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Advice for HomeownersBeigeOne bad decision pays for the designer

Knowing your Options Helps you Move Forward

By 04/15/2012October 19th, 201814 Comments


The biggest problem with renovations is deciding exactly what to do in any given situation. There are so many questions to resolve. Here are a few my lovely client in Dallas had when analyzing her kitchen with me in an on-line consultation.

1. Should I paint these cabinets or is the current colour okay?

A: The existing colour is definitely pink beige. I would paint them to update them but it depends on how you feel about them.

2. Should I keep this backsplash or replace it? I think it works with the french country feel of the kitchen.

A. I agree. If you don’t replace the countertop I would keep it.

3. What about the brick surround? Paint it? Plaster over it?

A. I like the brick, it suits your house. And it’s repeated in the fireplace surround.

4. Which colour is the right one?

A.  If the countertop stays, the colour of your cabinets need to relate to the countertops or they could be green to relate to the backsplash. My client loved the green tones in the second living room in this post I wrote.

You can see that the yellow venetian plaster has some of the pink beige through it so the pink beige trim and yellow walls don’t create the same clean/dirty effect that usually happens when these colours are combined.

I have another client who lives in a very high end, french country style house with dark travertine tile floors with a similar wall colour and it works. But I would never have chosen it had I not seen it already painted. And travertine can have pink and yellow undertones in it together so you can pull either colour out depending on how it works with all the rest of the finishes you have chosen.

Before we had this conversation about her kitchen, my client thought she had countless colour options. After our discussion about how choosing one colour impacts the wall colour and then the adjoining rooms it became so much easier to decide. She emailed me later and said:

“Thank you so much for your time yesterday. Last night, I tried to decide to move forward and work on other areas of the house and ignore the beige woodwork in the kitchen and family room. But I cannot. I can’t make this kitchen look good to my eyes; the only redeeming quality is that it does go so well with all the beautifully color-coordinated plaster/glazed walls, but still… the ivory with a glaze is not for me.

So, do I: A. Decide between 1. Painting it all cream (in this case would I need a little more color in the cream than ivory white) like the trim (replacing countertop/backsplash – both if needed) and 2. Replacing the countertops/backsplash/cabinets entirely; or B. Paint the beige woodwork and cabinets green, and repaint ALL of the plastered/glazed walls in the living room, dining room and kitchen to get rid of the brown undertones so that the green can be fresher like the French Chic picture and work for the kitchen.

I might be able to get away with keeping it in the living/dining rooms but I’d have to repaint the kitchen as you mentioned, and also the family room (way too close and right next to the fireplace mantel). Basically deciding between a kitchen renovation and a major paint job. I feel like even if I did decide to renovate the kitchen, the glazed walls might still be in the way. Maybe it is time to part with them.

If you can spend another half hour on this with me, please let me know. Thank you. I do think ‘Sometimes it is good to know what you can’t do with what you have’ would sum up a lot of what I gained from yesterday.” In appreciation, M.H.

Knowledge is power in every area of our life, not just in the realm of colour and decor.


What’s stopping you from moving forward in your home renovation?

Related posts:

Is Travertine Pink or Yellow?

Beige is only Blah When it’s Wrong

Is Hiring a Designer a Luxury or Necessity?

Would you like to look at an image and know which category of undertones it belongs? Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

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!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert. 






  • Cathy Z says:

    Oh the suspense is killing me, what did you both decide???? I think I would recommend the major paint job…especially if she loved the Frech chic example. It’s a fun solution and FAR cheaper than an entire kitchen reno.

  • Rick says:

    That’s always gutt wrenching to see that “mauving of America” not just on the cabinets but on wood trim and continued in the living area. Definitely change it but yes keep the brick! Thanks for posting this!

  • debbiecz says:

    Is there something in these rooms that she absolutely loves? If yes, work around that. My first impression was I’d like to have the kitchen as is, especially with the stove nook and family area next to the kitchen. It looks like a kitchen I would like today and 15 years from now. But on second look I think it’s the countertops that don’t fit. They seem a bit blah – the kitchen needs a “zing” to bring the pretty tile & brickwork to life.

  • Beccaleena says:

    I’m certainly not a professional, but an idea… why not paint the lower cabinets a shade of green which brings out the colors in the large tile mural around the stove. The upper cabinets a more ivory to match the tile, then also paint the walls an undertone of the green lower cabinets. Would this work?

  • AnneElise says:

    Loved the insight into the decision process. I’m usually wrestling with these issues internally, and wondering why it takes me so long to make up my mind. Moved into a townhouse in 2009 that had all the important things, and there was nothing “wrong” with the paint – except the entire house was painted the same shade of ivory on walls and trim and kitchen cabintets. Blah – blah – blah!!! I like ivory, the trim color was okay, but I am SO much happier now that the main floor (kitchen, living room, piano room, and powder room) are painted related shades of warm yellow. All the cream trim pops now, while it was invisible before.

  • springergirl says:

    Please, show us the picture of the French Chic kitchen you are making reference to. Thanks

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    These rooms are so married to one another, it would seem logical to work out the paint scheme (everything, including ALL woodwork!)
    first. Then probably a soft quartz counter top, so as not to compete with the mural. The mural & the brickwork, in my opinion, should call out the colors,
    keeping the “stars of the show” to a minimum.

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    By the way…the cement color on the front of the home looks wonderful with the brick—what about incorporating that tone of gray somewhere in these rooms?

  • McRaney says:

    Please share with us when the final decision is made. This is a beautiful home that I am excited to see how the owner updates it.

  • KJ says:

    Beautiful home! Oh, she should just repaint the cabinets, woodwork and walls. Then replace the countertop, backsplash and lighten the brick a touch (not paint completely). I live in Dallas and those type of cabinets look a lot more dated IRL. She’s not going to be happy with just paint.

  • Wendy says:

    Since I cant see them IRL, here goes one designer’s opinion… 🙂

    I would first paint out all the yellow/mustard walls in these adjoining rooms, and then assess what to do next. It’s the cheapest solution. Without the mustard, those cabs and counters might feel more happily married. There is even a chance that the glazed walls will feel ok.

    As a designer who collaborates (Maria, you do this too!), I try my hardest to NOT wave my hand imperiously and dictate tearing out the expensive parts. First, try paint, and only then “advance” to renovation.

    So, ditch the mustard…The color for the walls I might test would be the countertop color -OR- the tile ivory. Don’t fight the brick…it’s beautiful. Add art and other accents to punch up the green if she loves the green color.

  • Linda Beam says:

    I can’t get past the backsplash–makes me dizzy.

  • Cat says:

    Definitely a vote for B. Paint the cabinets green. A fresh green with some red/orange accents around will make this seem fresh, without any need of changing out the expensive hardscape.

    Please show us the afters when it’s done!!

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