It hardly seems possible that it’s been six months since I shared my plans to redecorate the hall, and I am only now properly sharing the reveal with you. What have I been doing in the meantime, you might very well ask.
Aside from, well you know, life, there were some unforeseen issues to contend with.
Mark (professional painter and decorator; not to be confused with Mark the Houses Husband, who remains lamentably unpaid for his household services) came highly recommended by a number of friends and had given us a very reasonable quote for the job.
As always with trades people, the best ones are busy, and we had a long wait for a slot. But just as he was about to start the job poor Mark broke his foot falling off a ladder (hazard of the trade) and the schedule was knocked back. But the bad luck for Mark didn’t end there. His wife suffered a back injury which meant Mark needed to be at home to look after his six (not a typo) kids. When Mark and his family were thankfully restored to health we were delighted to finally get going (though not without a careful check of the household insurance).
Then there was the carpet saga. I wanted a Crucial Trading one but couldn’t afford it. After a lengthy online hunt I was delighted to find a similar one at a fraction of the cost – The Vialarta, a subtlety zig zag pattered runner. There was a drawback however. It was sold only as a runner and I needed it also for the top landing. Stairrunners Direct was happy to help. However the carpet was in Northern Ireland. While they could deliver a runner to Scotland without any problem, delivering a large uncut piece so that I could have a carpet fitter cut and fit it for the landing and the stair was an issue.
I could pay for some kind of premium courier service which practically equated to the cost of the Crucial Trading option. Or they could chop it up and send it in separate packages. That would categorically not work advised my exasperated carpet fitter.
Undeterred I brokered a solution which kept costs down although did involve hiring a man with a van to pick it up on the other side of the country. The carpet fitter had to arrange for the runner to be bound (finished at the edges) locally and that cost extra and was yet more faff. However, all in (including fitting) we paid around £420. I think the end absolutely justified the means.
With the painting finished and the carpet laid the hard bit was done but the finishing touches took time, subject as ever to the usual budget restrictions. Paying for the decorator was a major outlay, so everything else needed to wait until we had funds to buy it, until I could source a vintage bargain, or – in the case of the chandelier – until I could make it. These things take time. I hope you think it’s worth the wait.
If you’re a regular reader you will remember the boring before. The hallway was scruffy, unloved, cluttered and very very bland. (This house seems to have heightened my dislike of magnolia to near phobic levels.)
The decision to go dark on the walls in the hall was an easy one. As a space in which there is limited natural light and in which there is no call for loitering, I saw little benefit in aiming for light and airy. Instead I yearned for the enveloping warmth of a rich scheme that would signal a welcome into a cozy retreat.
I plumped for Farrow and Ball’s Inchyra Blue, its ambiguous grey/blue/green shading being the perfect foil for whatever accent colours I might layer on over time.
I kept the scheme simple and went for a colour washing effect by painting the door architraves the same Inchyra Blue. The textured wallpaper already beneath the dado added some interest and I added a light-touch colour contrast by painting the dado rail and the skirting India yellow. This deep mustard shade echoes the accent shade in our family room, so didn’t seem out of place.
I had a major quandary about whether to paint the ceiling dark. After much angsting, googling and Pinteresting, I put my big girl decorating pants on and went for it.
Anyone familiar with the change curve would have recognised its stages in Mark’s (the painter one) response to my specification of the Inchyra ceiling. (Shock, denial, resistance, acceptance….) Ultimately conceding that the customer is always right, even if she’s clearly bonkers, the dedicated Mark and his team had the job done in no time.
Am I happy with my decision to go dark? On the walls absolutely. On the ceiling. I must be honest: I’m a little non-plussed. I had read so much about the transformative effect of painting the ceiling dark perhaps my expectations were unreasonably high. I don’t dislike the dark ceiling. It definitely makes my chandelier pop for maximum impact. But I’ve not been blown away by the difference it’s made either. I won’t be rushing to paint the rest of my ceilings dark. On the whole though I’m glad I was bold enough to experiment or I would always have wondered what I’d missed.
I needed a table for the hall, partly to distract from the corridor effect and also for some practical storage. A narrow console would have suited my slender hall best, but I couldn’t stretch to a new one and vintage pieces all tend to be wider. I picked this one up from my local vintage furniture shop (£60) and I love its beautiful mahogany patina enough to be prepared to have to squeeze in a little in the passing.
I wanted a chair to sit alongside the console – to provide an extra bum space for when we’re all getting shoed-up at the same time – as well as to look pretty and be another surface on which to display my burgeoning cushion collection. However, no suitable vintage option presented itself and in the meantime I bought new coffee tables for the living room. I couldn’t bear to part with my mid-century vintage table, so it has found a new purpose as a hallway bench, adorned with my beloved Cowboy Kate Icelandic sheepie (when it’s not making a guest appearance elsewhere in the house).
I wanted a statement lighting piece for the hall: something glamorous and opulent that would stand out against the dark background. No pea sized fixture was going to cut it; I was going large. But inevitably, the price tags of all the large chandeliers I looked at were just as extravagant as their dimensions and significantly out of proportion to my bank balance. Downsizing my lighting aspirations was not a compromise I was willing to make. So I made one.
Of all of my DIYs this has been the trickiest and arguably the most hair-brained. But maybe the most satisfying too because on a shoe-string budget (all in it cost about £40) I have an enormous gold and white fringed tiered chandelier which I think is perfect in the space.
I won’t launch into a full tutorial in this post (perhaps later if anyone tells me they’d like one.) But in brief summary: the build was inspired by the completely fabulous Justina Blakeney of the Jungalow’s Boho Fringe Chandelier DIY. However I had to innovate to make the oversized frame I wanted. After a process of trial and error we found our unlikely solution in a plastic curtain rail and hooks.
The chandelier was a team effort between the Houses Husband and I. It took ages because of the to-ing and fro-ing to hardware stores while we experimented with different materials. Plus lead-in time for ordering bits. If you were to make one (go on, I dare you) it would be much easier because you wouldn’t have to figure all that out from scratch.
If we were to make one again we could probably do it in an afternoon. (Cue Houses Husband eye-roll because (a) we are not making one again if he has anything to do with it and (b) he has a healthy scepticism borne of a long history of my gross underestimation of the time involved in DIY tasks.) However, if those health warnings aren’t enough to put you off, do let me know if you’d like to make one and I’ll get to work on a tutorial post.
The Art Nouveau print on the wall is The Hunt by the Scottish artist Robert Burns (not the poet) which I had custom printed to fit a charity shop frame. I also wanted to keep the framed original 1889 deeds of the house which were there when we moved in. I gave the frame a lick of black paint and sprayed the mount gold so that it worked better in the new scheme.
I sourced my diamond runner from Rockett St George (above) for a very reasonable £70. My circular convex mirror was a hack and cost just £30. It really bounces the light around and opens up the narrow space.
My deer head was from Sweetpea and Willow (£26) and the cushion which I adore is Wendy Morrison Mount Orient crewel stitch(£75) which is one of the most beautiful things I own and I thinks adds a touch of elegant sophistication.
To enhance the lighting at the rear the hall we hung a cluster of three Zelie light shades from Habitat (£35 each).
So that’s the hallway revamp in the bag. There’s definitely scope to add more art to the walls on the stairs and in the upper hall, which is also still missing a couple of light fittings. But I’m calling the hallway “done” now because if I leave it any longer I would feel like a fraud doing a ‘reveal’ post.
I’d love to know what you think. Is anyone else contemplating dark walls in the hall? Is anyone brave enough to go dark on the ceiling too? Also do let me know in the comments if you’re interested in a chandelier DIY tutorial.