a little shorter and looked like a sack on me once it wrinkled. I left it behind.


A hat

Contact Lenses

Makeup and sunscreen



Glasses (if you wear them)

Probably the item I’m most upset about are the tortoiseshell prescription glasses that were lost in my luggage. This shape is really unusual (see the photo on the right) but also I loved that they were cream and black so they matched my hair and went with literally everything.

I bought them in a little shop in Florence when we were there 3 years ago and they were a no-name brand so unfortunately, that’s not helpful at all.

I also love the shape of my blue glasses that I was wearing so I was happy they weren’t lost (below left) but that shape is also VERY DIFFICULT to find, and they are Guess and were formerly sunglasses.

If anyone knows where I could find either shape in the colouring on the RIGHT I would be so grateful!

Black cashmere wrap

This is a MUST for any traveler, it’s like a blanket on a plane, light as a feather and so easy to throw into your bag when you go out for dinner at night in case it gets cool.

This was the only one I could find online (below) and it is long gone, if anyone knows where I can find this I would appreciate it. Mine has holes in it that I’ve sewn and I would love to replace it. Also, if you don’t have one, you need one in your life. I have had this wrap for something like 15 years and wear it to death, every time I travel.

See how without the arms it’s long like a blanket? That’s why it’s so awesome for the plane. But yet so wearable and warm in the evening when the weather gets cooler.

Can you tell I love this sweater, ha!

Denim Jacket (I wore this mostly on travel days, and the cashmere wrap the rest of the time, it was lighter, yet warm and easy to carry with me)

Bathing Suit (smart advice from one of my readers who said always pack your bathing suit in the carry-on because a great fitting bathing suit is hard to replace on a trip).

A black (or any colour really) easy to wear, jersey dress for dinners out

1 maxi dress, so easy and comfy to throw on for breakfast or dinner.

A t-shirt and chinos for travel days (they are generally more comfortable than a dress or shorts for traveling and sitting)

Flip flops

2 pairs of dressier sandals

1 pair of comfortable traveling shoes

Another great packing tip someone posted was to pack half your stuff in your spouse’s luggage, this way one person isn’t totally stranded without clothes if you do lose your luggage.

Use the bank machine when you need cash

The first time we went to Italy, I exchanged money in those touristy exchange places and paid something like 24% without realizing it.

In this world where bank machines are everywhere, that’s all you need for cash. This way you are never carrying too much with you and you don’t get gouged when you exchange it after you arrive at your destination.

You definitely need cash in Italy. Everyone wants cash there and they are not ashamed to ask and insist upon it as a form of payment.

Most taxi drivers insist on cash, the porter when transferring your luggage (you can drag it from the top of Positano down or up all those stairs to your hotel but they will deliver it for 6 euros each) wants cash and well, every time you turn around you need to tip someone (especially if you’re staying in hotels).

How not to get gouged by taxi drivers

Ask IN ADVANCE and have exact change.

Taxi drivers are the worst, the same thing happens in Mexico if you are not a savvy traveler.

When we arrived in Naples. We were able to jump into a van with a bunch of other people to get from the boat to the train station (the line for the taxi was around the block) and we were charged 10 euros each (total of 30) which is extortion for a 10 minute drive in a van with 12 people.

Then at the end of our trip, the hotel told us that the ride to the airport was 25 euros, when we arrived, the cab driver actually repeated that the trip was in fact 25 euros but when I handed him 50 (because that’s all I had) he gave me 15 back? When I said, “What? You said 25, he replied, “It’s 35 euros because it was 3 people”. However, if I had the exact change, this would not have happened.

Read this if nothing else!

And there’s something way more important than any of this that I want to share with you today!

My Mom noticed that the eczema on her finger immediately went away when she arrived in Italy. She also noticed that she could eat anything and not get sick. At home, especially with sweets, if they are not totally organic, she wakes up with a pain in her spine. Sometimes she’ll just be really tired all day and right away she’ll take it back to something she ate the day before.

In Italy, she didn’t have any pain at all and no eczema. When she arrived home and had a bath, it immediately started flaring up again.

And that brings me to a very important conversation about water.

I clicked on this link today on a blog that I read and cried for 20 minutes as I watched the video and immediately became a monthly contributor.

I was most impressed that 100% of all contributions funds clean water!

It makes all our first world problems like losing luggage seem very small indeed!

I’m happy to be home my lovelies, and I hope you enjoyed my recap! Let me know what’s your favourite!

Related posts:

There’s no Subway Tile in Spain

Italy Loves a Good Rainshower (But I would change one little thing)

The Timeless Flooring Everywhere in Italy












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We arrived home from Italy yesterday at noon and I couldn’t stay up past 4:00 pm and then I slept 12 hours!

San Gimignano, Italy

I’m so happy to be home after being away an entire month! The trip was fabulous, and it was even more amazing to be able to share it with my Mom who arrived for the last 12 days! She has never been to Italy and was enchanted with all of it. I’ll write a post to tell you all about it soon!

This is a guest post by, KariAnne Wood from Thistlewood Farms. KariAnne is the kind of person who instantly makes you feel good just by being around her. Her energy is infectious, she is genuinely enthusiastic about most things and finds joy everywhere!

When you read her blog, her writing is so warm and friendly, you just want to drive right over and sit in her living room with a cup of tea.

I’m so excited to be here I feel like I should start with a cartwheel.

My name is KariAnne from Thistlewood Farms and I’m guest posting this week. If I’ve never been lucky enough to meet you before—here’s a little bit of my story and my house tour and my favorite yard sale find on the planet. I love red lipstick and curly hair and flip flops that sparkle and painting mis-matched furniture and thunderstorms and sweet tea with lime and the 90% off clearance sale aisle.

And this is what my living room looked like before I ever met Maria.

I know, right?


So so.


Not really ready to sit at the popular table for lunch.

Here’s my first decorating attempt. This is me trying to introduce a little neutral. Better than where we started. I liked it.

But still?

The room was fine. But in my heart?

I wanted a little color.

And then?

I met Maria.

We had a consultation online and from the moment I met her, I knew that I knew that I KNEW. She was special. She talked to me about color and showed me that color was there for the taking and that all I had to do was be a little bolder with my design choices.

And that color would meet me halfway.

So I added a blue rug.

I felt bold.

I felt amazing.

I felt all about myself and my new color choices.

And so I went bolder. I added these blue and white striped chairs. I changed out the pillows. I took down the burlap curtains. I added new love seats. I could feel the room laughing and breathing and smiling.

But something still wasn’t right.

I couldn’t figure it out.

And then I attended one of Maria’s live color workshops.


I have never learned so much about color in my entire life. I learned about cool colors and dirty colors and which trim color went with which paint and why sometimes pink beige isn’t your friend. I learned about how to choose a paint color that worked with what I already had. When I walked into the living room after the seminar I saw it with new eyes. I knew what was wrong.


When I switched and added all that blue, the light gray paint color had turned PURPLE.

I know, right?

It’s hard to tell in these pictures, but in real life, I was sitting in a living room with blue and white chairs and a blue and white rug and blue and white pillows with PURPLE walls.

So I repainted the room. And now? It looks like this.

SW Alabaster 7008 (This colour is also available in Maria’s curated large sample boards)



It is even prettier in person.

Here’s one more look at the before and after.

Before Maria

After Maria

Thank you my wonderful, creative, amazing friend Maria.

Thank you for giving me a new perspective on color.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your vision with so many.

Thank you for your friendship.

And thank you for helping me create a space that I love.

PS If you haven’t signed up for one of Maria’s Live Colour Workshops yet—you can sign up here.

And if you have a room that needs colour inspiration, I can help, with my Get Me Started eDesign package here.

In addition to decorating living rooms, I’m an author in my spare time.

Here’s my latest book called the DIY (Decorate It Yourself) Planner. It’s full of sassy decorating advice and DIY’s and tips for creating the home that you love.

You can order a copy for yourself and 10 of your closest friends here.

It’s been wonderful to meet you.

Happy day friends.

Related Posts:

3 Ways to Add More Colours Without Pattern

6 Reasons to Go Bold with Colour (Even if it Terrifies You)

How to Transform A Charcoal Sofa with Colour: Before and After





The post The One Thing You Need When Choosing Color For a Room appeared first on Maria Killam - The True Colour Expert.

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If you’ve been following me on my Insta-stories on my Spain and Italy vacation, you might have noticed that I am fascinated with bathrooms.

I mean, when you’re travelling, you’re not exactly hanging out in kitchens (unless you’re visiting friends and family) but there’s always a bathroom in the hotel room or a restaurant to see.

However, every single hotel room shower in Spain and Italy had one thing in common.

They had a rain shower head in the bathroom.

And of course there’s nothing wrong with that.

But the hand held shower head was at waist level. Just like this image below.

Image source

And there’s one tiny little problem with that.

What happens when you don’t want to wash your hair? It’s hard to lean back and not get your hair wet when you are underneath a rain shower head.

In North America, the hand held shower head is ALWAYS high enough so you have the option of using either one.

If you don’t want to wash your hair in Europe, you have to hold the shower head in one hand the entire time.

Here’s the bathroom in our hotel room in Capri. The countertop was the marble (on the right, below) the shower was covered in this blue mosaic and the rest of the floors and wall tile was simply an 8″ square white tile.

However, again, the hand held shower head was installed at waist level (above).

If you don’t want to open up the ceiling to install a rain shower head, you can always get a set:

SDG Architects

My Mom joined us halfway through our month long Italy vacation when we had arrived in Positano (Terreeia knows how much I love my Mama and it was her suggestion).

Then we arrived in Capri, one night she decided to wash her smalls and here they are hanging up to dry in the bathroom I’ve just been talking about. Moms are kind of resourceful like that, haha.

Terreeia surprised my Mom with a cooking course in Positano the same afternoon that she arrived! She loved it! There they are on the right paying close attention (below):

We took a water taxi to dinner one night as well.

For those of you that read that I lost my luggage when we arrived in Italy, IT’S STILL MISSING! My Mom had to bring me a new laptop power cord and a few other items when she joined us.

It really is as beautiful as all the photos but it’s so much better to experience in person! I’ll write more in another post, we’ve just arrived in Tuscany for the last few days, we’ll be home on Friday!

Over to you my lovelies, do you have a rain shower? What makes them so great?

Frankly, I did not install one in my bathroom renovation last year and I think they are overrated and certainly an unnecessary feature in hotel rooms where they are also more expensive to install. If I had a steam shower, I would install one, but I’m missing why they should be installed in every bathroom. But that’s just my opinion.

I’m photographing my bathrooms when I return and will reveal them soon, eeek, one year later is slightly delayed I know!

What do you think about rain showerheads? Yay or Nay?

Related posts:

The Single Worst Mistake to Make During Your Bathroom Renovation

The Best White Bathrooms

Is your Bath Perfect or Perfectly Nice?





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The first stop on our Spain and Italy trip was Seville. We stayed right in the downtown core in a lovely boutique hotel that served afternoon tea and a lovely buffet breakfast each morning.

Back home, I have walked into so many homes where there is an elaborately ornate staircase design that often looks totally out of place. Now I know where the design was inspired. And it fits right in here. Along with the tile after one of my followers on Instagram noted “There’s no subway tile Maria”.

So that’s what inspired this post. Which was easy to write because I took so many photos of all the tile work.

I know many of you, who are longtime readers, might fall off your chair or drop your coffee but here is where decorative tile has a place:

This was a doorway in the reception area of the hotel:

Here’s the staircase (below):

The first night, we had dinner in a nearby restaurant. I liked the way the muted red encaustic tile related to the bricks on the same wall (below):

And it also worked well with the black and white tile floors:

This was the backsplash tile in the breakfast room, back in the hotel (below):

This was the floor in the Seville Cathedral nearby (below):

Then we toured the Real Alcazar of Seville, castle and gardens. Gorgeous tiles everywhere (below):

When does this kind of tile work back home? In context with a Spanish/Mediterranean style home, with an exterior that possibly looks like this:

Image source

An entry staircase with iron railings ornate or not (below):

Centsational Style

Wood beamed ceilings, ornate, spanish style pendants, black, arched windows, all belong in a house with this colourful tile (below):

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You could also design a terra cotta floor with a turquoise kitchen (below):

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In this Spanish kitchen with the beams in the ceiling and curved plaster hood fan, I could even live with the blue backsplash because it’s been repeated in the plates and tile underneath the window.

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Perhaps your styling might look like this with the Spanish style wall sconce as well:

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In a Spanish style home, your powder room could look like this (below). Notice the arched doorway and perfect light fixture.

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I love this fireplace design (below). So classic and timeless. Again, notice the beams and the arched french doors. The beautiful outdoor fireplace too with the iron gate.

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It’s rare that I think a black leather sofa looks good but here in this more neutral ‘Spanish inspired’ living room, it works. Because there’s not too much black to make it heavy and masculine (below):

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What I have seen all too often, is people will go on a trip to Europe and then come home and start adding random design elements (they fall in love with), that in no way work with the existing style of their home.

That’s where random arches that have no place suddenly appear, or the busy, ornate staircase railing I mentioned at the beginning of this post or random rows of tile on a staircase kick that in no way belongs.

Decorative tile has a place. And that place is definitely not as a random strip in your kitchen backsplash or shower surround.

At least if you’re going to introduce accent tile, go big or go home, (like the bathroom image above) but don’t just install bits and pieces of it. Decorative tile is like a strong wall colour. If you’ve decided to paint a room red, go for it, don’t just paint it on a single wall, that rarely works.

Related post: A New Way to Design Accent Tile: Ceramic Architecture

Here are a couple more images once we arrived in Barcelona:

Here I am sitting outside at dinner in a Tapas restaurant in Seville:

The sidewalks in Seville were mostly concrete in a hex shape! Isn’t that incredible? You can see it behind me too in the photo above.

Hexagonal concrete tile in Seville

You’ll notice white walls are big in Spanish design. If this is the stye of your home and you need to choose the right white, download my ebook,  White is Complicated; A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White, here. Or take advantage of our eDesign services here, to find your perfect paint colour.

We fly into Naples tomorrow and our first stop on our Amalfi Coast tour is Capri Island! I can’t wait, follow along on my Insta stories here.

Do you like Spanish style design?

Related post:

Why Stone and Accent Tile are Not as Important as you Think

One more Reason you Should Skip Accent Tiles Altogether

Ask Maria: What..

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I am a big believer in spreading your design budget around so you can have it all. And by all, I mean as much as possible.

Most homeowners have a very long list of renovations and updates that need to be completed.

This is why it’s so important that you don’t spend ALL your money on just the renovation or new build.

Updating your staircase, installing crown moulding or installing the most expensive countertops and lighting for example, will still not leave you with a look and a feel.

Decorating is what will infuse your house with atmosphere and make you want to spend time there instead of in a hotel on a weekend away.

When Crystal and I talked about updating her laundry room, I suggested painting the cabinets, installing 2″ hex floor tile and a black laminate (Wilsonart Oiled Soapstone) countertop instead of stone.

She loved that idea, so that’s what we did:

After {Interior Design and styling by Maria Killam}

Here’s my sweet design assistant Kelly Parkinson ironing the bedding for the master bedroom photos here.

This laundry room didn’t have closet doors so I suggested we cover the laundry room shelving with some inexpensive grommet curtains from IKEA (below):

I kept the roman shade neutral so Crystal can change the laundry room colour anytime!

And we picked up some hashtag artwork for a little hit of black and white!

Love this laundry with the butcher block countertops. Also a less expensive countertop option:


I posted about laminate countertops and how far they’ve come when I was at the KBIS show in January here.

Terreeia and I board our flight tonight for Spain (First Seville for 3 nights and then we take the train to Barcelona for 3 nights) and then the Amalfi Coast for 3 weeks. We will arrive in Naples, take a boat to Capri, then Praiano, then Positano, then somewhere on the Amalfi Coast and then Sorrento, watch all the fun on my Instagram and stories here.

Any advice on what not to miss in Seville or Barcelona or restaurants to experience would be appreciated in the comments below!

Related posts:

Where to Start When you Have a Blank Slate (Laundry Room Makeover)

Best Countertops for Stained Wood Cabinets

How to Create an Ethereal Colour Scheme









The post The Best Countertops for Your Laundry Room; Before and After appeared first on Maria Killam - The True Colour Expert.

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See the before photos here.

I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog almost 10 years (the anniversary is coming up in October).

Because of my blog I was able to buy my first house, and renovate it from top to bottom. And if that wasn’t enough, rip out my front and back yard and turn it into an English garden.

It’s so beautiful now that it’s maturing, when people walk into my backyard they think they’ve arrived in a secret garden.

Here are the 2 best things I’ve learned in my year of being 50 and almost 10 years of writing this blog:

You’ll NEVER get to the end of your to-do list

In the world of on-line marketing, there’s always another ground breaking article to read, social platform that you should join, or posting that needs to happen on the social media accounts you already do have. There’s always another blog post to write, and when you get to the end of all that, online programs to create and launch.

Depending on your business model, your list looks different, but if it’s on-line, it’s a never-ending list.

I’ve learned that I need to stick to what I’m good at, which is creating content that I’m interested in, rather than focus on a to-do list created by anyone other than me.

In the end, I’m just going to do what I want anyway regardless of any to do list I might have with a bunch of should’s on it. It’s floating around here somewhere (no idea where it is at the moment).

Maybe you’re OKAY just the way you are

I live in the country, where affordable housing exists (Downtown Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world to buy a house), but the biggest reason I live kind of in the middle of no-where (because I am a city girl) is because my Sister and my Mom are my two closest friends.

There’s no-where I’d rather be than in my Mom’s Carriage house at 5:30 am (located a 2 minute drive from my house) with my Sister Elizabeth (who lives in a house on the same property) on any given morning analyzing life with a good cup of coffee.

Maria and my Mom Hellen

Because I work alone and don’t get out much (unless I’m travelling around the country leading my colour workshops) I have no one to compare myself too. Except other people on-line, and their highlight reel, which always looks better than my life currently does.

I see other bloggers and influencers working with brands and I worry that I should be doing more of that.

I see other designers launching product lines and I worry that I don’t have my name on a can of paint some where.

And then, I read a book by Gretchen Rubin called The Four Tendencies. I saw her speak at a conference last Fall and immediately purchased her book.

It’s truly groundbreaking and I highly recommend it.

I am a questioner/rebel. I question EVERYTHING. It’s likely that side of me that had me create a system that is changing the way the world sees colour.


The rebel side of me resists being dominated by anyone. This perfectly explains why when I worked in the corporate world, I was fired about 7 or 8 times.

Writing this seems obvious now but it wasn’t so obvious until I realized my tendency.

And I’m grateful that the colour workshops I lead all around the country every Spring and Fall, are so popular and well attended! That people continue to buy my eBooks and colour boards online and that my eDesign department is such a big success!

The so-what of all this is that I have a very successful business model that works for me and my personality.

As long as I have wi-fi and a laptop, I can work from anywhere in the world, including Palm Springs where we’ve spent the month of January the last two years.

If you look around at the life you have right now, and notice what you’re doing right now, that’s what you’re committed to.

So the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year in my 50th year, is that I’m okay exactly where I am right now.

And it’s not like I’m going to stop growing and improving, but I really can stop comparing myself to everyone else that’s doing something a little different from me that looks more glamorous than what I’m doing right now.

This year as I turn 51, I feel blessed.

Last year my best friend and sweetheart Terreeia planned a fabulous 50th birthday party for me and this was my favourite photo, taken by my sweet Mama. It was the the best birthday I’ve ever had. Everyone I love was there, it was a very special day.

Maria and Terreeia

This year, I want to ask for the same favour as last year:

Will you leave a comment telling me one thing that my work has helped you do? That would be the best birthday present!

It could be building your dream house, or your dreamy white kitchen. Or your business experienced a transformation after you completed one of my colour workshops.

This is what makes writing Colour me Happy worth it!

All I ask is that you be specific, include actual numbers if that’s appropriate. Share your Story.

Thanks in advance — and here’s to the best year yet.

Related posts:

My 50th Birthday Party (last year)

My Snowflowering Tree Blooms on my Birthday; Before and After

Refresh of my Mom’s Kitchen and Sitting Room; Before & After







The post Today (June 7) is my Birthday. 2 Lessons I’ve Learned appeared first on Maria Killam - The True Colour Expert.

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