Houses usually have a formal entrance, but most families inevitably use a secondary entry -- often near the garage or driveway. "The family entry is part of the ongoing discussion about how garages dominate the front facade of many houses," says architect David Gleason, principal of David H. Gleason Associates, Baltimore.

That entry usually leads to the kitchen or mudroom and is also used by friends and casual visitors. That constant use, says Gleason, makes it as important as the formal entry.

In his designs, Gleason uses architectural elements to dress up the opening. He also tries to provide storage for coats, sports equipment, shoes, and umbrellas.

The family who lives in this 1900s manor house does not use the grand two-story entry hall on the front of the house. Gleason created a family entry near the garage that matches the elegant exterior of the house. He used glass doors to flood the vestibule with light and fitted a closet and powder room into the space.

The owners of this house wanted Gleason to design a connection from their center-hall Colonial to the detached garage. The architect used transoms, windows, and a wrought iron railing to create a beautiful transition. Though he did not have space to add a closet, Gleason lined the lower wall with hooks to hold coats and sports equipment.