My Sister’s New Kitchen: Surprise! It’s NOT White or Subway Tile!



When my sister Lea (I have 3 sisters) and her partner were getting ready to move into the Eco Village in our town, I helped her choose finishes, colours, and lighting.

Greg wanted wood-stained cabinets (not white) and Lea really didn’t mind either way, so I specified a light maple, along with medium brown engineered wood flooring.

Lighting was a challenge because we had a strict budget. Lea kept sending me light fixtures that I kept vetoing.

Then I’d send her a light that was in the budget, like this one, and she would say NO:




Then I found this image (below) and sent it to her. The pendants were inexpensive, but when arranged like this, they were so whimsical and reflected her personality.

She loved them!

whimsicalightsvia Pinterest

And here’s everything installed in her own kitchen:

leaskitchenPhotography, colours and styling by Maria Killam

There’s an entire pantry wall on the other side of her kitchen (not shown).

The cabinet maker had a special price on one style of quartz only (from China, I don’t have the name for you it was discontinued) if anyone in the Village wanted an upgrade from laminate. When Lea showed it to me, I decided it was neutral enough and not overly busy.

She did NOT want subway tile because she thinks it’s boring (clearly not brainwashed enough by reading my blog, sigh), but agreed that we would stay away from accent tile and keep it off-white to coordinate with the quartz. We settled on this moroccan pattern.

It’s smaller in scale than I would have liked, but the tile supplier to the Eco Village had only this size. It works with white grout, but definitely would have been too busy in a contrasting colour.


A sample of Lea’s vegetarian cookbooks (above). I also introduced her to the concept of buying vessels for herbs and potted plants in her house instead of simply plunking them down on a china tea plate. She now has about ten in varying sizes. I love the square one she chose for her bay leaf plant.


Lea did not end up with the knobs and pulls I specified. She chose the twisty pulls on her own (above). She said they were so expensive she had to compromise and go with cheaper knobs.

I’m just happy she went with a knob and a pull that look better (and more like a designer was here) instead of the exact same pull on every door and drawer.

The floor is a medium brown laminate. Just the right timeless colour.


Greg chose the Kohler faucet (above). I love how simple and sleek it is.


In a perfect world (where everyone listens to every single piece of my advice), I would specify a solid countertop with this style of backsplash. Even though it’s white and there’s no contrast, this tile is definitely busier than regular subway tile and should be the feature of the kitchen.


I added the sunflowers at the end of the photo shoot!

Are you shocked? NOT a white kitchen and NOT subway tile.

I bet you thought I was just a one-trick pony ; ) ; )

We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your kitchen together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.

Related posts:

Ask Maria: Help! I Don’t Want the Same Kitchen as Everyone Else

My Sisters Fresh New Backsplash: Before & After

The New Timeless Hardwood Floor



leave aREPLY

  1. Maria,

    I adore your designs and information and have finally found a photo of a kitchen with maple cabinets I can show my husband who is gutting one or our rental apartments. We decided maple kitchen cabinets would be best.

    I am especially interested to see a better photo of the laminate flooring you used. We like the idea of medium brown luxury vinyl plank (not laminate) flooring throughout the open area of kitchen/dining/living room as well as the utility room.

    Debra Wilkins