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Here’s How to Embrace your Cream Kitchen; Before & After

When Jan Romanuk and her husband moved into their condo it was only a few years old. The cabinets were white and walnut which in a modern kitchen with flat (slab) style cabinets works great! The wood adds warmth (below).

But the countertops were a creamy, yellow beige instead of white so they looked like a mistake because they didn’t relate to anything else in the kitchen (below). Since they were also basically new and there was really nothing wrong with any of it, Jan decided to have the lowers painted the same colour as the countertops to make it all look intentional.

But which colour was the right one? That was the question. Jan asked me to come over with my large paint samples so we could come up with a plan (post below).

Related post: Which Colour is Perfect for This Room, How Fast Can You See It?

The before picture is not good (above), it was the real estate picture. After all this, I forgot to take an overall kitchen picture.

This is the best way to test your new cabinet colour. ALWAYS place a white board behind the colours you are testing so you don’t start comparing to the old colour.  The white board isolates the colour so that’s all you’re looking at.

This is not the final paint colour. We tried a few different shades of yellow beige including this green beige sample. You can see that the countertop is a little orange in camparison.

This sample is HC-81 Manchester Tan (Jan Romanuk, above)

Move your large paint sample behind your artwork too!  You can see that it looks good with the art but in the end Jan didn’t want  a beige so she chose BM Collingwood which is a grey with a slight purple undertone.


When you are trying to decide which paint colour is best, look at the largest elements in the room. In Jan’s living room, she had a yellow beige sofa with chairs that had a purple undertone. Those were the best two options if we wanted to pull her space together.


The way to embrace your cream kitchen is to add white if you can. In this case, the white was existing and the way to make the yellow beige countertops work was to repeat them in the lower cabinets.

Related post: How to Coordinate White or Cream (If you Made a Mistake)

AFTER (Cabinets painted by Quality Cabinet in North Vancouver)

Jan designed cabinet doors to fill in the empty space above the built-in oven (above).

You can see that the white subway tile is stacked instead of installed brick pattern which looks great in a modern kitchen.

AFTER (in the end Jan ended up with a custom colour, it was HER condo in the end, as designers we always need to turn over every stone to make sure we’ve got it right).

In the before picture, you can see that there is space for counter stools on the other side of the island. However, this is a small space and that area is also the hallway into the living and dining area, so Jan had more shelves installed and had doors made to match the kitchen for more storage.

A little 3M hook is all you need to hang a piece of art on your tiled backsplash (above).

Wood cutting boards add warmth to the white kitchen along with the hits of green.

Jan and her husband enjoy the lights of the city in this living room with floor to ceiling windows. She had millwork designed around the fireplace so because the TV needed a stand and Jan had some artsy lamps she wanted to display on either side to balance the large television.


You can see that the purple grey walls on the left relate perfectly to the chairs.


The new sheers considerably soften this room.

BM Collingwood  Dining chairs CB2

Jan mentioned that her husband was not a fan of the dining chairs so I suggested she add some faux sheepskins to make them more comfortable, she loved that idea!


Now the designer wife can have the chairs she wants and the husband can have a little comfort! The best of both worlds!

Photography by Maria Killam | Interior Design by Jan Romanuk

Jan confided that she found these gorgeous green vases at her local thrift store down the street. I find the best bargains for vases at thrift stores. As I’ve said before, I probably own around 100 vases and I still haven’t stopped collecting them. A vase of flowers transforms any space.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Jan Romanuk an Interior Designer in Vancouver who is an expert in Kitchen and Bath Design. Follow her on Instagram here.

Scared of choosing colour for your home or specifying colour for your clients? My large colour samples give you a SYSTEM for choosing colour. What that means is that 95% of the time you need a neutral, you’ll find it in my CURATED Core Collection of large paint samples. You can get them here.

Get colour to do what you want at a Specify Colour with Confidence workshop this Fall near you.

Also, I’m so excited to be on a panel at Julia Malloy’s BOLD Summit in Chicago this September! I’ll be talking about building your brand on-line! Use the discount code, Maria, to get $200 off the registration!

Related posts:

Ask Maria: About Kitchen Cabinet Uppers and Lowers in Different Colours

Wood Stained Kitchen I Like

What Everyone Should Know About Beige







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  • Susie says:

    How sophisticated! The cabinet color is perfect for the granite. Gorgeous condo. Are the sheers a white white or cream? They are perfect, also. Sometimes just sheers can be perfect for a space.

  • Gery says:

    What a great transformation story. Thank you for the 3M hook tip. I was lamenting that I can’t hang art on my new backsplash. Also love how you softened the dining chairs in such a quick and simple way, and that the sheepskin ties in with the white kitchen and curtains. Brilliant.

  • Christine says:

    I learn so much from your blog postings! Keep ’em coming! 🙂

  • Maggie S says:

    I love a good before and after—especially when existing items are used!! It is great inspiration for those of us that have to work with less than perfect homes!!

    I always look forward to your posts!

  • Christina Nickerson says:

    Maria, I love everything you do and your energy is so inspiring! I do love this condo but I think I may be the only one that would have changed the counter top and not the color of the cabinets. The warmth of the cabinets seemed nice with the white uppers, would changing out the tone of the counter tops worked in this kitchen redo?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes new white countertops would have worked as well but in this case painting them out was the more economical choice for Jan! Maria

  • Cheryl says:

    The wood cabinets were so nice with the white adding the much needed warmth, changing the counters would have been a good choice.

  • mrsben says:

    Beautiful space and terrific lesson! Thank you for sharing both, Maria. To conclude; ; could you tell me if the cabinets were painted on site or were the doors and drawers (or fronts) sent out? -Brenda-
    @Jan: Love your ‘artsy lamps’.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Brenda, they were sprayed in a spray box by the cabinet company which makes them more durable by a long shot! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Judy says:

    Maria, Where do you keep over 100 vases so that you don’t forget what you have? My 20 take up a lot of room and I have them stashed in the kitchen and laundry room. Sometimes, out of sight, out of mind and I end up using the same ones. Any ideas?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Judy, haha, perhaps 100 is a slight exaggeration but I really should count them I have so many. . . I am lucky enough to have a small room off my garage with many shelves that were installed in a U-shape by the previous homeowner for canned goods. . . so I have a lot of styling accessories and of course vases lined up there! Terreeia get’s upset when they start taking over the pantry in the kitchen – eeeek.
      Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Maria…you saved the day again! And kept the countertops out of a landfill.
    I’m wondering though…if the bottom cabinets had been painted white & the cream color repeated with accessories, would that have also worked?

  • Stacy says:

    I still think this looks like a mistake. There are companies that can put a new layer over existing counters–that’s what I would have done. Then you don’t have to throw it away, but you have a color you want. And then she could have left the wood cabinets as they were because there was nothing wrong with them–the counter color was the only problem.

  • Brenda says:

    The faux sheepskins over the chairs are brilliant and will be so comfy on a winter night in the north, candles on the table … just love this idea! I also liked the white appliances in a small kitchen, guess I’m old fashioned 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  • Tessa says:

    I think what’s important here is the solution to paint the lower cabinets if one doesn’t like the wood look. I would have stuck with the white and wood look myself and dealt with the counters in some way. But this shows there are multiple ways to tackle a client’s design dilemma and keep a cohesive color scheme.

  • Holly says:

    I would have kept the wood cabinets, they were awesome. But then again lately I’m loving a Nordic look. I adore Nordic interiors on Instagram from Scandinavian countries. To those residents I’m thinking Nordic interiors are traditional or timeless, but if we copy that here in North America, is it a fad?

  • Carolyn says:

    I think it looks great.

  • Jen says:

    I really like the new lower cabinet color with the lovely countertops–they just ‘sing’ together to me. It feels to me like their color creates a little bit of tension, or plays off of, the whiter colors of the backsplash and uppers. I just really enjoy that and find it so pleasing, in its unexpectedness.

  • Jeanne says:

    This turned out very nice. Can you share the process she used for painting the cabinets? Did a company come in and take the drawers and door offsite to spray and bake on the paint? Or was the paint just rolled/brushed on? My cream cabinets are a mess and need to be painted. I am trying to figure out how to approach the project. The estimate for spraying offsite etc was $5000 at least. I’m not sure I want to spend that much for a smallish galley style kitchen. All thoughts are welcome! Thank you.

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