An under-the-stairs nook off the foyer is the kind of odd space old houses are prized for. Here, a little window seat instantly turns what might have been dead space into a secret hideaway any kid would love. For a similar effect, exploit under-the-eaves space in an attic for a laid-back homework zone. Or build a niche into a windowed wall on a wide stair landing or in an upstairs hallway.
Tip: Got space under a window near the front entry? Build in a flip-top bench and you've got room to stash extra scarves, gloves, and other coat-closet overflow.