Before & After: Our Hallway
In our London flat, which we lived in for 8 years, our hallway wasn't really anything to write home about. We lived in a maisonette so the hallway was largely just the stairs to get up to our flat and not a space that we really spent much time on or in. The stairs also had a beige carpet, that I hated but never got around to changing before we sold it, so it was never one of my favourite parts of our flat.
When we bought our house in Manchester last year, one of the things we instantly loved about it was the large spacious hallway. When we first entered the house through the stunning stained glass front door, we were greeted by a bright space with more stained glass, picture rails and a wide staircase.
Those were the things we loved - what we didn't love was the old brown carpet, artex ceiling, magnolia walls and abundance of wood. But despite those things, we could see the space had potential in bucket loads. The things we didn't like were all things we could change and we knew with a bit of hard labour, we'd be able to put our stamp on it and make it a colourful space that would portray our eclectic taste.
I feel that's what a hallway should be - it should be a window into your home and give the first glimpse of what a visitor is set to expect in the other rooms of your home. A hallway and staircase is usually the first thing anyone sees when they come through your front door so it shouldn't be a space that is forgotten about - it should be a space that comes to life, makes an impact and expresses your personality and tastes.
Images of the makeover of our hallway are always popular on my Interiors Instagram (@dottysdecor) and whilst I'm not sure everyone is probably a fan of the clashing patterns of pineapples and snow leopard, I am sure they appreciate that it's unique, fun and colourful and it showcases our personal style.
Here is what we changed in the hallway (*spoiler* it was pretty much everything):
We had artex on the hallway ceiling so our first job was to get a plasterer to skim over this and we then painted this a plain white before finishing off this and the landing ceiling in an off-white with Dulux's White Cotton. Next, we ripped up the brown carpet in the hall and slowly sanded back the original floorboards with a belt sander before realising we needed an industrial sander and floor and edge sander to finish the job. We admitted defeat and recruited the skills of a great local handyman who finished the job off for us and varnished the floorboards in a clear varnish (I went on a press trip to Dubai and came back and it was all finished - much better than doing it ourselves).
We then got the paintbrushes back out and got rid of the magnolia (hurrah!) and painted the walls blue - we chose Hemsley Yenston Sky which is a light but not too bright blue. Painting we can, do but wallpapering is not one of our strongest skills, so we enlisted a local painter and decorator to wallpaper one hallway wall (of course I had to choose the one with not only a curved corner but also a radiator on) and one landing wall in Barneby Gates pineapple wallpaper. I fell in love with this wallpaper as soon as I saw it and loved the bright pink and red colour. It's not cheap so it was quite expensive to use in a big space like a hallway but I thought if you're going to use it somewhere, the hallway is the place to do it, right?! Pineapples are also a symbol of hospitality and that's exactly how we want our home to feel as soon as friends or family enter it; welcoming.
We banished more magnolia on the woodwork and got rid of a lot of the exposed wood and painted the skirting and staircase, doors and frames, windows and picture rails in a dark grey with Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe. I wanted to do this as soon as I saw the house as I thought the dark grey would bring out the stained glass in the windows and doors and it really does. It took aaaages and was a very fiddly job, particularly painting the doors, but it was definitely worth it. We also changed the dull wooden handles to brass beehive handles which stand out so much more and add to the contemporary but period look.
We painted the staircase spindles in a light grey with Farrow & Ball's Ammonite then pulled up the brown carpet on the stairs (which in the state above still looked better than the carpet that was there before!) and sanded the sides of each step. We then primed the sides we'd sanded before painting them in, you guessed it, Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe.
Once the panting on the stairs was finished, the most exciting part of the hallway could be completed and we used a local carpet fitter to fit our amazing snow leopard stair runner and landing pieces. This carpet has had a lot of Instagram attention and it's from Stair Runners Direct (find it under Snow Leopard Luxury). After speaking to the company, I was told it was made for a hotel in Ireland and is a one-off design and if the amazing pattern hadn't won me over on first sight (it had) then that would have done it! It is 80% wool so is lovely, thick and soft and is great quality aswell as being a unique pattern. It shouldn't really work with the pineapple print wallpaper but I love the boldness of each print and how the clashing patterns actually really do work well together.
We then fitted brass stair rods to each step, which is a time consuming job, but it's simple to do and something you can easily do yourself. I discovered thistle stair rods when searching for suitable stair rods on Ebay and realised that the ends of the stair rods, the 'thistles', actually look remarkably like pineapples! I decided they were the perfect subtle stair rod to echo the pineapple pattern in our wallpaper.
Finally we changed the light fittings in the hallway and landing. To match the wallpaper and stair rods, we chose a glass pineapple fitting for the hallway from House of Fraser. For the landing, since it was a big open space, we knew a large light fitting would work well here and as soon as I saw the Isle Crawford Sinnerlig pendant at Ikea, I knew it was the one.
Whenever I come through the front door, our pineapple and snow leopard patterned hallway is the first sight that greets me and it makes me smile. I think it always will.
Does your hallway express YOU? Here are some tips on how you can easily update your hallway space and add personality:
- Use a colour scheme that you love - you may have been putting off decorating your hallway space as it seems like a big task, but in just a weekend you can have brand new painted walls that give an entirely different feel as you walk through the door.
- Don't be afraid of wallpaper - whether bold or subtle, pattern can really give an insight into your style and what better place to do this than the first area of your house! It's also an affordable way of creating an arty look in a big space.
- Expose your wooden floors - underneath carpet you might hate, there could be some gorgeous original flooring ready to be shown off. It's worth peeling back a small area of your carpet in a corner of the hallway where it can't really be seen and having a look at the condition of your floorboards. Ours were filthy but they've come up beautifully - it's hard work but worth it. If they're not saveable but you don't want carpet, consider patterned tiles which look especially nice in period homes.
- If you want to stick with carpet then think about choosing a carpet with a pattern rather than just a plain colour. If you have wallpaper then look at a patterned carpet and step slightly out of your comfort zone - is there one that shouldn't work with your wallpaper but really does, like ours? Pattern clashing, if it's done well, is a perfect way to add some personality to your hallway space.
- If you have a wooden staircase, consider modernising it by painting it. You might feel like you shouldn't paint over wood, and lots of people told us we shouldn't, but remember it's your house and if you think it will make the space look better, do it! You could choose one paint colour or combine two different colours on individual areas of the staircase like we have.
- Changing the light fittings in a hallway can have a massive effect on the overall look. If you don't have the time or the money to do anything else, this is one area which can be done as cheaply as your budget allows. A feature light as you come through the front door or at the top of your landing can really make your hallway space standout.
- Use the high walls on your staircase to display artwork - this is a perfect place for a gallery wall or large framed pictures and not only does art add character, it is a good way of introducing colour too.
- If you have the space, add a sideboard, cupboard or console table to your hall where you can display some of your favourite home accessories alongside a lamp or some greenery. If you don't have the space, then consider incorporating picture ledges or some other shelving for displaying personal details.