Reader’s dilemma – the disappointing hallway

Posted on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 by midcenturyjo

Noelle doesn’t like her hallway and wants our help.

“Here are a few photo’s of the room… The problem I have with it is that it’s narrow, high and white. All of it. I’ve been thinking of putting wallpaper (that is not my bedroom btw) on the walls and painting the door a different color. Problem is, I can’t seem to make up my mind. It’s a 1920’s house and the outside of the door can only be painted in 3 colors. I wanted to paint the staircase and all the railings white since I can’t remove all of the old paint and glue. I do want some color in there and I’m tired of the white. I’ve picked this wallpaper because it adds color without being to dark or bright. Thanks in advance and I can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say.”

So what do you think? Any great ideas? I know you want to jump in and help.

Noelle says:

Ooohh… I nice surprise after coming home from work after a long day listening. I love my hallway. I love how high the ceiling is and how light it is considering the only light is from the front door. The staircase I hate though. But thats more because it’s so much work fixing it up and it will never be what I want it to be. The wood is just a bad cheap quality and I really can’t afford a new one. I haven’t decided what color I want it to be. I like the wallpaper because it’s feminine without being overbearing which some wallpapers are. I’ve considered painting the lower half of the walls in a pastel color that’s also in the wallpaper (probably green) as a border and have the wallpaper above that. But I also like the idea of having the entire walls covered in wallpaper. Not so sure about the archway though. I was thinking of skipping that part and leaving it the way it is.
I like the idea of having a sisal rug on the floor and I like the idea of painting the side table and a big lamp. How about this one: ? Having a mirror opposite the photo’s would also be a great idea.
As for painting all of it dark gray… I always love that. I have plenty of photo’s on my Pinterest account where people have painted living rooms and bedrooms pitch black. But I think in that narrow space it would make me feel like I’m in a coffin. 😉

Thank you so much for all the great ideas. I appreciate it. And Kim and Jo.. thank you for putting my dilemma on your blog.

Coco says:

I actually like this hallway as I think it creates a bit of a mysterious passage to the main part of the apartment. A kind of 'what awaits me' feeling. So, I'd play that up and not reveal too much too soon. I'd get rid of the table as it doesn't seem to have much purpose and is also creating a visual 'pinch-point' in its current location. There are also a lot of little decorative pieces that aren't doing much to create any kind of style. I think you'd be better off with one dramatic piece like the mirror others have mentioned. (A big one – if you live in N. America, try buying a 5 foot X3 foot Bathroom vanity mirror at Home Depot or Loewe's. You can make a frame for it with the moldings they sell there and then just paint it. You can also hang it by itself with the mirror hooks they use to hang them in bathrooms and paint a 'frame' on the wall) I would hang it on the wall over the heater to keep all the elements on one side. To up the drama, a strong light fixture (chandelier or something modern) would be gorgeous. The wallpaper you chose suggests you may not be into modern but it could be a strong counterpoint to the roughness of the stairs. Chose a complimentary light for the one above the stairs. Leave the stairs as they are and either strip the handrail or paint both it and the door the same color. If you are opting for a more traditional palate, leave the walls white, try a dark gray handrail and door juxtaposed with both the mirror and the lighting fixtures in gold. As for the floor, it looks like you might have enough clearance at the front door to lay an engineered wood floor over top. If so, a dark wood could be quite attractive.

Good luck with it all!

Good luck

Ana says:

Please, please, PLEASE…don´t touch the stairs! I would keep them in this rough look and use it as a focal point, playing with very little details in every step front. Remove every piece of furniture (make it look even smaller).Use different tones of the same color to accent the different two parts of the hall ( entrance and stairs área) and I agree with CiskaP: use a fun color in the door! The same with the rug ( maybe two, REALLY different in the two áreas) This hall it´s the first impression of your home…play with it, make it interesting and fun! You have the rest of the house to stay serious…

Emily says:

I would get rid of the table and small pics, and add a really large interesting mirror and place a skinny bench underneath the mirror. I would also add a new wow factor chandelier or different lighting. That's really all it needs!!
I love Francesco's idea of painting the walls and floors the same color, but I would not go to dark!

Inny Dhla says:

We know the owner of this hallway likes the sort of Victorian look with her choice of wall paper. I do not think dark grey or anything modern or contemporary is going to work for her. I love the chandelier in the hall as it is now. I would only do the upper or lower half of the wall in wallpaper and choose a not too bright color (maybe a pale green) for the other half. Maybe some chair rail to divide. Maybe a Victorian runner down the hall. Definitely fix up those stairs, paint, runner or clean up and stain.

laura says:

I agree with first poster….lose the table and then but a very shallow shelf over the radiator or build a radiator cover…so you'll have somewhere to put keys, mail, photo frame etc….I think this will help to open up the narrow space a bit. Good luck!!

Margery says:

I have to comment on this. This hallway is absolutely fantastic. I would kill to have this space. Having said that, it does need a little work. Much like a powder room, this is a small space that you don't spend a lot of time in. For that reason you can go really dramatic and I definitely would… it's just paint. You get tired of it in a few years, just repaint and you're changed the whole mood. I think if you use that wallpaper, it might look a bit grandma. I would choose a really intense color for the stairs. Something like a magenta, hot pink. I might even do the walls in orange or saffron… and I would do it in a lacquer finish. I think I would get a more interesting hanging lamp. There are so many out there that make beautiful shadows and dancing light on the walls. I think mirrors are a great idea too, if just to check yourself out before you leave the house.. And I would spend the money and change out the ceramic tile on the floor… it's just plain ugly and it's such a small area it won't cost a lot to change out. Good luck. Don't be afraid, just do it.

Blanders says:

The problem isn't the walls. The problem is the floor, or more specifically, the fugly tiles.

Replace them with a neutral carpet, floating hardwood boards or parquetry and it will lift the whole hall.

oregonbird says:

Go, Margery!

Cathy says:

Five and a half years later…it would be great to have a report on what Noelle eventually went with!

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