As far as hall furnishings are concerned, you know you want to make something of a statement, but you are often working in a limited space, so between you and me, the minimum requirement is probably:
- A peg for each person’s coat(s) – consider having a lower level peg rail as well to encourage young children to hang up their coats and school bags consistently, especially if you shine a light on it (Feng Shui says).
- A place to put a wet umbrella or store dry ones ready to grab on the way out.
- A place to put really muddy shoes or boots from those rosy cheeked rambles gathering wild food (see my posts later in the year about this).
- A place to stand the phone, along with a phone book. It might also be worth having a notice board over the top with a section for each family member so they are encouraged to remember things. An A4 diary is also very useful, to enter events and phone messages, and you can clip notices and invitations to the correct day so they don’t get lost. This last tip has transformed our family life, by the way.
- A full length mirror so you can check your outfit on the way out. This also makes the area look larger, and oddly enough it will encourage you to keep trim and groomed.
- A mat to wipe your feet on to save the carpets. If you want to be really continental, make everyone take their outdoor shoes off and change into slippers when they come into the house.
- Now here’s a clever one. Possibly have a gadget to assess how much electrical power your house is using, such as a whole house watt meter (various models are already on the market, and in future it may even be possible do this over the internet, with a digital meter). This can encourage the family to think about what their multiple appliances left on standby are costing the family purse, for example, and whether there are more environmentally friendly ways of behaving, which can’t be bad. It can also help you judge on the way out whether you have turned everything off. (While I am on the subject of saving power, I should say here that you probably want to set your central heating thermostat in winter to 18-20 degrees if at all possible, but I have been know to sneak our up to 22 degrees when working from home. Don’t tell, or the eco police will probably drag me off or something).
It’s worth dusting and vacuuming in here once a week, as well as shaking out the doormat (wearing a frilly Cath Kidston apron while doing this is optional, of course). If you have a buggy to consider, think about whether it’s worth foregoing glamorous expensive models (what I might call vanity buggies in a less charitable moment) and just having a cheap stroller in the hall that folds up and can hang on a peg (Silver Cross is my current favourite for value). This is likely to be much better for morale over the three or four years you will be using it than your entire household clambouring over a huge pantechnicon of a thing every time they need to get to the door. The same goes for bicycles – they can be mounted on clever racks that pull up to the ceiling, or folding version can be put away in a cupboard. Love your hall, don’t fight it.
Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net