How to solve kitchen wars between spouses

Bulthaup kitchen units are orderly, contemporary pieces of furniture that cut to the basics.

Q My husband and I got married late in life, and we both love to cook, but we have very different styles. I like a super tidy kitchen with everything away and counters cleared when I start. Robert prefers all the kitchen equipment out on the counters and open shelves for spices and dishes and bowls of fruit and veggies everywhere. I'm sure you get the picture. How do we solve this?

A: Kitchen habits can get the better of us all; we spend so much time preparing meals that we go on auto- pilot, and when someone changes the route there's trouble. There's a kitchen design company that may have the solution to your kitchen wars; it is leading edge and expensive, but the design concept is compelling. German company Bulthaup (www.bulthaup.com) has the Bauhaus philosophy coupled with contemporary design. Bulthaup b2 is a kitchen workshop that concentrates all key functions into four elements. There is a kitchen workbench with a cooktop, work area and sink, and two tool cabinets that hold appliances, tools, crockery and food supplies. Following the principle of clearing away anything superfluous, the cabinet for tools and supplies was impeccably researched, and only essential items were given space. To appease Robert, when the cabinets are open, everything is at his fingertips. When the doors are closed and the workbench is cleared, the pieces transform into pure, stand-alone units. The fourth element is a suspended extractor for air filtration and light. The units are flexible, can be recombined, added to, and moved. Hope this helps.

Q: We live in a 55-year-old ranch-style house with original narrow board oak floors and oriental rugs in all the rooms.

The guest bedroom carpet, which covers most of the floor, is a busy pattern mostly in pastel shades of blue, rose and cream with navy blue around the border.

I'd like to use something other than plain colors for the textiles in the room, which includes an upholstered headboard, wooden bench cushion, bed skirt and covers. Can you give me some guidance on mixing patterns? Thank you.

A: Your midcentury ranch-style home has a history and color palette that will help you. Colors are taken from nature, along with cheery pastels and bold shots of turquoise and orange, stainless steel and bronze. (Watch for next week's column on the subject of Ranch Style.)

Rather than adding more multicolored patterns, look for fabrics that have tone-on-tone texture, such as ribbed and embossed patterns.

Blocks of color will energize the guest room; turquoise for the bed, and a citrus green for one of the walls.

Q: I have a gas log fireplace with a brass rectangle around it that has become pitted and ugly. Have you any suggestions on how to fix this?

A: The brass is most likely lacquered, and there is no way to repair this. You can paint over it with a metal paint, which will clean it up, but you'll still see the pit marks.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie's website, www.debbietravis.com.