One of the things about doing major building work is the impact on the rest of your home. As part of getting Finlay’s room sorted involved moving the door from the middle of a wall into the corner, we ended up with a part of the wall plugged with plasterboard and plastered on both the nursery and hall sides. This meant we had to strip the wallpaper and carpet from the landing. Then, of course, our subsequent major building work downstairs at the back of the house to create our new kitchen/diner/living area meant that, what with living in a mid-terrace with no rear access, everything – including excavations for the foundations, garden waste and building materials – had to come through the house. We also blocked in the old doorway to the kitchen, so were left with another plugged and plastered wall in the hall downstairs. So it made sense to add the hallway and landing to our spring renovations list.
When we moved in, the hallway and landing were a delightful mix of pale yellow wood grain effect anaglypta wallpaper, a mix of original and unoriginal grey/lilac painted paneling, a pale laminate floor in the hall and dark brown polyester deep pile carpet on the stairs and landing.
The unoriginal paneling in the hallway had been badly installed. When these houses were built in 1902, beautiful wood paneling was installed over bare brick – there was no need to plaster to the floor, but instead just from the ceiling to the top of the paneling. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, when the original paneling was stupidly removed from the hallway at some point in the house’s history, the owners decided to put chipboard behind new cheap paneling. This chipboard was taller than the paneling, leaving an unsightly seam about 10cm above the paneling. The panels were also narrower than the original paneling on the stairs and applied unevenly, showing it up as a cheap replacement.
Our plan: a light, bright, Arts and Crafts hallway
First, it was off with the not-so-old old paneling and the chipboard behind. We had to make a decision about whether to replace the paneling or plaster the wall instead. However, a tight budget meant that the most cost effective solution would be to replace the paneling with replica paneling with panels the same width as the original and running it above the old unsightly joint where the plaster ended.
The only thing we knew we wanted to do once the paneling was on and the walls were plastered was lighten it all up. Being a mid-terrace house there is no window on the landing, so the dark brown carpet and wooden front door and banister weren’t doing it any favours. Jeffrey was inspired by the beautiful White Drawing Room at Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House in Bowness-on-Windermere for our own Arts and Crafts movement house in Walthamstow, so it was on with the white paint to the walls, woodwork and paneling. Then we chose a grey wool loop carpet for the landing and stairs and engineered oak wood flooring to carry through from the kitchen/diner/living room to the hall.
We also stripped the chipboard panels that had been covering the panels of two of the original interior doors since the 1960s and moved the one from upstairs downstairs, leaving us with two matching original doors downstairs.
We would have liked a seating and shoe and coat storage area but, being a young family, space for the buggy took precedence, pushing any hope of that out of the window. But my dad – being a retired cabinet maker and joiner extraordinaire, knocked us together a great wall hung coat rack, giving us great storage for coats, scarves and other outdoor essentials.
To finish it off, we framed some samples of a few Morris & Co fabrics, including my favourites the Strawberry Thief, Brer Rabbit and Bramble, to form a little Morris collection in the entrance and took Finlay’s first three artworks to create a cool little tryptych on the landing. A duck egg blue coat of paint on the original front door, and a full length mirror on the landing finished it off nicely. Now we’re just waiting for a cool Flensted mobile for over the stairs and we’re done.