Smart alcoves add charm and comfort

Enhance underused areas with creative storage, display areas, and curl-up nooks

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"I use niches to give a handcrafted look and create visual interest in a space," says architect Gary Ahern. This entry alcove sets the ambience for Mark Shafran's new house, creating an eye-catching element in the open hallway.

Design: Focal Point Design, Menlo Park, CA (650/326-2800), for Dream Team Builders, Menlo Park (650/322-4466) 

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