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The Space In Between

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The best surprises in life are often those unexpected moments: an unnamed bistro found while exploring a new city, a hidden corner of a public park, encountering a long-lost friend at an airport. When it comes to a home, we expect to be wowed by a great living room, a gracious dining room or an oversized family room. But what about all those other spaces that make a house a home? I'm talking about foyers, hallways and stairways. These spaces not only can surprise you; they can define the style of a home.

A foyer is for receiving and welcoming guests or visitors to your home. It is also the last place seen as you say your goodbyes — so yours better look good. After all, this may be the only area some guests get to see of your home.

Furnish your foyer with a console or chest that is large enough to hold a platter, bowl or box to store things such as spare keys, pet leashes and even a flashlight. Above it, a large mirror or work of art can be effective. Employ a bit of fantasy to embellish this typically small room and turn it into the jewel you imagine. Bright colors, an exquisite pair of lamps, a rug and perhaps a place for someone to sit will bring the room together functionally and aesthetically.

Hallways are always the forgotten stepchildren. They are seen as the path from one place to another, and yes, this is partly true. A hallway may link the most private rooms of your homes — bedrooms and bathrooms — but from time to time, it may be public, such as when the need arises for persons outside the family to access those areas.

The design of this area needn't be lackluster, consisting of a collection of leftover prints and odd furnishings. I recommend using this space as a gallery. Fill it with family photos or works of art. One of the biggest challenges in hallways is poor lighting. Consider a proper lighting layout for all the walls. Your best bet here might even be a track lighting fixture for flexibility.

Landings and stairways are also an opportunity to weave the interior design of several rooms that converge. Relate the style of this area to that of all adjacent rooms. These areas can be functional, as well, if space allows. A landing, for example, can serve as a home office with the right desk and task lighting. A window on a landing can be dressed with a beautiful treatment, turning a residual space into a dramatic feature.

Stairways are sometimes architecturally interesting on their own. If this is the case, highlight architectural features and details with paint, and celebrate their design. Hang artwork to create a vertical gallery to be enjoyed as one ascends or descends the staircase.

Create wonderful design surprises not only for yourselves, but also for those fortunate enough to see the inner workings of your home. In all of these in-between spaces, great design is possible. The point is to think beyond the function of these rooms and imagine them just as you would any other space.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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