January 16, 2012

colour me happy … and a giveaway that will save you money!

*** this giveaway is closed.  congrats, agnes! ***

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I did not pay nearly enough attention to what may just be the most practical design book you’ll ever buy — How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones by celebrated designer and blogger Maria Killam.

You may remember that I attended Maria’s very first color class … and I came away from it a much more educated and confident designer.  Occasionally, I think there is a disconnect between interior designers and their clients.  As designers, we see something that needs to be done — and we just know it — but sometimes we lack the practical vocabulary to explain what we are seeing to someone who doesn’t have the training and experience that we do.  Maria’s simplified system for understanding color gave me a much better language to use when I explain to clients why one color works and another color doesn’t.

I’m also able to show my clients the difference … because I have approximately eighty large color samples that I have painted since returning from her class.  (Maria now sells sets of samples here.  Is it crazy that I really want one of her sets, too?)  As an interior designer, I am committed to ongoing professional training that allows me to grow in my profession and provide excellence to my clients.

Imagine a beautiful traditional brick home in a prestigious Charlotte neighborhood.  My clients were delighted to move in … ummmm, except for the fact that the existing paint choices made every inch of trim — crown moldings, baseboards, window casings and mullions — look peach.   Forget the cost of new paint.  Can you imagine the labor to repaint all of that? There is a reason that — with new construction — painters usually spray the moldings and worry about the walls and ceilings afterwards!   The happy ending is that we were able to change the wall colors throughout the house such that the trim now looks like the rich creamy color that it was — I hope — originally intended to be.

Another example is this lovely traditional home on which I consulted for a young couple.  The previous homeowners must have loved Band-Aid Beige; the new owners, not so much.  They consulted with me … and then used Kara with NavMak Enterprises, one of my favorite general contractors, to give the house a much-needed facelift.  Enjoy these “in progress” before and after photos. Unfortunately, these photos won’t give you a “true read” on all of the colors … but I think you’ll agree that the changes are definitely for the positive!

Of course, Maria’s class is also amazing for homeowners because — let’s be real — many people want to do it themselves.  Regardless, doesn’t everyone want to do it the right way … the first time?  There is not much that I find more frustrating than wasted time and money!  But — as fantastic as Maria’s class is … and you can sign up here if I’ve sold you on it! — it may not be practical for you to attend in person.

The happy ending for this story is that now you can buy her e-book, How to Choose Paint Colors: It’s All in the Undertones and learn her system right in the comfort of your own home.  It’s a great reference tool for designers and an invaluable resource for DIY homeowners.  In her book, you’ll learn the building blocks and principles of selecting paint colors — and how to train your eye to see color correctly.

I’ve already bought and downloaded the book for myself — and now I am going to give one of you the opportunity to win it!   Yep, this is the giveaway that will save you money … because you’ll choose the right color the first time and — once you’ve picked the right color that hideous tile you are dying to replace might not be quite so hideous.   Just ask the homeowner I saved from a pinky beige bathroom!

As a bonus, when you download How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones, you also get Maria’s Bonus Book of Colors.  Did you ever buy CliffsNotes when you were in school?  Then you need Maria’s Bonus Book of Colors.  It’s like a shortcut to the often overwhelming fan deck.   One reason that Farrow & Ball is so popular (and I do love their product) is because their color selection is already edited.  In short, they’ve not included the colors that just aren’t going to work 99.9% of the time.   Maria’s list does the editing for you — and breaks the colors up by undertones.

To enter the giveaway, just comment on this post.  The deadline is next Sunday, January 22.  I’ll draw a winner on Monday, January 23rd … and thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the lucky winner will be able to start reading it that evening!  For those of you who can’t wait — or don’t win — just download her book.  Now.  It’s worth every penny … and she even provides a money-back guarantee!

What’s the biggest color mistake you’ve ever made?

Book and sample board photos from MariaKillam.com.  House (in the same neighborhood as my clients) listed for sale here.  Progress photos courtesy of NavMak Enterprises.


  • Tammy@InStitches
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Maria is a genius when it comes to color. I have learned so much from reading her blog and would love to have her Ebook !
  • Jamie Scott
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Hi Traci, I've been reading yours and Maria's blog for sometime now. I would love to be entered into the drawing. BTW - I'm fairviewgirl.....the one you blogged about sometime ago. My husband and I were ebay sellers. Well.....he went off on a mid-life crisis of sorts. We separated. I let him keep my ebay name and continue selling while I just focused on my design business. He couldn't run the ebay stuff by himself and my account got suspended. Sad, sad thing. He's lost just about everything and doesn't have a job now. Don't know where his brain went....(well maybe I do....). Hopefully, we'll be divorced in a month or so. He was such a good person at one time and still is in many ways; I wish him the best....just not with me. We were married 30 years. I know you didn't want to hear all this. I hope you have a wonderful day. I'm looking forward to an amazing 2012! Thanks, Jamie
  • Teresa
    Jan. 16, 2012
    The worst color mistake that I have made is behr's oat straw. Looks awful and is in my entire living and kitchen area!
  • Jill
    Jan. 16, 2012
    My biggest color mistake has to be what is in my guest room now. It isn't terrible, but it certainly isn't what I had planned. I was looking for a soft gray, but the color turned out to be a little lavenderish!
  • Maria Killam
    Jan. 16, 2012
    What a fabulous post Traci! Thanks so much! xo Maria
  • Rebecca @ Beck’s Chic Life
    Jan. 16, 2012
    In my first home, I was so excited to start decorating that I picked colors for the bedrooms that were too dark. I went with a blue in the Master and a green in the guest bedroom, but they were a shade or two too dark. So instead of soothing and relaxing it was very childlike and bright! Excited for the giveaway!
  • momof5
    Jan. 16, 2012
    I love both of your blogs and have learned much from them both. I have wanted to attend Maria's class but live too far away so this would be AWESOME!!
  • Marianne Simon Design
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Yes!!! I would love to attended one of her classes and will be looking into it for this year. Besides, she's practically a neighbor, just a short drive to Vancouver. I would be honored to win your fabulous giveaway!
  • Stacy Naquin
    Jan. 16, 2012
    I bet Maria's new book is so fab & I'm excited to have purchased (and not labored for weeks ;) the set of large color samples!
  • Aubreylaine
    Jan. 16, 2012
    I would love to win! The biggest color mistake I made was YELLOW! I wanted a light creme color with a tint of yellow, but it came off bright YELLOW. it was awful. i repainted it brown :) littlegray88 at yahoo dot com
  • Sherri Cassara
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Hi Traci - I LOVE this post and also love Maria's book (I have it already so don't enter me in the drawing!). Reading Maria's blog (and now her book) has taught me so much about the 'whys' of paint selection. For me, it was one thing to know a color was right (or wrong) but to understand "why" it was or to be able to explain it to a client was not as easy. I agree, understanding the undertones is crucial. I also use large paint samples and they make such a difference (I just painted new boards for 2012: http://sherricassaradesigns.blogspot.com/2012/01/color-boards.html). The biggest paint mistake I have made (thankfully in my own home) was years ago and before I was in the design business. I did not understand the way a color in an adjoining room can affect the room you are painting and also how natural light (or lack of) can also affect the paint color. I chose two wonderful colors - one for my master bedroom and one for my master bath. Both looked great together on 'paper'. But the way the smaller bathroom and lack of natural light took the paint made it conflict with the bedroom walls and made both colors look 'off'. Then, I painted my samples directly on the wall and I think I had five layers before I got it right. Now I use the large boards so not only can I see how various light will affect the color, but also how the color in one room will relate to the color in an adjoining room. Thankfully I haven't made that mistake again.
  • Michele
    Jan. 16, 2012
    This looks like a fascinating book! The biggest color mistake I've made is ignoring "unchangeable" elements in a room. One of the bedrooms in my house has a Prussian blue carpet. I'm not crazy about it, so I went ahead and painted the room a neutral I liked, and used neutral bedding. But it didn't work with the blue. I am now re-doing the paint, and I'm going to embrace the carpet color and make sure it works everything, even if I don't like it! PS--When I moved into this house, the entire downstairs was painted Band-Aid Beige, just like the house you worked with! I repainted everything, and I blogged about the before and after. What a difference!
  • Cathy
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Hi Traci, Thank you for a wonderful post! I read both your blog and Maria's faithfully and would love to "get it right the first time!"
  • Delia
    Jan. 16, 2012
    What a wonderful giveaway. I would love to get a chance to win Maria's book, otherwise I'll definitely have to get it. I'm just delving into interior decorating and could use all the help I can get:-)
  • Gretchen
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Great contest prize! I enjoy reading your post. I have learned so much. I love reading Maria and Kelly as well. The biggest color mistake I feel I have made was ignoring advice from a colorist and going with a shade of gray in the kitchen that largely ignored the multi shades in my kitchen counter top (not granite). Have a good day!
  • rebecca
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Hi Traci, I've been reading your blog for a long time. You always post such beautiful pictures! I would love to be able to take Maria's class, but her book looks like the next best thing! Thanks for posting about it. Rebecca
  • Holly
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Oh my gosh...you must have read my mind with this or something Traci. I've been helping a friend who wanted brown on her walls. Well I haven't seen the house in person (yet) but I've offered to come out because I simply can't help choose colors in computer photographs. The two colors she chose were reading very red on the walls and the one looked muddy (not to mention the pinky beige on the walls currently, the pinky beige of the carpet, and the sage green slipcover that are all distracting from what the samples are really going to look like at the end of the day). So today I was obsessing about trying to find her the best color, and contemplating taking Maria's course but winning her e-book would be even better. I've definitely gotten better with seeing undertones but I still need about 10 boosts in my confidence to really feel good about it. A great giveaway!
  • Should your Paint Colours match your Logo? Yay or Nay | Maria Killam
    Jan. 16, 2012
    [...] works? Make sure you weigh in with your comments below! Many thanks to Traci Zeller who posted this review of my ebook on her blog today! She's also doing a giveaway of my ebook so click here to enter to win! Related [...]
  • Sherri
    Jan. 16, 2012
    I work with color all the time, just not in paint on walls. Even I have debated about buying Maria's color samples and the e-book. I love reading about all the color posts.
  • Ragland Hill Social by Gwen Driscoll
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Brilliant...think I need this. Hope you're well. Thanks for stopping by RHS always. You're the best!
  • Kathie Oleson
    Jan. 16, 2012
    Hi Traci, I found your blog though Maria's. I love to see the camaraderie and encouragement between the design bloggers. I would also love to have Maria's ebook, so please put my name in the hat!
  • Erin @ The Impatient Gardener
    Jan. 16, 2012
    I'd love win a copy of Maria's book!
  • Connie Tan
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Traci, I've just spent an hour going through your Facebook posts. Lots of great info and ideas. I'm going to Bookmark you and visit regularly. Please enter me in the draw for Maria's book. My biggest colour mistake was a yellow which had a distinct green undertone in the night light. It was as we were switching globes in Australia, and then someone suggested I could buy warm globes. Still not right. Had to get the painter to change it.
  • Roxana
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I am one of those that want to "do it themselves". And I will do it soon, since I am having my new apartment redecorated. So... yeah! I think I need this!! :-)
  • Lisa
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I would love a copy of Maria's eBook as I start picking out finishes for my new construction.
  • Karen
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Love Maria's web site.
  • Sherri Moore
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I have always playing with colors since I was a little girl. I loved getting a new box of crayons, playing with fan decks give me the same feeling of possibility. Maria is wonderful in her analysis of color and why it works. Thanks for the giveaway.
  • Stacy Schaefer
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Wonderful post -- and congratulations on convincing your clients to paint their natural wood trim! Maria's blog is an excellent resource. I often refer clients to her -- and would love her book. Maybe it will be the impetus I need to finally purchase an e-reader!
  • Monique
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I've been reading Maria's blog for a year or so. Even though I'm not a designer, her blog has been helpful to me. Thanks for this giveaway!
  • Cheryl Horn
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Hi Tracy, We have purchased a 50s cottage and are renovating it. This book would be so helpful to us. I enjoy reading about color but I obsess over making the right choices. Presently we are installing Thomasville kitchen cabnetry in a painted finish call 'cotton' which is a soft white. And we have refinished our oak flooring without any stain. I am considering painting the 'crab apple stone' fireplace a soft white even though that seems drastic. Thank you, I enjoy reading your blog often :) I find it very inspirational.
  • Karen In NC
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Thanks for the great giveaway. When I saw the house pic I thought it looked like my area, and surprise, it is. I've bookmarked your site and will certainly enjoy reading past posts. I found you through Maria's site. So nice to know there is someone in Charlotte that has this training. I've made many mistakes. I think the worst was selecting carpet for the entire house that had a pink undertone.
  • Jeanette Van Wicklen
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I bought Maria's large color samples and they've helped alot on jobs. You can also get large paint sample boards at BM, but the colors I need weren't always in stock or they don't carry all colors in their large paint samples. Maria has most of the popular colors in her samples she sells and it makes my job alot easier. Thanks Maria! And thanks Traci for the giveaway! xoxo
  • Rachel
    Jan. 17, 2012
    It is amazing what simple changes can do! I love the subtle difference changing the posts on the staircase shown above has made. And swapping the switch plate and taking away the runner. (Plus, obviously, the paint.) I would love to win Maria's book, because I am sure it is brilliant and filled with easy to grasp concepts, like her blog. I might be a little less deserving, since my home is already done in colours that make me happy every time I walk in-- thanks to Maria. But don't count me out of the draw! Glad to have discovered you via Maria. I look forward to learning and enjoying more from your blog.
  • Vanessa@Decor Happy
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Would love to win! I have been following Maria's blog from the very beginning - always packed with great advice. My worst mistake was in my home when I painted my kitchen, breakfast and adjoining family room in a taupe colour to work with the kitchen counter. It was so bleak that I painted it the next week in a lighter, happier colour!
  • Karena
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Traci I adore Maria and she really knows what she is doing!! xoxo Karena Art by Karena
  • Nancy
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Maria's blog is the one I head to every morning first thing. I'm excited every time there's a fresh post. It's so great to learn something each time I read it. Then, I go back to re-read it and glean some other precious nugget of information. Thank you Maria!
  • Anne Swift
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I just found Maria's website about a week ago, and have been reading her posts like crazy. I knew there was something more about color that I was trying to grasp, and here it is! Now I found you too, so I am off on another adventure!
  • Agnes
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I love your blog AND Maria's blog! So much good info . . . I've been dying to order her book, but I'm currently on an uber strict budget and have been waiting patiently until I can afford to do so. Here's hoping I'm a lucky winner and can start reading her book sooner rather than later! Thanks for the opportunity!
  • Caroline
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I think this sounds very interesting thank you for introducing me to Maria's work. I would love to have a copy of her book. Your blog is great I love the bookcloth? background.
  • Brenda
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Hi Tracy I just found your blog through Maria's. I've been reading her blog for over a year now and love it. I had a consult with her this summer while we were building our new house. My Husband booked the time with her as part of my birthday surprise. She made it so fun and easy that even my husband had a great time. We just moved in last weekend and we love the colours she helped us pick. Money well spent. I would love to win her book, thanks for overing it as a fun give away contest.
  • Angela N
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I love Maria. She is so SMART!! I would love this ebook!! I am one of the DIYers and could use all the help I can!
  • Carol Hatch
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Would love to have Maria's e-book- I am a big fan!
  • Gilda
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I bought this e-book + her paint samples....I am convinced that she knows what she's doing AND can effectively teach this with this well-writte book....Lucky person who wins this because...they WIN!
  • Linda C
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Thank you for the opportunity to enter the give away for Maria Killam's ebook. The Colour Me Happy blog is a daily read for me, even going back and reading older posts. This is the first time I've visited your blog and I like it a lot. I'll be back.
  • Linda
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Thank you for the opportunity to get a copy of Maria's ebook. When building my house I wanted to avoid the "pink" undertones that seemed to be in so many tiles and other surfaces. Everyone thought I was crazy because they think of neutral as neutral. Gaining an understanding of what I was seeing may make it easier to explain to others (and to do a better job with future projects). Maybe someday I'll even get to attend one of Maria's workshops.
  • shirley t.
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I have been reading Maria's blogs which I really enjoy and I would love to have her new ebook!
  • Lori
    Jan. 17, 2012
    I would love to win this e-book. I'm procrastinating on painting my bathroom, because I can't decide on a color!
  • Linda Beam
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Please enter me! I've been following Maria since I stumbled on her blog some months ago when trying to cull information before a client consultation. I've learned so much from her and hope to take her class. Have planned to get the book--just procrastinated. Worst paint horror: Painting my living room BM Huntington beige HC-21. In my room it truly looked like a dirty baby diaper. Thank goodness I stopped the painters before they got too far. It shook my confidence but felt better after I learned from Maria all that factors into selecting paint colors.
  • Barbara
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Maria's blog is great, and would love to read her book since attending her workshop isn't practical for me! Thanks for the opportunity.
  • Brillante Interiors
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Maria is so talented in many ways and this book will help immensely. If I win I'll be happy, if not I'll certainly buy it.
  • Diann
    Jan. 17, 2012
    My biggest color mistake was when I listened to a TV designer state we should paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. So I gathered my courage and painted the rather small dining room a melon shade of gold -- all over. Knock your eyes out! My friends staggered through the room with squinted eyes muttering that the room was overwhelming. As soon as possible, I repainted the ceiling white and the walls a soft beige with golden tones and we have all been happy since.
  • Anne
    Jan. 17, 2012
    Yikes, the biggest color mistake I've made was in looking for complementary 'beach house' colors. I did fabulous with selecting the most perfect icy pale blue (SW Icelandic) and aqua (SW Tidewater), but totally bombed trying to find something coral-like. Since then I've found Maria's blog and have learned so much from her for a couple years now. Now that I'm ready to do more painting I am much more confident in getting the rest of the rooms just right. That, and also getting in Farrow & Ball's palette for inspiration and finding Mystic at a local hardware store. Game on! (and ooo, would I just love to have her book!)
  • Jennifer Johnson
    Jan. 18, 2012
    I just found your site via Maria's! I'd love her e-book! She has helped me figure out all my house colors via her internet and phone consultations. They were worth every penny. Can you imagine painting an entire house and THEN figuring out you had all the wrong colors? Maria saved me from that. Every color was perfect. She also is fabulous in helping pick out tiles, countertops, backsplashes, etc. Glad to see you passing her info on to others!
  • Sheila @ SZInteriors
    Jan. 18, 2012
    I was already going to comment, even before I read the giveaway part!. What I wanted to say, is how incredible the transformation is in the very first before/after. I had to keep going back and forth to be sure it was the same room! Excellent job, Traci. I have yet to buy Maria's book, but it's all in the plan ;-) xo Sheila
  • Jill Valeri@The Welcome Home
    Jan. 18, 2012
    I have been following Maria's blog for a long time and I would love to attend her class but I just can't manage the travel. I love that she gives us the tools and vocabulary to express to our clients what we understand about the way colors relate to one another. Since attending her workshop is not an option, I would love to have the e-book so I can expand my knowledge. Thank you for a give-away that is more than just a free tchocke (although those are lots of fun too)
  • Tami
    Jan. 19, 2012
    I absolutely LOVE Maria! I've learned tons from her blog & would love to learn more from her ebook! My biggest colour mistake is painting our newly added-on mudroom BM 2158-30 delightful golden. It gave my husband a stomach ache! I still like the colour, but I guess it was too much to put on the walls...
  • Mary
    Jan. 21, 2012
    I've made mistakes choosing colors so hired a decorator to assist with an upcoming project and from faithfully reading your blog and Maria's over the past few months I am certain that the decorator got it wrong. Yes I need this book!
  • Michelle
    Jan. 22, 2012
    Hi, I am new to your blog but, I look forward to reading more! Great giveaway!

Leave a Comment:

Your Name
Email (Not Published)