My phone consult with Maria Killam - long post alert

mlrprincetonJanuary 10, 2014

Some of you guys know Maria Killam's blog with tons of advice about color. Most of you don't need professional help from what I've seen on the reveals, but we're doing pretty much everything to our house (it's not new construction but it may as well be with all we're having done) and I can't say I felt confident about choosing colors for everything.
So I had an hour phone consultation with her and I thought I'd share how it went in case anyone is interested. Yes I know this should go on the home decor page but let's face it, just like in real life, the party always gravitates toward the kitchen.

I didn't give her much to work with, which in retrospect wasn't a good idea, and we got off to a slow start. She sort of gave me a mini lecture about how you need to have *something* to start with, you can't just choose wall colors in a vacuum and then expect to furnish your whole house around them. By then it was about 15 minutes into our hour and I was thinking this wasn't going to ever get productive. But there's really little furniture we're going to be moving with us and I don't have a favorite piece of artwork I insist on having over the mantle or anything, so I truly am starting from scratch. So I didn't really have much to tell her other than "I like the combination of cream, grey, with teal as an accent color." While we were talking I quick logged into Houzz and sent her a picture I had favorited that had that color combination.

That at least helped, so then she had me go to the site Pinterest and she put things up there and I would tell her what I thought and she'd refine her selections based on what I said. So then we got into selecting colors and the whole thing was a lot of fast back and forth online, a quick sharing of pictures. For example I had said teal as an accent, so she put up a picture of a cream and teal throw pillow, but I said it was too light of a teal so then right away she found and posted another one which was better.

Then, because I went with a very strong color granite with oranges and pinks in it, she brought in orange as a second accent color. This would tie the kitchen colors to the rest of the house -- I don't think I would have thought of it but I can see this being a fun combination in small pops. Would create what she calls "flow" from one room to the next through the house.

So then she suggested a color for the walls; it happened to be one I'd been looking at anyway (SW Agreeable Gray), and a trim color that would go with that and also would not clash with the kitchen we've just had installed. (SW 7002 Downy, which I'm actually not sure about next to Agreeable Gray but I think I will trust her judgment.)

She put up a picture of a suggested stain color for the hardwood floors, and then we got into the furniture. She is good at finding things quickly, and when I told her the style of decor I like she very fast put up a sofa that I did like. She even told me the SW paint color to try to aim for when shopping for it.
She put up pictures of area rugs and when I'd tell her what I thought (one was too modern for my tastes), she'd quick put up more and so on.

I'm not saying I'm going to run out and buy every piece of furniture she linked me to, but I do feel a lot better now that I have a place to start and a bunch of good ideas. I feel like I went from feeling overwhelmed to feeling like I can imagine now what I want it to look like at the end.

I am going to take her wall color suggestion and I'm not sure about the trim color but I'll get samples this weekend and see. From what I've read on her blog she seems to know what she's talking about for sure.

Do I think it was worth $300? I do. Sure, gray and cream, and teal with a bit of orange as accents are nothing earth shattering. But for me, I feel like I am more excited now about all the decisions that need to be made. It was helpful to me and it would probably be more useful if you had more pieces already in place to start with and you needed help coordinating other items or paint colors with your existing furniture. Anyway, that is my report and now it is online forever in case anyone else tries to search for her like I did before signing up for the phone consult.

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LTL, sounds like it was very productive in the end. Would you mind sharing your Houzz picture (cream, grey, teal) because those are my colors too (although cream for me may be more taupe-y, and teal may turn out to be either aqua or turquoise). Thanks, and good luck with your project. P.S. I'm also working with someone online who's helped me with colors and some of my furniture selections. Next I need her to stage the whole darn thing for me since I'm really pathetic at accessorizing!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:32PM
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Thanks for sharing! It's good to know you had such a positive experience...and how to prepare. Anything that makes you feel more confident about your choices is well worth $300 IMHO :)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:37PM
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That's great you had such a good experience with her. Her blog is always so interesting and helpful.

Years ago, I hired an interior designer who provided a full color consult. It was comparably priced and was very helpful, since colors in the natural lighting and working with existing materials is really tough to do online.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 7:18PM
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Selections should be made from items with the least selection (appliances) to those with the most (wall color), that way you're always expanding your choices.

Nothing is more frustrating to a countertop fabricator or a homeowner than when a homeowner is trying to find a countertop to match a wallcovering swatch they've got their heart set on or even worse, already on order.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Sounds lovely! While that's not an expense I could justify adding often, it seems very reasonable when coordinating such a large remodel. Your time has value too, and think of how much time you would have wasted turning in circles trying to get even to the point you are at now. Well worth the investment!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 8:42PM
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Oh how I wish there was a 'Like' button in this forum. I agree with LL completely. If it costs me $300 to make decisions I will live with for YEARS, it is worth every penny. Best of luck!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 12:04AM
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Thanks for sharing! I subscribe to her email newsletter and I was curious about her consultations.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 12:08AM
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Thanks for this post, I have wondered about this type of color consultation as well. I used to subscribe to her newsletter. Really helpful to get a "behind the scenes" look at how it can go.

I also agree with lavender lass. For me, anything that gives me confidence about choices (and squashes those annoying inner voices telling me I'm doing everything wrong) is money well spent.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 2:07AM
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Thank you for detailing your experience. I had often wondered what went on during these long distance consultations. I too think it is worth it to have an expert help out and at least narrow down your choices.

Keep us posted on how it all goes!!

I too would love to see the Houzz inspiration photo!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 6:06AM
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Considering that I paid my lawyer way more than that per hour, I think you got a fabulous foundation. It won't matter if you choose the exact couch she suggested, but you have an idea what to look for.

I never heard of Mairia K, but now I'll check her blog.

Oh, I like teal too.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:36AM
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robo (z6a)

Thanks for the review! As a housewarming gift I had a new home consult with an hgtv designer (not Sarah R--boo hoo, I would have loved seeing her stomp around my house in stilettos) that I proceeded to completely ignore. I told her I loved color and she suggested all greys and puttys and in general the plan was too conservative for me. Fast forward 2 years and I'm getting ready to paint my entire first floor light grey. I should go back to the document she sent!

Even though I ignored it I thought it was a great consult esp if I had been a less tacky person, and she gave a lot of good advice considering the price.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 8:23AM
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IMO- if she points you in the right direction and you can afford her fee, the consult is worth every penny. Shoot, I could easily spend half that fee in the wrong color paint samples and have nothing so show for it!

FWIW I hired a color consultant who recommended SW Agreeable Gray w SW ALabaster cabs and trim for my kitchen. I LOVE IT! It is paired with a dark brown granite and soon to be mid tone dark wood floors. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Five years ago I spent approx. $200 on wall color samples before I found The One. It turned out to be a color I still love so it was totally worth it.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 11:14AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You know, pretty much the exact same service can be had for free.

Your local professional paint store usually has a color specialist on hand who will do the same exact thing. Where do you think she learned her schtick? :-) Plus, finish and color coordination is old hat to any KD, and their services are also free when you buy your cabinets from them. If you will be buying new furniture pieces, most decent quality furniture stores also have a staff designer who is free or has a nominal charge for services.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 2:01PM
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The paint store color consultants are often quite young and inexperienced. I don't know about the long distance part, but Maria K has accumulated a whole lot more experience at this point than the color consultants available at the BM paint store here.

I've generally found in-store design help to be rather simplistic and formulaic, and without much consideration for personal taste, optimization or the rest of the house.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:00PM
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