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Colour in Tiles

Designer Tip: When Should You Rip Out Brand New Tile?

By 01/09/2012April 3rd, 202033 Comments
Have you ever made a design choice you regret? What about when choosing new tile? Here’s my advice on when you should rip out brand new tile and when it’s okay to let it be. 

When should you rip out brand new tile?

A while ago I had a consultation where my client had made the mistake of choosing the wrong tile for her kitchen.
Have you ever made a mistake choosing tile? Are you wondering if you should you rip out brand new tile?
Have I mentioned that choosing tile is hard? It took me years of experience to develop the clean “unfussy” aesthetic that I currently have.

Here was the scenario:

1. The 18 x 18 tile chosen for entry and halls was similar to this one:
Tan tile2.  The kitchen/family room connected to the hallway (with the above tile) was something like this in 12 x 24:

When should you rip out brand new tilesource

This was a brand new house and the kitchen tile had just been installed–it was not grouted yet. When I saw it I recommended that they bite the bullet and pull it out.

My exact words were, ‘This will bug you every single day.” And she replied, “It’s already bugging me.”

But, they were already over budget.

Wood floor in kitchenPinterest

One of the reasons I prefer hardwood in kitchens over tile is because if you choose anything other than white (which would only be appropriate in very limited circumstances), the colours in that tile pretty much dictate the colour of your kitchen FOREVER.

And there are so many people who don’t think about how bossy tile is until it’s installed and they realize the colours they wanted on the walls will now either clash or not relate at all.

If you are in this dilemma right now and are wondering how big of an impact on your life it will be to keep it installed ask yourself this question: Whenever you have learned something new, how many mistakes have you made?

In other words, give yourself some slack on this decision. If you have chosen everything and then decided after something was installed that you hate it, it’s ok. These decisions are hard – and stressful – especially if you were pressed for time while choosing it. The client in the above example worked full-time while trying to manage their new build.

So, before you shrug it off and move on with your new build or renovation, think about it.

Bathroom tile imagePinterest

When you should keep it.

If you didn’t get the tile in your bathroom just perfect, you can probably live with that. But, if it’s a main living space where you spend the majority of your time it might be worth a second (or third) conversation.

I spend quite a bit of time shopping for miscellaneous items for clients, and as you know, every time you buy anything for your house you are making a colour decision. White or cream? Brown or black? Green or purple?  And what happens when you get it right and your friends come over and comment? If it’s right you congratulate yourself, if it’s wrong you talk about that too.

Wouldn’t it be happier and less stressful to just pull out the offending tile if you have made a mistake?

In the example above, the house was traditional which worked perfectly with the entry/hall tile and did not work at all with the suddenly contemporary connecting tile in the kitchen. Not to mention the fact that it made no sense to suddenly change from one tile to something else completely different.

If you have chosen all the finishes for your brand new house (without a designer–a good one can be hard to find just like anyone creative) at least make sure you have read my eBook on undertones to make certain you have not picked a bunch of conflicting tile colours that will boss you around until the day you move.

When you rent it’s so much easier to ignore something bad than if you paid good money to install tile. And, that will bother you forever.

Related posts:

Hiring a Designer; Luxury or Necessity

Ugly Costs the Same as Pretty

One More Reason you should Skip Accent tiles Altogether

Download my eBook, 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.

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  • Mary says:

    When we re-did our master bath, we selected a mosaic tile for the shower floor & bench seat.
    I hate it! But once the shower curtain is closed, I don’t have to look at it.

  • Eliesa says:

    Excellent advice! We moved into our current house about six months ago, and the tile is horrible. It runs through the whole house, except the bedrooms where we had wood floors installed. I hate it! Every single day, I look at it and want to scream. It’s a cream-ish color and it looks horrendous with our gorgeous gray and white paint. It clashes with everything we own. Oh, and there are about thirty broken tiles throughout the house. Lovely.

  • Liz says:

    I love your blog, Maria. I’ve been reading it since last summer when we rented what is, for us, a practically perfect house. We had to start from scratch furnishing it because we have travelled in an RV for eight years, after getting rid of almost everything. It’s still a work in progress, partly because the things I like are hard to find or cost too much (of course!), and I won’t settle for something I can’t live with. The wrong color drives me nuts! My version of tearing up tile is returning two armchairs because I decided too quickly and couldn’t stand them once we put them in the house. But I’ve learned a lot. Thanks for validating my pickiness. It’s a good thing I have an understanding husband! 🙂

  • Gosh this is a timely post. I was just over at new clients homes, they mentioned they are hiring me to redo all of their kitchen as they did their 2 bathrooms and totally screwed up on the floor tile. They chose a dark and varigated slate floor which does not work with their marble countertops and white vanity. You are right sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and rip ‘er out!

  • Dianne Tant says:

    you are so right! i had my ugly tile for 24 yrs! the kitchen has wood floors and newly (thanks to you and Kristie) painted white cabinets…we love our old 27 yr old kitchen now!

  • I’m in the process of deciding which tile to get for my kitchen and back hall area – I hear your words every time I look at a tile – will it go with the colours in the rest of the house? what are the undertones? It’s a big decision and I don’t want to make a mistake – that’s why I just bought your e-book and am immersed in it.

  • Donna Frasca says:

    Answer: Anytime you don’t like it and can replace it with something you love. When I moved into my new home 5 years ago, I took one look at the rug that was only 2 days old, ripped it out and put in hardwood flooring.

    I’d like to rip out the tile as well but that job is a little to involved for me to start now.

  • Bette says:


    This really helps individuals make informed decisions because the huge variety in products alone is pretty daunting.
    Some of my clients have a really difficult time finding what they want. Then they become overwhelmed with selection. This article is a great primer for that process and confidence builder for a great final outcome.

  • Linda says:

    Wish we had put woodflooring in our kitchn. Waht we did put in is fine but the color is turning out to be restrictive. I thought it would be neutral enough. It had turned out too dark when I changed wall colors. Fortunately It is not awful adn we cna live with it. Our bathrooms need new tile. I had recycled linoleum put in. The cut piece, why the contractor did that I don’t know, is begining to peel and the water stains cannot be hidden by any amount of baby oil. Hate it! Tried to be green more than 9 years ago! Now it needs replacing but we can’t right now. Wish I had had this advise then.

  • Brenda Thomson says:

    I also love your blog not only for your great advice but for your straight forward approach. During our consultation you adviced us to go with hardwood throughout the living space and I am so glad we did. We just moved into our new house and it is awesome. The Only place we put floor tile was in the laundery room and master bath. Thanks Maria!

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    I know most of you professional decorators will probably cringe when I say this, but…for the client who is “already over budget”, but is already bugged by the clashing tile–rip it out (BEFORE THE GROUT GOES IN!) and if there is a wood subfloor, or a concrete slab, have it sanded clean and paint it a color that you can live with until
    the budget allows a better floor. We had to do that with our upstairs bedrooms in a new house–I primed first–it came out nicely. We had lots of guests in those rooms who thought it looked like it was meant to be that way. Area rugs–yes, even in the kitchen can work in the meantime–There’s ALWAYS a way to do with what you can do with your own hands!!!

  • susan says:

    Rip that band-aid off, and don’t look back. I was rushed when we installed entryway and bath tile, and I’ve regretted it for over 6 years. Any day now when my dh is away for a week or so, it’s getting replaced.
    It won’t be any easier to replace once it’s grouted, will it?

  • shandra mitchell says:

    Same goes for the wrong wallpaper. Just moved into new house, had it installed, and knew it was wrong before the installer left. Thought (yeah) that I could live with it a while. Have almost finished removing it this past weekend. Bite the bullet, I understand!

  • Cyndycantley says:

    The second kitchen has always been one of my favorite kitchens I have ever done. It was installed in 1998.

  • Betty says:

    Oh, how I wish I had seen Maria’s site before I started my remodel…thankfully I did it in stages and made some correction along the way, but the first room we did was the master bedroom bath (which is quite small) I have disliked the tile and mosaic on the shower floor from day one, I just can’t bring myself to rip it out though….I don’t *hate* it, I just don’t like it….Contrast to the lovely subway tile and hardwood in my kitchen (and throughout the main level) which I’m extremely happy with…..I did however choose cherry ‘cinnamon’ stained cabinets over white because I was replacing a white kitchen!

  • marta says:

    Reading your post is making me reconsider pulling up the hardwood currently in my kitchen. The previous owners made a good design decision to run hardwood throughout the bottom level of our small townhouse – even in the kitchen – for a seamless clean look rather than chop it up with tile by the entry and kitchen. However, the wood is espresso brown and engineered – it shows every crumb and dings whenever anything falls on the floor! For practical reasons I am thinking about putting down similarly dark tile (with some colour variation to hide the crumbs) in the kitchen just to make life easier day-to-day while keeping at least the dark tone continuous throughout. But maybe the money would be better spent on something else in the kitchen reno? I know espresso coloured anything is a passing trend and we intend to introduce more gray and white tones into the new kitchen, but have no plans to redo all of the flooring downstairs anytime soon. What do you think Maria – keep the hardwood in the kitchen or consider more practical options?
    Thanks for writing the awesome e-book on undertones btw – bought it and read in one night. Love the principles you introduced me too and now I’m busy comparing paint chips!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Marta,
    Keep the floor and place a swiffer nearby. Really, a dark tile floor will have other tones that will suddenly highly dictate the colour of your kitchen. You will not be happy with it!
    Thanks for buying my book 🙂

  • Luka says:

    I am so happy other people make this mistake. We redid our kitchen in 2007 and choose a dark grey backsplash and I loathed it immediately but we arent rich and the idea of ripping out new, expensive tile seemed over the top. I always would tell my husband how disappointed I was with the kitchen and he convinced me to rip it out and so I did in 2010 and our kitchen looks transformed. I nowlove my kitchen.
    Ansformed. I now love it.

  • Adrienne says:

    I am in the process of redoing my master bath and I picked the tile above because you cant get more nertral than that. What I am not sure about is the undertone, Some days it looks brown others a pinkish color. I just used the beigh for the wall color that is in the tile. But I want to punch the bath space up with colorful accessories: bath mat, makeup chair cushion, new bath towls, Im looking at a purple color. What do you think?

  • Janet says:


    I so hear what you are saying… we have had a reno going on since March and the tile in the foyer was the last bit of work to be done. Unfortunately the tiler that I was working with pressured me to change my choice and I DESPISE the travertine that we put in… So much so that I think I have to rip it out and start over even though I have exhausted my budget. Unfortunately I made a decision in haste because I just wanted to be “done”… Oddly even though everything else took alot longer than we thought it would, I smile and am happy when I look at/live with it. Not so much with the tile in the foyer….

  • Pauline says:

    Hi Maria. I am reading this blog in the middle of the night because I cannot sleep. I ripped of newly installed outdoor tiles yesterday (very expensive), because i could not stand the muddy looking color. I feel very guilty and ashamed. Reading your blog has made me realize am not alone. It can happen to anyone. Thanks.

  • Kate says:

    Hi Maria, What are your thoughts on matching or not matching metal finishes, like doorknobs, lighting fixtures, etc? We are renovating a house we just bought and I all the interior door hardware replaced with French antique brass melon shaped doorknobs, except in bathrooms, they are satin nickel. Now I have spent many hours considering light fixture finishes. For the hanging lights in the dining room and living room I am thinking of iron lanterns, master antique brass, master bath brushed nickel. What do you think? As always, thank you for all your advice!

    • Maria Killam says:

      I think it works if it’s done properly but I think it’s such a custom look that it would be very difficult to come up with ‘guidelines’ anyone could actually use in their house which is why I haven’t written that post. In my house I have brushed nickel egg shaped doorknobs but in the entry I have an oil-rubbed bronze light fixture which matches the front door handle which relates to the black accents in the living room and in my kitchen everything is chrome and glass.

  • Tamara Gonzalez says:

    I too wish I had found this blog and you Maria before tiling three-fourths of my main floor. Husband and I spent years trying get to find a tile that went with our orange oak woodwork. I couldn’t imagine painting all of the wood in the house (which has now happened) or the effects of four children and a dog on wood floors. The best part is that I thought it might be a passing fad. I had the same thought when I chose black appliances over stainless. I will get to decorate around this travertine – ish tile forever. (Sigh)

  • Amberly says:

    This is exactly what I’m going through right now.. We just replaced all of the flooring on our main floor and went with laminate for the entry/ living room/ dining room, with tile for the kitchen/ family room/ bathroom. I am regretting it terribly and considering pulling it up and just laying more of the laminate. Having trouble dealing with the financial (and time!!) loss if we pull it though. How to justify? It’s too bad, I love the colour of the tile, but it is a very matte, almost textured finish and it just looks awful for a kitchen. So disappointed 🙁

    • Maria Killam says:

      Oh no, I feel for you!! But better to take one out now that you’re in it than live with it 🙁

  • Emma Llamas says:

    Hi Maria, how I wish I found your blog before we installed our tile. We are in the process of finishing our kitchen remodel. I chose porcelain tile (light color with a taupe/grayish swirl). I really like the floor but it is now interfering with my counter top selection. Every countertop that I like looks like my floor. My cabinets are a creamy white, with chocolate brown peninsula. I feel like I have to choose a solid color for the counter, one that picks the solid color on floor.

  • Rich says:

    Hello Miriam, love the information you provide and how you do it in a direct and tough love kind of way! Curious your thoughts on hardwoods in EVERY room of the house, including all bathrooms. I was surprised to see some examples online from higher end custom home builders. From the pictures it was very apparent they had designers on staff making selections. While wood in a bathroom seems counter intuitive due to moisture concerns, it does lend itself to a very cohesive, albeit somewhat very masculine look. After living with site finished hardwoods for 10 years in most of my own home, I appreciate their easy of care and ability to adapt to changing decor tastes.

  • Vickie says:

    I have porcelain tile (beige, tannish color with chiseled edges) that looks like travertine in my kitchen. It blends nicely with the hardwood and carpet in the other rooms. I don’t want to replace it. My kitchen cabinets are a honey oak color and 29 years old. I would like to update the kitchen with new cabinets. I’m finding it difficult to work around the floor. It seems like a stained wood cabinet would go best but I’d like a new look. Would you suggest a white cabinet or stick to a lighter wood cabinet?

  • Lorena says:

    Meh!. People get bothered by the silliest things. I bought a house with a brand new tile on the floor that I wasn’t going to just rip off even though it is not something I would have chosen personally, because of its details and the slightly pinkish beige tone it has.
    I learned to appreciate it and zone it out of my thoughts and pick colors that suit it (there are plenty that I like, by the way) and it doesn’t really bother me and I can concentrate my mental energy and my money into something else more important than just a so so floor, that would have been expensive and prohibitive for me to change right now, just when I got into a mortgage and my funds are tied up until I recuperate from the expense of the buy.

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