Painted with classic black and white stripes, Homelink's mudroom is a fun transition space. Plenty of wall hooks make it easy for kids (and adults) to hang up outdoor essentials.

With a real family in mind, the architects focused on lifestyle enhancements rather than showy money wasters. "A house may sell because of storage and practical spaces rather than a big, winding staircase," Looney notes. A favorite term of the Looney Ricks Kiss team is the "liver," which refers to the area between the garage and the kitchen that filters out all of the day's junk, so it never makes it to the living space. In the case of Homelink, the liver includes the breezeway, mudroom, laundry room, and communications center.

The breezeway, with two huge closets, serves as a place for kids to drop off bikes, skateboards, or rollerblades. Then into the mudroom to dump coats, backpacks, boots, and umbrellas. The laundry room, with lots of cabinets and a deep, durable stainless steel sink, is ready for any mess that comes its way.

The communications room is centrally located, with eyes to the side yard and ears to the dining room and kitchen. Built-in Merillat cabinetry in natural cherry provides open shelving for books and mail and drawers for odds and ends.

The rooms are connected by a wide, substantial hallway reminiscent of older homes but much more functional. The last stop on the liver trail is the communications center where family members can deposit books, papers, and briefcases. The architects put the room on an axis with the dining room. It can be closed off with pocket doors for privacy. Equipped with spaces and hook-ups for two computers, the communications room also has built-ins to accommodate most storage needs.

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