Ever wiser about modern design trends, homeowners often want to add bright, open space to their homes. Sometimes, though, structural needs take priority and kick inspired designs out the door.

But just because your first instinct screams drywall doesn't mean you have to listen. As these designs prove, there are alternatives to the architectural monotony of a big, blank wall.

* Rather than enclosing this bedroom suite's dressing room with a wall and single doorway, Jacksonville, Fla., remodelers Kendale Inc. partitioned the space with a custom built-in headboard. With columns tapered to match the home's early 1900s style, the headboard both supports the original exterior wall and partially encloses the dressing room.

Sue Root Barker

* The space on either side of the bed, says Kendale's Biran Wingate, opens the suite to natural light and waterfront views and fosters good traffic flow.

* Paul Gordon's Stone Pillar Remodeling, Redmond, Wash., brightened what was a dark, narrow stairway and joined it with this home's new family room by replacing the stair's enclosing wall with latticework and open bookshelves. Gordon's clients, he says, "wanted to show a lot of architectural interest there. They didn't want just a blank wall."

* Latticework and shelves replaced drywall, providing visual interest and leaving space through which light can reach the stairwell. A load bearing post abuts the shelves.

Gregg Krogstad