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Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Trip Down the Hallway by Janet Davison

I grew up with a love-hate relationship with hallways. As a child I served a fair amount of “time outs” at the end of our hallway, but it was there that I discovered what fun cotton socks and a hardwood floor can be.

In our house we have a hall.
Tho’ it isn’t wide, it’s tall.
And I’ll tell you, ‘cause I’ve tried,
You can slip and you can slide!
You can seek and you can hide!
You can dip and you can glide!
You can leap and you can ride!
You can trip and you can fall.
In our hall.
Janet Chancellor, 1963

Needless to say, our hallway was empty! Today, as a decorator, I appreciate the unique space a hallway really is. Designed as a public passageway between the private spaces in the home, the bedrooms and bathrooms, hallways have architectural features unlike any other room. What other room is taller than it is wide? Has multiple doorways all in a row? Flaunts no windows and, normally, no furniture? Leaving room for vision and imagination, hallways are a decorator’s delight!

Here are some dos and don’ts in making the hallway a special place of interest in your home.

Paint –

I often say that paint is our least expensive, most effective decorating tool. Use paint to camouflage the architectural design of the long, narrow space of a hallway.

• Because of the lack of windows, hallways tend to be dark. A coat of a pale color paint can not only make them brighter and more interesting, but can provide an excellent background to make the hallway art stand out.

• Because darker colors visually bring walls forward while lighter colors push walls back. Paint can be used to “square-up” the long narrow space of the hallway. Keep within the same color family and paint the end wall in a deeper hue than the long side walls.

• In order to reduce the “chopped up” appearance that sometimes happens when there are dark doorways and light walls, consider using either white for the trim colors or using the same light color of the walls on the doors and moldings.

• Keep in mind the constant traffic that hallways sustain and use Gloss-finish paint rather than Matte-finish for easier clean-up.

Art—
• Hallways are not the place for large portraits and big wall hangings which tend to make the area appear narrower. There is no better place, however, for a gallery grouping. Group art that is intended for up-close viewing – such as photographs, collections, detailed paintings and prints— grouped together at eye level.

• Do not decorate every wall. Leaving some empty spaces allows for “breathing room”.

• Mirrors are another excellent decorating choice, not only do they multiply the natural lighting, but by reflecting light reflect on the other decorative pieces, mirrors will make the space appear larger.

Do something unexpected—
• Install picture ledges to display framed art. Placing artwork on ledges, and leaning it against the wall makes it easy to switch the pictures in and out. In this way, the walls can be updated and kept fresh and interesting, without creating new nail holes.

• Wainscoting and crown moldings give architectural interest.

• Stenciling adds flavor and drama to hallway walls. For a minimal cost, you can scribe a favorite quote above your gallery wall – or centered on an otherwise empty wall. Look for stenciling that is removable. One popular quote used with family photos comes from Cesare Pavese,
“We do not remember days, we remember moments”


Lighting—
• Many trips down the hallway happen at night – from the bedroom to the bath. For safety sake, it is important to have adequate lighting in the hallway. The narrowness of the space makes lamps and sconces a poor choice. Better lighting options can include overhead lighting that can be turned off and on at each end of the hallway, the natural light of a skylight or track lighting with directional lights to draw attention to your d├ęcor.

• Consider the traffic pattern, and if there is room, place a table lamp on a small piece of furniture at the end of the hallway. This is a great way to light up the dark end of the hallway and to add softness and ambiance.


In all practicality, a hallway is simply a route to journey from one part of the house to another but with vision and imagination, you can make this unique space a fun place to express your personality, tastes and interests.
Another quote aptly scrolled in a hallway might be
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


By Janet Chancellor Davison
Cozy Chic Design & Home Staging