In this episode, Cara has a conversation with internationally sought-after color expert Maria Killam to uncover pro strategies for picking paint colors for your spaces and dive deep into understanding undertones.

This conversation will help you learn why you're probably picking paint colors all wrong, the biggest way to get color right, how to use color to stay on-trend while creating a timeless space, and the go-to inspo piece you need to guide your room design.

You can download this episode from Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify – or listen to it below!

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in this episode:

✨ why you're picking paint colors completely wrong
✨ what you need to understand about undertones
✨ the BIGGEST way to get color right + building color palettes like a pro
✨ the go-to design element you need to guide your room design
✨ color trends and how to create a timeless space
✨ how to rock the current black & white trend in a timeless way that will last
✨ when paint colors can create magic and when they're not a magic bullet
✨ how to freshen up your space with the right paint color
✨ what "bossy elements" are and how they determine what colors you should choose



what i'm loving this week

ryobi air compressor + dewalt brad nailer

So this week I'm obsessed with my brand new baby air compressor. And when I say baby, I just mean that it's little and cute and it runs off batteries and I can carry it around the house with one arm.

I got an air compressor and a nail gun to go with it and it was my very first time ever using a pneumatic air gun. I had been using the Ryobi battery powered one — which has gotten me through two and a half years of DIY. BUT it struggled on a recent accent wall project an couldn't get through the hardwood I was nailing to the wall so I decided to upgrade

But I'm loving the little ryobi air compressor / dewalt brad nailer setup because it's not super heavy and it runs off batteries.

Anyway, I did a whole like tutorial of exactly how to use the air compressor, covering all of the basics in under five minutes.  I went from super intimidated about air compressors and pneumatic air tools to being confident and having this be my very favorite tool ever in just one day.


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fluted trim accents

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A post shared by Maria Killam (@mariakillam)

Maria Killam is an internationally known colour expert, design blogger, decorator, stylist, and best-selling author. With over three decades of experience in the industry, Maria’s brand is built on the solid foundation of classic and timeless design principles and her unparalleled expertise in colour. 

Maria is a unique voice in the design world and her groundbreaking System for Specifying Colour: Understanding Undertones™ offers an effective and practical approach to choosing colour that has been studied and put into practice by thousands of design professionals and enthusiasts around the world. 

Her popular blog, Colour Me Happy, is among the top ten most successful and longest-running interior design blogs. It is packed with sound advice delivered in Maria’s relatable and no-nonsense writing style. Her words inspire and resonate with hundreds of thousands of loyal readers. Ultimately, every design decision is a colour decision so Maria’s mission is no less than changing the way the world sees and interacts with colour.

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...just in case you wanna read

Maria Killam: [00:00:00] But there are a lot of people  get so far in their renovation or their decorating project and they realize, now I've made a bunch of mistakes  then they call in the color expert or the decorator hoping that paint color can magically fix it. sometimes it can You know, there's no magic here. You now have to start ripping something out in order to, to get the result that you want [00:01:00]

Cara Newhart: [00:01:06] It's Cara and I'm on a mission to help you find your style, learnto tackle home design without intimidation and unlock the confidence to transform your home on the show today, we're covering everything you need to know about the undertones of your neutral paint colors, as well as some strategies for picking shades

I'm sitting down today with Maria Killam, who is an internationally sought after color expert. She's been featured places like HGTV, the Washington Post, House Beautiful, and many, many more. And she's sitting down with me today to talk about color undertones, to help you better understand neutrals.

We also dive into picking paint colors and some different strategies for choosing colors that not only fit in your space, but help to bring the entire space together. She has so many good tips, such good insight. And I'm seriously so [00:02:00] excited for you guys to be able to get access to her through this interview, because I think some of the stuff she has to share is going to change your paint color game.

If you're new to the show, here's what we do. I break down some specific design strategies you can use in your space. Then we sit down with an incredible guest for pro tips, a deep conversation about home and mind blowing, design advice. Next, I'll tell you what I'm obsessed with for the week. And then we'll talk about a trend that you might want to try out in your space and some tips for how to do it.

  For this week's design strategies. I am giving you my four biggest paint tips. I used to get so excited to paint accent walls. I would go grab a color right off the paint wall, mix it up, barely sample on my wall and just paint because after all you can undo it later, right? Yes. But. With a little bit of strategy, your space or accent wall will have the perfect color.

So tip number one is all about creating paint pallets. So [00:03:00] matching colors together can be really challenging. If you don't have a background in art or design or you don't really understand color theory, it can be challenging to figure out what color really goes with what it is based a lot off of undertones.

Based off of how the colors were mixed and muted. Did they add white to create a tint black to create a shade or a little bit of that color's complimentary color to create a muted hue? Is that already sounding confusing? I thought so. So the best tip to create a professional, looking at color palette. Is to steal it from a professional.

Now here's what I mean, go snag, a piece that has a pattern or a color palette. You really like this could be a pillow, a rug, a throw blanket, a piece of art. There's an artist or a designer behind that piece that has taken time to intentionally mix up those colors. Who knows a hell of a lot more about color than you probably do, unless you're also a professional.

So what you're going to do is [00:04:00] paint match to this piece. You're going to just pull colors straight out of this piece that someone has already put together for you. This is the easiest way to get a color palette that matches. So when you do this, there's a few things you need to do to get it. Right?

Number one, I paint match in the room. I'm going to be painting that ensures that I have the same light level, which is really important for color. And we'll talk about that in a minute. And number two, pay attention to the structure of the piece. Is there a shade that takes up most of the space? Like is there a light blue dominating the background with some smaller amounts of accent colors?

Looking out for the proportion of colors in the piece is going to maybe tell you maybe that blue should be your wall color. And then all the little navies and the corals and the accent colors of the flowers should be colors of the pillows and the throws and the things that you're putting in the space.

Does that make sense? It is a magical hack and it will change your paintgame Number two and Maria talks about this in the interview as [00:05:00] well, because it's that important, but that is to use big samples. If you're going to the paint wall and you're pulling those tiny little index card sized paint samples and taping them up and trying to choose from that, you were just making it so hard on yourself.

Okay. They do that because there's so many colors and it needs to be cheap and free and easy for you to get them. But what you need to do is grab a paint sample of the three to four colors that you like grab some foam boards, like from the dollar store or target, and then paint the samples onto the giant foam boards, like two feet by three feet, whatever size those are, and then take those up.

This huge sample is going to make it so much easier for your brain. And you're going to be able to visually see. The color in the space a lot better, and you can set it behind things like different existing furniture and different art pieces to see if it truly matches. So forget the dinky samples. You are going to paint like a pro and use large samples.

Cara Newhart: [00:05:57] Okay. Number three, you're going to go to the paint wall and [00:06:00] you are going to skip every single color that looks bright and vibrant. And the reason why is when you want color in your space, let's say you want red. You're going to go to the paint wall. You're going to pick that bright red, just like you were choosing a Crayola crayon out of your box in elementary school because that's red.

Right? Well, it turns out those bright colors tend to look very playful and kind of like a kindergarten classroom when you get them in your space. If you go down to the more muted. Almost grayish looking colors. They look super gray on the paint wall. Like they look like they're not as bright and vibrant when you compare.

Like a more muted red with that true red. But I promise you, once you get the color in your space, it is going to be so much brighter than you think. So I did this recently. I painted a mountain accent wall for Ella, which spoiler alert is not on my Instagram. Yet. You were the first to know that this is a project, but I [00:07:00] pulled all these purple hues that were very gray looking.

They look kind of washed out kind of boring, but once we got them into the space, It is so bright, so vibrant and very, very purple. So go less saturated than you think and avoid those true hues. And finally, and possibly the most important tip is that light temperature absolutely changes your paint color.

Drastically. So the best example I can think of is in my mother-in-law's house, she has this gorgeous blue color. She loves to paint the walls. So she painted the walls and the ceiling, which is kind of a vaulted ceiling with two skylights. Well, during the day when those skylights are on the ceiling looks straight gray, like it is really wild, but the ceiling does not look the same color.

At all as the walls, even though it is. So that's just a good lesson that light really affects the way our eyes perceive color. So you can harness this power in your space, and that means paying [00:08:00] attention to the hue or the temperature of light bulbs you have. If you're doing those more like bluish, like daylight bulbs versus the soft white.

Warmer bulbs. That's going to skew your paint color. Also natural light. If you have big windows, that's going to affect it versus being in a room that is lit by just light fixtures light at eye level versus light coming from the ceiling. So those are all things to consider. And the way you want to work with this is just by matching color.

In the space that you're going to use it in and doing it at different points of the day. So you can see the light level. So paint your big sample, stick it in that room and kind of like live with it for a couple of days and check on it in different light temperatures. Does it look super weird at night?

And kind of have like a greenish cast because of your lights. Or does it look weird during the day with daylight? And so just kind of visually looking at that and different light levels is going to help you pick your color. I think a lot of times people throw samples up. [00:09:00] They look at them once in a specific time of day, and then they decide when really you need to kind of live with it.

Throughout the day throughout different light levels. And that is how you will magically pick the perfect color.

Okay. Now we're going to dive into this interview and hear from Maria all about picking paint and understanding undertones in your space. She is the queen of this. Like literally if I go to my Benjamin Moore paint store, there is a. Binder in the store that says Maria Killam's perfect whites. And you might have one in your store too. So you're going to have to keep an eye out and tell me if you do, but let's dive into this interview with Maria.

  Okay. As a color lover, I am just so, so impressed with your work and your talent for breaking down a topic that can be very intimidating. I think for many everyday women and even designers. So I'm so honored that you're joining us today and I can't wait to unpack some color strategy and design strategy for our [00:10:00] listeners.

Maria Killam: [00:10:00] That's awesome. I'm so thrilled to be here.

Cara Newhart: [00:10:02] Yes. Thank you. So just to get started, can you share a little bit maybe about your background and how you became a color expert?

Maria Killam: [00:10:11] Well, I was in corporate in my twenties and when I hit my early thirties, I decided I had to be creative or die. So.  I had been, I had been doing redesign, which is what we called it back then for my friends and family for years. And I decided to start my own you know, one day design kind of redesign business.

And so I put an ad in the yellow pages because that's what we did back then. And the ad said, we use what you have to create affordable, incredible interiors. And then at the bottom I wrote expert color consultation. well the ad worked. And one day I received this call from this woman and she said, you know,I'm trying to pick a beige for my living room.

And I'm looking at all these beiges and I see that some have pink undertones and some have [00:11:00] green undertones. Can you help me with that? And I said, absolutely. And I had no idea what she was talking about. Well, I decided I better figure this out. So I found a five day color course in San Francisco and I flew down and did that course and fell madly in love with color.

And when I came home, I decided I was going to be an internationally known color consultant. And I literally wrote it on a sticky note and stuck it up on my mirror. And

Cara Newhart: [00:11:27] Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I love that. So, so much,

Maria Killam: [00:11:31] So then I kind of suffered kind of, you know, not really suffered, but I put in my time I worked in a paint store. I mixed paint colors. You know, I talked to people about paint about their colors when they'd come in  and then I did lots of color consultations and I started using big samples.

Cause that's one of the things that I learned in my course she would paint up a large, like five foot by five foot sample for everyone. Well, I couldn't do that. So I paint, I started painting up smaller sample boards [00:12:00] and that's kind of how I, that's how I discovered the world of undertones and beiges cause I was never happy with just kind of walking into a house and giving everyone a go-to color

I really wanted to understand like what the right color was. And , I wasn't satisfied until I could walk into any house and know exactly what the color should be so

Cara Newhart: [00:12:18] yeah, that's amazing. So, cause we talk a lot about on this show about how to use color bravely and intentionally in your space. But I think that that usually results in people heading straight to like the color section of the paint wall to explore these different hues. But you have this concept of like the 80 20 rule when it comes to paint colors.

Can you kind of. Break that down a little and give us some insight

Maria Killam: [00:12:41] What I teach people, you know, it's kind of, I'm definitely the neutral in terms of being able to choose the right neutral queen, but I also believe that, you know, color is way more timeless than the current trendy neutral, which is why my house is colorful, which is why I have a yellow sofa, because [00:13:00] you would not be able to.

Nailed down when the sofa arrived in my house, but from the Brown trend, you know, right now that sofa would look 20 years, like it was 20 years old sitting in your house. Like there's nothing wrong with them, but it's about when people choose the same trendy neutral over and over again. I mean, brown is coming back.

I mean, you know, I just had a friend the other day send me a beautiful Brown sofa from restoration hardware that she's thinking about buying,  and. So back in terms of like it's in small doses, just like all the other colors are. And now of course, black and white is here.

And then when the gray trend was here, everyone bought a gray sofa. But then they also bought, gray, everything else. They painted their kitchens, gray, they paint, you know, that all of it's, every single choice that people make inside of a trend tends to be the same thing over and over.

And then that's why, when you walk into your house with charcoal, you know, hardwood floors in  gray sofa, grey tile.  Now you're starting to feel like  now you're in a trend so I really [00:14:00] believe that you know, white, a white kitchen is totally timeless because you can change up the colors whenever you want.

I believe that accent tiles should be used extremely sparingly. to use it at all.

Cara Newhart: [00:14:14] absolutely.

Maria Killam: [00:14:15] And and really, you know, I, favorite story that I tell truly is in my live workshops is when the Ritz in Paris did their $400 million renovation a few years ago.  There's nothing neutral about that hotel.

I mean, it is like, there's the pink room that Vogue loves so much. They did a spread and then there's the turquoise. Yeah. Red room and then there's the blue and white lobby. And I mean, you

Cara Newhart: [00:14:42] Yeah.

Maria Killam: [00:14:42] When will that hotel need to be renovated? When everything is threadbare, right?

But then you go into any other hotel and you know exactly. Oh, this is a Brown hotel. This is a grey hotel. I mean, down when it was within the last five years when it was decorated.

Cara Newhart: [00:14:59] Absolutely. So [00:15:00] it's not necessarily that color. Isn't the place to start, like the bright hues. It's just that you have to give thought to like the neutrals you're pairing with them. And there has to be  on that side.

Maria Killam: [00:15:10] So many people think that color is the first light paint color is the first place to start. It doesn't really matter people think that, you know, if I just nailed down the color, well, then it'll all come together and usually picking your favorite color to paint your house, that's just not the place to start.  Because the paint stores, that's the advice you get, right. They're like, what colors are you drawn to like, what colors make you happy?

But if you,  move into a Tuscan house, for example, and you try to stick white in that tusk in house, it's not going to work  if you're not doing any renovations, or try to put in like some really bright colors, because that's the trend as well. So. People have to understand that you have to look at your fixed elements, like the things that are already existing in your house.

That's the first place to look on your sort of main neutral is going to [00:16:00] be, because that's what everyone's looking for, you know, for the most part. And then your colors can be more like in your powder room or your office or your bedrooms. Like that. But usually now, I mean, the trend is, well, the trend is white.

But raise your cream or something really, really paled. So you know, I mean, I think that we couldn't go back to beige quite yet because we did beige during the Brown trend. Right. So

Cara Newhart: [00:16:26] Right.

Maria Killam: [00:16:27] white feels the freshest, which is why that's what everybody wants right now. And I just, you know, it's funny because somebody had just posted.

On a Facebook page oh I, you know,  both my neighbors beside me have a white house, but I wanted a white house to, what can I do to make a different?

Cara Newhart: [00:16:42] Right, right.

Maria Killam: [00:16:44] I've never seen a trend be so like you drive through these white neighborhoods now

Cara Newhart: [00:16:50] Yes. We have one link down the road from us. Every house is white, black and white.  but I think that's really important to unpack for the listeners that like picking one [00:17:00] color isn't necessarily the starting point. There's so much more that you have to build off of and look at first. And I know one of the core parts of what you do is to help people understand undertones in addition to your design work

but in terms of the everyday girl, who's going to the paint store for neutrals. She's feeling overwhelmed by all these like very subtly different shades. Can you talk to us about undertones in terms of like a very basic understanding of them? I know you have like an entire color wheel, which we can talk about as well, but just kind of like 101

Maria Killam: [00:17:30] Right now, most people are. Looking at the palest of shades. And so a distinction that I've just added to my white is complicated. Ebook is about complex creams, because if you don't have like a newly renovated home or  you're not dealing with like a new build brand new house. you know, your house probably can't, you probably can't pull off like an art gallery [00:18:00] white. So you need to be looking at the three palest of beiges. And in my system, you know, the beiges are pink, beige yellow, beige green beige, and then there's orange beige and there's gold beige.

So really there's five beige. But the three that I just mentioned are the most sort of the most popular, but so you're, so you're basically looking at the palest of all those colors   but what makes my system so great is that once you understand what, like, I mean, the reason why my color boards, I only have, you know, I have 50 color boards in my core.

Benjamin Moore collection or my Sherman Williams foundation is that once you have those 50 colors and they're also found in my eBooks as well,  you can actually narrow down , your neutrals from my curated list, like you're going to find the right neutral from that list.

So you don't need thousands and thousands of colors or whites that  people are looking at, You can just narrow it down from my curated list. And that just makes it a lot easier. So if you are dealing with sort of a house that was built still like in the [00:19:00] nineties, in the Tuscan trend and you haven't renovated  art gallery white is not the right color for your house.

You probably need something more in the realm of a cream. But you know, I think that the pitfall of the black and white trend right now is that I think a lot of people think , eh,  its white, how hard can that be?  But  then we get emails where people say, Oh, my white went green or, Oh, like, I liked it in this room, but I don't like it in this room.

Probably because  most people don't have like stark white furniture either. Right? So you paint your S your walls, like a stark white, and you don't have any white in your house. Well, then it looks wrong. Now you're not going to be as offended by the wrong white as you are by the wrong beige or the wrong So that's the good thing I guess, is that, you know, it's not going to make you run to the paint store as fast as you would have to put up the wrong grey.

Cara Newhart: [00:19:57] Absolutely. Yeah. I love this because I think with [00:20:00] DIY design, it's important to have like a frame of reference and some sort of like system that you can lean on because then you're not designing and a void. You're not making the wrong choice multiple times before you finally get it. Right. And I know that.

Part of that not designing and a void is yeah. What you've talked about, like looking at some of the existing features of your house and something that I think you talk about on your blog is how, like, undertones, obviously don't apply just to paint. But different elements in your space have different undertones.

And so when those conflict things can start to look mismatched or not cohesive what are some of the things in our rooms that we should look for in like, identify. The undertones of, in order to kind of match up, you know, what we're painting the wall

Maria Killam: [00:20:43] Like most people aren't dealing with like a complete blank slate in their home. So the place to look in your kitchen would be like, what color is your tile? And what color is your countertop? And what color is your backsplash to try to find. Common, you know, undertone that you can [00:21:00] choose that will pull it all together and, make it work.

I mean, I've even just been in dated bathrooms. I mean, I have made many, a dated bathroom look amazing just by picking. The  cabinet color that relates to the countertop and the wall relates to the tile,  bathroom that somebody was just like hated and wanted to immediately rip out.

But couldn't afford to suddenly by choosing the right colors, you're like, Oh right. Styling a little, you know, some lamps.

Cara Newhart: [00:21:33] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So your color wheel, like if the DIY designer, obviously you have like a whole system attached to it, but this is something you're using throughout this space. And like you're actually putting it on things to see like

Maria Killam: [00:21:47] absolutely. If you want it down the right neutral. Now the thing that I should mention,  is that the printing process has never a hundred percent accurate. I mean, in actual fact, Every paint chip that you're looking at from the paint store or fan deck has [00:22:00] actually been painted.

It's not, it's not a

Cara Newhart: [00:22:03] Yeah.

Maria Killam: [00:22:03] printed chip. So because my color wheel is printed. I have a list of. Three paint companies  so what I recommend is that you get those color chips and that you glue them down onto the color wheel when it arrives and then you can move it around and actually distinguish like what's the undertone of my tile and, you know, so that you can figure out what the right neutral is.

Cara Newhart: [00:22:25] I guess I didn't realize that painting would have that much variance, but there's definitely a difference.

So that's a really, really interesting fact for people when it comes to matching. Yeah. So when it comes to all these different undertones, are we trying to match and coordinate everything? Or is there situations where we're intentionally like contrasting?

Maria Killam: [00:22:45] No, not generally, usually with neutral, you're looking for, you want your wall color to pull your space together. So you're looking for what are the neutrals in the room that are going to relate to my paint color mean [00:23:00] you're creating continuity. And so it's different from like, you know, Oh, I have like a purple sofa, you know  what kind of what kind of accent color am I going to put in here?

So, but when you're choosing a neutral, you're looking always at,  you're looking at your carpet and what color is my drapery , my sofa, and my tile. And, you know, you're looking at all those elements already. So that's the first place to look, and those are the best, best clues

Cara Newhart: [00:23:25] I obviously love to DIY, but I think there's something to be said for really knowing your limits and knowing when to call in a professional , but not only that, I think design decisions obviously build off of each other.

So when you make a design choice, that's not right. It can throw off all the rest of the future decisions for that space. So what are some indicators that you might need to bring in a designer into your space or a color expert, and really kind of get clarity when you're trying to diy

Maria Killam: [00:23:54] I I mean, that's a good question because it really depends on, you know, everyone's at [00:24:00] different levels. You know, some people buy my book and they're just off to the races. They're like, okay. Oh my gosh. I have been like, people think I'm crazy. Cause I see all these, you know, I get it. And you know, and they're off to the races and, and then other,  some people are even more confused and.

But there are a lot of people that they get so far in their renovation or their decorating project and they realize, okay, so now I've made a bunch of mistakes and then they call in the color expert or the decorator hoping that paint color can magically fix it. Well, I mean, sometimes it can, but there are a lot of times where, you know, There's not, there's no magic here.

You know, like you now have to start ripping something out in order to, to, to get the result that you want. So it's hard to say where the you are here. Button is. I think that [00:25:00] I think you have to kind of look at your history of decorating and if you've never been totally happy with, your space and you find, you actually find a decorator.

A color expert who you resonate with their advice. I mean, DIY advice, which is what you get inside of an edesign package, for example, the cheapest part of the project. You know, I mean, because now you're going to get your colors right now. You know what color your sofas should be now you are, or if you're renovating your bathroom now you've got new now, you know, like what color is countertop my tile, what's the most classic and timeless kitchen classic and timeless bathroom, you know, that's, that's what I, that's what I pitched. That's my aesthetic. I mean, not everyone resonates with that. I mean  I'm sure lots of people that hit my website and think, wow, this girl has zero creativity because all she ever talks about is subway tile.

And yes, that is that's exactly right. And so if that not thing, and you want to put in that exciting, [00:26:00] you know,backsplash then,  you're probably gonna read a different blog and that's fine. You know, we all have our niche and there's enough room for everybody.

Cara Newhart: [00:26:08] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I personally totally resonate with your style, so I feel the fear of pattern tile, but I think that for a lot of people, a lot of listeners, this is going to be very like freeing in a sense, because you don't have to make all those difficult design decisions, whether it's because you don't have an eye for it, or you just like work a full-time job and you want to like do the projects, but not have to be.

Bogged down with all the design.

  Maria Killam: [00:26:36] One of the biggest foundations of my work really is that the right color is always achieved through. Comparing that is how you get there. I mean, I just had, I had someone email me cause they're, they're installing wood look tile, and he sent me five different links and I immediately nixed two of them because they were too pink [00:27:00] the other three.

I immediately stuck them onto you know, put them all on like a PowerPoint presentation. So that now I could compare all three that I have sort of narrowed it down to and narrow. You can actually make a decision. Cause you're comparing one, that's a little more yellow. Okay. This one's more pink. This one's more green.

You know, this one has some knots in it. Maybe I liked that more countrified look, better decision because now you're comparing. So that's really. The biggest way to get color. Right.

Cara Newhart: [00:27:33] Yeah. I think that's so powerful because I think when you compare things, you really know why things are a yes. And why things are a no, like you have a clear reason, like, yeah, it is too blue or it's too whatever, or there's not enough this. And so knowing why you're making these decisions, it's like, yeah, the foundation of design, you have to be.

Intentional. And I think, yeah, when people try to design in a void or just kind of pick up things here and there without [00:28:00] really doing that comparison work, that's when the space doesn't really turn out as, as well as it could have So it's something I really like is that you're publishing content in tandem of actually doing all of this work. And what I really really noticed about your blog that I thought was kind of amazing is that you have all these real world examples of spaces where you're writing a post and you're diagnosing them and breaking down like different design choices for these actual spaces about how to improve them.

I think it's so important because it's not like designing a space from scratch. It's the type of design most people are doing where it's. Redesigning an existing space that yeah. Has all those things to play off of. So do you have any advice, obviously color is not the like magic bullet, but like how do you use color?

Not to fix a space, but more to like update and refresh a space that is kind of, older

Maria Killam: [00:28:49] Yeah, color colors Def. I mean, I don't want to say that color is not a magic bullet because it absolutely can be in many cases, but

Cara Newhart: [00:28:58] Okay. Yeah.

Maria Killam: [00:28:59] of the [00:29:00] context of color not being magic was. Earlier, what I was saying was that when people have gone too far making the wrong, right, and now now a paint color, isn't going to fix it.

So that's kind of what we're finding out. There's lots of cases where a paint color absolutely can create magic. And I think that when you're refreshing an older space, for example, like like a Tuscan, I mean, every, like, you know, people that are still obviously living in a Tuscan interior, and now they move to something fresher.

I mean, that's just, that's basically all we do all day long is talk about here's, how to move your entire space to a fresher, lighter, brighter colors. So if you have a Tuscan house, you can't, you can't paint your walls like a stark. White, because that will look completely wrong. So that's when you need to do you, you know, you need a really, really pale, pale green beige That's still going to give [00:30:00] you that fresh look because you're going probably from gold beige walls or, you know, all those much more dramatic colors that we were doing in the tusk and trend. And then of course now, Now the grey trend. People are moving from their gray walls, their mid-tone gray walls to white as well.

So so basically my advice on moving colors to fresher would just be to, to no kidding. Look at my curated colors and just. And line up all of the palest, greiges the palest beiges. And if you find them up in your, you know, wherever you're looking for to find the paint color, one of them is gonna look better than the rest of them.

Cara Newhart: [00:30:40] Okay. Yeah, that's a good, good little tip. So I, what I like about your style is that there is like this sense of timelessness and we're not like chasing trends, but you do really incorporate a lot of like this freshening up and this embracing of trends.

Can you, can we just talk about like color trends and kind of how we've moved through that, like [00:31:00] beige gray to now white, like how, how that is kind of happened.

Maria Killam: [00:31:05] Definitely people. I'm still giving people what, I mean, you know, people are looking for white, so I'm giving them, it's not like I'm telling people that will know you have to pay your walls like blue or green or something. But what I, but my, the world of timeless that I'm, that I'm always teaching is really just to.

Stay away from making every single choice. Like, you know, like even, even now with the, with the black, black, and white trend here, what people are doing is every single fixture in their bathroom or their kitchen is black. Like all their faucets are black So if you have a white, if you have a white bathroom and you, and you have a glass shower

and everything is black. It's really stark. Like, it's just, it jumps around to all these, you know, your black shower, fixture and just all that.  Black, gets harsh and heavy, [00:32:00] really fast and masculine my best advice on, on all the black fixtures that are out there now that everyone's installing in their house. Like everybody's putting in like, all of their hardware's black.

Faucets everything. And so you can still incorporate a little bit of black, but just like use it sparingly and then repeat it once. And that's really all you need to do.

Cara Newhart: [00:32:24] That's a good strategy. So another thing you talk about is bossy elements, which I love that they're called that, but like when it comes to design, can you give us some insight into like, what would be a bossy element and how to kind of determine these driving things in your space

Maria Killam: [00:32:39] Yeah. I mean, if you move into a house that has you know, step stone fireplace or  a dated brick. Blotchy fireplace. Like for example, when my sister and her husband moved into their current house, the family room had this really bad red, black, and white, blotchy [00:33:00] brick fireplace. And I said, well, we need to paint this white.and her husband said,  No,

it looks like no. So, I mean, we eventually, when we redid that room, we actually, we did paint it white, but had we not painted it white, it would have competed really bossed around the color scheme because it was orange, know, and we were decorating orange that whole, that whole room ended up being like a, you know, Navy and pink and turquoise.

So orange fireplace had no place there. So That's when, you know, th those are the bossy elements, really that, and, and a lot of people think even with, with regards to fireplaces is that, well, if I have a brick fireplace, the next upgrade is to put in a stacked  stone fireplace. But what a lot of people don't realize is you're still bringing in a bossy color that you have to work around that.

I mean, and that might be fine if you put in a gray [00:34:00] stacked fireplace, because you're decorating with gray, that's all fine and great. Until like in that trend, but then when you want to update, maybe you don't want to decorate with gray anymore. Now you're still stuck with that gray fireplace. Chalk paint, of course can fix that.

But but my advice is to not, to not go there in the first place to try to keep your finishes, your hard finishes more neutral

Cara Newhart: [00:34:21] Yeah. So other examples would be like your hardwood floors. Maybe if they're skewed more orangy, like you could. Yeah, you can't really magic bullet paint a color on the wall. You have to like re yeah, I guess, restructure thathue in order to be able to change the

Maria Killam: [00:34:37] I would say that. I would, I think it would bother me more if I had charcoal hardwood floors over, over, I mean, unless they're really orange, I guess.

Cara Newhart: [00:34:48] Right,

Maria Killam: [00:34:49] But  my director of edesign is looking for a house right now and she, she says house after house, after house is just filled with gray floors and.

No, you're decorating with gray [00:35:00] forever. I mean, you know,

Cara Newhart: [00:35:02] Right, right,

Maria Killam: [00:35:03] there's nothing neutral about that gray floor. So, and that's fine. I mean, you don't, it's not like you're married to like gray on gray, on gray with that, but you just have to be aware that you should repeat that gray somewhere so that your floors don't look completely wrong.

Cara Newhart: [00:35:17] Yeah, sure. Hard question, but you obviously have a vast experience of design knowledge and color knowledge. And I know that there's stuff that I don't know what I don't know. So is there any piece of this color design puzzle that I'm missing that you kind of want to touch on?

Maria Killam: [00:35:34] I mean, going back to what I was talking about at the beginning of this conversation, which is to to really think about. What you want to put in there first, like, look for that art. That might be the starting point or pillows. I find actually, I mean, every decorator talks about pillows, throw pillows, being something everybody needs, but I've actually found in [00:36:00] my years of helping people create an inspiration starting point that like art is hard for a lot of people in actual fact, you know?

So, but a throw pillow, like a trendy throw pillow is. Easy to fall in love with, and you're not. However, it can also be a really good starting point for a color scheme because millions of rugs out there . I mean, your eyes can just glaze over so quick, just looking at rugs after rugs, after rugs, and then whether it's the carpet companies throw in all their dated and old rugs too.

And so you're waiting to throw all these ugly rugs in order to try to find.

Cara Newhart: [00:36:37] Yes. Oh my gosh. I wondered what that was about. Like, are these still in style? Cause it is just pages of stuff.

Maria Killam: [00:36:44] them still. Right.

Cara Newhart: [00:36:46] Yes.

Maria Killam: [00:36:47] So my advice would, I mean, Etsy is a place where I've found many great pillows because, you know, in great designer fabrics, but they they'll take like an, a more expensive designer fabric. Maybe just put it on one side of the [00:37:00] pillow. So you're not paying for that extra yardage, but you still get that great designer pillow.

So. My advice would be to, to, if you're really sort of looking for a starting point, you're wanting to decorate your bedroom or your living room,  those two spaces are a really good place to start because they're small.

They're not, they're not expensive and it's easy to go. Hey, I like that pillow and then build a, a palette around that.

Cara Newhart: [00:37:27] Absolutely. Yeah, that is a really good tip. So not only were we looking for something to fall in love with like a, a pillow is like a good, good, such a good place to look. Cause it is like small, easy, and I fall in love with pillows all the time. So this is really resonating with me because I have loved many in a throw pillow.

So you have so many resources that we could connect people with. What do you feel like in terms of like products or posts on your blog would be a good next step for this conversation? If listeners want to get on

Maria Killam: [00:37:57] Oh, well probably both my eBooks, [00:38:00] how to choose paint colors. It's all in the undertones. And then the other one is white as complicated a decorator's guide to choosing the right white. So one will teach you about undertones and then the other one will teach you about how to choose the right white for anything in your home, whether it's cabinets or trim or walls like that.

And then my blog is a huge resource. I mean, I've been writing it for 12 years over. Oh my gosh, I haven't looked lately, but there's probably somewhere in the realm of like 1700 posts on my blog.

Cara Newhart: [00:38:29] Yeah. Yeah.

Maria Killam: [00:38:30] and start clicking on the tags, like understanding undertones then you can really start to understand that you're not crazy. You color underneath color that you just weren't aware of. And now you need to get them all lined up so that you can see them all. So, yeah.

Cara Newhart: [00:38:49] Well, that's amazing. Cause then there's two really strong next steps. Like if you are just like a DIY or at heart, you want to do it all yourself, you get the eBooks and you at least have like an education, a place to [00:39:00] start where you know what you're working with. And then if you are. Busy or less of a design eye and you kind of want more done with you things, then you can go like the edesign route and kind of get that set up.

That's perfect. So where can everyone connect with you online?

Maria Killam: [00:39:15] So Maria is my. Is my website and my blog. And most of my social media is at Maria Killam.

Cara Newhart: [00:39:24] Perfect. Thank you so much for coming on today and giving us your time and all your amazing, amazing

Maria Killam: [00:39:30] for having me.

Cara Newhart: [00:39:30] Of course.

Hashtag obsessed.

So what I'm obsessed with this week, I can just hear all of you whispering under your breath, please. Not another light fixture. It's not, it's something totally different. So this week I'm obsessed with my brand new baby air compressor. And when I say baby, I just mean that it's little and cute and it runs off batteries and I can lift it around, carried around the house with one arm. [00:40:00]

I got an air compressor and a nail gun to go with it and it was my very first time ever using a pneumatic air gun. So I had been using the Ryobi like battery powered one. Which honestly has gotten me through like two and a half years of DIY.

So it can kind of pack a punch. Like I've built all kinds of crazy things with it, but I was doing this Oak accent wall in the podcast studio and Oak is a lot harder than pine. So I was struggling to get the nails to go through long story short. I bought a compressor and nail gun and the compressor is like so small and cute, which is not usually what you look for in a power tool.

But I'm loving this because it can go all around the house. It's not super heavy dragging it out is actually not that hard because it runs off batteries and it was honestly less intimidating to use because. For the first time I've ever used an air compressor, all the giant ones for some reason were very intimidating compared to this.

Anyway, I did a whole like tutorial of [00:41:00] exactly how to use the air compressor, covering all of the basics in under five minutes.  I went from super intimidated about air compressors and pneumatic air tools to being confident and having this be my very favorite tool ever in just one day.

And I want to help you guys have the same transformation if you've ever been considering an air tool, the compressors under 150 bucks. And the gun that I got was like 80 ish dollars, if that helps. So I will link it all in the show notes and go check it out. If you're interested in making this leap with me.

Time to talk trends.

Okay. the trend we'retalking about this week is fluting. So fluting consists of shallow grooves running along a surface. The best picture I can put in your head is a column. Those really classic columns where they're kind of like scallopini around not totally smooth, right? That's what fluting is. So fluting is back in a big way.

You've probably seen this on Instagram. If you're tapped into the design community and the [00:42:00] classic texture for fluting is actually concave. So it's like dipped in grooves. We're seeing this on the front of furniture, the front of cabinets, even accent walls. But a lot of people are achieving this look.

In a really unique way, and that is by lining up dowels. So this actually isn't traditional fluting since the fluting is like scooped in. If that makes sense, like concave and the dowels kind of give it that bumped out texture, but it still looks really similar. It's very art deco. I'm a huge fan. And so if you want to rock this, basically you can get a bunch of dowels or they actually sell trim.

That's essentially like half of a dowel with a flat back and a curved front and you line all those up, glue them or use nail trim if you're doing a wall. And it's a really beautiful texture because for 2021. We're in love with texture, for sure. But I wanted to share a little hack for rocking this trend.

And if you paid [00:43:00] attention to my guest bedroom makeover, you might've seen the barn doors I made that do not look like barn doors at all. They're very modern and very sleek because we all know I am not a fan of farmhouse, but what I used for these is something called pole wrap. So it is essentially a lot of little skinny, like fluting pieces, all put together on this.

Piece of paper so that it can bend kind of like, I don't know if you guys I've had those weird snakes growing up that were like wooden and they had all those notches and they could bend. It's sort of that vibe if you know what I'm talking about, but if you don't, it's just all these skinny, almost like Popsicle stick sized.

Pieces of wood all lined up on this paper and it bends and can wrap around a pole. So essentially what it's used for is if you have a basement, you have a gross metal pole, you can take this wood trim and wrap it in a circle around the pole and it will give it the look of a column. So it will make it look fluted, but it turns [00:44:00] out it's really, really amazing to use for all kinds of things.

The fronts of furniture. My barn doors, you could use it on a wall and you don't have to line up every individual piece. You get like a few pieces at once. You can cut it really easily with a miter saw, just all rolled up and you could, would glue it on. I used nails for my barn door, but pole wrap is the hack to fluting.

If you don't want to do a bunch of individual pieces, you're wanting amazing texture. So try it out. Let me know what you think. And you have to send pictures if you, if you test this in your space. Cause I want to see how it turns out. And if it worked for you.

   Cara Newhart: [00:44:38] Don't forget to connect with Maria on social and get plugged into some of her amazing resources that will help you be a neutral color queen. And if you're not already, you need to get it together and follow me on Instagram. That's where the party happens. Every day, it's where you can see me do all of my projects and DM me with your questions and your spaces and all of that fun stuff.

So [00:45:00] hop over to Instagram type in neverskipbrunch and follow me so we can be friends there and talk more than just once a week.

thanks for listening. If this is your first time listening in, be sure to hit that subscribe button so you can stay in the loop with the newest episodes. If you're a subscriber and you like the show, be sure to rate, review or screenshot and share your favorite episode on social.

p.s. This post may contain affiliate linking for your convenience. These links don’t cost extra for you to use + I always share my honest opinion.

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I'm Cara, the designer & diy queen behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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