A large majority of the projects we have done in this house have been designed to precision around us and our needs as a family, and our hallway is no exception. Being a family of 5, we have a large amount of coats, shoes, hats & scarves and general paraphernalia that most families have.
When we made the decision to knock through from our snug to our kitchen to make one large room, I had to make a very important decision as to which doorway to keep. Both doors lead off from the hallway but the original kitchen door was a little nearer to the front door by a couple of metres and I guess easier access and would be the ‘logical’ one to keep. If we kept that one, it would mean a shorter journey into the kitchen which is always a plus, particularly if you are loaded up with shopping. However, we do have double doors leading from outside into the kitchen from the Aga/cupboards end, which can be, and indeed are, used for that purpose.
This picture, taken one Easter, shows the front door on the left of the photo and the original kitchen door on the right – as you can see, it would have been more logical to keep this one.
The other access which was the original Snug doorway, was also semi-opposite the stairs and I don’t know why, but it just seemed so much more hassle to ‘go that way’ when entering the new kitchen space. We could also have put a small piece of furniture in that area of the hallway if we had blocked up the Snug doorway.
I also had to consider our kitchen table position, our kitchen seating/chill/play area and our current and future fridge/freezer and furniture – dressers etc., – locations as well. I should possibly mention at this point that when we purchased our house, it was originally designed as a holiday cottage with disabled access and did not even have a proper entrance or doorway into the kitchen from the hall. We did therefore have to build one, which was all beautifully done and finished, but we will just brush that thought right on under the carpet (or sisal!) shall we, as I could not allow that to influence my decision.
I really gave this many hours of thought and planning, especially as it would impact on so many areas of our main living spaces and, you know me, much to Mr Chandeliers utter despair, I am never one to ‘just go with anything because it seems logical’ or indeed because it would undo building work we have beautifully done and finished. So, after much deliberation, lots of sketches, detailed drawings, measuring and general faffing about which Mr Chandelier finds both amusing and tiresome in equal measure, I decided to block in the original kitchen doorway………you so knew that was coming didn’t you!
One of the biggest deciding factors for me, was that it did of course mean we could have a giant coat and shoe cupboard, although if we had given that space to the kitchen it would have meant a fabulous recess for a giant fridge/freezer or indeed a wider table area or numerous other things which I won’t go into. However, with our coat and shoe collections growing by the day and the fact that we could no longer keep a large proportion of our coats on the back of the Snug door as the snug would no longer exist, the thought of such wonderful Hallway order won me over. I did however realise at this point, that it was going to be quite a painful process to bring my ‘grand cupboard’ to fruition…….Hmmm……..we started it last year and have still not quite finished.
The biggest issue was ‘shoehorning’ – yes really – all that stuff in, and not just the physical act of squishing it in there, but the fact that it really needed to be functional and easy to get to everything because, as I am sure those of you with children (especially teenagers) will appreciate, it is hard enough to get them to do any kind of clearing up as it is, let alone if there is any kind of hassle attached. We originally had a lovely old ‘merchant’s chest’ and each family member had one large drawer – lined with oilcloth – for their shoes and footwear and a small drawer for hats, scarves and gloves. This left a couple of drawers for Ruby’s pram blankets and other Baby bits and pieces. There was however, one member of the family who had far more than could ever fit in there (42 pairs of shoes at last count and 12 pairs of boots plus trainers and so on!) but that is a whole other story with a whole other cupboard and I don’t think we need to both shame and highlight that person do we?!
Out came my drawings and in came the start of a major search for containers/baskets/boxes which would bring my drawings to life. As always, the biggest problem was the measurements for all of these things had to be very precise and I knew it would, and indeed it did, take a lot of searching to find what I needed. Fortunately for me, and my family, especially Mr C, we are all very patient and as we have lived in chaos for what seems like forever, what is another few months between friends……….or family! The only problem was Mr Chandelier did constantly keep asking me for measurements as he wanted to know the exact location of the shelves and the rail so I did really need to find my ‘storage vessels’ so we could move forward.
Now you know how much I love Christmas and whilst on a visit to one of my local fabulous garden centres, I found these rather gorgeous faux fur baskets with leather type handles. My mind started ticking somewhat, actually it was almost exploding, and after being in there for hours – even little Ruby who loves looking at all the Christmas loveliness with me for ages was wanting to go home – therein began the start of what the garden centre genuinely thought was a major ‘faux fur fetish’. It started with I think, just one rectangular basket in two different sizes in a scrumptious grey/brown faux fur and ended with me going back there about 5 or 6 times, with an incredibly patient and helpful lady called Elllie phoning round other branches. I think I have now ended up with around 18 different fur baskets in different shapes and sizes and 2 colours (I know you’re thinking ‘fur fetish’ and I did wonder myself!) However, once they came home, they seemed to fill up ludicrously quickly and they started sneaking off to other rooms. Both ‘my girls’ have sweet little cream ones as laundry baskets – you see, you are starting to understand now aren’t you – they are really cute and extremely useful!
Fortunately, I could just about squish 5 large baskets in a row on the first bottom shelf. There is one for each person for hats, scarves and gloves and as each basket is so much bigger than the original small drawer we all had, they can also accommodate other garments such as waterproofs for Ruby’s outdoor wet play and so much more. The next shelf up then has Ruby’s ‘coat cardigans’ in one fur basket and her baby blankets in the other.
I now also have a Packing & Sending parcels Department, a Paper & carrier bag Department and an Outdoor Lantern & Tea light Department – I mean come on, is that cool or what? It just brings me such order to my frantic life when I need to mail something, or find a bag, although I do agree it is a tad spoilt to have an Outdoor Lantern & Tea Light Department but really, they do ‘need’ to go somewhere! As you can see, I can also fit the outdoor garden chair and bench cushions in there too which is just brilliant. I will probably move them up to the top shelf soon, now that Autumn has arrived, as they won’t be used until next spring. This means that the Packing Department can come down and with Christmas rapidly approaching, this makes more sense over winter.
This just left the final, but biggest hurdle – what to do with all the shoes? I had always thought, even before the cupboard was built, that the ‘Drona’ boxes you can see sitting on the floor would be perfect, but quickly realised that because in due course we plan to put doors on our cupboard, the frame would be in the way and not allow me to have the 5 boxes for each family member that I needed. Although they would just squish in, they would be a nightmare to manoeuvre in and out to get to the shoes.
I then subsequently spent many hours searching and looking for a solution. I had finally resigned myself to having some bespoke wooden boxes on wheels made to my spec, when one day Mr Chandelier asked me a really simple question that made me rethink things. It was a typical ‘completely innocent man comment’ which had I not been in such an ‘open minded mood’ could have easily got an ‘are you actually an alien type look!’ You want to know now don’t you? Ok, he simply asked “Why do all the shoe boxes have to be on the same row?” Hmmm……………where do I start, space, practicality, it’s not aesthetically pleasing or simply – it’s just plain wrong! But, really, why – especially when I was struggling to fit them all in and, each box needed to be pretty spacious as we all had a fair few pairs of shoes and footwear to accommodate. I pondered his question for a few days and resigned myself to the fact that right now, it would be sensible to not be so pedantic about the visual aspect of my scrumptious cupboard and go with one box on the shelf, however much it ‘jars’ with me!
So, we decided that as he has the least amount of shoes, Mr Chandelier would have the shoe box on the shelf and not the floor and off to the ‘Kingdom of Storage’ (namely Ikea) we went.
We purchased 6 of the Drona boxes in the most perfect taupe colour, which incredibly, totally matches the hallway woodwork which is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Archive. See how perfect they are for the shoes – they fit loads of pairs in too. We initially bought 6 so we could have 1 to spare, thinking that the children might ruin them but once they were built, I thought it looked better visually to put 2 on the shelf so used the spare one for cushions. However, at just £2.50 each, I think we could cope if we needed to replace one or two!
Now they were fine to pull in and out on the sisal flooring but, fully loaded (some more than others!), although they were ok, because of the weight they were harder to push in straight and I couldn’t have that could I. So I asked Mr Chandelier to cut some squares of hardboard for the floor boxes and we silicone glued them on to the bottom of each box, with the shiny side of the hardboard facing the floor, so that when you pull each shoe box out, the shiny hardboard slides rather nicely on the sisal. If we ever change the flooring to tiles, then I will rethink and probably put fabric – Ooh we could even have fur – omg – underneath instead.
Since the cupboard has been finished, something absolutely shocking and unbelievable has happened that I never envisaged – all the children actually put their shoes away ……….Without being hounded…………Every Day…………Omg…………Incredible…….. I can assure you it has nothing to do with ‘the look‘ they get when they come in! Sooo hope it continues.
The final job is to make the doors, a feat in itself, as there was a lot that need to be thought about. They have been well and truly started……….Hmmm…….Christmas maybe?……It’s on ‘the list‘……but it’s a very long one……..Watch this space!
Where do you keep all your coats, hats and shoes – do you have a special cupboard or are they all over the place, a bit like ours were……….I would love to know.