Photographing this post really made us realise how dark our hallway actually is! We decided to paint it dark navy too, so you’ll have to bare with us with the photos – but when we’re not trying to navigate the light, we love love love our hallway.
It’s the main reason we fell in love with the house when we viewed it – it takes up most of the floor plan – it’s wide, with the most incredible tiles (even under years of dirt we could make them out), Edwardian period details and wonderful fretwork, and the beautiful staircase sits in the middle of the house. But it definitely did not look as it does now when we viewed it….
We didn’t take tons of before photos as we moved in immediately, so had to fill the house with our stuff straight away and make it feel liveable, as we couldn’t afford to renovate immediately. I also didn’t want to take too many photos as it reminded me of a tough time – the smell of mildew was bad, we didn’t have a kitchen or a working shower when we moved in so were sleeping in coats and microwaving meals in the living room. The main thing I remember in the hallway was the air conditioning unit attached to the wall, the wires everywhere (and I mean everywhere, most going nowhere, but dangling and glued to so many crevices!), the pipes coming out of the ceilings (there was a working lead tap inside our hall) and the crust of dirt on the skirting boards and walls. We got industrial cleaners in when we first moved but they couldn’t really shift anything.
Over the first year we did small bits – my dad removed the air conditioning unit and a lot of the straggling wires, my mum and I removed the accessibility handles from the stairs, we cleaned the tiles and painted a few stairs to make them feel ‘clean’ (although I gave up after a while as we needed to treat the woodworm and it became one of those jobs that just got put to the end of a long to-do list).
We remortgaged to do our bedroom (read that renovation post here!) and being pregnant, we decided to try and do the hallway at the same time. We did the bedroom and hallway over the kitchen because, for us, it was still more affordable and psychologically, the hallway is such an important part of this house and makes us feel like the house is ‘done’ – as soon as we come home from work, stepping in this hallway now, we don’t feel like we’re living in a renovation project. And actually, now we have painted the kitchen, have a sink and a few portable hobs, it’s totally doable!
It took a LONG time, the building work took around 4-5 months and then, it took a further 18 MONTHS for us to paint everything. We painted it ourselves to save money (we were quoted £5k for painting and to be fair, I can see why as it took us over a year!).
We painted pretty much solidly for 18 months, all the woodwork needed 4 coats, the walls were a huge expanse and the ceilings were high. Now we’re through the other side I admit it feels like we have so much spare time, we spend our evenings watching TV or pottering around the home, which is exhausting enough with a toddler. Having a renovation on the side hasn’t been easy with navigating a new baby but now it feels like a distant memory!
Walls were stripped back and replastered, but we kept skirting and woodwork where we could, sanding it down ourselves to hold onto as many period features as possible. Where things couldn’t be salvaged or had been removed, we replaced with features sensitive to the Edwardian era.
Paint-wise we used Dulux ‘Brilliant White’ for the top half of the walls and ceiling (to help bounce light around the dark room) and Farrow & Ball ‘Railings’ for the bottom half and woodwork (as it was only half of the wall, it made the paint a lot more affordable). For the stairs, we used Little Greene ‘Peach Cherry Blossom 3’ on the banisters (you can read all about the stairs and runner details here).
The floor tiles were in good condition, just very dirty and a few were chipped, but we got them reconditioned and they look fantastic now. The good thing about being in no big rush to finish (we had a baby in the middle so had to manage our expectations a LOT in regards to finishing) was that we waited until we could afford the last steps: floor, carpet, front door. It all got done over 2 years after the works were completed. The front door was finished last week, we found a local guy that reconditioned the existing glass (which needed a lot of TLC) and then fitted a new panel (he had to trace a neighbour’s glass so it fitted in with the road).
Things we might have done differently? Perhaps lighting – don’t get me wrong, we love these lights but knowing how dark this hallway is now, it could often do with a bit of help in the depths of winter.
But, now the tough times are behind us (filling up a bucket of water from the tap in the hall, in order to fill up the cistern to go to the loo), we wouldn’t change a thing. It feels like home.
You can watch an IGTV tour of the hall below (click on the image or click here).