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The mudroom and the screened-in porch are two spaces that have the least welcoming names. Not to mention the former has a messy rap; the latter cold and claustrophobic. But all of that’s just on paper. In real life, these bonus areas are packed with potential—and these days, as we scour our homes for any extra square footage we can get, we need their help. Fortunately we just spotted two stellar examples of how to approach these spaces at the inaugural Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Dallas, which, for the first time, is open for both in-person and virtual tours this year. 

“Just because a space is outside doesn’t mean it shouldn’t feel like an extension of your home,” says Tracy Hardenburg, the designer who tackled the property’s partially enclosed, quirkily-shaped porch. Today only the stone floors, white brick exterior walls, and see-through doors give away what it really is. Hardenburg, much like Erin Sander, who revamped the home’s mudroom (another key area come winter), treated it like any other hangout space, softening the layout’s harsh angles with window treatments and adding a stained oak ceiling with geometric woodwork. “What started out as an unexpected challenge wound up becoming one of my favorite projects,” says Hardenburg. Ahead, both pros share how they brought out the best in these “afterthought” rooms. 

Remember: Practical Can Be Pretty

A curvy, armless couch; cradle-like armchairs; a tufted built-in bench—all of these seating options have one thing in common: They’re inviting. And in these spaces, they’re also incredibly practical. The trick? Perennials—the fabric company that can make a semi-outdoor space usable year-round. The brand is known for fade- and mold-resistant materials that are also bleach-cleanable. Hardenburg swathed the sofa on the porch in a breezy white (repeat, white!) option that has the appearance and texture of linen, while in the mudroom Sander went for something a little more luxe-looking but just as hardworking: a performance velvet dubbed Plushy in shell pink. 

Solidify the Storage

A screened-in porch, where you can still enjoy the fresh air and have the room to socially distance with friends, is a perfect place to do your entertaining this season. So store your essentials—decanters, glassware, melamine plates—inside floating cabinets. The glass frames Hardenburg chose make it feel more like a proper kitchen while also showcasing the cordovan backsplash tile on the other side. “This should be the area where couples have a drink before going out to dinner, friends snack after a swim outside, or anyone in the family can unwind after a long day,” says the designer. 

Hang Your Conversation Piece

The custom Dutch-style door off the mudroom offers plenty of natural light, as do the screens on the porch, but at night it’s all about the fixtures in these types of spaces. Sander hung large metal pendant lamps in between the slats of wood on the ceiling; Hardenburg went in a more sculptural direction with a ceramic chandelier by Heather Levine. 

Zoom In on the Trimwork

The white border surrounding the mudroom’s bench isn’t wallpaper—it’s actually intricate woodwork made from the same refined, rift-cut white oak used for the surrounding cabinetry. Out on the porch, Hardenburg added tiny bits of glass to the white grout in between the flagstones to make a pattern. The smallest details (think as tiny as the switch plates) are what counts.

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