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Fresh Solution to an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance

By 01/11/2015February 21st, 201766 Comments

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

My sister Elizabeth called me and said “Now that the Christmas garland draped above the window above my kitchen sink is gone (below) it looks sooooo empty.”

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

Photo by Tracey Ayton

And, she really hated looking at the bad transition between the end of the backsplash tile (below) which could not continue above the window. The builder had installed rounded corners all throughout the house (now THAT was NEVER a good idea).

The best way to hide all of this is with a fabric valance or roman shade of course, but in Elizabeth’s kitchen this would require installing custom window treatments on the remaining windows in this room and that’s not in the decorating budget right now.

So here’s what we did instead. . .

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

We went back to HomeSense where I had bought the lemon garland I displayed on my mantle last week and bought two more. Twisted the ends together and draped them over nails on each side that were still there from holding up the green garland over Christmas.

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam


This was what her backsplash tile looked like when she moved in. Here’s the story of the transformation and those of you who bought my White is Complicated eBook recently will have seen all the new photographs.

Notice that the clean yellow lemons would not have been as fabulous against the dark, (dirty looking in comparison) earthy, travertine.

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

Before the garland

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam


We bought a hand-tied arrangement in yellow to repeat the yellow of the lemons in the garland.

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

Here’s the bad corner now totally hidden.

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

Elizabeth found this adorable penguin last year, she’s had it on her window sill for a long time (note the cute face). The kids sneak rocks into the bike trailer when they are playing at the Vedder river so they are her free home decor items here.

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

Photos by Maria Killam

This flower bouquet was a little short for the jug so we stuffed it with some plastic grocery bags so it would sit up a little higher in the vase.

Fresh Solution for an Expensive Problem: Kitchen Valance | Maria Killam

Markus (5) & William (7)

And here is a current photo of my angel nephews who were recently outfitted with new helmets for their holiday ski trip.

Are you impressed with my photography skills? Wow, and taken without any lighting, strictly using aperture. I really wish I’d taken the photography course I finally took last year ages ago!

If you are a designer or a blogger, do not put off learning how to use your DSLR camera one more year! You can do this!

Well what do you think my lovelies? Yay or nay? It’s not a look that can work everywhere but if you think your kitchen could use a lift, this is one idea that might work.

Related posts:

The Minimalist Way to Inject Colour: Before & After (My sisters blue accent wall)

My Sister’s Fresh New Backsplash: Before & After

Your Laptop is the New Mom & Pop Shop


Register here to become a True Colour Expert.


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  • carolanne says:

    I totally love the lemon garland… x

  • Mary Walior says:

    The lemon garland is so pretty and fresh looking! Another option would be to cut foam core board the width of the window and maybe about ten inches deep. Spray with fabric glue, pad with cotton batting and cover with fabric. Then mount with double sided Velcro over the window. Foam core is almost weightless so a few pieces of Velcro would hold it up.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Sadly, I am not a DIY gal so this solution will have to do 🙂 Great idea as well though! x Maria

  • Linda Fitzgerald says:

    I totally hate the lemon garland.. sorry

  • Karen T. says:

    I think the garland works well in your sister’s kitchen.

  • Laura C says:

    Looks fresh and pretty but will be a dust collector.

  • Cindy B. says:

    This is not a good look! Sorry!

  • JuliefromDownunder says:

    I love the garland – makes the kitchen look happy!

  • Lynn says:

    I’m sorry to say that I really dislike the fake garland. It’s a great idea but fake garland with lemons?! How about something artsy like something metal that can be twisted into shape? This reminds me of the tv show The Golden Girls.

  • Cathy Z says:

    The only reason I’m saying this Maria is because you specifically asked. I do not like the lemon garland. However, I am a big believer in people living with what THEY love, not anybody else. So if your sister totally loves it and is happy to pieces looking at it everyday, then hooray you found a nice solution for her. But if there is any questioning on her side at all, I say take it down for sure. A neat piece of architectural salvage centered over the window will draw your eye immediately to that focal point and NOBODY will look at the tile corner issue.

  • Tamara says:

    Maria, I love the shots of green and yellow that the garland adds. I’m not such a fan of fake leaf garlands, especially up close. I’m torn on this one.

  • Hi maria
    Happy New Year! I haven’t commented in a long time although I read daily!! Wouldn’t miss a post!

    I absolutely love this idea. I have an old transom window above the sideboard in our kitchen and occasionally place a garland similar to this one – it looks so fresh!

  • Joyce says:

    Did you and your sister consider a window valance?
    It could be a solid color or even a pretty white lace
    one which could be used all year around with the white pottery pieces on the sink.
    I have a lace valance on my kitchen window which is 5 feet wide facing into my dining room (I don’t
    have an outside window). During Christmas I hang
    my gingerbread ornaments on the lace panels with
    a large bow that drapes over the top of the lace valance. It’s quite pretty.
    Just a thought, enjoy your day!

  • megeranski says:

    The concept is great!!

    And for some reason I always like totally naked windows.

    I know thingS on the windows are supposed to be desirable (curtains, shades, etc)., I just like empty. Especially if there is a view.

    Having said that, however, I think the concept is terrific. and thought the Lemons are a nice pop. And you can rotate different garlands at whim.

  • megeranski says:

    The concept is great!!

    And for some reason I always like totally naked windows.

    I know thingS on the windows are supposed to be desirable (curtains, shades, etc)., I just like empty. Especially if there is a view.

    Having said that, however, I think the concept is terrific. and thought the Lemons are a nice pop. And you can rotate different garlands at whim.

    Clever solution for not much money.

  • Connie says:

    Agreed, the color pop is great but I can’t get into faux flowers or greenery! Sorry!

  • Sorry Maria, but I also have to agree with some of the others. Not a big fan of the garland with the lemons. But, if she likes it that’s what is important.
    I did notice that your photos were well done.

  • tara dillard says:

    Adore the honesty, above.

    I would raise the garland so it does not block so much view/sky. Will make the window ‘taller’ too.

    Fake garland is not for me, but if client likes it, I’m totally ‘in’, but would suggest a swatch of vintage fabric or splurge on wildly expensive, so little is needed.

    Who knows, great excuse to finally have some Fortuny.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

    • cheryl says:

      Buttt… pictures on fabric are so fake!


      honestly, I don’t understand the hatred of one material designed to recall another material. People use fake “gold” and “silver” in their homes all the time when it’s obviously not the real deal…

      Maybe this is some “all representations of plants must be original organic entities soaked in poisonous rot-reducing chemicals” thing? I’d rather have the plastic… :O Ah well to each their own.

      • cheryl says:

        oh, perhaps everybody would be satisfied with a potato vine? Those grow like crazy, just make sure you start with a fresh potato.

  • AmyB says:

    I think it is a fun place holder until another day when you/she come up with something else. Like a front door wreath: you love it until you don’t.
    Great idea… Fun pop… Exchangeable. Thanks for the idea… Can’t wait to get one with sugared Easter eggs and dogwood blossoms for spring!

  • Thea says:

    tough crowd! how are fake lemons any different than fake evergreen? maybe the idea is that it’s up until something pops up in the spring garden?

    i solved my problem by taking off the ornaments and leaving the white lights on the fake tree…it turns on with a timer…big sparkly night light in an otherwise unused room. i may festoon it for mardi gras. we’ll see!

  • Cherie says:

    I too am torn about the garland. However, it is bright and colourful, and the yellow in the vase works well with the lemons.

    It looks like your sister’s counter is dark. Maybe when she tires of the garland you could try a piece of architectural salvage, like an aged piece of barn board, 3 or 4 inches wide, spanning the window, attached from just below the cabinet crown on each side? It would cover the tile, and add texture. Or maybe an inexpensive dark-toned bamboo roman blind, outside mounted, pulled up tight, so it wouldn’t cover too much of the window.

    Your photos look great!

  • KA says:

    I like it bare, but totally understand the after Xmas decorations blues.

    Can’t stand the bull nose edge drywall corners. Had a similar situation with a family who ended up buying a gazillion custom shutter treatments and hid the curve of the walls around the windows. Paid extra money with the builder for the bull nose drywall and paid extra for the shutters.

    Can’t see it on my phone but why doesn’t the tile work match the lines below your indicated bad corner? Is there a metal strip for the height of the window?

  • Stacy Wiegman says:

    This strikes me as being as bad as those fake vines some people put above their cabinets. Bare is better! I would have taken a metal sign, preferably one with something in French, and hung it immediately above the window. You can find those things easily at Home Goods. Or put a narrow shelf up there and put a row of cute teacups on it to balance off the height of the cabinets.

  • Sheri says:

    Great photos Maria!

    I’m with a lot of the responses so far (and only because you asked): I’m not a fan of the garland with lemons (and I’m a huge fan of yellow).

    As with any decorating, if the client loves it, that is what is important. It all comes down to personal taste.

  • anne says:

    the colors you used are surprising and inspirational, as always. but i never thought you’d resort to plastic. when you described the problem in the email, i envisioned a few yards of fabric draped across the window — you could use the existing nails. for $24.99 x 2 you could have picked up a nice fabric remnant in those colors. as for the flowers, why not simply a bowl of “real” fresh fruit?

  • Susijo says:

    I’m one of those people with fake vines above my kitchen’s corner cabinets. I like them because they add some life and greenery in a space that would be impossible to keep real plants watered.

    What I like about the lemon garland solution is that it feels happy, and happiness is exactly what we need to get through the gloominess of winter!

  • barbara says:

    I totally understand as I have a bare window also in my kitchen ….and the outside edges/top look so much nicer with my christmas garland…..hanging a swath of fabric would look too yuk in my opinion…I would love to make some kind of garland that is natural….say , out of succulents… but not sure how i would do that… like braided pieces of sari cloth ( yeah right) looped and

    while i am not a fan of plastic garland..,.I think it looks better than bare.

  • Penny says:

    wow, I am shocked at this post. Glad she likes it, I usually love your design tips, but this misses the mark. Looks cheap and very Faux/fake.

  • Fran says:

    The yellow is a nice touch of color. I’d love to hear how the painted finish is holding up on the cabinets.

  • Connie says:

    Not a tough crowd….Maria asked for opinions and those voicing that respectfully makes for an interesting world!

  • Nancy says:

    How about two nice yellow pots on each side of the window with ivy in them . You can have the ivy ( or any live vine plant ) growing up the side of the windows. It grows fast and can easily be trained. Plus easily clipped.
    Live plants also add life to a space . Then add some yellow with some pretty yellow candles ( battery ones ) or pretty yellow glass vases..
    There is really lots of wonderful ways to cover that area.
    I think part of the issue with the faux is that we have read over and over faux plants are out don’t use that are brains are now trained to think wrong.
    We all used to use faux plants until we were told not to?

    • cheryl says:

      Ah thank you, I wondered if it was something like that! Unfortunately, the reaction here bums me out a bit… I have a glorious sunroom with a glass ceiling and come to find out it gets so much sun (or heat maybe) that it’s difficult to get the lush tropical effect with live plants I was hoping for in there.

      Some (supposedly sun loving) plants survived my first summer last year but most did not so I thought I’d hang some fake garlands in there, nestled in among the real stuff. But if half the people who see it are going to be grossed out, guess I won’t. 🙁

  • Jane Duchene says:

    I don’t think it’s so bad at all. It’s cheerful, and organic, even if it IS fake. I would actually go Full Monty on the project and put some fruit artwork (maybe 3), (and something very today trendy) above the garland on the wall. When the rest of the kitchen elements are so RIGHT, (and they are), why not have some fun?!

  • Stacy G says:

    Is there a reason why the glazed cabinets were kept that way?

  • Maria Killam says:

    Haha, I love all your comments, this is fun! For $50 it’s just fun and playful in the dead of winter in my opinion.

    Of course a fabric valance is the best idea but as I said in my post, you can’t cover one window and not do the rest and window treatments in her kitchen are not where the decorating budget is currently focused.

    I just want y’all to admire my new photography skills really, and that’s why I used plastic lemons to illustrate it, hee, hee.

    Twisted metal? Now that’s one I haven’t heard before, I don’t think my creativity can even stretch that far.

    The cabinets are glazed because that’s how they came when the house was purchased. One day when the countertops are replaced, the cabinets will be painted.


  • franki says:

    Dare to be bare!! Tall topiaries with some “shots of yellow…lemon cypress…” If I read, “pop of color one more time.,..” 🙂 franki

  • AnneElise says:

    I’m not a fan of faux, and prefer bare windows. Anything in a kitchen gets so dirty so fast. Maybe a very short term solution for January blues?…the color is great. I have no window treatments in the kitchen bay looking out on private woodland, but my kitchen paint color is orange, and I have botanicals framed above the window. Not too bare, easy to clean.

  • Connie says:

    I think it looks bright and cheerful, and I also know I would tire of it quickly. But it takes care of the situation until it is possible to do something more permanent. I do that all the time in my home. Unless you have a huge budget, one has to do it that way.

  • Maria says:

    The garland is too heavy and too long. Like bare kitchen windows myself.

  • I think the garland is cheery. Love the addition of yellow!

  • Scarlett says:

    It isn’t my persona style but I always like greenery in a room. I have found that we have gotten away from potted plants in spaces (like for example, when I was a kid my mom always had a tonne of potted plants in the house) and more towards things like fresh flowers, so this is a nice was to add some green. However she may tire of it, but then you can move on to something else.

    Your photography looks good! I am working on some downloadable photos of tablescapes and still life photos of pretty things which will be purchasable and rights free. One thing I have realized from reading your posts, is that not everyone can curate a nice still-life vignette (and you are the master at it!).

  • Pam says:

    Love it! It looks pretty and adds a nice vibrancy. When your garland gets dusty, just run it under some tap water or swish around in a tub. Will come out clean as a whistle. (I’m assuming your tap water has a bit of chlorine in it as does ours here in the US).

  • CAROL says:

    Love it! Love lemons. Very cheerful!

    Any ideas for a similar issue in a master bathroom? Fruit won’t work.

    Thanks, Maria!

  • Lucy Haines says:

    Maria, I guess the consensus is that most of your followers do not like faux plants in any shape or form! So be it! Anyway you do a great job and whatever it takes to make your clients (sisters) happy is what counts.

    Your photography has come a long way. I wish I had that ability. I got a new Samsung tablet for Christmas with a great camera. The color is so bright and sharp so I am going to look for a class to take so I can learn to use it.

    Always love your posts!

  • Karen says:

    Happy New Year Maria and to all the other readers:

    I am strongly with the leave-it-bare side. Looks way too busy (IMHO) and I really dislike fake flowers and/or fruit. It took me years to be convinced to get rid of my silk arrangements – now I hate them!

    On a more positive note – having a bright arrangement on the window sill is terrific. But real flowers please even if it is only 1 bloom. You BC folks get spring flowers earlier than us in ice-encased Ottawa so go for it. Or a pretty bright bowl with the rocks so lovingly gathered by the boys. There is no need to ever look up!

    I kind of understand where Elizabeth is coming from. After I un-decorate from Christmas, my place seems barren but after a week or two I think it makes me calmer. In fact, this year, I am going to pare back the ” stuff” I have on display at one time – edit and rotate!
    I think this approach is necessary as I age ’cause I lose stuff in my clutter. ha! ha!

    (p.s. My” ha ha” is specifically for Maria – I love it when she posts a ” ha ha ” – it reinforces how sweet she is.

  • Karen says:

    I forget to thank Maria for posting a recent pic of the boys. They are growing up quickly and are getting cuter than ever. Hope you get to go skiing with them.

  • mh says:

    Don’t let dust stop anyone from using fake flowers. I use a silk plant cleaner from Michaels crafts. The aerosol one sprays foam on the flower and then just dissipates. I do it several times until the dust is gone.

    I like quality less fake-looking flowers. I have to really search to find them. I seem to have more luck with tulips and lilies.

  • sandyc says:

    Not my choice but I totally get it. It’s not a forever solution but rather a temporary one and it really doesn’t matter whether temporary is a month or a year or ever longer. If it works for now, great. And I wouldn’t go with a naked window. It’s a beautiful one and it looks out to a lovely view, but as my eye takes in the window and before it gets to the view, it notices the ugly rounded top and gets turned off. A valance would be great and that may be the solution down the road but placement of a valance or a blind will need to be thought out carefully to work with those corners and, of course, Elizabeth will want to coordinate with the rest of her windows, and that takes time and inspiration as well as budget. So enjoy the touch of spring in the dead of winter however you can get it.

  • Susan S says:

    I keep my less “Christmasy” decor up throughout the winter as the NE corner of Ohio is cloud-shrouded and we (NE Ohioans) need all the brightness we can get!

    I really believe and really wish everyone would keep their outdoor lights up through January for the same reason!
    P.S. I must confess, there have been years my tree has been up until Valentine’s Day!

  • Ann says:

    The penguin is so darn cute! I’m going to go out and buy me some lemons to brighten up my kitchen on this cold dreary day. A brand new WHITE kitchen with white subway tile. Thanks to your blog Maria, I have the prettiest kitchen on the block!

  • Noelle says:

    I love the color…bright yellows and green against the white. I’m not too sure I like it in the form of a garland. It reminds me too much of the fake ivy everyone used to have back in the 80s? 90s? I would go with a valance or pretty print above 🙂

  • Carol says:

    I’m very impressed with your camera skills. Especially
    the composition!!

  • Brooke says:

    I would love to see a post on the danger of rounded corners. We have them. When they builder asked I said sure but it’s a huge problem. It makes it so difficult to switch paint colors! It bugs me so much that I might try to correct the curves w drywall. Also, knock down finish. Should have said flat walls please. They too are a problem. I work out of a home office so a chalkboard painted wall was is a lot of help in my office but w uneven wall plaster, I had to try to fill in w nail hole filler all over the wall. Off topic but only slightly maybe? xo

    • Maria Killam says:

      They are a big problem, all you can do is draw a line down the middle to change paint colours, yes that post definitely needs to be written.

  • Can your books be purchased at bookstores? I want a book to hold in my hand and read and I don’t have an e-book or a techie object to read off of. Maybe you ship the printed copy of your books do you? I never post comments on your site but I spend a lot of time reading them and use much of your info for my own use when trying to bring new touches to my home. Thanks for the time and hard work that goes into this site.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Debbie, not right now but you don’t need an ereader, you can download the PDF on the same computer you’re posting this comment on! Maria

  • Lorri says:

    I love the form and color of the garland, but don’t like fake plants because they depress me no matter how pretty they are.

    That said, I can see how the color alone would cheer your sister up until she can do something else.

  • Karen Asbell says:

    I LOVE the pop of color in the dead of winter but I love my windows bare

  • Merlyn Corcoran says:

    What is really missing from that sink window is a finished top. It looks like the casing was left off. I would add a piece of small crown moulding similar to that used on the cabinets across the top to join the window with the cabinets, working around that tile.

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