Ask the ex­pert

En­trance halls

Country Life Every Week - - Ask The Expert -

Ar­chi­tec­tural his­to­rian, in­te­rior de­signer and nat­u­ral-paint spe­cial­ist Ed­ward Bul­mer re­veals the se­crets of suc­cess­ful hall­way dec­o­rat­ing

What’s your ap­proach to dec­o­rat­ing an en­trance hall?

I pre­fer the paint colours to be neu­tral. Although a hall can be in­for­ma­tive about the in­ter­ests of the own­ers, I don’t dress it as a room to dwell in, but as a space to walk through, keep­ing rich­ness for dec­o­rat­ing other rooms in the house. This is a tra­di­tional ap­proach, but it’s one that still works.

It also doesn’t lock you into a sin­gle his­tor­i­cal pe­riod; it can still al­low you to com­bine fur­ni­ture and pic­tures from dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods, as I’ve done in my own home. Here, the walls are painted in Lilac Pink, which is a slightly side­ways step from the tra­di­tional stone colour used in en­trance halls. It has a pink hue that’s warm and a lit­tle more mod­ern, and it makes a good background for our prints and paint­ings.

Can you sug­gest three other favourite colours for a hall­way?

For the white lover, I would choose our Stone White, be­cause it has some warmth and will look good with a stone floor, for in­stance. For the grey lover, I’d pick Dove, which has some earthy tones. Quaker is also a lovely hall colour, with more ‘stone’ than the other two I’ve men­tioned. None of these are heavy—i’ve de­lib­er­ately cho­sen quite light­weight colours.

What’s your ad­vice on floor­ing?

First, value what you’ve got, un­less you ab­so­lutely can’t! Once upon a time, there was prob­a­bly a stone floor in our hall, but it’s since been re­placed with boards, which are now rough and li­able to splin­ter, so we had a rug and stair run­ner made by Roger Oates (020–7351 2288; The use of stripes for util­i­tar­ian or in­ter-con­nect­ing spa­ces was quite com­mon in houses, par­tic­u­larly in the 19th cen­tury, and they still work well.

In a new-build, I would put down a stone floor with un­der­floor heat­ing. You could play with pat­tern, such as or­di­nary square flags laid di­ag­o­nally or in a brick pat­tern. I’d al­ways rec­om­mend choos­ing as big a flag as you think you can get away with, be­cause small flags tend to look too small.

And light­ing?

The light in our hall comes only from ta­ble lamps (the can­dle­holder isn’t elec­tri­fied and only used for fes­tiv­i­ties). That seems to be enough. Tra­di­tion­ally, a hall would have been quite un­der­lit, be­cause light­ing was ex­pen­sive and chan­de­liers were re­served for rooms where you were re­ally show­ing off.

If you have a nar­row hall with­out room for a ta­ble, wall sconces or glass-sided wall or ceil­ing lanterns may be the best option.

What are your thoughts on fur­ni­ture and paint­ings? I like rooms, in­clud­ing halls, to look invit­ing and com­fort­able. I of­ten work on the in­te­ri­ors of his­toric houses, but life in them doesn’t have to be for­mal. I try to ac­com­mo­date in­for­mal­ity as much as pos­si­ble, yet still re­tain the aura that makes his­toric build­ings spe­cial and dif­fer­ent to mod­ern ones. Our hall has be­come our pic­ture gallery, with a mix of paint­ings, en­grav­ings and

Lucerne ta­ble lamp, £505, ex­clud­ing shade, Ju­lian Chich­ester (020–7622 2928; www.ju­lianchich­ draw­ings that we’ve bought, painted our­selves or in­her­ited. A big pic­ture adds vis­ual weight and looks bet­ter with a large piece of fur­ni­ture be­low it, so we made our con­sole with a mar­ble top specif­i­cally for the space.

I like bal­ance in my de­signs and sym­me­try is a very use­ful con­trib­u­tor to bal­ance. Here, it’s re­flected in the po­si­tion of the lamps, the chairs and the urns and the way in which we’ve hung the pic­tures.

And your best ad­vice?

The im­por­tant thing is not to overdo it. A hall should be a palate cleanser, some­where that looks as if you’ve re­served a lit­tle more for the prin­ci­pal rooms. Amelia Thorpe Ed­ward Bul­mer In­te­rior De­sign (01544 388535; www.ed­ward­bul­mer­in­te­rior de­

Paint swatches, from left

Stone White/dove/lilac Pink/quaker £45 per 2.5-litre emul­sion, Ed­ward Bul­mer Paint (01544 388535; www.ed­ward­bul­mer­

Oak Leaf con­sole in bronzed iron and Eramosa onyx mar­ble, £11,820, Cox Lon­don (020–3328 9506; www.coxlon­

In the de­signer’s own hall, his Lilac Pink paint forms a warm background for fur­nish­ings

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