The thing about publishing as often as I do is that I’m never quite sure if everyone sees everything. Or it might be that a post that didn’t interest you at the time suddenly becomes relevant a couple of years later and, the search facility on this blog not being all that, you can’t find it again when you want it. So, with that in mind, and with a little too much on my plate at the moment, I thought I would revisit my 5 Ways series that first came out in 2017.
We’ll start with the hall. Which makes sense as it’s the first place you come to when you open the front door. Often neglected as a passing-through place and a dumping ground, the hall is, in fact, one of the most important rooms in the house. It’s the first thing you see when you come downstairs in the morning – or walk through from other rooms of your flat – and the last thing you see before you go to bed at night. Not to mention, and perhaps more importantly, the first place you see when you come home from work or leave to go out.
The hall sets the mood for the rest of the house so it’s really important to make sure it’s doing its job. I have written before about this but it bears repeating: basically when you come in you want the hall to welcome you, to give you a place to put your bag, your coat and your shoes and not to be shouting at you to get the hell out because it’s dark, dingy, messy and there’s not enough storage.
Most of us have small halls. Mine is particularly narrow and there is no room for any furniture. We hang the coats at the far end in an alcove which leads down to the cellar and is tucked under the stairs. The only thing in our hall is a mirror and a radiator. Which means it has to work even harder to be interesting and welcoming. So we have made the STAIR RUNNER a real feature. We have the spotty carpet from Alternative Flooring which I still love as much as the day it was installed nine years ago.
Or you can buy a plain carpet and have the edges overlocked in a contrasting jolly colour – dark grey with neon orange for example. Pale grey with a dark green border. Then get the paint out and paint the bannisters to match the hem of the runner. Yes it’s a faff but you’re basically sitting down for this one so you can do it in batches.
The next easy makeover is to PAINT THE DOOR by which I mean the inside – in a happy colour. We finally got round to painting ours last year in the same colour as the stair runner and while you can’t look at both at the same time, it does make the space look more interesting and pulled together. But you could, of course, choose a completely different colour to contrast rather than tone.
Finally, on paint, you can also consider HALF-PAINTING THE WALLS. This can be a really practical decision as the lower half of the wall tends to get scuffed from bikes and bags and dirty hands, so painting it dark will hide a multitude of sins without making it much darker. If you’re worried where to stop you can go to the top of the stairs on the wall side and then leave it at that. You don’t have to go all the way.
Another, really practical idea is to half-tile the walls. This is even more practical as you can just wash off any mud and they won’t scuff either. If you don’t have a dado rail, as I don’t, then you can use those edging tiles along the top.
Now, on dark paint – if your hall is dark and windowless anyway, then there’s not much you can do about it. Having the light on all the time will just emphasise that it doesn’t have enough natural light so you might as well embrace that and go dark. The first point is that if the doors to the other rooms are open, then they will feel brighter when you enter from a dark space. The second is that no-one lingers in the hall anyway, so you can afford to be bold and brave with your decor. If you’ve always had a secret hankering for some amazing wallpaper this is the place to try it out. It’s not like you’ll have to sit there for hours every day or wake up to it every morning.
So we’ve dealt with painting and papering in various different ways. Next up we need to talk about STORAGE. The key point to make here is discipline. No you can’t have all your coats and all your shoes in the hall at the same time. You just can’t. Filter, triage, sort. That is the first thing. Then there are options. think about hooks arranged in a pattern all over the wall so they will look good when empty – which I know will never happen. A high shelf with hooks under will allow you to store a box of gloves and scarves when they’re not in season.
If you have small children then consider hanging pretty baskets on hooks and putting small shoes, gloves and scarves in them. Give each child a basket, or two, and encourage them to put their own things away. You can also hang these hooks low enough for small hands to reach and, because they can be arranged in a pattern, they won’t look silly when the kids have grown too tall.
Another idea is to create a long low shelf along one wall – unless you have a radiator (curses) with another, slightly narrower, one underneath. Store shoes along the bottom one and use the top one to sit on when putting said shoes on. That way the shoes are slightly hidden by the top shelf. Paint both to match the wall and they will disappear. You can also use the top one for plants, books, a basket of post etc. You can determine the width of these depending on the length of the longest shoe and the size of the largest bottom.
So now you’ve thought about the stairs, repainted some or part of the space and considered your storage, it’s time for the accessories. Again most of us won’t have room for furniture so you need to get clever with other pieces that will work hard and look good.
Buy the biggest MIRROR you can afford. Propped up against the floor won’t take up much room and it will bounce the light around and reflect back the light from other rooms. And do bear in mind that an angled mirror appears to shave a few pounds off your reflection which may, or may not be a good thing. I had an angled mirror in the bathroom for years and when I finally saw myself in a flat one I had to go on a diet. But, hey knowledge is power so I’ll give you that knowledge – it’s up to you how you feel about it. On the upside I left the house every day for three years thinking I looked AMAZING and that can’t be bad. If a floor mirror’s out of the question then a big wall-mounted one will work just as well.
There’s a lot of neon around these days but it can be a good way to add a little more personality and light to a dark space. Even better hang it opposite the mirror to double your lighting.
I hope that has given you all some ideas for your own halls, landings and corridors.