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Debbie Travis' House to Home: Keep it open

This week Debbie answers readers' questions about mudrooms, entryways other spaces
Easy access for parking coats and boots the best solution for a mudroom. Photography by George Ross

Dear Debbie;

Organizing my country mudroom, I am struggling between cupboards that shut away the clutter and open walls lined with hooks. My kids generally opt for the floor. Help.


Dear Suzanna;

It's pretty much a given that kids won't use cupboards; it is an extra step to open a door. Hooks are the answer for every day wear. Make it more interesting (and stylish) with hooks that have some character. In my mudroom I have utilized a wide plank of recycled barn wood and old firemen's hooks I found at a road sale. Baskets help keep the gloves and hats off the floor. The cupboard is for backup, and maybe the adults.

Dear Debbie,

Our home has a small entryway, 8'x8', and has three doors, one leading to a closet, the second to an office, and the third is a small door to the central heat and air unit. The entry space also has an opening to the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Are there some ways you could suggest to enhance this space, to make it seem larger and more welcoming?

Dear Lisa,

Small or awkward entranceways are, sadly, all too common. Create a focal point opposite the front door that will draw you and your guests into your home. In the hallway leading to the bedrooms, place a small table with an interesting lamp, or an expressive piece of wall art, such as textile art, that has some of the colours and style seen in the rest of your home. Hang a large mirror over the furnace door. This will instantly open the entrance, plus a mirror is always a welcome addition at the front door. Paint walls and doors the same light colour to open up the space. Lighting is an important element, especially in the dark days of winter. Look for an overhead fixture; the choices are limitless, from modern chandeliers to funky pendants. Make sure you can set it for full illumination and then dim it.

Dear Debbie

I have been thinking about taking out the only bathtub that exists in the house, since tubs are difficult for seniors to manage. They also consume a lot of water and we prefer showers. Could this negatively affect the potential resale value of the home?


Dear Carmela,

You should plan your bathroom around your needs - and removing the bathtub makes sense. Replace it with a 'spa' shower, big enough to have a permanent seat, shower bars to allow safe access, a non-slip surface, and shelves for bath products. You can really splurge on the shower head or stay simple. Either way, this reno will have a positive effect on resale, and make your life more comfortable.

Dear Debbie,

I'd like to take out the wall between the kitchen and living/dining room as the living area is currently rather restricted if one day we need to have walkers or other apparatus. It would also be a huge advantage to have a washer and dryer upstairs. Although it's highly unconventional, could a washer and dryer be installed in an island in this opened up space?

Carmela, again

Dear Carmela;

Kitchens are no longer shut away, but have been invited into the living/dining rooms and family rooms to create a communal barrier-free area. Easy living extends to doing the laundry too, so by all means arrange your washer-dryer on the main floor of your home. Apartment- or condo-size appliances are perfect, fitting under the counter, or piggy-backed in a cupboard.  As with your bathroom reno, this will enhance resale.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter and visit Debbie's new website 


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