Skip to main content
Advice for HomeownersColour in TilesColour lesson

Bad Design Advice: Fall in Love with All Your Finishes

By 10/01/2015February 10th, 201714 Comments



Statement tile, Herringbone Carrara {House Beautiful}


Pattern quota done. Keep your countertop solid or almost solid. {Source}

I had an interesting conversation with one of my readers while I was consulting on her kitchen renovation.

She had already installed tile floors in her kitchen and couldn’t decide on a countertop. She had some options selected, but she told me, “I’m not in love with any of them, and I’m paralyzed with indecision.”

It made me realize this conversation runs parallel with the Boring Equals Timeless post I wrote a while ago.


Turquoise tiles are what we love here. Solid quartz countertop {Amanda Nisbet}

whitecaesarstonePure White Caesarstone

Shopping for hard finishes is not the same as shopping for fashion. But when this is not your area of expertise, you end up making choices based on questions like this:

“Do I love it?”

“Is it absolutely fabulous?”

Worse, you show it to your husband, wife, or significant other, completely out of context, and say, “Honey, what do you think?”

They might even look at you blankly and think, What’s the right answer here? Should I say yes or no? What will get me in the least amount of trouble?

Or, even worse, they insist on a random item, completely out of context, and then, when I walk in after an installation, I’m told “My significant other chose that faucet/tile/counterto— insert offending finish here—and it doesn’t work with anything else in the room.”

I would just like to save you from that.

And, I get it.

If you are about to spend $5,000 on countertops, floors, or anything decorative for the house, most people think you kinda have to be madly in love, right?

After all, you wouldn’t spend that much on a coat or a bag unless you were in love would you?

kellybagKelly bag


The right answer is that you’ll make much smarter decisions about your renovations if you limit your LOVE to one statement tile or fabulous countertop and simply LIKE everything else.

This 4″ x 4″ tile probably wouldn’t have you fall in love. . .



That is, until it’s paired with this floor:


Via Apartment Therapy

So follow my advice: after you’ve fallen in love with one statement item, keep the rest solid.

If you need help making these choices and you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.


Related posts:

When can you Combine patterned Stone or Tile?

Are Granite Countertops Timeless? Yay or Nay

Which Backsplash Tile goes with Granite?

5 pins


  • Brigette says:

    Thanks Maria, I just put off ordering a ‘boring’ kitchen backsplash tile because I wasn’t in love with it…. but to be honest it’s the 20x30cm size that bugs me- would love the same thing but smaller. I will have to keep hunting.

  • One of my clients wanted glossy red kitchen cabinets, and there was no other bright red in the house. We looked around her house and all of her colors are muted. She is now doing soft gray cabinets and white glass subway tile for the backsplash. We wanted to make sure the kitchen belonged with the rest of the house.

  • Kathi Steele says:

    I “love” my “boring” subway tile backsplash because it is a part of the whole kitchen package that I love. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts was the philosophy I used when redoing my kitchen. Although there are parts that I just “like”, I LOVE my new kitchen!!!
    Every time I walk into my kitchen, I cannot believe I have the great fortune to have this is my house!! I get a thrill every time I see my new kitchen.
    Thank you Maria for allowing me to see the bigger picture and to stick to my guns when everyone else tried to talk me out of a “boring” element.
    When everything came together, none of it is boring!!
    Did I mention, I LOVE my new kitchen!!

  • Susan Hubele says:

    I ‘inherited’ a red kitchen. While it is dramatic and adds an element of fun, it is a challenge to work with. It is The Boss, as Maria would say. It needs to be consulted about every design decision – paint color, tile, countertops, flooring. And thus the options are quite limited. Next time I will go with ‘boring’ classic colors on every permanent surface, and have the fun with paint and accessories.

  • bfish says:

    I’m in the early phases of a long, long overdue kitchen renovation (down to the studs). Reading Maria’s blog for the past four years or so has really helped me distill what I want — though I’m having some disagreements with my husband (who happens to be very talented and artistic so his ideas are most valuable, plus he is head cook for day-to-day) and our kitchen designer. They are both much more into flashy backsplash tile than I am. I, OTOH, am actually quite excited about walls of white subway tile, and white cabinets. Admittedly it helps that ours is a late 1920s house so subway tile is period-appropriate.

    Right now my thoughts about the “love” or “wow” element are centered on the floor — I’d love to use 8 – 12″ (very oversized) hex tiles as an exaggerated period element. Maria, if you ever find and feature pictures of such floor tiles in your blog it would be much appreciated! I’m partial to a combination of terra cotta and black tiles, in a pattern (not random), mostly the former.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I saw terra cotta tile installed in a herringbone pattern all over Italy, did take a picture and will post it soon!

  • mrsben says:

    Excellent advice, Maria! Am in the midst of renovating two of our bathrooms and have followed your advice with the hope that if and when we sale our home in the next few years, the fixed elements will not be so daunting for the next person to work with nor will they have the desire and extra expense to change it … unless of course their taste vastly differs …. ☺. -Brenda-
    (FTR For one bathroom the 18″ x 18″ porcelain tile that I choose was white with an ever so light gray veining which I used for both the flooring and tub surround (91.6 sq. feet in total) which cost a hefty
    price $8,825.00 Cdn. $$ just for prep and installation alone. (Tiles not included.) As for the quartz counter top on order, it will be plain white.)

    • BillP says:

      If you are planning to sell in the next few years I urge you to go easy on your reno budget. Three of my last five home sales have been gutted to the studs (condos) or torn down. People want to do their own thing and it’s not always better. For a short term tenure, do it if you love it but don’t plan to get your money out of the improvement.

      • mrsben says:

        Thank you for the warning …. ☺. Have basically done my homework and as homes in our area generally and fortunately go quickly due to their location and lot size; agree that expenditures as well as alterations should also be taken into serious consideration, for the reasons you have pointed out. That said, IMHO another equation when renovating a home is; the character of the house as well as its neighbourhood should always be taken into consideration as well. -Brenda-

  • Vee says:

    Can you have a carrara marble counter and backsplash? This is my dilema. Our counters are a beautiful marble and my husband doesn’t want white subway tile backsplash. He wants the backsplash to be a carrara marble as well. Tile not a large slab.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Personally I think it’s too busy but maybe you can find a white marble that isn’t as busy as usual. Hope that helps! Maria

  • Monica says:

    I am in a quandry. I have the 80’s oak kitchen cabinets. They are stained medium fruitwood color, no not the orange color. I also have country plank oak of various widths with a groove between planks so sort of a country kitchen. I am keeping my cabinets and husband will not let me paint them. We are thinking of replacing the bisque colored formica countertops but I’m having problems picking out a color. I’m thinking quartz will be best. The kitchen is fairly dark as there is a big maple tree that shades the window. So thinking black will be too dark. With the grain in the cabinets and grain in the floor I don’t want to go to high patterned in the countertop. We are planning to sell in five years when we retire.
    Any suggestions? My walls and carpeting are in the beige line.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Monica, Without photos it is impossible for me to give you accurate advice, if you’d like me to post this on my Facebook page where my readers will chime in and at the end of the day I’ll post my answer, email some pictures to [email protected].

Leave a Reply