The hallway and landing in this 1930s, four-bedroom, semi-detached home in Hampton, Middlesex, had long been on Alison’s to-do list. ‘It was the last space in the house to be decorated and it just didn’t fit in with the rest of the rooms, which was frustrating, but there was a good reason for waiting.’
Alison, an art teacher, and her husband, Erik, an import/export manager, bought the house 18 years ago, just before their children, Eleanor, 17, Amelia, 14, and Edward, ten, came along, knowing there was an awful lot to do.
They did what all builders advise, working their way down the house from top to bottom, renovating every room in turn and saving up for a project every few years, starting with the loft conversion.
‘The one thing we did in the hall when we had the carpenter in for the loft was to get him to replace the shaped bannisters for plainer ones, more suited to the 1930s style of the house.’
With a kitchen extension still to go, though, it wasn’t worth starting on the hallway just yet. ‘We knew the kitchen extension was going to be an upheaval, and all the dirt and rubbish would be coming out through the hall, as well as the debris from the bathroom on the first floor. So, we just painted it white and left it alone.’ With the kitchen completed last year, and the budget nearly wiped out, Alison could wait no longer.
Wanting to start with a neutral base and add colour on top, Alison and Erik chose a two-tone scheme of grey and off-white for the walls.
‘The usual thing is for the darker colour to go at the bottom, but I was very determined that the grey would go at the top and the off-white at the bottom. We love original art and silk screen prints, and I felt the layout would be better suited for creating a gallery feel.’
But when Alison got a quote for the painting, she was stunned. ‘The ceilings are high, and the guy wanted £3,000, which we didn’t have after putting in a new kitchen. So, Erik, who is quite handy, did it all himself, which saved us a fortune, although he was exhausted.’
It meant the couple could invest in a good-quality carpet for the stairs. ‘We went for something hardwearing that didn’t compromise on softness and warmth, in a gorgeous smoky blue-grey.
Finding a solution to the ugly radiator in the hall was the next problem. ‘It actually worked fine, so it would have been madness to get rid of it. It just wasn’t very attractive.’ Alison looked online at radiator covers, and found one she liked, which would also provide a shelf on top.
‘You put it together yourself, but there was a handy video so it was actually quite easy.’ She left off painting it until she’d worked out the colour scheme. It was a signed print of her favourite guitarist, Johnny Marr, which tied the scheme together.
‘We’re big music fans, and we’d bought the silk screen print at one of his concerts, which is what we often do. It has loads of yellows, oranges and reds in it, which all go very well with blue. We realised that other prints we had of The Who, Margate Seafront and a lighthouse also had those colours, so we could put them all up at last.’ Alison picked out a bright yellow from the print to paint the radiator cover.
Some form of storage was next on the list, and Alison was on a mission to find a specific design. ‘I always had a vision of a church pew in the space to the left of the door. Between us we have a lot of shoes, so I searched on eBay for one with a lift-up lid so we could use the inside. It’s also really useful to have something to sit on when you’re putting your shoes on.’
A talented seamstress and upholsterer, Alison also made and covered her own seat cushion, making sure the fabric print echoed the yellows throughout the scheme.
Her major plans for the cupboard under the stairs were also realised. ‘It’s huge, and I could see we could put a little cloakroom in there and still have room for coats at one end. It’s great for when we’re rushing in and out with the dog, Sidney.’
With the cloakroom plumbed in and painted, Alison was keen to add bursts of colour on the walls and carefully curated ornaments. ‘I bought inexpensive frames, painted them and put in favourite photos, as well as going through our print selection and putting up any that went with the scheme.’
She dug out vases and jugs that had been at the back of a cupboard, plus an old radio that used to belong to her uncle, Len. ‘It’s so us now, I smile every time I open the front door.’
Shop the look…
Bell twist carpet in Smoke, £39.99 per sq m, Brintons. Church pew, £100, eBay. Cushion foam, £20, B&M Latex Sales. Dandelion Clocks fabric, £49 per m, Sanderson. Radiator cabinet RO25, £152.47, Jali. Painted in Trumpet intelligent eggshell, £32 per 1L, Little Greene. Walls painted in Hardwick White and James White modern emulsion, £49.95 per 2.5L, Farrow & Ball. Picture frames, £5 each, Paperchase. Painted in Trumpet and Mischief tester pots, £4.75 each, Little Greene. Lampshade, £15; blue hall runner, £28, both Sainsbury’s. Mirror, £18, Attic. Grey cushion, £25, John Lewis & Partners. Cloakroom basin, taps and toilet, £305, Hampton Bathrooms. Brick tiles in Cream, £25 per m, Eurotiles & Stone. Vase, £20, Sunbury Antiques Market, Kempton Park.