Since we moved into our house we have prioritised decorating the rooms in which we spend the most time. The hall, since we use it only to pass through and – to my shame and frustration – as a dumping ground, has been largely ignored.
Yet hallways are an important part of any home design. As the entryway to the home, it’s the hall that makes the vital first impression and, done well, should whet visitors’ appetites for enjoying the rest of the house. The unfortunate impression created by our hallway in its present state is a home which is bland and uncared for, with the random assortment of life-detritus lending the air of an unpromising car boot stall.
Thus it is with great delight that I am planning the hallway makeover. The painter’s arrival is imminent. I have some decisions to make.
It’s the fact that hallways are not spaces for lingering in that make them a unique design opportunity in any home. Decorating the hall is a chance to be bolder than you might otherwise feel inclined, taking risks because you know that even a worst case scenario in which you hate the scheme (and can’t change it) you won’t be forced to endure it for protracted periods.
I didn’t hesitate too long over the decision to use a dark paint on the walls. Dark interiors are what it’s all about for me right now. An all-dark scheme is not for the faint of heart, but I’ve tested my metal with a dark feature wall in the family room, and all dark walls in the living room. I can do this!
The decision as to whether to paint the ceiling dark too however caused considerably more angst. And then what to do with the dado rail and the below-dado complicated matters further still.
The below-dado area has this textured wallpaper on it. It would be a big, messy job to shift it, and whilst I wouldn’t have chosen it, it’s pretty inoffensive. Since I’m not planning on adding any other wallpaper to the scheme, the texture will add some interest.
Colour washing (where you paint your woodwork the same colour as your walls) is trending right now. (Bianca Hall of French for Pineapple can give you five good reasons why you should colour wash your rooms.) While I like the look, as a colour fanatic I can’t resist the opportunity of injecting a little bit of accent colour into the paint scheme. That does however mean even more decisions. Aaargh.
For the walls, above and below the dado I have finally settled on Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue. It’s one of the newest Farrow and Ball shades; a dark shade somewhere between a grey-blue and grey-green which seems to work mouthwateringly well with pretty much every other colour in the spectrum. (Cheers Farrow & Ball; that didn’t help the decison-making.) After much deliberation I’m opting for Farrow & Ball’s India Yellow, a rich mustard, as the accent which will go on the dado and the skirting.
To achieve some colour washing magic though I’m planning to paint the paneling and door architraves (of which there’s lots) to match the walls.
The floor is already a lovely real wood floor fitted by the previous owners, reclaimed from a church hall. It needs refinishing which we’ll do when we can figure out how. But it’s staying. We’re also fortunate that the vestibule has gorgeous original tiling. The stair runner and upstairs hall carpet are past their best and need replacing but that might have to wait. They are at least neutral.
This cupola and the banister are the other lovely original Victorian detailing which we won’t be touching. The previous owners stripped the ornately carved banister, newels and spindles by hand, working on them in their free time for months before giving up and having it professionally finished. I couldn’t ever undo that labour of love.
As we’re having to pay a decorator to paint this time there will be very little (no) budget left for anything else. So the design will have to be built up over time as funds permit. This actually suits my design methodology; I would (generously) describe myself as an incremental designer, i.e. it takes me a long time to make my mind up and I cope best building a scheme up little by little.
Obviously that has not stopped me from doing a little online browsing. Primarily for my own amusement, I have created a fantasy mood board, consisting of a wish list of accessories which I think would look just dandy with the new colour scheme. Whether I will ever buy any of them is another matter. By the time I have cash to splash, I’ll probably have changed my mind.
Meantime, I present my hallway fantasy mood board.
- Farrow & Ball India yellow
- Kartell masters chair (gold), Amara £347
- Tretchikoff Chinese girl lampshade, Beba Home £84
- The Secret Letter Round Velvet Cushion, Tin Design £75
- Farrow & Ball Inchryra blue
- Diamond runner, Rockett St George £60
- Console table, Swoon Editions £229
I definitely won’t be buying a console table as I’ve picked a lovely one up at a local vintage store. I’ve also scored a chunky vintage lamp base from a charity shop which will need some upcycling magic and a cool new shade. The velvet cushion is one which those marketing genius ladies of Tin Design have been torturing me with regularly on Instagram. The runner will depend on what I decide to do with the stairs. The Kartell chair is pure fantasy. I would never spend that much on a chair for the hall; I do like the injection of warm metallics though and I’ll try to find another way to build that in.
I’m completely undecided on a pendant light so the mood board gives nothing away there. I’d like it to be a statement piece but that’s tricky on an almost nil budget, so I may have to exercise some further creativity there.
So there you have it: the plan for a bold(ish) makeover of my vanilla hallway. While the painting will be done by the weekend, the big reveal will take some time. Please bear with me meantime.
I’d love to hear how you’ve approached your hallway design. Have you been braver there than elsewhere in your home? Does your hallway set the right tone for the rest of your home design?