The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it’s Pink)

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam


When I asked y’all last week to send me an email on when and under what circumstances you found my blog, I received this note from Deb in Arizona:

I came to find you on the internet just a month or so ago so this is fresh in my mind.  I just bought a 25 year old home in Scottsdale AZ.  Originally I thought we would redo the cabinets but this quickly escalated into a complete kitchen remodel.  And then the floors started bugging me, they are pink and orange flagstone.  What can I do to minimize all the pink and orange drama underfoot?  Replacing them was over $20k and completely blowing the budget.

At this point my husband is wondering why in the world we bought this house in the first place.  What can I say, the views are killer.  (See below, thought you might want that as one of the WORST floors ever)  I looked high and low on the internet trying to find a way I could decorate and live with them.  That is when I happened upon your website.  Your words of wisdom have been a big factor in making a very painful decision – those floors gotta go.

Here’s the picture she sent me:

By the way, I’m going out on a limb to call it Saltillo flagstone. I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong. Let me know ASAP so I can delete this sentence, haha.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

Don’t they look like they belong in a chateau in Europe? Gorgeous!

This was my response:

“Ack, OMG really? They are kind of awesome. . . and they don’t scream pink, from here they seem yellow/orange/pink, if I lived in Arizona, I would probably decorate around them, seagrass rugs, cognac, green greys, yellows.

Where do you ever see floors that look like they have been there forever, like you’re in Europe or something. . . I don’t know Deb, before I ripped those out, I would get a decorating plan to see if you could live with them.”

So Deb purchased my e-Design package “Create a Classic Kitchen” and proceeded to take photos as per our instructions and sent them over:

When I saw her existing kitchen, I understood immediately why she thought the floors should go too:

Wait for it.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

It just doesn’t get any worse really. You couldn’t install a kitchen that ignored these floors more (well you probably could). Cherry cabinets with white countertops??


This is what her kitchen should look like:

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam


Cream cabinets, black or stone coloured countertops, rustic looking wood stained island.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam


Here’s another pretty kitchen with similar coloured floors. I would even break my rule of subway tile here. If the floors are staying, might as well coordinate the backsplash to them.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam


Now lets consider this kitchen (above). The floors are not nearly as pretty but do read terra cotta which is a neutral all throughout Europe. I wrote a post about terra cotta floors after our trip to Tuscany last year here.

However, the problem with this kitchen is that it’s totally ignoring the floors. No warm wood to relate to the orange, the white cabinets are too white and of course the strip of black accent in the backsplash? Not doing anything for this kitchen.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam


Here the walls are whiter than the floors which are very similar in look and feel to Deb’s irregular flagstone. However the furniture and artwork repeat the warmth of the Saltillo flooring.

The thin frame of the gorgeous floor to ceiling windows contribute to this John Saladino inspired decor as well as the warm, wood ceilings which you can see through the doorway.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

John Saladino

And speaking of John Saladino, look at how Deb’s flagstone is kind of on this fireplace designed by Saladino. And check out the white outdoor furniture.

The natural wicker ottoman and 2 chairs with orange pillows also repeat the orange/pink and yellow fireplace.

This tile is definitely more neutral feeling than other tiles you’ll find throughout homes in hot climates, but you need to repeat the warmth of natural tones in wood or wicker as shown above.

Tricia and I talked about the design of Deb’s new kitchen and this is what we sent her:

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

Debra had chosen this light fixture which definitely works with this scheme as well.
The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

Here are the countertop suggestions.

Flagstone Kitchen 8

And the hardware

Since choosing 1″ pulls for a recent project that I’ve been working on I have fallen in love with minimalist hardware.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

Deb loved our suggestions and ran out to collect samples for our approval.

So that’s what you can expect when you order one of our kitchen packages.

Not to mention the money we saved this couple in their renovation. I’m guessing her husband is loving me now 🙂

A word of caution in case you are about to throw out the baby with the bathwater like Deb was just about to do.

When you are NOT the professional, and you’re trying too hard to follow all the rules you’ll read on my blog or others, you don’t know which minutiae to follow and which advice to ignore.

That’s when you can easily go down the wrong path and end up spending more money than you should.

So notice that the way to work with this tile is to WORK with it. Don’t ignore it. You can still achieve a fresh look and feel as shown above.

I’m in Paris for Maison & Objet and yesterday I went to Giverny Monet’s Garden and I have some more orange tile to show you:

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

I stood in the kitchen looking down at 6″ terra cotta hex tile (sorry it’s hard to see in this pic) This house was built in the late 1800’s so it’s very old.

As blue and orange are complementary colours, the blue and white (gasp) accent tiles look very timeless and perfect here.

Tobi Fairley refreshed a kitchen for her Mom with terra cotta floors in turquoise here.

Turquoise is also lovely with these floors.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

In one of the outbuildings where I had a cappuccino, here was more hex terra cotta tile but this time with black.

The Best Way to Work with Saltillo Flagstone (Because it's Pink) | Maria Killam

The stairs in my hotel look like this. They are growing on me combined with the graphic black and white rug. However, black also looks great with this floor. Just like black looks great with an orange brick exterior.

There’s very little I have not seen in styles and decor in my 20 year career so if somethings bothering you but you can’t figure out what to do or why it’s bad or wrong, well I most likely can tell you. After all, there’s only so many styles and each era installs the same trendy items over and over so it might be that there’s something new mixed with someone old and it’s just not working. Go see our packages here.

I feel bad for whoever installed those cherry cabinets in Deb’s last house. They probably hated those floors as long as they had their kitchen. Or even worse, it was renovated to sell which certainly didn’t do that house any favours!

If you need help coordinating your kitchen finishes, you can purchase the package here.

In case you haven’t been to Monet’s garden, here are a few pictures just for fun:

Monet's Garden | Maria Killam

I posted an image of this house on my Instagram and said “This pink and green colour scheme only works here in this context” and one of my astute readers said “but the pink is dirty in comparison to the green” and she’s absolutely right!

Monet's Garden | Maria Killam

His gardens really were an attraction not to miss, and you haven’t even seen the lily pads yet.

Whenever I travel, I go out of my way to take photos without people in them because they look better. One time my sister said “Are these postcards?” haha. So look at the end of this one.


I couldn’t wait any longer for them to stop streaming by 🙂

Monet's Garden | Maria Killam


Monet's Garden | Maria Killam


Monet's Garden | Maria Killam

Hope you enjoyed the glimpse of his gardens!

Maison & Objet starts Friday, I’m excited!

Are you are planning a new kitchen and you are overwhelmed with the endless options and possible combinations of finishes. Let us help you with our convenient eDesign services here.

If you’d like to train your eye in colour and design to become a True Colour Expert, register here for one of my Fall workshops.

Related posts:

The Timeless Floor Everywhere in Italy

Don’t Hire a Designer the Same way you Buy Oranges

Cream is Old, White is New and Other thoughts about Italy




leave aREPLY

  1. I love all your suggestions! I knew there was a reason I follow your blog 🙂 I happen to be a designer here in Scottsdale AZ, that happens to get ALOT of business through realtors because I truly love remodeling! We call this flooring Flagstone, and it is the bane of all custom home sales existence because in the past it was often put in custom territorial homes -that tend to emulate the “Tuscan” trend for lack of a better correlation (it is more hispanic/Santa Fe) that currently is not in trend – it looks like it needs to be outside, which is what it was originally meant for. Just beautiful on patios! The rustic atmosphere of territorials so popular here in the Southwest are not always currently grasped by homebuyers so used to the up-and-coming trends -we definitely lag behind to a point here in AZ. And yes, flagstone is incredibly expensive to put in and tear out- very heavy product! That being said as beautiful as it can be- the thick grout lines and the layered effect of the facing, make it very hard to keep clean, which is part of the reason it is now so unpopular. As much as I’d like to see homeowners work with this wonderful “old world” flooring, the real estate side of me says to tear it out now, and enjoy some updated flooring because when you choose to sell your home it may be the biggest deal-breaker which is unfortunately what I’m seeing time and time again right now with custom homes on the market. I’ve been called to change out the flagstone flooring in several homes in the past few months because they are not selling and specific feedback is the flooring!

  2. Oh my goodness! I love her stone floors! Gorgeous!! But the rest of that kitchen has to go lol!! Your mock up was perfection. Love the first one with the weathered wood, creamy cabinets, black or gray counter suggestion etc. It’s going to be so pretty! Lucky she found you when she did. Enjoy your trip!

  3. Great post! By spotting the correct issue, you were able to solve years of reno-creep! Surely, even if the floors had been replaced, there would have been disappointment in that kitchen, and that would have been redone too! Can’t wait until my next reno project to use your services….

  4. Love ‘flagstone’ and never have seen it before applied to an interior space so I think its wonderful Maria that you are encouraging her to keep it. That said; definitely not to offend but I actually thought you may have photo edited the small Island in as an example as ‘not what to do’ …. ☺. To conclude; IMHO your suggestions are definitely going to give the space a new life. -Brenda-

  5. Thanks Maria for another great blog post. Even after taking your class I continue to learn and grow from your posts! Thanks to your asst. for sharing her home and dilemma of her paint. And love the pics from Paris!

  6. Thank you for this ! I am considering saltillo floors and creamy cabinets because of this post. Would I have to repaint all of my bright white baseboards and window trim the same creamy cabinet color? Thanks!

  7. Hi! I’d love a bit of clarification — in this post you say “Nooo!” to white counters with cherry cabinets, but in your post about the Best Counters with Stained Wood Cabinets you recommend white or cream …

  8. I don’t think her floors are really saltillo tile. They look like flagstone made to look like saltillo tile. A lot of your other pictures do have floors with that tile. I no longer live in AZ but I did have a kitchen with saltillo and I really liked it. It was durable and did not show a lot of dirt that gets into a house with kids. I really just decorated around it. And, to me, it was much better than the “muddy” tile you see so abundant now. I wouldn’t have wanted it in my whole house but just seemed fitting in my kitchen.

  9. I’m so happy to see this article posted again! My entire home has Saltillo floors, and during the gray trend it was almost impossible to find inspiration for my kitchen remodel. This article inspired every choice I made…especially the “This is what her kitchen should look like” photo. Thank you, Maria, for inspiring what turned out to be the most beautiful and timeless kitchen I could have come up with for my home. It makes me think of you often!