The hallway has been one of the most depressing areas of the house for so long, it needed sooo much work, I’ve spent many hours sitting at the top of the stairs looking down into the hall a foot deep in plaster, air thick with dust and asking myself what the hell we’d done buying this place…this photo doesn’t even show it at its worst!
Once the heavy work of rewiring, gas installation, wall strengthening, DPC, replastering & replacement of rotton wood (phew!) was done, we lifted the vile, vile, plaster encrusted carpet to uncover our original Victorian hall, we’d lifted corners of the carpet numerous times & knew it was in fairly good condition, but it was quite a moment to finally see the whole floor.
Here comes the but…No sooner had we given the tiles a good clean, we became aware of a little ‘springy patch’ and within a week Ronnie had gone through the floor, breaking eight tiles in the process. It had to happen…and honestly? I was just glad I didn’t do it! The ensuing hole was about 5 inches deep with just soil below, it seems the tiles were laid on thin wood sheeting spanning small joists.
As we needed to source replacement tiles, the hole was filled but remained untouched for a number of months while we got on with other higher priority stuff.
We were galvanised back into action on a Sunday afternoon trip to a reclamation yard where we came across the replacement tiles we needed. Another but… I realised once we arrived home that my then 41 week pregnant brain bought the wrong colour tiles…I’d got black and we needed beige, worse, the yard didn’t even have any beige! Recounting the story to our neighbours, it turned out they had spares as they had altered their hallway slightly, they kindly gave us the tiles we needed to complete the repair.
Finally the floor needed a HUGE clean to get it looking good. After lots of research, unsurprisingly, it transpired the best solution was good old elbow grease. While I was researching cleaning methods I thought about Sarah Wooldridge who the 1911 census told us was Lansdowne’s live-in servant. I bet she kept the floor looking spot on, judging by the dirt that came of it no one had bothered cleaning it since she left town! I read that once clean, the tiles should be finished with a beeswax & turps mix which was put on liberally then buffed off the next day giving a subtle matt sheen. There’s still a few cracks here and there, it’s far from perfect but I’m not sure a floor that’s 120 years old should be.
Much to my dad’s dismay who painted the hall, we’ve decided to change the paint colour. I originally chose a dirty light blue emulsion as I thought there would be some subliminal connection with the blue floor tiles, but as they only refeature in the porch…I failed! We’ve now chosen a much more complimentary antique white which will brighten the space. We’ll leave the repainting until the attic is done as it will no doubt get wrecked as workmen trudge through.
We had two radiators installed in the hallway, given the choice, I’d have opted for Victorian style radiators, which is exactly why I’m not allowed to be in charge of the budget! I was keen to install radiator covers but Ronnie banned them based on their energy wasting credentials – god knows we need every bit of heat we can get in this house. We reached a compromise of radiator shelves which I sourced from EBay. We chose chunky rounded edge shelves with Edwardian style bracket fittings, these were only around £30 each but make quite an impact and give us a couple of much needed focal points in the hallway.
As we near the start line for the attic conversion, we’ve spent days dividing the contents into keep, charity or tip piles. We rediscovered quite a lot of decorative objects that have been out of mind for months. We’ve made use of a couple of these pieces by hanging a vintage mirror above the radiator nearest the door for last minute hair & make up checks. The one nearer the kitchen has a photograph of our holiday in Sri Lanka.
We were also able to find a place for my Grandparents grandmother clock which had sat awkwardly in my parents Seventies house for some years.
We bought the ‘Carmella’ light fittings from BHS just before they closed, thankfully we got a couple for the upstairs landing to put into stock for when it’s decorated, though I notice BHS have a selection of lighting online again now, including these but at nearly treble what we got them for in the sale.
STILL TO DO…
The last jobs will be to reprint the walls, paint the staircase, lay a carpet runner, hang more pictures…and the transformation will be complete at last. All in all still a LOAD of work to do, but at least I don’t cry when I sit on the stairs anymore, that’s got to be progress, right?