At the beginning of the month I invited guest blogger Karen Knox to introduce my new problem page series and for you to post your dilemmas in the comments box below. Karen wrote a great post on how to plan your decorating budget and we reviewed the questions afterwards.
Firstly I’m glad that so many of you found the post interesting and useful and also it was lovely to see that you were also answering each other’s questions. However, there was one theme that came out of the conversation and that was the hall. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on how to create the perfect hall focusing on furniture and storage but we didn’t really get into the decorating as I felt that was another post on its own.
And here it is. I have assembled my crack team of experts to help you out so that’s Karen Knox, who you have already met and I would also like to introduce you to Sian Astley who is a property developer and television presenter. Sian has been painstakingly renovating and restoring her own home and she knows SO much of the real practical stuff so I’m thrilled to have her here with us.
Lastly, but of course not leastly, is Kimberly Duran, who, some of you will know, featured in my book as having found the perfect shade of pale grey (Dusted Moss by Dulux) and whose hall is next on her to do list.
So, Maria Taylor said: “My question is about my entrance hall, the walls are white and I’m thinking about painting them, installing wallpaper or maybe some wood panels, but I’m worried about how far to go, the hall never ends it goes all the way to the kitchen and all the way to the stairs. How much do I cover and how do I finish the feature wall?”
This is a really common dilemma which is why I thought it was worth focusing on.
Karen said: “If you have a period property with a dado or picture rail use that as a cut-off point for darker colours. If your house doesn’t have that – and mine doesn’t – then get the frog tape out and either go with the 50/50 wall or the 60/40 approach. This is a good way to bring in dark colours without having to go over the whole wall and will give you the look of a dado rail but in a more contemporary way. It’s a good way to bring in dark colours to anchor the space and, if you use scrubbable paint, your hall will be both kid and pet-proof.”Sian said: “This is exactly the reason why large, older houses had those dado rails – to allow break points and demarcation for paint and paper. They went out of fashion and looked a bit passe for a while but they look great when designed with a contemporary twist and can be both practical and stylish. If you don’t have the original then you can choose where you want it to start and stop either as wallpapering panelling or dividing the wall. Then you can paint it or stain it to suit – what about a neon dado rail for a punch of colour?
Jane Whincup wanted to know what to do about radiators when you have wallpaper as obviously you can’t paint them the same colour as the walls in this case.
Karen suggested: “If you can then install a column radiator as you’ll get to see flashes of the paper from behind it. Then either paint it the same colour as the woodwork or pick a colour out from the wallpaper. Radiators can be different colours throughout the house but try and keep them to the same style if possible.”
Cecile asked for some ideas of nice lighting for a hall, which was quite a wide open brief but Sian had this to say: “Everyone from Great Aunt Nellie to the UPS driver sees your hallway so make the lighting impressive. They are designed for elegant feature drop pendants which you can duplicate on the higher floors and long narrow corridors are perfect for cool filament sconces (that means wall lights for anyone who just opened a new Google tab).
“Design the lighting at the start (if possible) and don’t forget to have switches at the top and bottom of the stairs and both ends of the hall for ease of use. Always use dimmers. Always. Do you hear?”
Finally Sian had some general ideas to sort out your hallway: “Hallways can be great places to leave some exposed brick which can bring a soft industrial look to your home. Walls to other rooms are often external or party walls which can lead to cold or noise issues if the brick is left exposed but in hallways one wall is usually internal so that’s the one to leave. Mine aren’t finished yet but here’s a taster of what we are doing with exposed brick in the hall.
And, as a final word Sian suggests tiles on the floor. “There’s a reason the Victorians used patterned tiles in their hallways and it’s not just because they were pretty. Decorative is good but tiling is hardwearing and practical and it won’t scratch like wood. Don’t forget to lay plywood first as a stable substrate to prevent cracks from moving joists. There’s masses of choice in geometrics and encaustics now too.”
I am going to add a word to that and say that instead of wallpapering your hall, you can tile the bottom half up to a dado rail either real or imaginary. That’s also fantastically practical as it’s easy to wipe clean and won’t be damaged by bikes, kids, pets and Great Auntie Nellie trailing her handbag along the wall. If patterned tiles is too much then consider a plain tile with an embossed pattern on it – a 21st century way of getting the anaglytpa look, which, by the way, is enormously fashionable if you paint it in dark matt colours rather than the pale vinyl silk of yore.
And the last word to Kimberly whose advice is that if you keep the walls fairly soft and subtle then you can really have fun with the stair runner. An idea which has definitely resonated as you can see from my dots and Erica’s green. Kimberly is toying with leopard print but would take the fabulous Zebo by Alternative Flooring as well.
Now I hope that has been useful and given you all some ideas for your own hallways. Do leave your next dilemmas below and we will look at them at the end of March. I know we already have one question on small bedrooms. Send over the rest.