In today's home, the square footage goes into the living room - and so do you - right smack after you open the front door.

In principle, this seems an equitable exchange, assuming the current critical shortage of square feet; in practice, however, it means that there is no privacy from the front door for the folks in the living room, no closet for coats and no place to put all the things one carries into, one's home.

As an antidote for the many homes without an entrance foyer. I'd like to suggest building one. In the home I worked on, I used a very simple device, a solid, 6-foot-wide barrier from floor to ceiling.

The barrier itself turned into a bonus. Half of it became a desk - a perfect place for the hall telephone (a convenience we long ago had to learn to live without) as well as a handy writing surface. Having an electrician install an electrical outlet to this "desk" was an inexpensive necessity, providing a connection for the light strip behind the fascia of the shelf over the writing surface of the desk.

Drawers beneath the shelf make a marvelous place to store all the bulky winter extras, like hats, scarves and mittens. The shelves overhead hold books, baskets and a plant or two.

The other 3 feet of the barrier was designed as a closet for guest coats, an elegant wood box with a chrome rod and see-through plexi coat hangers for visitors' coats.

The barrier also made a handy back-up wall for the loveseat on the living room side, making a whole new furniture arrangement that uses the full space of the living room. An ottoman becomes a mobile seat in the new "foyer," to be used at the work surface or rolled back into the living room as an extra chair.

If you don't want to build a permanent barrier, you can assemble the same look with modular pieces. Two 3-foot sections 6 or 7 feet high will give you the same visual protection from the front door as the more expensive built-in and can be tailored to your personal needs with the many interchangeable parts that modular systems provide.

Other spinoffs of the same idea could be a single thickness of wall, 4 inches from back to front and 4 feet wide, stretching from ceiling to floor, mirrored on the entrance foyer side and covered with a gloriously thick shag rug in a Rya-style pattern on the other side. Or, two posts from ceiling to floor supporting an elegant 4-foot wide piece of plywood in an exotic wood-like elm buri, lighted in front and back with a wall-washer. CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, Illustration by Sally [WORD ILLEGIBLE] - United Feature Syndicate, Inc.