I moved into this flat just shy of eighteen months ago now. The first place I was ever going to live on my own. Still a rental, but on my own for the first time none the less. I knew as soon as I walked into the empty living and saw the fireplace that I wanted it. I was prepared to look past the sea of vomit-inducing magnolia and picture what it could be.
There may be some people who love the colour magnolia and of course, you’re more than allowed to! We’re all very different and should be allowed to be so. It’s just that I am not that person. I am so far from that person that it makes me twitch slightly at the thought of it. There are varying shades of offence. Sorry, magnolia. This flat happened to be in the peachiest, yellowest, most awful tone imaginable. This could potentially be due to having been last painted in 1995, it was unclear. I begged my new landlord to let me paint it and to my delight, she said yes! Of course I now realise she was mostly just happy that I decided to redecorate the entire flat for her, costing her absolutely nothing. Even so, it felt like a win for me.
The living and bedroom were the first to get the white treatment, swiftly followed by the dining room and spare bedroom. The double height hallway however… well, that was a daunting prospect to say the least. If I’m perfectly honest with you, I mostly just tried to pretend it didn’t exist. It wasn’t a thing. You opened the front door and walked into the white living room, that was it. In reality, you opened the door, walked up a flight of dingy magnolia stairs with a drab brown carpet, saw a muddy lampshade hanging askew and a yellowing radiator. For too long I let that be the sight for visitors. It was an embarrassment. An eyesore so at odds with my own taste. I swiftly ushered any visitors into the living room and made them sit down on the much more Instagram appropriate sofa, hoping they hadn’t noticed the past minute had even occurred.
Well people, I am here to you tell it has all been changed. My staircase and hallway are no longer the source of extreme guilt and involuntary twitching. This isn’t a makeover post or a ‘how to’ on how to design a hallway, I’m going to make that quite clear. There’s been no great feat of interior design brilliance here. The greige carpet sadly remains and no insane transformations have been made. What it is now, is lighter, brighter, fresher and ultimately much more me. It did however come with an awful lot of work. To paint a double height stair case and hallway on your own, with skirting boards, dado rails, door mouldings and four doors, was certainly no small undertaking. My arms ached, my back groaned and I used absolutely litres of paint. That horrid shade of magnolia I mentioned? Three coats it took to cover it. Three whole coats.
It turns out making a gallery wall go up a flight of stairs and onto a landing is in fact even more terrifying than making one on a simple rectangular wall. Perhaps it’s just me who’s incredibly daunted by the prospect of committing to so many nails in a freshly painted wall, or maybe there’s some logic in the terror I feel when faced with a blank wall and a filled frame. The exact level of my OCD has been questioned repeatedly I assure you, the cutting out of every single frame shape in brown paper to stick temporarily to the wall to decide on the positioning of corresponding frame, potentially took it up a notch in many people’s eyes. But it helped immensely and I recommend it if you too feel the fear. It is very much still a work in progress, however it is getting there. I haven’t yet resolved the far right hand side of the wall. Does it just stopped to abruptly after the eyes? I can’t decide. Many cut out frames have been taped here. Many cut out frames have been untaped from here.
There will also (in the very near future, when IKEA delivers it) be a large white peg rail, just inside the front door. I’ll be artfully hanging a Swedish raincoat and a dandy umbrella here at some point. No doubt you’ll see that exact image on Instagram in the coming months and roll your eyes. I give you full permission to do so.