Sensational Stools

The party in the kitchen requires a place to park it – no pun intended – for family, guests, and cooks. The array of options continues to expand leading to a seemingly endless number from which to choose.

Vendors, also, are frequently offer seating for both countertop and bar height. Just remember, the standard is to allow 12” for knee space – so 18” seat at 30” dining table, 24” seat at 36” countertop, 30” seat at 42” bar top.

Seagrass Collection by PotteryBarn

Seagrass Collection by PotteryBarn





Altura Collection

Altura Collection























Here are some of my favorites –

Nicolae Memory Swivel Stool

Nicolae Memory Swivel Stool














Marit Stool by Hickory

Marit Stool by Hickory














SoHo Concept Wood Stool

SoHo Concept Wood Stool














Bungalow5 Hampton Stool

Bungalow5 Hampton Stool


Hickory Ilsa Barstool

Hickory Ilsa Barstool

















Vintage French by Restoration Hardware

Vintage French by Restoration Hardware


Marseille Barstool

Marseille Barstool














Ameri by Nuevo

Ameri by Nuevo














Sutton Barstool

Sutton Barstool














Twist Shaker by Rejuvenation

Twist Shaker by Rejuvenation














Broyhill Attic Retreat

Broyhill Attic Retreat














Decker Swivel Stool

Decker Swivel Stool













Palecek Navy Counter Stool

Palecek Navy Counter Stool














Vapor at cb2

Vapor at cb2














Chiavari by Vision

Chiavari by Vision


















Jean Stool by Houdini

Jean Stool by Houdini












Mercury Row Swivel Iron Stool

Mercury Row Swivel Iron Stool














Vienna Barstool

Vienna Barstool


Chieftan by Woodbridge

Chieftan by Woodbridge





















Susan Barstool by Pearson

Susan Barstool by Pearson












Bay Stool by Room & Board

Bay Stool by Room & Board















Calais Counter Stool

Calais Counter Stool














For those willing and able to consider dual seating akin to, but dressier than, a banquette –

San Marco Banquette

San Marco Banquette










Saratoga Bar Height

Saratoga Bar Height











Gold & Williams _ Finley

Gold & Williams _ Finley












Or work with your designer to complement your color palette with custom upholstery –

Custom Upholstery

Custom Upholstery
















Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD
Design for Keeps LLC





Top Kitchen Ideas in 2015

Family centric – kitchens combined with the family room in a more or less open floor plan is the most common request received by kitchen remodelers. If you are limited to just widening the opening between the two rooms, try running the same flooring through both rooms and coordinating finishes.

Simple and Airy – kitchen layouts and cabinetry are more streamlined than a decade ago. Comfortable, attractive, and useable are the bywords of today’s kitchens. Gone are most fussy details, replaced by cohesive and, often singular, focal points.

White Kitchens – is it any wonder that white kitchens have been trending for nearly 20 years? White connotes a clean and tidy space with the added benefit of reflecting light, something which many older homes find is in short supply.

Quartz Countertops – with busy and, occasionally messy lifestyles, who wants to worry about the upkeep of their kitchen countertops. New offerings by multiple manufacturers means the options keep growing.

Layered Lighting – with the tremendous improvement in LED lighting, all fixtures and lighting needs in the kitchen are being addressed. Combining task, ambient and accent lighting to create the “layered” look, generally accepted as the most beneficial way to experience interior spaces, is no longer victim to the heat generated by incandescents like halogen and xenon.

Storage Accessories – drawer systems that bring items to you are the gold standard for all users. Look for larger drawers, cutlery and spice inserts, pot and lid racks, tray dividers, roll out trash, recycle and pantry options. Makes me wonder if we’ll see the disappearance of the “junk” drawer – . . . . nah!

Auxiliary Beverage Storage – with the move to counter-depth refrigeration, whether you’re an oenophile or just looking to cull potables from your valuable fridge space, a separate beverage center is a good thing.

While no one can say for sure which kitchen features will stand the test of time, here are some trends you may want to avoid to keep your remodel looking relevant for years to come.

Appliance garages – with the exception of well-placed, dedicated storage at counter height, the garage in the middle of a run of cabinetry has gone by the wayside. Pocket doors and pull-out drawers hide today’s coffeemakers, mixers, blenders, etc.

Kitchen desk niches – counter-height workstations to accommodate storage for files, calendars, and charging outlets are the new norm. A seat at a kitchen desk has gone the way of most home landlines –  better to have a perch at an island to make that call on your cell phone.

Trash compactors – despite their popularity in the 70’s and 80’s, sales for compactors have dropped. Space for recycling is the new standard. Can composting be far off …?

Freestanding countertop microwaves – building in a microwave at an ADA height of between 15” – 48” above the floor leads to not only a more seamless appearance but makes more sense from an ergonomic point of view. The microwave drawer, in particular, is leading the pack.

Decorative pot racks – generally speaking, homeowners prefer to store their pots and pans in deep drawers or roll-outs for easy accessibility.


Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design for Keeps LLC


When Is It Time to Remodel Your Kitchen?

From dated finishes, tired appliances, and outmoded floor plans, these are all valid reasons to remodel your kitchen. However, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) suggests you consider the following six (6) basic parameters to decide if the time is right for a remodel.

Adequate space: do you find you don’t have enough room to roll out a pastry crust, serve light refreshments in your kitchen, or conduct your eight-year-olds volcano experiment? Examples of good planning guidelines includes a prep or work area of 36” wide x 24” deep of continuous countertop immediately next to the sink, a refrigerator landing area of 15” next to or no more than 48” across from the refrigerator, and a cooking surface landing area of 12-15” to both sides of a cooking appliance.

In a similar vein, do your countertops overflow with small appliances? No wonder, then, that the top rated kitchen function, according to a recent Houzz Survey, is the ease with which things can be stored and found.

Efficiency: whether it relates to storage needs or appliances that don’t meet current standards, folks want their kitchen to contribute to a more relaxed, carefree environment. It won’t do if your microwave takes 5 minutes to boil water. Or you can’t hold a conversation while the dishwasher is running. Or perform gymnastics in order for that 4-foot fluorescent light to actually shed light on your work space.

Guidelines for energy use abound – watch for Energy Star Rated appliances, LED lighting with life expectancy of 10-50,000 hours, and low sone levels on your vent hood, dishwasher and garbage disposal. (An ordinary conversation clocks in around 3 sones (or 55 decibels) and a sone level of 8 approximates a vacuum cleaner.)

Traffic flow: do guests avoid your kitchen? Impossible, I know . . . . because the party is in the kitchen 9 times out of 10. And, entertaining is the second most highly rated kitchen function as defined by the same Houzz Survey. All the more important, then, to pay attention to aisles or walkways in your remodel. The minimum width is 36” but 42” is better. Add additional cooks and you may want to increase that to 45” or 48”.   If traffic is to pass behind a seated diner, allow a minimum of 36” for someone to edge past and 44” to walk through; all of which can make a banquette even more attractive.

Children: Do you wait on your kids hand and foot? And who would really want to? Teaching kids to be self-sufficient and responsible means kids participate in the kitchen. And, in light of new cooking technologies – steam ovens, microwaves, high btu ranges – it’s important appliances be located at the proper height and with proper clearances. For instance, microwaves should be installed no more than 54” above the floor. Even better is the drawer option just below the counter – no more kids spilling hot liquids as they use the microwave.   Storing dishware, cereal, snacks and, even, pet food at a height that allows kids to get in on the action is another consideration.

Universal Design: Although you may not have an AARP card just yet, most likely your remodel should take into consideration principles of universal design. This will help assure you can age in place and your space is accessible to all regardless of physical ability. With appliances, you may want to consider an induction cooktop – no gas flames or hot burners to contend with. A wall oven and raised dishwasher make life easier for those with back problems. So, too, are touch faucets if you struggle with arthritis. Maneuvering space should be maintained and may mean that an island is not an appropriate option for your space. Enhanced lighting is particularly important and even the overall color palette as our eyes tend to adapt less well to changes between light and dark as we age. Be sure to discuss your particular concerns with your designer.

Location: Conventional real estate wisdom talks about location, location, location. On a smaller scale, how rooms – including outdoor spaces – relate to one another is key. No surprise then that the top two drivers of your kitchen design, according to Houzz, are 1) style and beauty, and 2) integration with the rest of your home. Do you entertain frequently? Are folks flowing through the kitchen to your backyard, patio, or screened porch? Do you have adequate natural light or a view you’d like to capture? Do you utilize an adjacent dining room? Is noise an issue? Examining what you like and dislike about your current kitchen is a good way to distill and focus your wish list.

For more information, consult:  

And, to keep things fresh for as long as possible, consider the following as quoted in with contribution by Zillow:

John Petrie, 2013 president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and owner of MH Custom Cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, PA, encourages homeowners to answer one important question: Who is this remodel for?

“Is this something the homeowners are doing for themselves, for their own enjoyment?” he said. “Or, do they need to update to be able to sell their house?” The answers to these questions can help drive design choices for the kitchen and beyond.

“If this remodel is for resale purposes, decisions will need to be made that both ensure you’re getting the highest return on your investment and which appeal to the largest number of people,” Petrie said. “When it comes to resale, we generally want to play it safe with color. White painted kitchens and light maple kitchens, for example, have appeal in the resale market — and they have for quite some time.”

If, however, you have no plans to move anytime soon, you don’t want to completely throw caution to the wind, but you can make more personal design decisions. Petrie says most kitchen remodels come about not because the kitchens are “worn out” but because they “don’t look current.”

“Many of the projects we’re working on now are for homeowners who love the layout of their kitchen, but they don’t love the crystal or frost finishes on oak cabinets that they chose 20 years ago,” he said. “We’re also seeing people replace the solid-surface countertops that were popular in the ‘90s with more updated quartz or granite.”

Good advice all the way around.

Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design for Keeps LLC



Top 10 Bath Trends – 2015

Although somewhat dependent on your geographic location, in general, bathroom design is focusing on looks that are clean, contemporary, and easy to maintain.  After all, it’s a room used daily for our most intimate needs and deserves to not only look good but service those activities well.

1.   Large Format Tile – Larger tile means less grout lines to maintain.  In concert with today’s expansive showers, not only the scale of tile but seamless integration with the whole of the bathroom using zero threshold entries.

lg format tile

by 180 Degrees c/o Houzz


2.   Freestanding or No Bathtub – As most would agree, because the debate over showering vs. bathing has long been decided in favor of the shower, a bathtub is no longer considered de rigueur.  Those who do find the time to enjoy a good soak are opting for sculptural tubs that make a statement.

Geneva, Traditional French Bath JB 46

by Design For Keeps


lg shower

by Jeff King & Company, c/o Houzz


3.  Grey is the New White – Grey has become the new neutral elsewhere in the house so why not in the bath?  Vanities, tiles, paint . . . even rustic finishes that connote a weathered grey. Paired with spa-like and bold colors, grey makes for a nice backdrop.

grey w spa blue

by DD Allen c/o House Beautiful


grey _ yellow

c/o Better Homes & Gardens


4.  Storage Needs – Medicine and vanity cabinets have been retooled, featuring built-in outlets and compartmentalized storage.  Everything in its place and at your fingertips.

sto vanity

By Kohler

med cabinet

by Villeroy & Boch


5.  Furniture Style Vanities –  Open any home décor catalog and if you see a buffet anywhere, you’re bound to see a vanity or two.  Traditional vanities with decorative legs, rustic or refined, they’re on trend.  So, too, are deco style pedestal sinks with nickel or chrome legs.

leggy vanity

c/o Better Homes & Gardens


leggy sink

by Chad Eisner c/o House Beautiful


6.   Warm Metallics – Shades of gold, bronze and copper have been coming on strong and can be found in hardware and light fixtures not to mention accessories.  Even decorative housewares are showing lots of copper right now.

gold faucet

By Buckingham Interiors c/o Houzz

p e guerin

by P.E. Guerin


7.   Dramatic Lighting – No longer are you limited to “bathroom” light sconces.  In addition to sconces at eye level, overhead feature lighting runs the gamut.  And with Title 24 in California, more and more fixtures are available in LED.

bath lighting

by Bradley Heppner c/o Traditional Home


ship chandelier

by Ken Fulk c/o House Beautiful


8.   Toilet Redo – Dual flush toilets, while prevalent in Europe, are catching on.  Wall hung or “hidden tank” toilets that minimize its presence are also available from Geberit, Kohler and Toto.

toto dual flush

Toto dual flush toilet

kohler toilet

Kohler wall hung toilet


9.   Heated Floors – Easily programmable and costing pennies a day, these make for a more comfortable room during those cold morning get-ups.

warmly yours

by Warmly Yours


10.  Technology –  Modern conveniences like television, gas fireplace inserts, and rechargeable personal appliances (shavers, toothbrushes, etc.) are all becoming commonplace in our master suites.  On the horizon, also, are new water-saving features like Kohler’s DTV Prompt Digital Showering System which has smart features such as warm-up mode, timer, and ability to pause water flow.

tv in mirror

by Julia Wong c/o Traditional Home



by Dekora Staging c/o Houzz


by Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design For Keeps LLC










What’s in a Tile? How to incorporate tile in your backsplash.

Oftentimes my clients are at a loss as to how to select a tile for their kitchen backsplash, what with the amazing variety available today. Tile can be transformative in addition to providing an easy to clean and non-combustible surface in the kitchen.  Considered the jewel by many, tile runs the gamut in style and material. Any ceramic, porcelain (porcelain has long been the standard for flooring because it is fired at very high heat and more crack resistant than ceramic), cement or glass tile can be used for your backsplash.

Dependent upon the overall color scheme and focal point(s), there are basically four ways to utilize tile in your kitchen:

 1) As a monochromatic backdrop with or without added texture-


c/o House Beautiful, Seagrass limestone from Classic Tile



c/o Trend Tile



c/o Walker Zanger, Studio Moderne



c/o Houzz, by Logan’s Hammer Building & Renovation


2) To complement your color palette or inject color –  


c/o House Beautiful, designer Martin Horner, tile by Urban Archaeology



c/o Walker Zanger



c/o Galeria Marble Mosaics



c/o Better Homes & Gardens


3) To make a statement-



c/o Houzz, designed by BuckMinster Green



c/o Element Clay Studio, Heather Knight, artist



c/o Modwalls



c/o Artistic Tile, designed by Kevin Bracchitta


4)  To reflect the architectural style of your home:



c/o Better Homes & Gardens



c/o House Beautiful, by Susan Tully



c/o Houzz, by Rich Mathers Construction



Tudor backsplash c/o Houzz


To eliminate grout lines, you can also use large scale products such as:


Resin panels; c/o Lustrolite/Zenolite



Countertop material; c/o House Beautiful, designed by Johnathan Berger



Backpainted glass; c/o Dwell Magazine



Laminated fabric behind glass, by Incorporated NY design


Interesting and lovely ways to enliven our spaces, wouldn’t you agree?


By Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design for Keeps LLC
















It’s All in the Presentation: Suminagashi or Marbleized Gift Wrap

As we head into the holiday season, you may already be making your lists.  And, perhaps, that includes thoughtful but inexpensive gifts, as my mother-in-law used to say “sussies,” with special meaning for the recipient.  Giving in loving ways to show our appreciation is the ultimate gift.

I’d add that presentation, too, can go a long way to show our affection and appreciation.  Who doesn’t like receiving a birthday card or thank you note over a verbal acknowledgement? Tactile and beautiful, a gift sumptuously wrapped heightens the anticipation and makes the receiver feel special.

Why not wrap that homemade fudge, knit scarf, gourmet olive oil – you fill the blank – in beautiful, handmade, marbleized gift wrap.  An art otherwise known as Suminagashi.  Years ago, my cub scouts did just that.  We made stunning, one-of-a-kind wrapping paper for their colored Fire Pinecones.  Useful and lovely, the boys were able to gift their families with works of art albeit temporary.

Marble patterns have been around for centuries and used extensively in bookbinding.  I recently saw several variations on area rugs and wallpaper.  Great inspiration:

River Rock by 27 Ground

River Rock by 27 Ground


marbled II by Verde Home

Marbled II by Verde Home


Gemini by Surya

Gemini by Surya


Bookbinder by Soucie Horner

Bookbinder by Soucie Horner


Bajrang by Chandra

Bajrang by Chandra


indigo calicowallpaper



grey by CalicoWallpaper

Or make it an awesome craft over winter break for New Year’s Eve party favors.

silver wrap

by weekdaycarnival.BlogSpot


pink and gold

by agiftwrappedlife.blogspot


paper source

c/o Paper Source


Luxe Paperie

c/o Luxe Paperie


gold rain

c/o Halcyon


Relatively easy to create following these directions.  Don’t be intimidated, it doesn’t have to be perfect – the more unique the better.  by Dick Blick

Check pinterest for more wrapping paper ideas including trim and labels.

May you know much kindness this holiday season!


Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design For Keeps LLC











How to Seat a Crowd at Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving around the corner, do find yourself debating where to seat everyone?  Space is a relative thing – no pun intended! – and with Thanksgiving, you tend to draw the biggest dinner crowd of the year.   What do you do if you’re short on seats?

Some quick thinking options might be:


  • Use your living room by rearranging furniture – or storing it elsewhere – and set up any number of rented or borrowed round tables.  That way, everyone will be in the same room and not miss a beat.


  • Although two separate dining areas may not be desirable, balancing a plate on your lap is a recipe for disaster.  Fashion additional dining space from card tables or saw horses & plywood or a hollow-core door.


  • If you experience mild weather and have a large patio, invest in a rented catering tent and use portable heaters to make a cozy space.  If done right, even winter can be comfortable in a tent – as I experienced when taking in the Berlin Christmas Markets some years ago.


If you simply find it’s time to invest in new furniture, check out these options:


by Bassett Furniture at Crest Furniture


by Room and Board



by Hickory Chair at Walter E. Smithe



Banquettes and tables by City Living Design in Chicago


Bernhardt Furniture at Toms-Price

by Bernhardt Furniture at Toms-Price


restoration hardware

by Restoration Hardware



by Hooker Furniture at Walter E. Smithe and Tom’s-Price

If you’re feeling lucky, try:  in Aurora in Lombard


Some great tips for things to consider when purchasing your table –


Don’t forget to make an inviting impression with lights, music, real (not disposable) dishes and flatware . . . you know the drill.  Even napkin rings and placecards, if that’s your thing.


by Tiny White Daises



by Sweet Something Designs



by Design Public



by Country Living



by La Dolfina Blogspot



by Martha Stewart






available at Paper Source



Print-Your-Own curly script napkin ring template –


See the following “101 Party Do’s & Don’ts” by House Beautiful.

And enjoy!


Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design For Keeps LLC




The Party is in the Kitchen!

Check any shelter magazine or ask friends and builders, what’s the latest trend in kitchen floor plans?  Ever larger kitchens . . . with open floor plans and combined great rooms – some even dubbing it “the kitchen that ate the house”!

Why, you ask? Because the party is, most definitely, in the kitchen!

According to Houzz, the largest database of home design preferences, the kitchen, as you will agree, is the hub for entertaining. Some 77% of homeowners planning a remodel are looking to have their kitchen open to at least one other room. This trend has been gaining momentum over the last 25 years and isn’t abating affirms the 2014 President of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, John Petrie.  The average number of square feet dedicated to the kitchen is 300 square feet, a 50% increase from the early 70’s to today, or roughly 12% of a home’s overall size.

Wikipedia notes that the advent of more efficient hood ventilation in the 1980’s, allowing for the removal of strong odors as well as grease, permitted the integration of the kitchen with a living space.  If you chanced on any new building open houses in the 1980’s, you were sure to see the de rigueur combined kitchen/family room.  So, too, was the explosion of cable television with a new emphasis on cooking as a creative outlet. Family and friends were welcome to join in and the party began.

Folks building new homes today are designing their kitchen to be spacious, good-looking, and ready for entertaining. Some go so far as to hide the harder working areas in a butler pantry or even a second, smaller kitchen to eliminate dirty dishes and strong odors from the entertainment zone.

Check out this layout with back kitchen (to the left), perfect for catering or storing large quantities:




For an example of what can be done to improve existing kitchens, check this example from Traditional Home’s Great Kitchens 2014:



A Kitchen For Entertaining by Adrian Kahan, Elle Décor, highlights the fact that accomodating adequate space
for movement can make all the difference when hosting a party in the kitchen.



Expansive 1st floor layout with multiple entertainment zones.



In living color, this gorgeous example of an open concept kitchen is from House Beautiful.



Opening to both the living room and patio, this kitchen by Nate Berkus’s “American Dream Builders” brings light and life to this space.



An enclosed porch was repurposed as a family room adjacent to the kitchen – lovely. House Beautiful by Victoria Sanchez.



Rethinking how the combined spaces relate to each other – the placement of the television brings things back to the kitchen in this space featured in “Coastal Living”.



Truly open-concept, this small space serves many functions beautifully.  Traditional Home Spring 2014.



Contemporary design featuring waterfall countertop on HGTV, courtesy of Caesarstone.


Beautifully accented with color, this great room by White Webb LLC featured in Luxe magazine.



Inviting space by Alison Pincus, San Francisco.



Uber cool family space by architect Mike Jacobs as featured in Dwell.



Party on!

By Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design For Keeps LLC




Get Your Kitchen Turkey Ready!

Basic Engineering:

Replace or repair faulty appliances now before company arrives.  Although the unexpected can occur, if you have been experiencing recurring problems or receiving error messages on your appliances, address them before it interferes with your celebration. Good time to check your oven temp calibration for those all-day slow-roast turkeys.

Have a slow drain?  Garbage disposal not doing its job?  Better to have your plumber in to get everything in working order than risk a sink of standing water when it’s time to carve the turkey – not to mention the holiday rates to which you’ll be subject!

Tired of never being able to find things in your pantry or deeper cabinets?  Roll-out shelving can be added to existing cabinets rather easily.  Try the Shelf-Genie or diy at the following links:,,709890,00.html

Remember the old adage, a sharp knife is a safe knife.  You can send your knives out for professional sharpening – Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn offers next day service. Or use a whetstone.  After soaking in water for 10 minutes, slide the knife across the rough side at a 25° angle half a dozen times or so. Repeat on the smoother side.  Just as you would use the knife in cooking, direct the knife away from your body at all times.

Add or update the seating in your kitchen.  More places to perch means more cooks to help you in the kitchen.


Check Supplies:

The right tool for the job makes everything easier.

Check utensils – knives, can opener, veggie peeler, cutting boards, wine corkscrew, slotted spoons, strainers, pie server, etc.

And cookware – baking & roasting pans, baster, meat thermometer, cooking twine, baking sheets, oven mitts, etc.

. . . .  to make sure all is in order.  This applies to pantry staples as well, things like cooking oils, spices, condiments, broth, flour and sugar.  Stock up on plastic storage bags, foil, parchment paper, trash bags, and the like.

Now double check after you’ve made your menu plan.


Deep Clean:

Make space in your freezer for things you can make ahead – quick breads, cookies, turkey stock, pie crusts, etc. Plan to defrost if your model is not equipped with auto-defrost. Wrap things well to avoid freezer burn and dump old ice cubes. Odors and freezer burn affect the taste of ice cubes, so start fresh.

The same holds true for the refrigerator, space will be needed for the many dishes you will be serving. Eliminate or use all that you can. Remove the shelving and wash thoroughly. Replace light bulbs, if needed, and swap out your box of baking soda. As the fridge fills up, make sure the vents aren’t blocked to prevent moisture and temperature issues.

Run the self-clean cycle on your oven a week or two before the holiday. Should the stress on the oven cause it to fail, you will still have time to get it repaired.  For conventional ovens, you can use a commercial oven cleaner (follow all safety precautions) followed by thorough rinsing to remove all traces of the oven cleaner.  Fyi, this is also an easy way to clean stained pyrex baking dishes.

Or try the following environmentally-friendly recipe care of HGTV:

Sprinkle an even 1/4-inch layer of baking soda in the bottom of a cold oven, and then lightly dampen the soda with water; it should be moist, but not wet. Spread the paste over the walls and ceiling. Let the soda paste stand for 12 to 24 hours, re-wetting if it dries out. The paste dissolves grease and softens burned-on food, making it easier to remove next day. You will need to apply some elbow grease to the job, but you’ll avoid working with corrosive cleaners.

To clean oven racks and drip pan the green way, soften them up with an ammonia bath. Place the racks and pan in a large leak-proof black garbage bag, and add 1/4 cup non-sudsy ammonia. Seal the garbage bag, and place it outdoors or in a garage overnight. The ammonia will soften baked-on food and make for easy cleaning the next morning. Rinse thoroughly and remove any remaining food, and then dry the racks and drip pan before replacing them in the oven.

Remove, clean, and/or replace any filters in your vent hood or venting microwave.  Call your model number in to your appliance vendor for replacements for both recirculating and venting hood fans.

Use an all-purpose cleaner on sink surfaces and fixtures. If you have granite countertops, be careful of overspray as it may remove the sealant. Remove gunk from the base of your faucet with a toothbrush or nylon pan scraper.  On porcelain sinks, use a powder cleanser or Soft Scrub with Bleach for stubborn stains. For stainless steel sinks, use a paste of baking soda and water applied with a cotton cleaning cloth. There are stainless steel cleaning products as well that can be used on all of your kitchen stainless. Powdered cleaners can scratch so be very careful, if you choose to use one, to work with the grain of the stainless sink. Use full-strength white vinegar to tackle water spots in the sink.  Also useful to clean the gunk from your faucet – use a 1/2 cup vinegar in a baggie and “wrap” around your faucet head, securing with a large rubber band.

If needed, clear your dishwasher drain.  Follow any specific manufacturer’s directions for cleaning. Otherwise, you can use white vinegar to wipe clean the rim of the door and the door gasket.

Don’t be embarrassed by a dirty microwave.  It is a snap to clean using a large pyrex measuring cup.  Fill with water and heat 4-6 minutes in the microwave. The moisture will make wiping the interior very easy.  Repeat if needed.

Roll-out, free-standing, you name-it, trash cans are a mecca for sticky, smelly messes.  Take the bins outside and give them a good scrub.

And lastly, wipe fingerprints from your trim using a spray cleaner like 409 or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Take Windex and banish any grease from your windows. Clear clutter from your countertops, filing paperwork out of sight. Clean and reseal countertops as needed.


Hosting Details:

Determine your entertainment style – will it be a buffet or sit-down?  Need areas for serving appetizers, snacking while watching the game, makeshift bar, or kids’ station?  Detail the tables, chairs, linens, barware, etc. that you will need.  Borrow or purchase missing items.

Plan some holiday décor such as table centerpieces, place cards, candles, door wreath, etc. Check out these simple place card ideas at:

Size up your serving dishes and determine which is appropriate for each menu item.  Source or  invest in a chafing dish, gravy boat, carving set, coffee urn, etc. to meet your needs.

If you plan to serve alcohol, refresh your spirits, mixers, and wine. This time of year, it’s helpful to be prepared for unexpected guests as well.

If you’ll be hosting houseguests, stock up on coffee and easy breakfast items, bottled drinks, and  bath toiletries. Update throw pillows, guest towels, and entry rugs. Clean the house, press table linens, and check you have plenty of plates and flatware.

Enhance your surroundings with bowls or platters of seasonal fruit, nuts or gourds. Family treasures – cake stands, candy bowls, footed tureens – all make terrific displayware. Fresh fall flowers or cornucopia will also add to the festive mood.


Congratulations! Your kitchen is now ready to perform beautifully for you.


By Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design For Keeps LLC




Living With Your Pet

Americans love their pets!  In fact, over 65% of U.S. households report owning a pet – largely dogs and cats.  According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, and which comes as no surprise, “pet owners say companionship, love, company and affection are the number one benefits to owning a pet.”  (care of

So with our desire to keep things organized has come an explosion of ideas to incorporate space for our beloved pets in our homes.  No longer relegated to a pen outdoors, the following are some of the more creative ways to house man’s best friend(s).




Dual kitchen nooks c/o Better Homes Gardens



Kitchen island, as seen by blogger  “House Obsession”



Quiet nook as seen by blogger  “Huckleberry Over Persimmon”



Classic kitchen nook by Cook Architectural



Beneath a kitchen banquette, as seen by blogger “Sticky Bee”



Another banquette idea, as seen by blogger “Sticky Bee”




Variation on mudroom storage, as seen by blogger  “Sticky Bee”



Dedicated space by Werner Straube as seen in Traditional Home



Combined laundry/mudroom  c/o House Beautiful



Multi-purpose laundry, design by Echelon Custom Homes



Rustic yet comfortable, as seen by blogger “Canty Shanty”



A “special place” by Nancy Furey




Modified night table by Allison Hennessey



Another variation as seen on DIY Network



For How-To instructions, see:

For a simpler version, try:


This Old House features a dog Murphy bed at:,,20606885,00.html



Available through



Another DIY, as seen by blogger “Décor Demon”–Vintage-Suitcase-Dog-Bed



By Better Homes & Gardens, instructions at:




By Studio Zerbey



No more kicking the bowls!  By Anthony Wilder Design.



Chilewich mats by



Repurpose a pull-out trash for kibble.



Moveable kibble storage by Simple Human



DIY at



As seen by blogger “If Its Hip Its Here”




For the ultimate in luxury, by Patrik Lonn



By blogger “Junk Camp” with diy instructions:



With litterbox concealment, by



Offerings by Vurv Design out of Canada




As seen on



Design by Smith & Vansant



Seen on



Submitted by Muttropolis to

For more pet beds, toys, and accessories, try-


And, of course, if you really can’t stand to be away from your faithful sidekicks –

(courtesy Elle Décor)


Bow wow, I say!


By Deb Bayless, CKD, CBD

Design For Keeps LLC