Color helps sectioned areas flow into one

DEAR DEBBIE: We have an old house, and the front door enters into a mudroom/laundry room off the kitchen. How do you make an entrance like this more inviting as well as very functional? How do you make it flow into the galley-style kitchen? I’d appreciate any ideas. — Jan.

DEAR JAN: The mudroom/entrance hall is the first space you see when you enter the home, and it sets the tone for what’s to come.

Let’s start with your last question first. Since your entrance, laundry and kitchen sit open to each other and are therefore all viewed together, they should complement each other. You can do this with color as well as style. You don’t say in your letter, but since yours is an older home I’m going to assume you have traditional elements. I would take advantage of this nostalgic mood and decorate with a combination of flea-market finds, wood pieces, old or new, and some clever innovation.

I discovered a family mudroom designed with imagination in a new book called “Junk Beautiful,” by Sue Whitney and Ki Nassauer. The space is fun, full of character and packed with practical solutions that you can adapt to suit your family needs.

The main component for a successful entranceway is storage that’s easy and accessible. If the area doesn’t have a built-in clothes closet, which is often the case in older homes, then look for an alternative. Shop or scavenge for gently used dressers and cabinets that can be freshened up.

The old cabinet, seen in the accompanying photo, found at a yard sale has been reconfigured to maximize on space. Layers of custom shelves were built under the cabinet to store high boots and shoes. The cabinet has been divided up for girls and boys, a trick that might stop some squabbling. Line up plenty of hooks to keep the floor clear. Hooks can be store-bought, or keep your eye out for old handles and hardware, which make a unique alternative.

In your laundry area add an aged wooden cabinet or shelves above the machines. Match up the sink and any counter space with what you have in the kitchen.

To maintain a good flow, paint the walls throughout the entrance and kitchen the same color. Add crown molding, heighten the baseboards and even lay down the same floor — cork is durable and comfortable. These details will ensure that the mudroom is well integrated into the rest of your home.

DEAR DEBBIE: I need help! I have a ’60s-style ranch house with a 20 foot by 3 foot hallway. This long, narrow hallway is dark. What can I do for wall decoration? — Liz.

DEAR LIZ: Halls don’t get very much attention, but they can enhance your home’s décor and add a level of interest and style. I would start by building in some good overhead lighting — a few spots will make a big difference.

Long walls are a blank canvas for hanging art and photography. Put some thought into what you’d like to show off. A series of family “action” photos is always fun, or if you love botanicals or have a collection of framed antique cars, you’ll enjoy a quick viewing as you move from room to room.

Keep the wall color within the same range as your other rooms; a white or pastel paint shade will help push out the walls. You can also easily add some architectural interest by painting in panels or dividing the walls with a dado.

Debbie Travis is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. E-mail questions to her at


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