It’s that time of year when the nights draw in, the heating kicks in and there are less sunlight hours to dry up the mud outside after rainfall. We have more of everything to layer up in to go out and to dry off and store when we bring it back in.
It’s now that the Hallways in our homes have to work harder than ever.
Is your hallway fit for purpose?
So many home buyers spend years imagining the front entrance of their home. The front door is often the main focus –
What colour? size? door furniture? letterbox or not? doorbell or knocker…or both. opening left or right? glass insert and size of? proportion to rest of house? Canopy or none?
And so on…
After years of imagining and months of planning the shiny new front door is installed; framed with planting; and a gorgeous path is laid to lead visitors right to it. We walk right up to it with beaming smiles of admiration, open it…
And then what?!
All too often what is on the other side can be a real let down.
Hallways are portals to our living spaces and should be used to set the scene for what lies beyond. But, in reality, they are more often than not drowned out beneath a cornucopia of day-to-day ‘stuff’.
This prime house space can quickly become clutter-central because, once you leave the hallway and get on with where the real living happens, it’s out of sight and out of mind until the next time.
Only when home owners are exhausted by tripping over multiple pairs of shoes on the way to or from the front door, is something finally done.
Once the decision has been made that something has to be done, the home’s owners are on the brink of a discovery that will make the daily commute through the kingdom-of-things-that-have-no-place a distant memory.
This hub of daily goings on can begin its transformation into the place of organised happiness and delight.
OK – so HOW to make this happen?
How do we fight the ongoing battle with day-to-day things that necessarily need to transit through our front door and into our homes?
How do we avoid a constant cycle of tidying then cluttering…..?
We do this by addressing the PRACTICALITIES first:
Storage is key.
This means utilising every square centimetre of unused space for storing items from large to small.
Look at the layout you have. Can it be improved? Is there anything that isn’t earning it’s keep whilst taking up valuable space?
In order to create the best possible outcome you need to really think about how every member of the household uses the space.
FIRST OFF – MAKE A LIST:
What needs to be stored right here in the hallway?
The obvious items are outdoor items such as coats / shoes / bags / keys and so on.
Make a list of everything down to the last umbrella that needs a home in the Hall. Then think about when you use each item – daily / twice daily / monthly?
This way you can work out and accommodate exactly what you need in terms of storage.
If your Hall is compact only store everyday essentials in the space, finding room elsewhere for less used items.
If the obvious space you have to store is limited. Stairs, for instance, can be customised to include pull out drawers or lift up lids by any good carpenter.
In a smaller household one key piece of hallway furniture placed well may be all you need to cover all daily storage bases.
The best solution is to install a cupboard or cupboards if you have the floor space, as this keeps items hidden away.
If you can squeeze a hallway cupboard under the stairs or a slimline one in a corner then do, as using a portion of the footprint of the hall in this way will reduce clutter and actually make your space feel larger.
If floor space is limited, how about the walls?
Getting stuff up and off the ground improves a space no end, making it feel bigger and less cluttered.
Shelving comes into its own here, either open for self-contained items or with sliding doors if it’s practical but isn’t pretty.
Hooks can seem practical but can quickly look messy, when loaded with an ever-expanding bulk of coats and accessories.
If coats have to be on display then do edit to those used most frequently (updating from season to season), keeping others stored elsewhere, so you don’t have to endure a daily hunt for the correct item.
Gloves, hats and other smaller outdoor items can be kept separately in boxes to neaten, on a shelf over the hooks for easy access.
Locker storage, whether on the floor or wall-hung, can work brilliantly in a large family household. Colour coded or named stackable lockers or cubbies are particularly good with young children.
As ever, if you are struggling for ways to maximise your space, consult a professional.
This will be money well spent on one of the busiest areas of your home as designers can come up with bespoke solutions that you may not have even considered.
BUILT-IN HALLWAY FURNITURE:
Built-in hallway furniture doesn’t have to be expensive and can be perfect for awkward spaces to squeeze the most out of their storage potential.
If you have room for a seat then make it a storage bench. There are many off-the-peg versions or involve a local carpenter, especially if space is tight and a bespoke version will make better use of the space you do have.
Rounding off unit corners can help to streamline the space and avoid head contact by guiding you through the space.
DON’T NEGLECT THE LIGHTING:
Make sure that what you have helps you to navigate the space easily in the evenings when the light is not so good. This is not only for aesthetics but also safety.
If you have the head-height for a pendant light this can be the star of the show.
If this is the only light then ensure your light fitting can incorporate a high watt bulb without overwhelming the space. (Check the maximum wattage allowed when ordering your fitting).
There are plenty of flush-mounted options available – a good idea if head height is limited, you only have a central fitting and don’t wish to update the wiring.
Again, dependent on ceiling height, spotlights can light a space really effectively, ideally paired with table or wall lighting for a less direct and softer form of light. Always install a dimmer switch for ceiling spots to make for flexible lighting.
If head height is minimal wall lights can be useful and there are options for all budgets.
If you have room for a hall table table lamps can make a hall feel lovely and cosy and provide a low level light solution for evenings.
A wall-hung hallway mirror
is an effective way to bounce light around a space, with the added attraction of reflections making the space feel up to double it’s size (depending on the size of mirror or mirrors you choose).
A group of hallway mirrors is perfect if you want to create a ‘gallery’ wall style using a grid system of same size mirrors.
Alternatively, get creative with different shapes and sizes. If you want to unify then grab a paint can to add colour.
Plot your gallery out on paper first to check your display is exactly as you want it. (The same goes for a Hallway picture wall, either downstairs or up the stairs).
However you place them, hallway mirrors are also handy for checking your appearance before stepping out into the world.
The Hall flooring needs to be super practical and hardwearing so that it is capable of withstanding high traffic.
Easy-to-clean is essential, ensuring that the hall doesn’t need to be hoovered or washed every time someone sets foot inside.
A ceramic tile with a good slip rating (suitable for high traffic areas and water resistant) is ideal, patterned or with variation in texture so that it doesn’t show the dirt.
If you like the look of wood but would prefer a tile finish there are many variations to choose from, including heavily textured and different tile lengths and configurations.
If wood is your ideal then opt for engineered boards which are more robust and suitable over underfloor heating if you have that installed.
Discuss the various options for finishes with your retailer as these vary between suppliers.
If your hall is very bright you can opt for a UV lacquer to protect your flooring from bleaching.
Painted floorboards can look amazing and provide a super hard-wearing surface if the right colour and finish are chosen. This is also a cost-effective option.
Don’t forget that the boards will need to be in good condition structurally speaking, with at the least a light sanding prior to painting.
(And remember the vast range of often overlooked vinyls and laminates).
If you prefer the feel of carpet underfoot then a door mat set into a footwell is ideal for picking up the worst of the dirt before it is tracked into the rest of the house. If the doormat is on the floor surface make sure that the depth doesn’t impede the opening of the front door.
Remember that you can always introduce some underfoot warmth by installing a stair runner or carpeting up the stairs. (Again choose something worthy of high traffic and specifically suitable for stairs for safety’s sake).
Hall runners can be lovely in larger spaces but make sure that they don’t turn into a trip hazard by choosing depth and texture wisely and installing grip mat underneath if necessary.
Keep the decor practical and easy-to-clean but don’t forget that this key space is a fabulous opportunity to set the style for the rest of your home.
Make sure that your hall starts telling the story of your home’s inhabitants right from the get-go.
If you are going to embrace dark and moody for your Hall scheme then make damn sure that there is enough light where it’s needed to guide you at night!
Light and bright is wonderful if things stay this way. Particularly in narrow hallways, choose wipeable paint finishes for your walls and skirting (if you have it).
When decorating don’t forget about the fifth surface – the ceiling. Here is another opportunity to harness your creative side.
When introducing fabrics make sure that they are hardwearing.
For instance wool is perfect for seating upholstery owing to its natural warmth and water and stain resistant properties.
Often a hallway has multiple doors leading to other rooms.
Painting these in a bold colour can add real character. Why not also incorporate the skirting and architraves for a streamlined look?
Above all, remember to keep the vibe warm and welcoming.
Indoor plants can help soften and bring some of the outside in. Make sure you choose low maintenance plants that can cope with swings in temperature and humidity.
Go bold in colour for a fun colour pop, taking in any cornicing too.
Or wallpaper it (yes really!) – textured or ’tiled’ looks work well.
If you want to keep things simple, paint the ceiling the same shade as the walls. This makes a space feel larger.
Play with proportion. We are used to seeing ceilings kept shades of white (making a room seem airy and the ceiling higher).
Why not go dark?
If dressing a hall window shutters are a practical solution, available in a range of wood tones and colours from muted shades in matt right through to bright colours in gloss.
Wooden venetian blinds offer a similar look at a lesser price and look particularly fabulous when dressed with tapes.
There are also a huge array of roller blinds to choose from if budget is tight from simple textured neutrals to patterned – all smart options.
All of these keep window dressings off the valuable floorspace.
If you crave curtains keep them short and opt for a simple cartridge heading. This uses less fabric than the traditional pinch pleat, allowing for ease of draw back right off the window so that they don’t block too much light.
Roman blinds again offer the opportunity to use fabric, particularly good to soften acoustic in a tiled hallway. Position at a height above the window that minimises stacking of the blind over the window.
And lastly, Whatever you do, plan it first!
Set up a mood board to keep you on track.
Measure out your space and double check your item sizes when ordering.
This will prevent you from making ‘magpie’ decisions.
Please get in touch if you have any Hall related questions!