Project Design: The Entrance Hall; Before and After!


Today I am doing something totally new and it’s taken me completely out of my comfort zone! When I was first asked by Mary Ann and Cindy if I would join them and a group of other bloggers for their latest ‘Project Design: Simple Ideas to Update Your Entry’, I was not at all sure. I felt I would be joining highly esteemed blogging company and some very talented ladies with beautiful entrance halls, and I didn’t want to let the side down. To say I felt a little out of my depth would be an understatement! But there is nothing I like more than a challenge; ask me if I am up for something and it’s a bit like a red rag to a bull, of course I am up for it! Actually, I really want to thank Mary Ann of Classic Casual Home and Cindy of Rough Luxe Lifestyle for including me in this fabulous group, as our entrance hall has had a complete makeover and has never looked so good!


It was utter madness for me to take part really. I explained that I was not in any way a designer, but I nonetheless agreed, very nervously, to do it. At the very least I knew it would stir me into action to do something with the hall, the only room in our house that I really disliked, which is why I initially felt so ill at ease featuring it in any way.

I also knew we had little time to take on another project, but somehow we squeezed in some extra hours (actually scrap that, several days of hard work) and got to it! Video chats took place back and forth with Izzi, our eldest daughter, a final year design student in the UK; there was also plenty of standing and staring, holding a cup of coffee in one hand and just looking, wondering what we could do to change things around. February came and went and we still had made no decisions.

It’s a difficult room, and in some ways it is the most used spaced in the house. Not only does it see all the traffic coming and going but it is also the only access to the stairs, and it’s the area where everyone leaves their coats, shoes and their sports bags, plus tennis rackets and rucksacks –  anything that gets used every day and that needs to be readily accessible. It’s where the dogs wait for their walks and it’s where we search for gloves and hats in winter, or an umbrella, or a sun hat in the summer. It’s also part of a home with a large family –  five children, two adults and plenty of friends. So taking all of these factors into consideration, it’s not always easy to come up with a space that is both visually appealing and workable. With two people it might be easy, but with seven it’s very much harder. I don’t like to spend my entire time telling the kids to put things away, I know it doesn’t happen and so do they, and it’s all an argument that can be avoided. The answer had to be practical.

Added to the scenario are the constraints of a very old farmhouse built around 1790. No walls are straight and no corners meet at perfect right angles; no two doorways are the same height or size, and neither are any doors the same shape or design.

It’s also the first place anyone ever sees, but I wasn’t really concerned with what others think, far more important was our need to make it work, turning a place that none of us loved into a practical entrance hall. We love our home, the kitchen, every other room, but the hall was just somewhere to dump coats and bags. Hairbrushes littered the large oak sideboard as the girls rushed to get their hair done before being hurried out the door to school.

When we bought the house it looked like this


and I spent weeks painstakingly painting the wooden balustrades and sanding down the hand rails. The original staircase had been replaced in the 1930’s and I wanted to go back to an even more traditional look. The oak sideboard which we inherited with the house was moved under the stairs the day we moved in, and there it remained until a couple of weeks ago – this was almost the crux of the problem, but once I had got my head around the idea that it had to be moved everything else sort of fell into place.

So for years we had lived with the hall like this:IMG_0782

To transform it further was not as simple as it looks. I wanted to place the coats under the stairs, but to do that Roddy had to first fill in the backs as otherwise all the debris falls through and our coats would be permanently dirty; trust me I spent ages every day vacuuming and dusting the top of the sideboard. Slowly the hall went from the photo above (the only one I can find and one in which every ounce of clutter has been put away and the coats hidden, in reality it NEVER looked like this as my friends can confirm!) to the room below. There are still tennis rackets and shoes, coats and bags, but they no longer have to be hidden for a photo, they no longer feel in the way, this is their home.



Once the stairs were done things slowly began to fall into place.


Before,the first thing you saw when you walked in the door was a mass of coats on the right which hid the stairs. Now these are gone and the wall has metamorphosed into this


We had a selection of old coat hooks that we had picked up at various brocantes over the years, I like that they don’t match, it’s part of the charm and I love the porcelain balls on the end of the trio, I wish we could find more of these.



The oak sideboard went into the library/study and out came a smaller chest of drawers that needed sanding down and painting. The mirror, which I bought some twenty years ago in the UK, was a gilt affair at first and remained so for it’s first few years; since then it went through some transformations; it was first white, then two different shades of grey at varying times, but last week we decided the hallway needed a little pop of colour and so once again it went back to its golden roots.


We kept the same antique rug that we have had in our hall wherever we have lived, it’s quite threadbare in places but has more than stood the test of time since the Victorian era. I wonder if a modern day carpet would last well over 100 years!




We kept the light we have always had in the hall, an antique porcelain oil lamp which was converted to electric many years ago, and also one of my favourite little paintings which my grandfather picked up in Italy when he was a soldier passing through there during WWI. He had it wrapped up and sent back to my grandmother, at the time his fiancée.



We played with paintings for hours, framed or unframed? We moved things around, took things off walls in other parts of the house before we settled on these two which were painted by a friend of ours who lives near Pau. They were originally in the kitchen, so the whole house has ended up having a bit of an update!


We painted the umbrella stand with its original lead removable drip trays a deep gunmetal grey


and for a little added texture I brought in this old stone plant tub from outside.


The chair came down from one of the bedrooms and one night last week, once the children were in bed, I sat and made the cushion cover, piecing together scraps of old material because I really hadn’t got time to go fabric shopping!


The room is quite small but the ceilings are high, giving it an air of being much bigger than it is. Because the stairs are so narrow it is difficult to get things up and down, larger items have to go through the ‘coffin hatch’ so named because in the old days when a person died they were often “Laid Out” on their bed or placed in an open coffin so that friends and family could pay their last respects. When it was time for the funeral the coffin could be lowered through the hole where the specifically cut floorboards were removed. Now these planks are on hinges and when we have to take something big upstairs this is the only way up!


I still want to change the tiles on the floor, but that’s a major project and one that we may tackle in the coming years, but not straight away! A big, huge thank you to Project Design for including me. I feel so honoured and you have done me such a favour, not just me but our whole family are so grateful! Plus it was so much fun!




I know how hard everyone else has worked too so don’t miss seeing all of the other entrance halls from this very talented group of ladies.


Classic Casual Home
Cassie Bustamante
Dixie Delights
Maison de Cinq
Northern California Style
Rough Luxe Lifestyle
This is Happiness
Claire Brody Designs


179 thoughts on “Project Design: The Entrance Hall; Before and After!

  1. It’s a triumph …. chic, practical and oozing laid back charm. Those ladies are smart cookies … they clearly knew you’d rise to the challenge but I’m willing to bet they are blown away by what you have achieved. Xx

    1. Ha ha, thank you so much, they did me a huge favour because otherwise I know we would have just looked at it moaning for a few more years!!But it was utter chaos for two weeks, the whole house seemed to get turned upside down and no one could find any coats at all!! The only problem is now I have wetted my appetite, I am wondering which room to completely transform next, hmmm, the sitting room needs some colour I think!!! xx

        1. Me too!! and that is bad news, haven’t got time for this!! But hey ho, it’s spring, so I sense a spring cleaning and makeover all in one! Who needs sleep when we can play designer!!!

          1. I was a ‘house doctor’ for a few years in the UK …. It saved us from bankruptcy because I was able to scratch my itches on other peoples homes and get paid for it – I absolutely loved It!!

          2. That sounds like a dream job! When we were in Devon, Roddy and I used to love going to a local auction, it took place about once a month about 3/4 hour away, but in the end we had to stop, it got quite dangerous as we started to know who the dealers were and then we could work out that once they stopped bidding then one more bid and it would a) be ours and b) at a sensible price, more than one further bid and it would be over the top! It became a bit of an addiction, but going back 20 years, brown furniture as the English antique dealers so delightfully call it was sought after and valuable, now unless it’s incredible no one wants it and it can be bought for a song!

          3. It was but I was hopeless at charging people and chasing bills – i found it terribly embarrassing and stressful (stupid really ) so in the end I stopped making myself anxious and settled for just helping friends here and there. I worked part time for an auctioneer when my eldest was a tot …. such fun (and I never earned a bean because I spent it all – we were allowed to put bids on the book but not to bid live the room) it sure was addictive!!

          4. We have so much in common! I hate talking about money with people, my parents always taught me it was a vulgar word and my grandfather always taught me that good accounts make good friends!! Somewhat conflicting! I can imagine working for an auctioneer would be totally addictive, we had to try and be really strict with ourselves and set a budget and not get carried away! I miss those auctions though the brocantes sort of make up for it, but there isn’t that same frisson of excitement! Chilly here, I am going to get around to reading all of your latest posts, just too much going on, I’ll email you I think! Have a great weekend xx

          5. We do indeed … it all stems from the upbringing and I wouldn’t change a bit of it despite the strange obstacles it has presented me in life! Addictive indeed. Brocantes are fun but not dangerous in the same way! We have had lovely warm weather all week but today the promised rain has arrived just in time for the weekend – hey ho. Read when you will but please never feel obliged (that duty thing from the upbringing means we always feel we should keep up, I think). Email if you feel like it but mostly just do what you need to do and worry not about me xx

          6. Not at all dangerous, it’s so much easier to walk away, the problem with auctions is once one has raised one’s hand or given a clear nod, I get that competitive urge, I then need to win!! Lucky you with the warm weather, we’ve had the rain you are now getting, now we have a sunny weekend forecast! Upbringing, duty, I know, but it’s hard to shake and besides I really want to go and read it all! Time is not on my side, I’ll explain all! Xx

  2. For someone who is not a designer, very impressive results! I like how you blend practicality (those coats under the stairs) with warmth and elegance.

    1. Thanks so much, it really is practical now, the coats are where they should be and the shoes can stay out quite happily along with the tennis bags and no one has to complain that it is untidy or they are in the way! It was a great challenge to take on, chaos for two weeks but well worth it! xx

  3. Fantastic Susane. You have worked so hard at it. Everything’s beautiful, old, shabby, painted and chic, altogether they are all magnificent. I love your taste and style. I am with you! Well done! (sorry i have missed some posts, even many, been too busy, but I managed to visit you today). Happy Weekend!

      1. I am removing everything that I don’t want to bring with me, going down to charity shops every single day with some bags. I am so tired as tired could explain itself. Will surely let you know as soon as I am there. As you may know Britain is mourning on this day since yesterday. But your decorations are all beautiful and has made my day. I am reading your red light that followed you and am just laughing hahaha!

        1. Yes it is certainly mourning, horrible horrible news yesterday. I can imagine you must be exhausted, moving is always so tiring, when are you planning on being here? xx

  4. I am very impressed, what a transformation, you ha e very cleverly managed to combine practicality, style and elegance, not an easy task.

  5. I love it. You have found yourself a new profession! I particularly love how a simple choice of pillow has pulled it all together, the gold in the mirror, the painting and the rug are all brought together by the leopard print pillow. Very impressive.

    1. Thanks so much, it all came together bit by bit, once we took away the chest and filled in the backs of the stairs. I cannot tell you how much fun it was, well worth the effort! xx

  6. I love the results…it’s so nice to be able to include “necessary practicality” into a design change. Far too often a stylish change omits the daily needs a family encounters…you did a wonderful job!

    1. Thanks so much Jan, with a large family it was vital to keep it practical. I know only too well that shoes don’t get put in lockers and coats don’t get put on hangers without either me go around picking everything up or stern words and I didn’t want to necessitate either, so it was a case of working out what would make life easy for everyone! So far so good!!! xx

  7. The gold mirror looks amazing! Love the fact that it doesn’t look like a showtime, but a beautiful deigned lived in home.

    1. Thanks so much Helen, it took a lot of thinking about and a lot of conversations and wondering what to do, but I am glad we finally moved the sideboard and went for something totally different! xx

  8. Love all of this! Especially the before, the after and the process to get there. My passion is practical interior design so this has been a great merger of two favorites-your wonderful blog and interior design in the service of the family living there. I always love when you share photos of the interiors and exteriors of your beautiful home. Thank you!!

    1. Thanks so much Anne, I have never heard it called practical Interior Design before, but that makes so much sense. There is the whimsical and there is show home glamour and then as you say there is practical, because the first two are certainly very different to what is required to actually live with when there are children, dogs and every day life to take into the equation. Not to mention a love of the garden, walking, which means boots and mud and flowers and plants! It was such fun to do although I was so nervous! xx

  9. Wow, it’s a beautiful transformation! I know how it is to organize a place that gets so much frenetic use. It certainly is a challenge, but it’s also inspiring for me. What a fantastic job you did!

    1. Thanks so much, it was really quite a challenge but I am so glad we did it, because we have really changed a room that none of us liked into somewhere that we love, now every time we open the front door we all smile, a fabulous way to enter one’s own home, to feel instantly happy. Wish we had done it years ago, but sometimes we just need that little push. xx

  10. Your work certainly paid off. Wonderful job and improvement! I love the cook hooks you’ve collected. I want to go out to search for some now too.

    1. Thanks so much Candi, we have collected these hooks over several years, the ones with the porcelain tops my husband gave me maybe ten years ago! I am so happy they have finally found a good use where they can actually be seen as well as being supremely practical! xx

  11. You all did a great job. I’m looking forward to seeing it….so glad you kept that small antique rug. Please don’t change too much, the house is so charming the way it is. Brocants and antique wharehouses watch out…Susan is going to be on the prowl. Take me with you please.

    Ali xxx

    1. Thanks so much Ali, looking forward to you seeing it to, it is such an improvement and so far it’s working very well! Don’t worry I am not changing anything else, except a little colour with changing some cushions in the sitting room! But then again we are getting into brocante season and it’s always such fun to have something to shop for! xxx

    1. So far so good! I think you are right about them being for hats but they also work so well for coats, especially the children’s hoody’s that don’t have loops to hang them by, this stops them from becoming misshaped. The radiator was old and we have never once used it, I don’t even know if it worked! So we took it out, the hallway stays warm from the woodburner which we installed in the kitchen next door, we always leave the door open as otherwise the kitchen gets too hot! xx

  12. So much inspiration here, I am going to copy some of your ideas! I love the mix of old and newer things and that cushion is gorgeous!

    1. Thanks so much Mary, it was so much fun to take part in this project and I agree, everyone is so talented, it’s such fun looking at everyone else’s posts, there are some seriously stunning entrance halls featured. xx

  13. I love what has happened with the entry…Beautiful.
    I have not had much of a chance to read your blog lately due to caring for my 94 year old mother who suffered a fall about a month ago. We are in the process of having to care for her 24 /7 as she is now recovering somewhat I am able to get back to reading my favorite blog and seeing what adventures you and your family are involved in.
    As with all your entries I love this one. I love the idea of using items you have on hand to create a very visual appealing space. It really lovely Susan. Thank you again for your wonderful blog. Hugs to you and your family

    1. Thanks so much Freda. I am so sorry your Mother suffered a fall and I am so glad she is now recovering, 94 is far too old to take a fall, she is so lucky to have you to look after her. We so enjoyed redoing the hall, using what we had, we didn’t go out and buy anything and it cost next to nothing apart from hard work, but the results have really been fabulous and have made such a difference to us all! Big hugs to you and to your Mother. xxx

  14. What a lovely space, it looks very funtional and utterly charming as well as very elegant. Certainly not how I would imagine a hallway home to five kids. I can see you must have had your work cut out to achieve all of your goals but it really looks as if you have done just that. Leaving shoes out and coats on an open hook rather than in a cupboard will be far more practical I feel quite sure and also if I read the style magazines correctly bang on trend!

    1. Thanks Bev, we did have quite a few goals to achieve and I think this is why we just looked at it, talked about it and did nothing for over a month, we had to work out the best way to try and achieve what we wanted to do. Keeping the shoes out in the open and the coats too rather than hiding everything away in a cupboard is infinitely more practical, it may not look so tidy but it means that things do actually get put where they are meant to be rather than just left for me to put away, which invariably was the case before! xx

  15. Omg!!!! I’m not surprised….this is brilliant!!! I don’t just love it, I adore It!!!!
    The stairs, the white, the hooks, the crispness, the rug, the umbrella stand!!!! What???!!! Too fab!!!
    Love every single thing about it!!!!
    You are brilliant and waaaaaay up to this challenge.
    Next please!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thanks so much, it was quite a challenge, but that was half the fun! Having said that, we stood and looked for over a month, just not knowing what to do and how to change things. Once I suggested moving the sideboard everything became a lot easier and it has really worked, everything just looks so much neater and tidier. Loved doing this and wish we had done it two years ago!! xx

  16. This is absolutely beautiful and functional…you are so funny as Cindy and I had complete confidence that your entry hall would be great!!! And it is. Love the antique hooks and how cleverly you hung them with the line of the staircase! And all the art looks so perfect and welcoming. Sweet pups, too! Thanks for playing with us.

    1. Thanks so much Mary Ann, you know I loved doing this and as I said you did me such a favour, because it really forced me to do something which I otherwise would never have found the time to do! Plus it has been such fun to be included with so many other fabulous bloggers. xx

  17. Mary Ann and I love these little projects because they force us to get our acts in gear as well. Oh my goodness! Where to begin? You were worried your entry would not be worthy! It is positively charming, functional, and welcoming. Everything an entry should be and more. I relished every bit of this post. We are so thrilled you joined us Susan. My internet is not working properly so I am struggling. I want to come back for more when it is up to speed!

    1. You are so right Cindy, when I first got your email I knew I would have to make some changes, then I just mulled it over and kept looking and trying to work out what to do for over a month! It was such a fun project and thank you once again so much for including me, everyone has been so nice, what a lovely group of bloggers. xx

    1. I totally agree, I am more than happy with the worn parts and it certainly gets plenty of use. Once a year in the summer it gets taken outside and washed, quite thoroughly! xx

  18. Of course I knew you would rise to the challenge, & it looks wonderful! You have excellent taste & I love seeing photos of your home. I bought 2 old tables in a charity shop & some pale pink chalk paint to give them a 2nd life, I can’t wait to get started now! I love a mix of old & new anyway, & I adore your umbrella stand, it’s amazing what a little paint can do.

    1. Thanks so much Janet. How funny, I was just talking to Roddy today about painting furniture pale pink and I also read an article this morning on pale pink furniture as well! Roddy just picked up a beautiful old wooden chest, very plain but solid and well made, he paid 15 euros for it, we are planning on painting that pale pink, I have still never used chalk paint, but have finally found somewhere I can buy it here so I think I may give it a go. If you get a moment please do let me know how it works on your tables, I would love to know and any hints or advice would be gratefully received! xx

      1. What a coincidence- some of my friends thought I was mad buying pink paint! My bedroom is in cream & a sort of milk chocolate colour, so I wanted to give it a little colour. Apparently you can make your own chalk paint too, a family member did & said it worked perfectly, even on her almost orangey pine chest of drawers. I’ll let you know how I get on!

        1. Yes do please. I googled chalk paint and was amazed at how much information is on the web. Also details on how to make it, I had no idea it included plaster of Paris, thanks so much for this, I have learnt so much in a day. Good luck and I know the colour will be gorgeous! Xx

  19. Wow – what a difference, Susan! Amy and agree you are wasted as a blogger. You need to be both writing Audrey stories and designing for other people when they want help with their house. Seriously, you need to do it.

    We also both love the mirror transformation – what a brilliant revival for it, and I bet the hall is a happy place because of that little glint of luxury. Please make sure you accept if asked again to transform something else. Amy likes her design and she says you have a great eye for balance – whatever that means.

  20. Having seen so many glimpses of your house I cannot believe that your hall was not utterly charming before this. However, I cannot deny that this is quite stunning.

    1. Thanks Amanda, however I can assure you it really did need this makeover quite desperately! Before there was just far too much clutter and the coats took over as soon as one entered! xx

  21. Would you like to come to Canada and fix my entrance hall for me please. This really has been an eye opener for me, you seem to have accomplished so much and yet reading this and then rereading it twice, it really seems as if it didn’t cost too much, can you let me know if this was indeed achievable on a modest budget, because then I might feel able to put some of your ideas into practice.

    1. That would be a pleasure Marie! I can assure you this was done on a tiny budget, the only expense was the wood for the backs of the stairs and some paint. We already had the coat hooks, the furniture and the chair, even the scraps of material for the cushion! It was really just a case of moving things around, painting and quite a bit of hard work, but really worthwhile. I would be so happy if this has inspired you to make some changes, it’s fun and really was very simple. xx

  22. Susan…L💞VELY! Once again I am so impressed with your many talents. What a wonderful compliment to be asked to participate in this!
    I couldn’t wait to read your blog today after seeing your front door and outdoor bench on Instagram. You did not disappoint.
    How much fun for you! I love your thought process…attention to detail…”going out of your box.”
    Your Grandfather’s picture touched my ❤️.
    And I agree with Simon and Amy! You are so talented in so many ways!

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie, it was such fun to be included in this, I have never done anything like this before, so it was totally new and I felt so honoured. Plus it really did force us to do something with a space that badly needed help but which I know would otherwise have remained unchanged for another two years! My Grandfather wrote his memoirs and in it he wrote about the little watercolour, in his words he said that he had no money on him, only a British cheque book, but the lady in the shop said “you are an officer in the British army, I will take a cheque” and apparently they wrapped it so very carefully and shipped it back to the UK. I never even noticed it in their house when they were alive and of course now I wish I had as I would love to have asked more about it! xx

      1. 0h those little “treasures” that end up meaning the most to us…something money can’t buy! 💕 Still obsessing over your open front entry door and bench! L💕VE!
        I will be on the look out for some of those hooks for you…
        Have a fun weekend enjoying your new FABULOUS entryway.

        1. Thanks so much, the children are still walking through the hall and saying how much they love it, we all love the transformation! I adore our front doors, I loved them the moment I saw the house, they add so much character! So happy it is Friday night! Have a lovely weekend xx

    1. Thanks so very much, that is such a compliment. I loved doing this and it really has made such a difference, it is so much more practical and so far so much tidier! xx

    1. Thanks so much, I was so pleased with the way it turned out and so far, so good, it really does seem to work, coats actually get hung up and shoes and bags put where they should be, rather than being left in the middle of the floor!!! xx

  23. I cannot believe you even felt nervous, you are quite obviously a natural at this. It’s so lovely that the whole family are happy and enjoying the new space, it looks quite fabulous by the way. Where did you get the rug? As you say, I doubt anything made today would last a century of constant wear and tear!

    1. Ha ha, thanks Sharon, I was happy changing the hall but really nervous about sharing it on the blog and joining so many other talented ladies. It was however such fun to be a part of. The rug belonged to my husband’s grandparents, they had one of the big British auction houses look at it many years ago which is how we know when it dates from. It probably should be somewhere where it can be preserved far more carefully and not covered every day in dirty feet but it seems to be a tough rug! xx

  24. I need to find a similar umbrella stand, love, love it. Thanks for explaining the coffin “hatch”. Wonderful updating for an usable space.

    1. The umbrella stand is actually really functional, I love the removable trays, we bought it when we first moved here for next to nothing, but it lacked any charm. I won’t paint antiques, but I felt this was vintage rather than antique and so it got the paint brush treatment! I love the story of the coffin hatch, I had never seen or heard of one before we bought this house. Upstairs we still have the original winch and metal fully in situ, it can take huge weights and we hoist everything up on the old chains! One day I’ll write about that side of it!! xx

  25. Dear Susane, your home is so beautiful! The rustic with the lovely romantic touch is divine. Changes seem to just take time when you have a active family and all will be done in due time for you. It seems like the changes come when your family has a need for them. When my family was young they couldn’t come fast enough for me. lol Congrats on being ask to view your wonderful farm house. Just make sure you keep the aliens at bay! lol Have a lovely day!
    xoxo Jo

    1. Thanks so much Jo, oh that made me laugh, that goodness I have not seen any aliens here, but I have to admit I have been a bit jumpy since the last blog post. I don’t think it was my writing, it was reading all the comments, now I seem to be seeing things everywhere!!! This was such a fun thing to do and so far it really has worked. The best bit is shoes seem to get put away and coats hung up, quite amazing, long may it last!!! Hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

  26. Hello Susan, I think it looks superb. I love the way you’ve incorporated favourite pieces to make such a beautiful practical space. Warmest regards, Suzi

    1. Thanks so much Suzi, I so enjoyed doing this and it was fun to basically only use what we had to hand, plus it kept the budget down! So far so good, the space seems to work really well for all of us. xx

  27. It’s simply beautiful and looks like an elegant family home! It’s perfect in its imperfection, and feels like something we can imitate in our home – though it will never be as cool as you French beauty! Love it!

    1. Thanks so much Theresa, I love that phrase, ‘perfectly imperfect’ it has many imperfections, the old beams for a start and the floor which I don’t much like, but it is now so much much nicer than it was, it works, it is functional and yet we also really love it as soon as we open the door. Hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

  28. I would love to have an old farmhouse with all the quirks that come with it. Fabulous job painting the stair railing. That is a huge undertaking. So fun to see more of your French farmhouse.

    1. Thanks so much Kim, the quirks are fun, some of them, the draughty doors for example are just something we have to live with! The staircase took me weeks to paint, I would painstakingly do a couple of hours each day, but I knew exactly what I wanted and I was so pleased with the result. I can still remember how happy I was when I finally pulled off the masking tape! xx

  29. Looking good. Introducing more light and a feeling of space is essential in an old building, or at least it is for me. You’ve certainly achieved that here!

    1. I totally agree, light can often be a problem in these old houses and couple with dark furniture it can sometimes feel small and cramped. This has really changed things and lightened the room whilst making it so much more practical. Have a lovely end to the week xx

    1. Thanks so much, I really like to think it is a welcome and comfy home, my goal has always been for it to be the sort of place where people want to linger and where they feel totally at home, the sort of home where people want to linger a while and where they will return often. As you can probably tell, I love having friends here, our friends and our children’s friends, a noisy house full of chatter and laughter is perfect for me! xx

  30. Personally I miss the personality of a place when I would hire a professional …not necessary ..and the evidence is your self created entrance which is a warm welcome and practical too.

    1. Thanks so much Paula, the coat hooks work rather well because the youngest children can’t reach the top hooks so we each have our own, youngest to oldest, up they go!!! xx

  31. You’re an inspiration Susan. The new entrance area looks very inviting.What I like most is that you used what you already had- old mirror, chest, and that lovely little rug, along with a few bits and bobs, rather than rush off to the Brocante market or homewares ( gee-gaw) shop to buy stuff. Re-purposing the things you already have is a real art, and you have done this brilliant;y. I also really love the way the way that you have maintained the space as a family oriented functional space. The kids coats

    1. Thanks so much Francesca, the only thing we had to buy was paint and wood for the backs of the stairs. Everything else, as you say, we repurposed and used, right down to the scraps of material for the cushion! The umbrella stand was actually once a full size coat stand, it had a top half, where we hung the coats and was really ugly! But by cutting it in half an painting it, it has a complete new lease of life and I love it. It had to remain a fully functional space, there are a lot of shoes, lots of coats and sports bags and everything has to work and so far so good!! xx

  32. The transformation is beautiful but I have to admit I like a couple of the trial runs too. I spend a lot of time altering the entrance decorations for season or holidays. It remains quite tidy for visitors. Unfortunately due to the house layout family enter via back french doors to kitchen. So I have the clutter of their lives (shoes bags coats ) right on the kitchen table and surrounding floor. If you have a future post on how to fix that I will be grateful!

    1. Ha ha, thanks Ann-Maree. I really do feel your pain, we have had houses before where people come in through the kitchen and everything indeed ends up on the kitchen table. Even now, with the hallway right next to the kitchen, a certain amount seems to migrate into the kitchen. Personally I was really hoping that by having a far more functional space in the hall, especially with drawers for hairbrushes and things that everything might find it’s home in the proper place. So far so good, but it’s early days. I think your best bet is to have a table with some wicker baskets or old wooden wine boxes (I love these) underneath, if you have the room, where everything can end up rather than on the main kitchen table! xx

  33. sorry, that posted itself. I will continue. The kids coats, sports gear and boots are proudly on display, a statement that this is a family home and not a styled room from House and Garden. This is so important – making your entry halls look inviting and warm and casual, both to visitors AND your loved ones who come and go and often need to just drop things.
    My entrance area is currently a mess. Most people use the side door. I am now inspired to give the front a go. Thanks Susan.

    1. Don’t you hate it when that happens! You have hit the nail on the head, everyone comes and goes, there is a lot of traffic, shoes get taken off, coats too and then in no time at all, sports shoes are on, and we are out of the door again, there is no time to put things neatly in cupboards, it simply just doesn’t happen. That’s why I wanted to keep the shoes on display. Gigi uses her tennis bag every single day, there is no point in having it hidden away in a cupboard because most of the time it wouldn’t quite make it in there, it simply all had to be practical. Plus as you say, I am happy to have it all out, this is first and foremost our family home, I wanted it to look better and to feel more welcoming to everyone but also to make life easier. We tried to get everyone to come in through the barn and boot room, we do if we have really muddy boots but otherwise it is cold and damp and it simply doesn’t happen! Do give the front door a go, this was actually such a fun thing to do! xx

  34. What a lovely space and I agree with Francesca, I like that it looks real, it shows that a family live here and it shows that daily life happens. This in my opinion is so much more inspiring to read about than stylised perfection that looks good on the glossy pages of the latest design mag but in reality is highly impractical and unattainable for most of us. Great effort today Susan, you should be very proud.

    1. Thanks so much Vicky. I still drool over magazines, they are always full of inspiration but I like to take away ideas from them and then find ways to implement them into our lifestyle. So far this space has worked very well for our family! xx

  35. This is inspiring. I think you have to be able to take some time and to think about possible solutions. This one is elegant and practical. Every 10 years or so I get a bug for big changes. I’ve got it this year, a bit early. We’ll see what happens. You seem to have a gift for design.

    1. I think you are so right. As I said, we stood and looked and wondered and tossed ideas around for over a month, just living with it but doing nothing until we were quite sure what we wanted to do. I think changing things around every now and then is refreshing, I don’t like to do it too often because I like the comfort of familiarity but every once in a while it does us the power of good! Xx

  36. It’s a beautiful space, combining practical efficiency with inspiration in every corner. Kudos to you! I found your explanation of the “coffin hole” fascinating.

    1. Thanks so much Lorrie. I had never even heard of a coffin hatch, or seen one until we bought this house, we still have the original chain and winch pulley in place upstairs and we still use it to hoist heavy pieces up through the hatch, one day I will feature it and explain how it all works! Have a lovely weekend xx

    1. Thank you so much, it was such a fun project to do and I was so honoured to take part, plus it really did do me such a huge favour, I was forced to do something about the hall which we didn’t like and which didn’t work but we just sort of lived with! Xx

  37. Susan, I’m so thankful that this Project Design collaboration brought me to your lovely blog! I love your home and your pretty mix of family bits and beautiful things along with the practical and different hooks. The chair and cushion and antique rug all work so well together here too. What a great space to have for a family and all their bags and coats and sports things.You really have my favorite kind of English Country House look. Thanks also for your note. I am finally able to sit down tonight and read everyone’s posts on this. I don’t know why commenting didn’t work with Apple, but it should. I use a Mac and most of the people I know do too. I will see what is happening.

    Like you, I wasn’t sure I was up to this project, but also am so happy I did it now. I know I might have never gotten to it or finished so fast without this challenge! Looking forward to reading more of your posts! x Kim

    1. Thanks Kim, I agree this project was fabulous and really made all of us perhaps do something that otherwise we probably would not have done, plus I think it brought nine blogs together from around the world. It was such fun and am so pleased to have been a part of it. I will try commenting again today. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  38. This is a wonderful space. And it’s made me think about our entrance hall, which is ….ok, but only ok. I wonder if this will give us the necessary kick to do something as transformative as you have?

    1. Hi Margaret, thanks so much. Our hall way ok too, in a messy sort of way, it was just an entrance hall, coats everywhere, shoes, dogs, nothing out of the ordinary but I would never have dreamt of photographing it, it was just a place to pass through. However, I have always loved our front doors, I fell in love with them the moment I saw the house, they are draughty in winter and really not that practical, but I would never change them! So this project really did make me think I could make the whole room a little bit nicer and a lot more practical. We have a boot room inside the barn for really muddy boots and initially I tried to get everyone to enter through there, but it just didn’t work, it is damp and cold and on a dark winter morning no one wants to go down there when the hall is warm and right next to the kitchen! Hope you have a lovely weekend, it’s turned really chilly here! Xx

        1. Brrr indeed, I know they had a frost inland from us last night, we got down to 4C which is cold for the nights for us at this time of year. Meant to be warming up though with a sunny weekend in store. Hope it’s the same for you and have a lovely weekend xx

  39. Personally I miss the personality of a place when I would hire a professional …not necessary ..and the evidence is your self created entrance which is a warm welcome and practical too. But the best of all decoration are your dogs…
    sooo lovely and cute.

  40. What a great transformation! Such a welcoming space. Love everything you’ve done in here. Those big doors are gorgeous!! Enjoyed hopping with you.

    1. Thanks so much Becky, wasn’t it all great fun. I am so grateful as if I hadn’t been asked I would never have done this and it was a space that so desperately needed revamping, but I know I would never have found the time. So happy to have found your blog too as a result, what a lovely group of ladies. Have a lovely weekend xx

  41. The hallway looks lovely Susan. I really like the simplicity of the painted furniture and the practical hooks. I felt your pain when you described the open stairs as we had a house like that before moving. I would love a hallway again as we are all open plan – it’s a nightmare trying to keep clean and tidy.xx

    1. Thanks so much Amanda, we had an entirely open plan house before we moved here and I was actually really happy to get back to seperate rooms again, but then I see an open plan house and think how wonderful it looks! I swing from one way to the other!! Xx


    1. Oh how funny, I love the sideboard, it’s oak and we bought it with the house, they offered us all sorts of items of furniture, most of it we didn’t want, but we instantly loved the sideboard and said “we’ll buy that one!” It actually now looks so much better in the library and the hall as a result has more space and makes more sense. We need the curtains at the front doors on cold winter nights. I fell in love with the doors as soon as I saw the house but they are old and draughty and that’s just something we have to live with, the curtains certainly help!! Hope you have a lovely weekend, big hugs xxx

  43. How lovely and homey. I can see that it takes quite a bit of thinking to put all the pieces together. What happened to the radiator that was along the wall before?

    1. Thanks so much Paulita, it all took quite a lot of planning to make it a fully functional space for a large family who is constantly coming and going and playing a lot of sport! The radiator we took away. We had never used it and I am not even sure if it worked. The kitchen is right next door to the hall and when we moved here we installed a woodburner in the kitchen, it gets so hot we always leave the door open into the hall and it heats the two rooms rather well! Xx

  44. Oh, I love reno posts. You did a wonderful job, it all looks so inviting as well as organized. You’ve given me some good ideas, as well as inspiration to get going.
    I found a formula for DIY chalk paint, and it works! I’ll find it and send it along.

    1. Here it is. Calcium Carbonate, which I buy at the local health-food store. Chalk powder.
      Mix two parts paint to one part CC, stir thoroughly. Aside from the cost savings, I like it because it lets me choose my own paint colors, not rely on someone else’s selection.

    2. Thanks so much Emm, it certainly is a far more workable space and has actually made a big difference. Thanks for the chalk paint recipe, this is fabulous because as you say I can choose my own colours. I have never found chalk paint here so this is so helpful. Now I have to see if I can get CC somewhere, if not I am sure I can online. Can’t wait to try it, next week I hope. Xx

  45. i love it. and with your permission, i’ll share it on my ‘great before/afters’ page on Hello Lovely as i think it reflects such an effortless lived in lovely feel which is approachable and warm. thanks for sharing the before pics too–that can be vulnerable to do, and i so honor bloggers who are willing to enter that level of transparency. xox ~michele

    1. Hi Michele, I would be truly honoured if you would share this on your blog, thank you so much. It was such a fun thing to do and I am so grateful that I was asked as it really pushed me into action, otherwise we might never have got round to it! Have a lovely weekend xx

  46. Wonderful transformation Susan, the corner feels airy and I love the mirror addition, it actually makes the space feel bigger than it is. Well done! Bon-weekend

  47. What a delight to sit here and look at before and after shots without having to lift a finger! So love to see this and get ideas for my own space at home. Thank you for sharing. I, too, love the mix of old and new in my own home and yours.
    Wet and cold today as we head further into Autumn,brrr. Your blog is a very welcome distraction from it all!!

    1. Thanks Sue, I love reading other people’s before and after’s, as you say, always so many ideas and there is so much inspiration in other people’s blogs. We are finally enjoying some lovely spring weather, but autumn is always fun after a long hot summer too. Have a lovely Sunday xx

    1. Thanks so much Carla, I am so pleased I was invited to do this because otherwise I might never have got around to redoing the entrance hall, it would have just stayed as it was for a long long time! But the change has really worked and is definitely a huge improvement! xx

    1. Thanks so much, it really is amazing what one can do with very little outlay and just some hard work and a lot of thinking. Plus I can honestly say this works, it has been put to the test and even after a busy weekend with friends of the children over to play it remained tidy and organised, I am definitely in love with it!! xx

  48. Your new entryway is beautiful! The details of the changes you needed to make prove that a great deal of hard work went into this project.
    I loved the look of the open staircase in the *before* picture, but it never occurred to me that it was also a problem for stuff falling off the other side. I understand now the desire to close the stairs.
    The hooks along the line of the staircase was a brilliant addition and I love the trio of paintings at the foot of the stairs. Come to think of it, each of the details look just right 🙂

    1. Thanks Joanne, I love open stairs, but I never realised that with so many people running up and down the stairs, kids, and their friends and a dog or two and the cat; the mess! Every hair, every bit of dust, everything drops down and through onto the things below, when it is just the floor it is fine, when it was the sideboard it was ok, but with coats, it’s kind of not ok!! The hallway has worked so well, it rally has made a huge difference and the amazing thing is it has remained clutter free and tidy! Xx

      1. When a space is re-structured to accommodate how it is used, it’s amazing how much easier it is to keep organized. I’ve learned that lesson over and over. The problem is having the vision to do it and then the hard work to get it done!

  49. I can see that this was quite the undertaking but the results are fabulous. It looks functional and so pretty. Well done!

  50. Love it Susan! What a difference closing in the stair treads has made! Well done in such a short time. You could also maybe put a long narrow ‘bench’ type affair with box divisions in it, on the floor under the coat hooks where you could then stand two layers of shoes or outdoory items. Just a thought.

    1. Roddy has talked about putting a bench under the coats as well, great minds obviously think alike! It is certainly something to consider for sure. It has made such a huge difference and really does, incredibly, remain tidy! Xx

    1. Ha ha, you are far too too kind, I can assure you there are plenty of things I am not good at, art is one of them, I am utterly useless at drawing and painting, that gene bypassed me altogether and went straight down to the children instead and I cannot sew to save my life! Have a fabulous weekend xx

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