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How to make an entrance! 9 ways to battle the bland and add interest to your hallway

How to make an entrance! 9 ways to battle the bland and add interest to your hallway

I'm a firm believer that first impressions are everything so it's important to make your mark. The same rule applies to meeting houses as it does to meeting people. It's the first thing people see when you open the door and sets the tone for the rest of the house. So it makes sense to show it some love. But hallways and entrances are often narrow and awkward in shape and therefore you have to be savvy about upping the style stakes.

Hallways are very much at the forefront of my mind right now so I thought it would be good to share my thoughts on ways to make sure your entrance, makes an entrance! 

 Our half-finished but highly improved hallway

Our half-finished but highly improved hallway

I must admit that until very recently (last week) our hallway was most definitely not making a good impression. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I was pretty mortified when welcoming new guests into the house. Guests who probably understandably had quite high expectations given what my job is. Only to be met with grubby white walls, a large section of raw plaster where the damp had been dealt with and a manky beige stair carpet. Lush! 

I hated it, but we had so many things still to tear out and drag through the hallway it made no sense to do anything about it. That was until I realised that I needed to show some serious staircase swag for my Amara Christmas shoot (coming to this blog v. soon). There was nothing else for it. A change had to come. And it did indeed come. After a lot of hard graft it's looking a million times better. It's not finished yet so I will do a full reveal when it is but the manky beige is gone and I'm no longer embarassed to open my front door. 

I'll begin with the thing that has probably made the biggest difference to my own hallway.

1) Paint the banister

This works particularly well if your hallway is painted a lighter colour. Painting the banister a darker colour is an easy way to make maximum impact and takes up zero space whatsoever. I went for Little Greene's Lamp Black. If you're planning to do it yourself, you need to be patient as it is a bit fiddly, but I have to say I quite enjoyed it the mundanity of it all. Ask me again once I've done four flights though...

I've also painted the door frame and door leading into the living room to match as I like the contrast against the French Grey Pale walls.

 The flawless House Curious - Image via JJ Media

The flawless House Curious - Image via JJ Media

2) Customise your stairs

And by that I mean the actual treads. The image below has long been a Pinterest obsession of mine. This staircase was created by Old Home Love duo Andy and Candis Meredith, and the tutorial of how to replicate it yourself appeared on the wonderful The House That Lars Built blog. Find out how to do it yourself here. You can recreate with any imagery you love.

 Image - Chaunte Vaughn

Image - Chaunte Vaughn

Alternatively you could paste your favourite wallpaper to the treads for a unique look.

3) Paint the front door

The inside of it. This isn't my front door, though mine is currently painted in blush pink as well (Farrow & Ball's Calamine). I'm currently making my mind up over whether to keep the pink or perhaps go for a darker pink, or forest green for a bit more impact against the grey. The point is that in a narrow hallway, the door presents itself as a perfect opportunity to add some colour and draw the eye along, whether you are approaching from the top of the stairs or from the back of the house.

 Image via Pompeli

Image via Pompeli

4) Go all out on the tiles

You may already be blessed with original tiles in your hallway, in which case, here's big virtual high-five to you! Sadly we are not #blessed in that way. Our hallway is currently covered in laminated wood flooring and my hopes that they were concealing some beautiful original tiles were dashed when I had a peak one day and discovered concrete. The good news is that there are so many beautiful encaustic tiles available now, and it's well worth exploring some of the more unusual styles available. I have my eye on these Marrakech Designs tiles for a twist on the traditional.

 Image via Marrakech Designs

Image via Marrakech Designs

5) Buy statement art

Make an impact with something big, colourful and which will get people talking...like this Kindness is Courage poster by Naomi Edmondson which I've just bought from Print Club London's annual Blisters exhibition. I'm also a big fan of Dave White's work (my husband wants the Apex great white shark) and anything by Harland Miller. One of his punchy and irrerevent reimaginings of Penguin classic novels would go down an absolute treat positioned at the bottom of the stairs, opposite the living room door. However I recently enquired about a piece I had seen in a gallery, and let's just say it's either that or a new bathroom and that black gloss floor and tropical fish tank has GOT to go. 

I'm also a big fan of Dave White's work (my husband wants the Apex great white shark) and anything by Harland Miller. One of his punchy and irrerevent reimaginings of Penguin classic novels would go down an absolute treat positioned at the bottom of the stairs, opposite the living room door. However I recently enquired about a piece I had seen in a gallery, and let's just say it's either that or a new bathroom and that black gloss floor and tropical fish tank has GOT to go. 

6) Add a statement runner

Keep everything else simple and let the runner do the talking. You could opt for a bright, block colour option, stripes, or if you're feeling really brave, something loud, proud and totally incredible like the Quirky B Liberty Fabrics collection from Alternative Flooring.

 Image via Alternative Flooring

Image via Alternative Flooring

7) Rad radiators

Many hallways have a big chunky radiator running along one side of it. Ours is concealed behind a radiator cover. But how about if you didn't feel the need to hide it. How about if your radiator was actually a major style feature like this one from Bisque, which can be painted to match any colour from Farrow & Ball or Little Greene's paint chart. Oooh, now you're talking!

 Image via Bisque

Image via Bisque

8) Light the way

If you're blessed with high ceilings, hang a pendant light or chandelier at the end of the hallway/bottom of the stairs to draw your eye along and upwards. This is one of the first things your eye will fall on when you open the door and may even be visible from outside so it's worth investing in a real statement piece like this California Retro inspired Faye pendant I snapped at the Made.com press show in the summer.

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9) Clear out

My final tip is one which I feel particularly strongly about. If you want your hallway to feel light and uncluttered then get rid of the coats and shoes! Seriously. Just pick them up and find somewhere to put them which isn't the hallway. Make space under the stairs or, if you have the space, think about getting a cupboard built to house them all. Just get rid. Sure you can streamline and only allow one coat per household member. Great if you can stick to it. But I've tried it, and a week later there is a bulging mound sticking out of the wall again.

Full disclosure - Our coats are currently residing in a pile on our spare bed at the top of the house after we removed all the coat hooks from our hallway as part of the makeover. I say coat hooks, they were actually curtain pole holders which the previous owner had deemed fit for purpose. No comment. Anyway, I digress. Granted, having a pile of spare coats on the spare bed is not an entirely satisfactory alternative but I absolutely refuse to have anything back in the hallway again. And besides, it's good exercise running up and down all those stairs for a coat. 

I hope that has provided you all with some entrance-ing ideas (sorry not sorry) to style up your hallway. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas too so please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading! 

J x

Gold is a Neutral goes glam rock for Christmas with Amara

Gold is a Neutral goes glam rock for Christmas with Amara

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