I posted here about the first stage of our home renovation; creating a huge family kitchen and living space what was originally a formal reception room for visitors.  We’ve now turned our attentions to the hallway; a  vast Gone With The Wind style affair, which previously looked like this (below).  Our house was built in the early 18th Century as a sizeable ‘Gentleman’s Residence’ in the countryside bordering London.  It changed hands several times and has served many purposes, including a brief spell as a military hospital during WW2, and even a film studio in the 1950s.  As property prices escalated and families shrank in size, this once grand residence was divided into two, and the hallway shows the most evidence of this; the staircase below originally swept up once side of the hallway and down the other, and the chimney breast was centred in the main entrance hall.  The floor, though striking and a period feature itself, is not original to the property, but was added after the subdivision.  In the half of the original house we now own, we wanted to preserve as many original features as we could, whilst toning down the overall colour palette and working with the scale of the property.

Here’s where we’ve got to so far; we uncovered part of the original stone floor in the porch area, and sourced a near-exact replica to lay in the main hallway.  In a rare contemporary touch, we found this huge chandelier (it’s around 1.5m wide but weighs hardly anything, fortunately…).  Arguably the most dramatic change is to the chimney breast, which we’ve opened up top-to-bottom and filled with logs.  The previous owners had created a sort of floating shelf for dried flowers and ornaments, but we felt this was a bit incongruous; we didn’t have the option of a ‘real’ fireplace due to oddities about how the chimneys and flues are arranged, so opted for a striking, floor to ceiling feature which echoes the real fireplaces in other rooms around the house…

The logs are kiln-dried and sanded, and we spent a comical evening wobbling on ladders arranging them (and glueing them in place, for safety reasons).  If you’ve ever attempted one of those jigsaw puzzles where all the pieces look the same but fit together only one particular way, you’ll have some idea of how tricky it was…

The long, shallow console table is almost 2m and holds a constantly changing display depending on the time of year and whatever junk shop or ebay finds I’ve dragged home.  Currently in pride of place are these Indian temple bells which make the most beautiful and ethereal deep chiming noise when they move; I need to find the right place to suspend them properly, but in the meantime they wait patiently for inspiration to strike.

Bob (below) is one of my oldest possessions and was one of my first purchases after leaving university and moving into a shoebox-sized rented house.  Over the years I have occasionally flung yoghurt over him and left him outside for a few days, creating the aged patina you see here – but mostly he’s lived in the many different hallways I’ve owned since then.  It’s a testament to my husband’s devotion that he’s done most of the heavy lifting in recent years…

The chest (below) was given to me by my mother when I was fourteen, as a junk shop find for my bedroom.  More recently I’ve changed the handles and used transfer decal paper and turps to add lettering to each drawer (please, French readers; break it to me gently if my spelling is all wrong…).  It now holds the keys, junk mail, single gloves without soul mates and general clutter that tends to accumulate in a hallway, and hides it from general view.  The old typewriter – a personal passion – was an antique shop find which I’ve just sourced ribbons for via Ebay; hallelujah!

This olive tree is a faux one, rescued ex-display from a shop which was closing down; it looks beautiful at Christmas time bedecked with tiny silver baubles and white porcelain bells.  Once in a while a branch drops off, which is why we keep SuperGlue and gaffer tape in the aforementioned chest of drawers…

We’re far from completely finished; as you can see, we lack stair carpet and are pondering whether to keep or replace the wall lighting – decisions, decisions – but the biggest and most dramatic changes are done, and the dust is settling; time to pause once again and enjoy the temporary calm…