Hallway Decorating & Stairway Design

Hallway Decorating & Stairway Design

Advice and ideas for rustic or country style hallway decorating and decor. Stickley presents a number of pictures of stairway designs and hallway arrangement.


¶ With the general adoption of the simpler and more sensible ideas of house building that have come to the front in late years, hallways seem to be returning to their old time dignity as one of tbe important rooms of the house. Instead of the small dark passageway, with just room enough for the hat tree and tbe stairs, that we have long been familiar with in American houses, we have now the large reception hall with its welcoming fireplace and comfortable furnishings, as inviting a room as any in the house. There is even a suggestion of the "great hall of the castle", where in bygone days all indoor life centered, in the ever increasing popularity of the plan which throws hall, living room and dining room into one large irregular room, divided only by the decorative post and panel construction that we so frequently use to indicate a partition, or by large screens that serve temporarily to shut off one part or another if privacy should be required.

¶ In this main room all guests are received, all the meals are served and the greater part of the family life is carried on. Even where this plan is not adopted and the rooms of the lower story are completely separated from one another, the large reception hall is still counted as one of the principal rooms of the house, and what used to be considered the entrance or stair hall is now either absent entirely or treated as a vestibule; generally curtained off from the reception hall or living room into which it opens in order to prevent drafts from the entrance door.

¶ Whether it be a large or small reception hall, or an entrance only large enough for the stairs and the passageway from the front door to the other rooms in the house, the hallway is always worthy of careful consideration as to structural features and color scheme, for it gives the first impression of the whole house. It is the preface to all the rest and in a well planned house it strikes the keynote of the whole scheme of interior decoration. Above all things, the hallway ought to convey the suggestion of welcome and repose. In a cold climate, or if placed on the shady side of the house, it is worth any pains to have the hallway well lighted and airy and the color scheme rich and warm. It is the first impression of a house that influences the visitor and the sight of a cheerless vista upon entering chills any appreciation of subsequent effects. With a sunny exposure, or in a country where heat has to be reckoned with for the greater part of the year rather than cold, an effect of restful shadiness and coolness is quite as inviting in its way, although it is always safe to avoid a cold color scheme for a hall, as the suggestion it conveys is invariably repellent rather than welcoming.

English Halls

¶ In England the large hall designed for the general gathering place of the family is a feature in nearly every moderately large house, particularly in the country. These English halls are always roomy and comfortable and in many cases are both picturesque and sumptuos in effect, having a certain rich stateliness that seems to have descended in direct line from the great hall of old baronial days. In this country the hallway is more apt to be a part of the living room, and, while quite as homelike and inviting, is simpler in style.

Pictures & Decorating Ideas

A typical craftsman stairway design with landing used as a structural feature of the reception hall. This is an excellent example of the post and panel construction which is so often used to indicate the division between two rooms.

¶ The picture above shows the part of a Craftsman reception hall that contains the stairway. A small den or lounging room is formed by the deep recess that appears at one side of the staircase, which is central in position and is completely masked, excepting the lower steps and the landing, by the post construction above the solid wainscot that surrounds it. This wainscot turns outward to the width of a single panel at either side of the stair, one sheltering the end of the seat built in at the right side and the other partially dividing off the recess to the left. So arranged, the staircase forms an important part of the decorative treatment of the room.

An upper hall which is fitted up for use as a sewing room study, or playroom according to the use for which it is most needed. Such an upstairs retreat is delightful in a house where the arrangement of the whole lower story is open, as it affords a more or less secluded place for work or study and yet still has the freedom and airiness of a large space.

¶ The second of the pictures (above) shows an upstairs hall, which has somewhat the effect of a gallery, as it is open to the stairway except for a low balustrade. This nook in the upper hall takes the place of a sewing room or an upstairs sitting room, and is infinitely more attractive because of the freedom and openness of the arrangement. While not in any sense a separate room, it still allows a certain seclusion for anyone who wishes to read, work or study.

Stair Way
Stair Way
A stairway that runs directly up from the living room and is used as a part of the structural decoration. Note the lamp on the newel post which gives light to the seat below and the way in which the window on the landing carries out the line of the upper wall space.

¶ The third picture shows another Craftsman reception hall in which the staircase is the prominent structural feature. The double casements light stair and landing and also add considerably to the light in the room. Just below the stair is a comfortable seat with the radiator hidden below, and a coat closet fills the space between the seat and the wall.

Reception Hall
Reception Hall.
Reception hall and staircase where the landing projects into the room almost directly opposite the entrance door. This hall in most craftsman houses is little more than a nook in the living room.

¶ A larger hall that is emphatically a part of the living room is seen in the last picture. Here there is no vestibule and the wide entrance door with the small square panes in the upper part belong to the structural decoration of the room. Additional light is given from the same side by the row of casements recessed to leave a wide ledge for plants. The ceiling is beamed and the whole construction of the room is satisfying, although interest at once centers upon the staircase as the prominent structural feature. This is in the center of the room and has a large square landing approached by three shallow steps. The stairs run up toward the right at the turn and the space between steps and ceiling is filled with slim square uprights, two on each step, which give the effect of a grille, very open and very decorative. Opposite the stair on the landing is a railing about the height of a wainscot with posts above. Treated in this manner, the staircase seems intended as much for beauty as for utility, and so fulfills its manifest destiny in the Craftsman decorative scheme.

¶ In a small house there are often many considerations which prevent the use of the hallway as a living room. Many people object to the draughts and waste of heat entailed by the open stairway and prefer a living room quite separate from the entrance to the house. In this case it is better to omit the reception hall and to have merely a small entrance hall way, rather than the compromise that contains no possibility of comfort and yet is crammed with all the features that belong in the larger hall intended for general use. An entrance hall of this kind may be made very attractive and inviting by the wise selection of the woodwork and color scheme and by care in the designing of the stairway, which of course is the principal structural feature in any hall.

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