Monday, April 26, 2010

Subterranean Hallway Blues (sorry Mr.Dylan)

A busy but sleek hallway by gifted designer Stephen Knollenberg

Our house is a 4-level split, which means we have three floors of living space and a basement, all equally sized with about six stairs between each floor.  I grew up in a two-storey house and really wanted one for our own, but I have grown very fond of this arrangement.  I like having separate warrens of activity, and this arrangement affords that, like in old-fashioned houses!

Which leads me to the ugly bits of our house.  Because of this design, we have a partially subterranean floor, some of which is sorely out-of-date.  I will show you a full view of the family room at a later date (I promise it is very ugly apart from its gorgeous wood floor - think 1973...)

But the subject of today's post is this hallway, which needs some love...
The downstairs hallway is the epicenter of all these "utility" rooms.  Leading off this hallway is the family (tv) room at the far end (which has half-height windows with nice white wood shutters),  stairwells leading up and down on the left, a powder room on the left, and a spare bedroom and laundry to the right. There is also a big closet at the near end.

The photo below shows the view from the other end, where you can see the back door to the garden (which is accessed by a short flight of stairs):
It is a wonderfully busy space with all these doors.  And it has a rather ugly but perfectly fine floor!  We plan to replace all the mouldings one of these days, but in the meantime I am planning to paint them all white this summer.

I think a new blue slate floor would be lovely here.  But for now, I've decided to have a nice wide wool carpet runner custom-made to run almost the entire length.  I found a spot where I can get a deal on carpet, thanks to connections from my interior design class last year.

I'm also planning a small gallery of art on the one available long wall, but I'm still looking for options.  I would like something simple and clean, like botanical prints, architectural drawings, or perhaps line drawings. I adore sketches and have always loved this study of David by Raphael:
I am fond of this sketch of Antwerp by Durer:
On Saturday, I'm going to look at carpet samples.  The adventure begins!  

Do you have any ideas for transforming this dull space?
Biscuit and I shall await your replies.  And please don't suggest changing the floor unless you are willing to foward the funds.

For now, paying off our mortgage is my biggest dream...!


  1. I think your ideas of adding a carpet runner and painting the trim will make a big difference. And adding the art work will really help to pull the eye up and away from the flooring. Looking forward to seeing the transformation!

  2. The artwork will absolutely transform the space!! Look forward to the after photos!!

    Art by Karena

  3. How about board and batten panelling along the walls up to half height then a gallery of pictures above? It's such a nice long hall I think this would look good. Can I just offer my advice on a slate floor - don't do it!! We have a slate floor in our kitchen and it's the worst thing we've ever done! It's cold and every single thing you ever drop onto dark slate is lighter than it so it never looks clean (although it does look stunning when it's been mopped but only for about half an hour!).
    Good luck x

  4. Dear Biscuit: I love Samantha2818's idea of the board and batten paneling - or you could do beadboard. And how about a series of sepia or black and white photographs of flowers? Go to my blog and then route yourself to my friend's site "distractions" and check out her floras - quiet and serene. The carpet runner is an excellent idea until you can come up with the cash to replace the flooring. And, to answer your paint question: the shutters are Valspar "Bird's Nest" - flat and the door is "under the sea" - also flat - available at Lowes - do you have them in Canada? The "under the sea" was a little too bright so I cut it with some of the "bird's nest" - probably about 1/2 and 1/2. xoxo

  5. Hi Teri,

    Love the idea of painting the walls and doors/mouldings all white. The floor looks graphically pink to me, is it? Can you capitalize on that via Anna Spiro? Anytime I see pink now I think of how she uses it in all her interiors. Maybe a pink runner down the middle. Then line the walls with botanicals. Yes, I like that idea!


  6. The biggest transformation will come when you paint the moldings to fresh crisp white! As for the floor -- how about choosing inexpensive wall-to-wall gray industrial carpeting JUST for NOW. We did this exact process when we had a house in Toronto. Worked liked a charm!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  7. Hi sweet Biscuit! :)
    OK Terri, I like your idea of painting the tile white~ great solution, and the wool runner will be perfect. I'm really into drawings right now and who can resist that David sketch?!
    Enjoy the process.

  8. No, but I do have a suggestion for the moldings without replacing them, since you're planning to paint. I'll send it along via email since I don't like to leave links in comments. Do you sketch yourself? Or would you be "blowing" sketches up with the use of an overhead projector or how will you apply them to the wall? You always have the most interesting projects going, Terri!

  9. I think your ideas sound great..a gallery wall would be really lovely, that's my favorite idea! I'm sure you will work your magic on your space and it will be lovely!! Have fun along the way!

  10. I bet you will be amazed at how the art work changes the space. You know me, those kind of sketches are my fav...

    we can't wait to see what you do...

  11. Look forward to the pictures after you are done. Projects are such fun.

  12. I like your ideas for your hall. I think any improvement will make you happy!

  13. My vote is to line the entire hall with naked men! :)

  14. hahah biscuit!! hee hee

    love the art you're considering but of course i do bc i'm also an old man ;)

    ok i'm always going to think that's funny! cannot wait to see where you go down here!!

  15. I'll bet you could find more art like the drawings you are considering on the New York Public Library's digital image gallery. I just posted about it today, with a link to the gallery where you can put in your own search. They have amazing stuff, and with a color printer, they come out great! Free!

  16. Paint it!!!! The floor that is. Lino can be done & it will revive the space. Then onto wainscotting & add to your molding then paint it white for a cohesive look with the stairs, etc.
    I look forward to whatever you do.

  17. Just what are you doing with a painting of my hubby? Seriously, the rooms are chic and stylish from top to bottom - I had such a delightful time, Jennifer jennsthreegraces