We will have been in our house for six years this summer, but the room most neglected is the one that probably matters the most : the hallway.
If you think about it, the hallway is actually the most used room of any house. It’s also the room that guests first see upon entering your house, so it makes sense to make a good first impression.
Put bluntly, I’ve completely failed in this aim. Although I’ve added various bits of art and photography over the years there are several things that need to change.
Firstly, our coats – it became obvious that as a family of five a place to hang coats was imperative. With this in mind, I go Mike to make this coat rack and it certainly provides a place for the coats. The only problem is the volume.
Living in a notoriously wet city, coats are obviously crucial but the temperature can change so quickly and dramatically, we usually want to have a range of coats to hand. It would be logical to rotate the coats so we don’t have quite as many out at one time but this isn’t always practical.
However, stage one has to be to examine what is practical and what is just ridiculous. Practical is having the coats you need for the current season, ridiculous is having coats that don’t fit any of your children. At my last count at least five coats that have long been out grown still linger. This is an easy one to address either with a quick trip to the charity shop (or to the attic for storage).
My other storage bug bear is the small set of drawers. They are really difficult to open and actually don’t have anything in them that we use from day to day. Neither of us like the bit of furniture either so it makes little sense that it is one of the first things you see when you enter our home!
Back in January, I mentioned I had begun reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. One of the main premises of this book is that you should only have items that bring you joy in your home. On that basis the drawers have to go.
The only thing I like about the drawers is that it’s a place for lamp. It’s nice to have this on timer switch so the light comes on just as it’s getting dark. For that reason I’d like to replace the drawers with a half moon table. I’ve been hunting salvage yards for one we can up-cycle. Since it’s the first thing you see I’d really like to have a really bright colour that catches the eye.
We’re lucky to have a number of salvage and clearance houses around Edinburgh, but my personal favourite is Sam Burns out at Prestonpans. They have a number of large storage houses to rummage round so even though you don’t always find what you’re looking for – it’s fun to explore.
It’s not somewhere I’d let the kids go round by themselves but there’s plenty of things for them to spot (and try out). When Ben was small he would usually find a collection of junk for about 50p to turn into a spaceship, whilst Katie just seems more set on snooping round every corner she can!
I’ve been hunting for a suitable table there and although it can be frustrating when I can’t find what I’m looking for, I know from experience that perseverance generally pays off.
The next item I have is a bookcase (originally from Sam Burns) that doesn’t actually contain books that we read. Rather it contains a number of ‘old’ books (that smell amazing) and then a heap left over University days that in theory, I should read but it’s pretty doubtful! I would like to just have our ‘collectible’ books here, but with small children that’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately I know this from experience after having the binding on a 100 year-old book torn by a rampaging baby Katie!
We began to sort through these last night and really question whether they do actually bring us joy anymore – or whether they are just nice to look at (when not covered in dust!). There’s also a collection of random junk on top of the bookcase along with all our keys. For example, I have no idea where those vases came from – and they’re pretty hideous!
Whilst having keys there is handy, I’m not sure it’s the safest thing to do. There have been a number of break-ins around Edinburgh in which the robbers have been looking for car keys. Whilst they’re not reachable from the letter box or anything, it’s probably more sensible to have a key cupboard elsewhere!
Up the stairs are two further bookcases – one with a collection of basically redundant DVDs and the other with a collection of fiction books (that have also been Marie Kondo’ed). Given that I largely read on my Kindle now, I only really need to hang on to fiction books that I know I want to read again or that hold some special memory. However, given that I have at least five bookcases round the house, it’s a area to examine and edit.
Ignoring the very worn carpet for now, the final problem I have with the hallway is the lack of light. The only window leading directly onto the hall is from the glass in the front door – which is smoked for privacy.
I’ve been trying to find the ‘right’ colour for the hallway for quite some time. I liked the idea of having colour but as so many rooms of colour run off the hallway – this wasn’t the best idea.
When choosing a colour, you need to stand in a place and imagine how it would look with the other colours you can see from that place. Whilst it might be nice to have a red room, and then a green room – you need to bear in mind that both these rooms are visible from your hallway and it would feel like Christmas had exploded!
All my rooms have been painted in colours that do harmonise when viewed from a variety of spaces in and outside the room – so although I’ve used a wide variety of colours, they all generally have a grey base to them. Finding a colour for the hall though means finding a colour that works for ALL the rooms coming off the hallway – which is quite a myriad.
My initial thought had just been to find a white. Anyone in love with Farrow & Ball will know how many ‘whites’ are available and will know how tricky this is. Many many samples later, I came to the conclusion that this was just not going to work. With the lack of light, everything just looked a bit grubby – certainly not the clean and fresh idea I had in mind!
Secondly, it’s worth remembering that hallways are ‘high traffic’ areas. With all the daily coming and going, along with children running up and down the stairs – white was seeming like an increasingly bad idea.
Rather than a futile fight against a lack of light, I’ve decided it’s best to just go DARK… and I mean dark dark. After a little trepidation, I’ve decided to paint the hallway in Plummet. Whilst not the darkest shade of grey Farrow & Ball have to offer, with the lack of natural light, it appears much darker.
I’m pretty excited about getting the decorators in and think it’ll be exactly the dramatic look I’m looking for. I’m guessing it might be a ‘Marmite’ decision, and some people might hate it – but at least it will be a conversation starter.
PS. I feel like I’ve shown you the worst of my house – so look forward to sharing the ‘after’ pictures soon. The rest of my home is honestly MUCH tidier!