Research & Inspiration · The House

Inspiration & Research: Bedroom, Hallway & Stairwell

The Bedroom

This was the first, and the easiest room to do. I’ve added a post on it already, so if you haven’t read it, you can find it here. The main inspiration for the bedroom, was my previous bedroom, and unfortunately I can’t remember why I decided to decorate it in the way that I did. But I do know that the main focus was dark wooden floorboards, dark wood furniture, floral wallpaper and a bed with a big enough foot-board to be able to hang stockings over!

Some other source imagery that I’ve found:


Some key tips:

  • Floral or plain wallpaper (all four walls!)
  • Dark wood furniture
  • Varnished floorboards with rugs
  • No cohesive colour scheme; colours and patterns are eccentrically mixed rather than matched.
  • Beds made up with white sheets and then either bedspreads or quilts on top.


Hallway & Stairwell

This was probably the most difficult part of the house to research. It’s often the first thing people see due to the fact that many houses built between the Victorian and 1930s eras would be built to have the front doors opening directly onto the hallway and stairwell (with the notable exception of working class and poorer homes, which for our purpose we’re not including). So we wanted to get it right, however despite the fact that it the centre of your house and ties the decoration of the downstairs with the upstairs, and is often the first thing people see, most people don’t give it much though. This means that there is very little source material available, so we had to take elements from other rooms in the house, and rely heavily on reconstructions. Often some of the very best material comes from webpages researched and built by individuals, for example this lovely little study on Spinner’s End, which looks at the real life scenario of a 1960s working class property, through the fictional account of Prof. Severus Snape’s childhood. And combined with the Birmingham Back to Backs, starts to build up the picture of working class homes, but I digress and will have to do a post on working class accommodation soon!

For our purposes, our house is semi-detached, in a row of late Edwardian terraces and has a front door; opening onto a narrow hallway, with doors to the ‘living room’ and ‘dining room’ before leading up to the stairs. Emphasis due to the fact that the rooms would not have been built for these purposes or given these names originally. See more, here.

Often you have to consider the practical aspects of actually living in a property, design and decoration may be creatively inspired, but can also come out of necessity. For example, before putting up our radiator cover, we were struggling for somewhere to store our keys in our narrow Edwardian hallway. Now our keys (and my handbag, and Mr’s gas mask) gravitate towards this horizontal surface, and we’re starting to accumulate other items like post- which make the hallway look much more authentic.

Gas Mask

So with very little source material to turn to, and internet searches throwing up irrelevant imagery, we created our own plan. Mr Aviacion was definite about having a tiled floor, and we invested in getting the hall re-tiled in the traditional style. Which you can read about here. The tiles are black and terracotta, so we used this as inspiration for our decoration, which led us to a colour scheme of red and brown. We worked with the existing dado rail, and chose a damask red wallpaper to go above it. We also really loved the idea of having wooden panelling under the dado rail, and investigated the costs/effort in getting this done professionally/doing it ourselves/faking it.

From these photos, which show working class living areas, with the buildings probably dating from the late-Victorian to the Edwardian era, demonstrate that wood panelling in a new build 1910 property, or, aspirations of a young couple moving into the property during the 1930s or 1940s, is not beyond possibility.

I’ll leave our trials in wooden panelling investigation to a separate post!

Here are some other inspiration photos, some show historic architecture and some show restorations.

The majority of images are from more upper class properties from the era, or the larger later builds. 1920s and 1930s architecture was often similar to Edwardian styles, but on larger and roomier scales. So we had to take references and scale it down.

We chose a chocolate brown paint for the woodwork, glossy white woodwork is so modern! And ties in nicely as a neutral colour for both the upstairs decorations and the downstairs. Eventually we applied a paintable wallpaper under the dado rail, and painted it the same colour as the woodwork. It works surprisingly well! We carried this throughout the hallway, staircase and landing.

The only final point is a stair carpet. We’re finding it really hard to source reference images, I think it needs to be patterned and Mr thinks it should be plain. However we did recently pick up some 1930s stair carpet clips from the 1940s Relived at Brooklands Museum, so that’s sorted at least!


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