Hallways are difficult spaces, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They’re traffic areas, people need to get in and out easily, coats need to be stored, the bin bags often get carried through and they have to cope with fluctuating temperatures – as well as mucky shoes and possibly bicycles. And yet this is the first part of your home that anyone sees. So how do you make an impact when there are so many things to consider?
This is the perfect place to let your interests reflect your style. Often hallways are very narrow and as a result, the walls need to take centre stage. If you have a collection of any kind then think about turning your hallway into a gallery space – the floor will still be clear for movement, but all your favourite things are on clear view as illustrated in this tiny hallway that four doorways feed onto.
This little gem of a flat is owned by my cousin and he hasn’t allowed size to in any way restrict what he wanted to achieve from his home – we’ll look at it in more detail another day. What he has used to advantage is the height of his ceilings and because the doors opening onto his hall all allow light in, the deep red of the walls enhances the wood of his collected pieces, which in a sense alludes to wood paneling, so appropriate in a house the age of his.
Taking little clues from your house is also a way of balancing decorative style with original features. There is such a difference of opinion about period properties, but my personal feeling is that original features should, where possible, be saved and enhanced. However, there are some decorative styles that are so pared back and minimal that a room heavy with ornate cornicing simply wouldn’t work. But, this depth of detail can act as a frame and can be used to link more modern additions to the building, so don’t start ripping things out until you’ve given thought to how you might create that harmony between the old and the new!
In this entrance hall the owner has used the stair runner to create a visual link to the garden. It draws the eye forward and surrounds the new kitchen-diner extension, so that this is immediately included visually with the older part of the house. Colour is used here to unite both period features and modern additions, but it is more subtle than simply painting the walls – or the kitchen units – and offers a really interesting alternative to introducing impact within a scheme.
Linking visual texture within an interior space is also a good way of introducing the decorative references that feature throughout the house. The colours can be alluded to in the hallway and then flow from there into the different aspects of the scheme.
The starting point of this scheme was the family photographs on the wall. The homeowner wanted to include them somewhere that they would be seen. I felt that we needed to make more of the grouping as that stair wall could have overwhelmed a small collection. So, the striped paintwork was suggested to make a feature of the wall and as a way of linking her interest in Art Deco style, which then allowed us to make a bolder choice for the stair runner.
We then went on to use these colours in the front room and the kitchen. This layering of style allowed us to enhance the age of the building and showcase the owners interests by simply thinking about how we would feature colour in other common areas of the house. It makes for a very personal interior space that offers a narrative about this home.
Breaking from the terraced style of buildings for a moment, this Arts and Crafts house has a wealth of period features which needed both enhancement and refurbishment. Unlike many terraced houses, this hallway already had a strong decorative feature, but it allowed little scope for the owners to introduce their personality. They wanted to create a more decorative impact and so I suggested putting a paper on the ceiling and introducing a feature light fitting.
To soften the solidity of the paneling, which had over time become very dry and mottled with old varnish, we continued the lilac tones of the ceiling paper in the curtains for the landing and the rear of the hall.
In some hallways a piece of furniture dictates the space as here with this church pew. This piece had come from a church clearance that had family connections and held sentimental value for the owner. The dark wood suggested more moody tones for the wall behind, but not wanting to lose too much light, the owner decided on a sludgey green which then enhanced the collection of family photographs snaking up the wall.
To ensure the light was maximised the owner then placed another mirror on the opposite wall – and left this wall painted white. This relaxed approach further enhances a space that is a busy family home as paintwork can be touched up with a minimum of effort.
Remember though, although your hallway is the first thing to be seen, it should be the last to be decorated if you’re having work done. Because of the traffic coming through – and any items being removed – any decorating will inevitable get damaged, so be patient. Use the time that the contractors are on site to plan what you want in the hallway!
And once the decorating is done, we all like the upkeep to be straightforward, so here’s the absolute best trick for increasing the longevity of your paintwork in a hallway – coat it up decorators glaze. If you use a matt texture glaze, you won’t be able to tell it’s there – and you’ll be able to wipe your walls clean!
Now doesn’t that sound like a good idea?