Q We have company coming in August. They'll sleep on a pullout in the basement. Any tips for making the space feel less like the kids' playroom?

A: With any luck, the weather will be good and the children can play outdoors. Convertible furniture is the key to creating a dual-purpose space.

You have a pullout, so you're halfway there. It's always welcoming if the pullout couch can be made up with fresh linens and pillows and left open for the time your guests are staying with you. That way it becomes their space. A wardrobe is a versatile addition for year-round storage. You can pack away toys, books and off-season clothes, and clear a few shelves for your guests.

A flexible floor plan also helps. Look for a storage ottoman with a top that doubles as a tray. Position it as a bedside table. Set up a clock radio tuned to their favorite music. If they have never been to your area before, have some tourist maps and places of interest for them to discover.

A good lamp for reading, a mirror and an area carpet enhance the feeling of a comfortable, personal space. Finish with a basket filled with towels, soap and some magazines, and don't forget a bouquet of flowers. For more of my tips and simple ideas for your home, visit www.canadiantire.ca and watch my videos. Your company will feel so welcome they won't want to leave. Hopefully, this is a good thing.

Q: Could you give me your opinion on colors for a kitchen/family room remodel? The only division is a long counter that is above lower cabinets. Appliances are black. I was thinking of painting the oak cabinets and wood trim in the room a very light gray, and painting the walls a darker shade of gray. New nonshiny counters will be a gray/beige that looks like granite. There's lots of light. The family room has two large picture windows. Drapery fabric could bring in a touch of color incorporating the gray. Thanks.

A: The palette that you have chosen of shades of gray along with the black appliances is quite monotone, which is fine. It will look classic, but also a bit somber.

Another option is to stay with the light-gray cabinets, and paint the walls the same light gray with one wall in the family room the dark gray. Make it a feature wall; framed art and black-and-white framed photography would look stunning against the dark gray.

Then add some energy and fun along the kitchen backsplash, that long stretch under your upper cabinets. Bring in some color with glass tiles. A geometric pattern or mosaic of blue, green or red tiles can be as subtle or as whimsical as you like, but will introduce another element and build up the character of both spaces.

There is a variety of tiles available, and you can mix and match with glass, ceramic, mirror and stone. Accessorize with a few of today's brightly colored small appliances and cooking tools. These second and third colors can be repeated in the family room on upholstery and/or draperies, even lamps.

Undercounter lighting will show off the backsplash and can be kept on when using the family room. For sure, gray is the new neutral; pair it up with accents of luscious color for a fabulous effect.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie's new website, www.debbietravis.com.