How To Give Your Hallway The X Factor Without Spending A Fortune
Since I met Joe in 1999, we've lived in nine different homes which have ranged from a flat, a two up two down Victorian terrace, new builds, a 1920's and Edwardian semi and our current Georgian abode. So I like to think of myself as a bit of a hallway expert. When we first moved to York, we rented a huge Yorkshire farmhouse that looked beautiful from the outside but was absolutely bloody freezing and had not a single room that worked properly when it came to arranging the furniture layout. The hallway was long, thin and cold. The curtains would literally blow in the breeze with the windows shut and all the beams had the remains of woodworm. That rental property was a lesson learned in that appearances can be deceptive and that living in an old building can be tantamount to residing in the Arctic Circle.
The hallway is the one place in our home that Joe shows some interest in the planning. This is because he has security concerns akin to Misery Chastain. It's ridiculous. On our first date (don't judge me), I was shocked to discover a baseball bat under his bed and immediately panicked that I had either seriously misjudged his intentions and he was in fact out to batter me, or he'd been reading 50 Shades. It was neither of those things. This was the first inkling I had of his security obsession which has followed us throughout our married life. Over the years, he has tried several methods of protecting our home. An alarm is his favourite but he is also partial to a guitar against the front door (not for singing along to but in case the door opens it would make an appropriately loud noise) and most recently, a security camera. It mostly resides in the hallway pointed at the entrance despite the fact that I have mentioned on several occasions that only a burglar with the IQ of a peanut would enter that way. It's linked to his iPhone and he often annoyingly phones me when out shopping at Homesense to ask where I am and why I'm not at home working. It's like being on Big Brother. Joe has two brothers and both of them also have baseball bats under the bed, so I put all blame on to the Dawson gene.
All of these properties that we have lived in have had some size of hallway, from very small to very narrow to pretty large. And all of these hallways have been treated very badly by my family. When my kids come in from school, they literally kick their shoes at the wall, throw their coats and bags on top and then bugger off to the cupboard to eat everything they can find and then spend the rest of the day moaning that they can't find anything. It's infuriating. And if you have boys who play football, you will know about the absolute nightmare that is astroturf and the black balls which make the hall look as if it has a weevil infestation. Plus the fact that mine are obsessed with slide tackling so when they are playing on grass, they return looking as though they have taken part in the Major Series. I spend my life shouting 'TAKE THEM OFF AT THE DOOR' and being completely ignored. They also practice their keepy uppies (technical term) in the hall when I'm not looking and then completely deny it when I rush out to try and catch them at it. And let's not even start the bottle flip convo. Bloody YouTube. My kids actually pour unused squash away to refill the bottles to chuck around in the hall. Argh.
As a result of this transient lifestyle, I have decorated quite a few hallways in my time. So with the help of photographs from some of my favourite feeds, I've compiled a run down of how to give your hallway that X Factor appeal without breaking the bank. Here you go.
First Impressions Count
It's easy to write off the hallway as a practical space and not something that requires much character or effort spent. This is NOT TRUE. The hallway is the first space that your guests see when they enter your house and as such, it should be welcoming, interesting and encourage you to want to see more. The same applies to when you personally enter your home - I've said before that the colour in my hallway never fails to make me feel happy. It's a mood lifter. In the 18th Century, hallway floors used to be painted or tiled black and white which was judged an appropriately restful colour tone to soothe travellers upon arrival from a long journey. Good tip.
Where Do You Stuff It All?
Unless you have a separate coat cupboard, this is always an issue. The best way to get around it, as I have, is to put a vintage coat hook rail up on the wall with a small cupboard below for shoes. I try and only keep items that we are actually wearing for the season downstairs - the rest I store upstairs in the bedrooms, thus minimising the jumble sale pile of shit effect. School shoes are allowed downstairs but the rest are thrown in a rage/taken quietly upstairs to be put in the kids rooms. You don't need five coats and six pairs of shoes each by the door. I used to keep my keys on a hook by the front door until Joe told me I might as well literally hand the keys to his BMW to a burglar with a ribbon and a smile, so I probably wouldn't recommend that storage method.
Show Off Your Good Bits
Whether you live in a new build home or a Victorian terrace, it's nice to make the most of the features that you have. Keep the banisters and stairs clear and if you have coving, make sure it's clean and sharp. Victorian houses often have the most beautiful architraving which absolutely should be the star of the show. If you've got original wooden floorboard or tiles, lift up those carpets and show them off - they are also much easier to clean. Ornate banisters can really make your staircase the focal point, as shown in the examples below. And of course, traditional mixed with modern is always a fabulous juxtaposition.
Stairway To Heaven
In my previous home, the stair carpet was green Axminster which quite frankly made my eyes bleed, so I whipped it up, sanded down the treads, stained them and painted the risers in Downpipe. It was practical and the risers were easily touched up with paint if they were scuffed. I'm intending to do this in our current home too. There are some absolutely beautiful runners that you can choose if you only want to go halfway - try Roger Oates for ideas and super luxe options. From personal experience I would avoid the fully carpeted staircase, mainly because they need daily hoovering in the corners and my hoover only comes out once a fortnight.
Deck The Walls
I'm a massive fan of a gallery wall at the best of times, but the hallway is really the place to let your ideas go overboard. Whether its up the staircase or on the hall walls, what you put up really can add impact. When we painted our hallway, I put up a gallery wall in typographic monochrome and, mixed with some cool photography, it works really well. People stop to look at it and it's a real feature. Picture ledges also work brilliantly in a hall space. I've also put up a circular mirror to add contrast to the angular lines of the frames. Mirrors are absolutely essential in a hallway, not only to check that you aren't going out looking like Crystal Tipps (me most days) but also to reflect space to make it look much bigger.
Light It Up, Baby
Lighting is an essential part of your hallway planning. I have two ceiling lights in my hallway on a dimmer in order to keep it subtle. This is very important as I like to annoy Joe by keeping the lights as low as possible so that he can barely see his coat. Go for something statement. I've got a neon sign on the wall directly in front as you walk through the door that gives off loads of light and adds impact. But if you have the room, go for a side light too. It really creates that 'room' environment and gives the area, however large or small, it's own character. Festoons are also fab for adding a touch of glamour and you can hang them in one string along a wall corner.
Think Outside The Box
Unexpected touches really make a hallway. Wallpaper is an excellent way to add drama and create a focal point when you walk in. Using dark colours can also be striking when contrasted with a light floor or artwork. When we painted our hallway in Downpipe, I felt like an anarchist - I lost count of how many people said, 'A hallway? Dark grey? Good God'. I ignored them, obvs. Style your hall the same way as you would any other room in your house. Add plants, textures, a small rug or runner, a console table, perhaps a chair if you have the space. The examples below show how it's possible to really make your hallway a feature space.
I'd like to think that I've proved the fact that the hallway doesn't just have to be a thorough fare for muddy football boots and school debris. With just a few added touches and a bit of a plan, it can be given the wow factor at very little cost. Personally, I would avoid the security camera option if you work at home and want to stay married for any length of time. Oh, and the baseball bat remains under the bed.
So get blinging up those hallways! And hashtag hallwaybling - let's get those entrances rocking.