Pink House Helps is back! And this time we’re tackling the hallway and stairs (click here for the first in the series, which dealt with bathrooms).
Alongside hanging pictures (how does any couple ever agree?) and replacing faulty windows (they somehow cost more than you paid for the actual house), designing and decorating the hallway and stairs is often the last task in a home renovation project. This is, I reckon, for three reasons:
It’s the part of the house most likely to get damaged as you renovate the rest of it
It’s relatively expensive and complex
It’s a right shag when it comes to making decisions
A big part of our now-nearly-finished renovation project in our South London home, is making the previously poky hallway a functional, practical space that will improve our lives immeasurably. Despite living for months crammed into a single room, I’m so pleased we went ahead with the reno. It’s going to be amazing!
Of course, with all time-consuming, complex undertakings comes a good deal of learning. And along with the two hallways and three flights of stairs I (finally) renovated in my previous Edinburgh house literally months before selling it (argh), I feel I’m now in a pretty good place to give seven pieces of advice on renovating this awkward area of the home – the first of which is: just do it! Read on for the other six…
Expect the outside to come in
Be under no illusion: there WILL be mud. Which is why, whatever you’re planning to put on the hallway floor or on the stairs, bear in mind that it needs to look decent even if it’s dirty. In my new hallway I’ve chosen a cement tile with a busy, multicoloured (pink and green, natch) pattern – Sakura from Otto Tiles. And you can bet I’ll be whacking down a sizeable and seriously effective doormat on top of that. A shoes-off policy will obviously help stop the filth spreading beyond the threshold, but if you don’t want the off-shoes to add to the clutter problem then have storage space for them. The Abbeville storage bench from Great Little Trading Company is a cost-effective storage/seating solution. To encourage the shoes-off thing in guests (and inhabitants), if you can stretch to it, underfloor hallway heating is the dream. Or failing that, have a few sizes of slippers ready for exposed feet, to help keep those chilblains at bay.
Create space for all your crap
And I’m talking crap of every size, big or small, which needs to be both deposited once inside the house, and easily located on your way out. Is there a ledge with a pot where you can put the car key, loose change, membership cards, stamps, etc? How about cubby holes for hats/gloves/scarves belonging to various members of the household (find such storage solutions at Cox & Cox and Graham & Green)? And perhaps even consider having built-in bespoke storage like we’ve gone for – under-stair cupboards and a whacking great built-in wardrobe in the hallway itself. Ask your carpenter to make it from MDF then paint to match the rest of the space.
Make a fabulous first impression
Yes, hallways and stairs are primarily functional spaces, but they’re also the first thing people see when they enter your home, so this is where you set the tone. I’m not here to tell you what to put on your walls or which colour scheme is best (pink and green), but consider how you want people to feel (and feel about you!) when they step over the threshold. My hallways in Edinburgh and London treat guests to a plethora of pink, something I’m extending up the stairs and onto the landing in my London house. And these are also great spaces to hang artwork that might be either too big or too intense for one of the living rooms in your home.
Block paint your bannisters
Ok so this is subjective, but I’ve always preferred a bannister/spindle combination where different elements are all painted a single colour, rather than one where each element was a different hue. This is because there’s a lot going on with a flight of stairs anyway, and, to my eye, keeping the bannister and spindles all of a one-er helps stop things looking too messy. Which is especially important if you’re a colour and pattern lover like me. I also prefer my new black-painted bannisters to the natural wood I had in Edinburgh. If I’d stayed in that Edinburgh house I’d definitely have got my paintbrush out. Or, you know, asked someone who knew about painting to get it out for me. Which sounds really wrong. But you know what I mean.
Check your sightlines
By which I mean, think about what you can see FROM the stairs and hallway, and what they look like when you’re standing in the rooms adjoining them. If you like your colours to clash, or a stark contrast between the spaces, then great – go for it! Just make sure you’ve checked. For my new hallway, stairs and landing, I chose a colour palette of off-white, off-black, grey and pink (respectively Belgravia, Blackout, Mid Wedgwood and Pink House by Mylands) as I knew that this would work well with the colours in every adjoining room. By painting all the doors pink I also added this colour to the rooms these led into, thereby extending the reach of my favourite colour without requiring extra Pink House Husband approval (for example he said no pink is allowed in his study, but hadn’t considered the impact of the door being painted on the internal colour scheme… #husbandhack)
Runner for your life
You can either fully carpet your stairs from stringer to stringer (the stringer is the structure that supports the stairs themselves, AKA the treads and risers) or choose a runner and paint the stringer and sides of the treads and risers a contrasting or complimentary colour. Either way, I fully advocate patterned wool carpets as they a) disguise dirt, b) add a bit of personality and c) are long-lasting. My go-to for stair carpets is Alternative Flooring – we had the polka dot Quirky B Spotty in Damson in Edinburgh (see above), complete with brass stair rods, and this time I’ve chosen the stripy Wool Iconic Stripe in grey-and-black Marley as a runner, which is due to be fitted mid December. Extra note: if you choose a runner don’t forget to specify what colour you would like the edges to be sewn in (this is called ‘whipping’ in carpet speak). Whipping is a chance to add a flash of colour at no extra cost, or keep it tonal if you prefer. I have chosen black whipping for my new runner, as it will create a pleasing contrast with the pink treads and risers.
I’ll be back with more hallway/stair renovation updates on Instagram and here on the blog shortly. In the meantime please do feel free to ask any reno questions you might have. Here’s to creating a happy hallway!