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Press for Maria Killam Colour and Design

Advice from a Celebrity Decorator

By 09/26/2011April 17th, 201825 Comments
I was so happy to be included in House Beautiful’s “The Last Words” October 2011 issue. It should have said “Have,” not “Had,” but I’ll take it 🙂 It was so great that this happened to be their “Happiness Starts Here” issue.


My mention is #10 (above lower right). I really did have the last word as it’s on the very last page as well! Thanks House Beautiful.

In this issue, Jeffrey Bilhuber (love him) gave some decorating advice from his latest book. I especially loved this advice:

“Decorating is about the big picture. If you say ‘I’d like a pink lamp,’ and I just go get a pink glazed ceramic lamp, you should fire me. What a decorator does is bring you a blue and white Delft lamp and say, “This would look perfect in a pink room.”  Jeffrey Bilhuber


For example, when I ask my clients what colour sofa they are considering, they quite often say “charcoal” but they never end up with one if they hire me because my goal is to give people confidence to surround themselves with colours that make them happy.

“In Decorators Math, 1 + 1 = 3. The objects we bring together add up to more than just a bunch of things. When you hire me, you hire a decorator, not a resourcer.” Jeffrey Bilhuber

When you hire a good decorator, all the elements of the above also add up to atmosphere.

Recently I arrived with two crystal lamps for a living room which just had the soft furnishings installed along with two sofa tables on either side of the mantle. It was the end of the day and as soon as I plugged in the lamps the husband said, “I think we should sit in here right now and have a glass of wine.” It was the first time this couple had ever hired a decorator so he had to celebrate the feeling that was suddenly in the space in that instant.

That is my favourite part of every installation!

I recently received this email from a reader who wanted some advice in getting the right white to get a “Somethings Gotta Give” kitchen.  What he said wraps up this post best:

“It has become obvious to me that there is so much more to making a house look great than trying to match a color. Every house has different color woods, furniture, fabrics, art, carpets, etc. and that kitchen might not be ideal for my house or anyone else’s.

The Somethings Gotta Give house works the way it does because everything there complements the whole. And a great deal of sophisticated work went into making it look that way. In the end it might be worth it to have an expert come in and pull it all together for me, even though I have a lower-end house. Let me know when you are coming to Seattle.”

Somethings Gotta Give (source)

This reader got what Jeffrey is saying — 1 + 1 = 3.

And I know, the other big challenge is in finding the right designer with an aesthetic you like! I talked about this here in my post about white vs. brown kitchens.

What was your best “aha” moment working with a designer?

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

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

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Related posts:

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

Atmosphere; The One Thing you Cannot Buy

Is Hiring a Designer a Luxury or Necessity?

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  • Anonymous says:

    Excellent! And the comment makes sense, you had it covered in fabric! Not you had the sofa.

  • Elizabeth Brown says:

    That's wonderful, Maria. You deserve it.

  • Paula Doelling-Lynn says:

    Bravo! Congrats on House Beautiful. This is a "I'm Maria Killam and owning my professional advice" – great job.

  • Leone says:

    Imagine my surprise while looking through HB and seeing your happy sofa. It was so fun seeing you and your happy sofa featured in one of my favorite reads.

  • Tammy@InStitches says:

    I was so excited to see you and some of my other favorite bloggers in the HB article !

  • Mary says:

    Congrats on making it into House Beautiful!
    I would LOVE to hire a designer.
    I have wasted so much money trying to do it myself. It usually ends up not how I envisioned & then I have to replace or re-do things.
    I have tried to explain this to my husband to justify the expense of a designer, but he always says "The house looks fine. We don't need one."
    I'm not looking for "fine". I want AMAZING!!!

  • Inês Pereira @Perfect-home says:

    Congratulations and keep being so inspiring.
    A huge fan from Portugal.

    [email protected]

  • Dovecote Decor says:

    I'm glad you got the last word. Congrats Maria!

  • Tara Dillard says:

    Always cringe when someone says, "…even though I have lower end house."

    Good design is for EVERYONE.

    My favorite landscapes to do are the awful brick ranches ca. 1960.

    And, quite dispiriting to see a million dollar home with great paint, brick, blah-blah & stupid cheap urns by the front door.

    Who cares about the rest of the home, or who lives there? Me? I don't want to meet them. Work for them, yes!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • Christina Rodriguez | The Diva's Home says:

    What Jeffrey Bilhuber said was so true. If someone wants a certain color lamp, they don't need a designer to buy one. If they want a certain look that the lamp represents, a designer's input will definitely make the difference between ok and amazing! Congrats on the HB quote, Maria!

  • Luciane at says:

    Congrats, Maria.

    I'm happy (truly happy) for you! 🙂

    Have a blessed week.


    Luciane at

  • Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} says:

    GO Maria!

  • Ideezine says:


    You have grown and stretched in such wonderful creative ways. When my clients ask how to learn more about color I refer them to your blog. It's current information and user friendly. Glad to see things are growing more. So excited to see what's new.


  • Susan Seale says:

    Yeah, Maria!!

    I love your happy sofa:) and I'm happy for you.

    Having had your help with my first music studio eons ago, I know how amazing it is to have advice from a pro. Parents still talk about that music space because it just felt so warm and friendly with all the little touches and suggestions you made.

    Many years later I hired a designer to help me choose a few things for my tiny galley kitchen. (You had moved off the island so not available.) She was so confident it helped me feel confident about my choices.

    Hiring help is never a waste. It seems to save time, energy, money and give much happiness in return.

  • Coley says:

    Congrats on being featured! You deserve it 🙂

  • Brillante says:

    Great post and congratulations for HB mention. We lived through the changes in your living room, so we know well that sofa 🙂

  • kathi123 says:

    It was such a fun surprise to see your comment and picture of your sofa in HB! love,love,love the De Gournay askew wallpaper on the cover-my daughter wanted to put it in her dining room-yikes, we are delusional,she can't afford it-so she is hiring a local artist to paint a similar one on her walls!

  • kristie@thedecorologist says:

    Woohoo!!! Congratulations, Maria! I just picked up House Beautiful yesterday, and haven't gotten to the Last Words yet – gonna run go check it out. Way to go – keep on keeping on, you are a STAR 🙂

  • MicheleB says:

    Congratulations Maria. I haven't made it all the way through HB issue but now I will put my laptop down and check it out. I did read Jeffrey Bilhuber's comments and thought they were right on!

  • sabrymagic says:

    Ciao Maria mi unisco a te come follower,che belle queste immagini,complimenti!!

  • AB HOME Interiors says:

    I swear to holy heaven I cannot wait for your new site. It seems like centuries since you started putting it together!

    Congrats on House Beautiful! I have been getting a lot of great press with the Southern Living house and for the first time in a long time people are actually calling me from it! Two years ago I got the cover of a mag and not a single call!! Hope HB brings you tons!!

  • kelly@refresheddesigns. says:

    Congrats on your House Beautiful mention! And I LOVE that sunflower yellow. Great work!

  • Ideezine says:


    You deserve all of this and I am so happy for you.


  • Victoria says:

    I saw your quote in my new issue of House Beautiful and was thrilled that you are making your mark on the design world with your vibrant, colorful style. You are always a breath of fresh air and can’t wait for more!

  • Maria, I’m so happy for you and proud of you for making it on HB. You certainly deserve it..though I would have put you at the top…just sayin’. :o) (What are friends for?)

    I LOVE yellow too..especially that sofa. Tim on the other hand would prefer something a little quieter. I had to settle for pillows and curtains.

    What you say is so true! We ARE looking for a certain ‘look’ but THINK we want a certain colored something. It was amazing to me to see how quickly you helped us transform our livingroom from 80’s to current…with just a few tweaks.

    And you chose colors that were fresh and new without overwhelming our little ole’ house. That takes talent and insight. Something only a designer could do.

    Thanks Maria,

    PS. How ever did I miss this post? :o)

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