Hall of fame... how to banish hallway clutter
Make first impressions count and banish hallway clutter with clever solutions
'Just ignore the hallway," says the host, as you navigate a dimly lit entrance, clogged with awkward furniture and strewn with cast-off boots. Easier said than done. Hallways are important because first impressions count. A dingy cluttered hallway is a real downer and you'll track that feeling through the rest of the house like mud on your shoes.
"Unless you have a space allocated for everything, your hall will always be messy," says Maxi Goodwin, interior designer and co-owner of Inreda Design Shop. "When I'm working on a design for a hallway, the first step is to understand the family dynamic. Do they have children? Are they sporty? Will they bring a lot of bags and shoes into the house? After that, it's mostly problem solving. You have to find the shortest route to order." Coats, shoes, keys, post, and umbrellas all need their proper place.
Some families prefer exposed coat hooks; others want their outdoor clothing tucked away. In general, open storage is for the naturally tidy. Hall tables attract clutter. I've learned to live without one, and the entrance hall is tidier as a result. But that only works if you have somewhere else to put your stuff.
Potential hall storage solutions from Inreda include the Muuto Stacked storage system (individual components from €99) that allows you to configure an arrangement of modular boxes, and a Folded shelf (from €94), a neatly -designed wall shelf in powdered steel with hooks below. The versatile String storage system also has applications for hallways, but tends to be expensive, as does the Snow range of shelves and drawers (from €1,267) from the Swedish design company Asplund.
If this is your look but not your budget, the Amador (€189) and Giro (€219) coat racks from Woo Design both offer some storage as well as coat hooks. Ikea's perfectly respectable Pining coat rack and shoe storage bench combo costs €85 while a Ställ shoe storage unit with four compartments costs €115. The Ikea Ställ range looks very much as though it was "inspired by" Asplund's Snow units, which are well known in Sweden. One of the glorious thing about Swedish interiors is that people aren't snobs, and will happily combine low-cost design from Ikea with design classics that they've had to save up for. Following this example, you might consider that money saved on storage units could be spent on lighting (or vice versa).
"Lighting will create the atmosphere," Goodwin says, suggesting that hallways with a single overhead light source don't need to limit themselves to just one light. The E27 pendant (€75 from Inreda) by Matias Stahlbom is a simple naked lightbulb suspended on a three-metre cable. This cable, which comes in several trendy colours, can be hooked, looped, knotted or otherwise adjusted to direct the light. And, for another €18, you can buy a "multi-canopy" attachment that allows you to suspended several lightbulbs from the one fitting.
The hallway is the first room that you experience when you enter a house, but it's often left unfinished for far longer than the other rooms. "You can live with an undecorated hallway, but you can't function without a bathroom or a kitchen," says Lorraine Stevens of Lomi Design. "That's why hallways get pushed to the bottom of the list." Other, more urgent, jobs get tackled first and the hallway is put on the long finger. "People get around to it eventually."
When they do, she finds that her clients fall into two distinct types: those who want an entrance with "a real wow factor"; and people that want whatever they put in their hallway to vanish into the space. "Most people are at one end of the spectrum or the other, with very little in between," she says. Those who want something spectacular often opt for the time-honoured combination of a console with a mirror above. These can be overtly modern, like the Almond console which can be purchased with a mirror that echoes its interestingly angular shape. "That's your traditional option, but it's not traditional in terms of styling. You don't need much more in a space if you put that in."
For those in search of colour, the bright yellow Summer console (from €2,972) is a sculptural upright console with a front section that opens down to become a desk. "It's a lovely colour," Stevens explains, "but at this end of the market, people tend to go for classical over quirky and fun." If you were looking for a low -cost console, Ikea's Bestå range has several decent options for between €200 and €300.
An arrangement of mirrors above a console can work well to expand the perception of space but you can pay what you like for them. The gorgeous Pearl mirrors (€1,986) from Lomi are circular with surrounds made of small spheres of turned wood (they give the impression of a cluster of pearls). For a plainer, and very much cheaper, round mirror, the brass rimmed Helen James Considered Circle mirror from Dunnes Stores costs €60 (42cm) or €110 (67cm). These too work well in sequence.
While most people who can afford the space prefer a boot room or built-in cupboard to free-standing furniture, Lomi has some very unobtrusive storage options that would work in a narrow hallway. Some of them don't look like cupboards at all! The Camper (€2,713), a slim mirrored panel, opens up to reveal hanging space for coats and handbags, while the modular Pitstop (from €1,827) offers almost invisible storage for shoes.
They don't store that much and would be ideal for a naturally tidy person, but not for chaotic families or people looking for a place to stash their muddy wellies.
For Stevens, the main mistake that people make when it comes to hallways is painting the walls too dark and making the space seem smaller than it is. "Keep it light, bright and inviting," she recommends. "Dark hallways aren't great - you just want to get through them and out the other side as quickly as possible!"
See inreda.ie, lomi.ie, ikea.ie, woodesign.ie, and dunnesstores.com.