Fall is a time for fresh starts, and there is no better place to begin than the kitchen.
The kids are back in school, no longer hanging on the refrigerator door, waiting for the contents to change like some kind of Web page that's updating.
But the kitchen will be the hub for meals, homework and holidays in the months ahead, and there's no reason why it shouldn't have some eye-catching new looks to please its regular occupants.
In the interest of expediency, we did some shopping in a newish wing of Towson Town Center, where Sur La Table has just joined Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn in a trifecta of kitchen chic.
We asked several interior designers to comment on our choices and to share their ideas.
"I love Crate & Barrel," said Liz Dickson of Millbrook Circle Interior Design in Towson. "It is my go-to store. It is modern, but not so modern that it doesn't fit with traditional.
"Pottery Barn is good, too, but a little less edgy. And I like the colors at Sur La Table. People are using a lot more green. It is the only color that doesn't elicit negative emotions in us."
Dickson warned that adding color to the kitchen for fall can be as dangerous as adding color at Christmas.
"Fall colors are great if it is part of your color scheme," she said. But if you have to force it, like including red at Christmas, "then you are making a big mistake."
Debbie McHale of Interior Transformation in Clarksville likes more neutral colors and warmer tones that allow you to change colors in the kitchen the way you would change pillows on a sofa. In any case, she says, the star of the kitchen is the countertop and backsplash. All color cues must start there.
"Be careful about clutter and too many accessories," she added. "And add elements with texture that invigorate the eye and add so much to visual interest."
Terry Buchanan of Designline in Annapolis said the popularity of white and off-white kitchens and stainless-steel appliances means that accessories are an important way to add color, texture and seasonal variety.
"With fall comes a richer palette of russet, gold, olive and deeper blues."
Something as simple as table chargers in rich color or bold textures and woven baskets or place mats add layers, she said.
And shorter days place their own demands on the look in the kitchen.
"They make artificial lighting a more important design element," she said. "Consider a small table lamp on the counter or on a nearby table, sconces and candles.
"To create a warmer, more welcoming quality of light, avoid relying completely on ceiling fixtures."
And don't forget elements of whimsy, McHale said.
"Our lives are so all about business. Even if it isn't out on your counter, isn't it so much more fun to whip something up with something that's fresh and colorful?"