Hallway makeover

My first DIY reveal of the year – what a great feeling! I love refreshing my home at the beginning of the new year in preparation for the lighter, brighter days. My bedroom is next on the list…


To sum up what the hallway was like before I would say: dark, soulless, beige, depressing, confused, and just soooo many doors! Basically, I live in a new build flat so every single fixture and fitting is functional and lacks character. The doors (there are eight leading off the small hallway – yes, eight) are huge, washable and extremely strong, which is brilliantly practical but they are gruesome to look at and have no mouldings or even nice handles to detract from the fact that they are just massive slabs of wood. The doors, combined with the vile, light absorbing carpet mean that my hallway is just generally depressing and even when I put nice things in it, like the beautiful Victorian washstand and mirror that used to belong to my grandmother, nothing can lift it past the point of being utterly depressing. When I don’t enjoy being in a space, I try to close myself off from it, which means I cut out the light in the flat as I close all of the doors. Another consequence of not enjoying a space is that it quickly becomes a dumping ground – spot the old computer that needs to be disposed of and has sat there for a month!

So, something drastic had to happen, yet I didn’t want to spend more than about £250. Drum roll please…

Hallway makeover 'before' shot| Apartment Apothecary

My hallway BEFORE. The first shot is looking down the hallway from the front door. The second shot is looking up the hallway from my living area. The last shot is of the front door and hallway table. Aren’t ‘before’ shots always so terribly unhappy looking? Even Otto looks sad about the whole thing.


These shots were taken by photographer Katharine Peachey during the recent home tour shoot she did for 91 Magazine. Luckily for me, she captured the hallway, which makes it look extra special in contrast to my awful before shots!

So, this is what I did:

1) Pulled up the carpet and painted the MDF boards underneath to match the living area and home office, which creates more continuity and less of the feeling that the hallway is separate box within the flat.

2) Painted all of the internal doors white – what massive change that makes! They are no longer a feature and you barely notice they are there, which makes the hallway feel so much bigger and brighter. We also completely removed the door that leads into the living area, which really helps to create more flow and bring more light into the hallway.

3) Changed the door handles and replaced them with original Bakelite ones that I bought from Lassco, which are a bit more a design statement rather than a purely functional tool.

4) Painted the bathroom door with blackboard paint to create some contrast with all of the white. Plus it’s rather handy for notes as the front door is just to the left of it.

5) Bought a new hallway table from eBay that is a vintage school desk and I now use the Victorian washstand as a bedside table, which suits the style of the bedroom a lot more than the hallway.

6) Added a couple of pieces of art work, including my favourite Double Merrick print.

7) Added our spare Ercol dining chair, with a colourful Orla Kiely cushion, which is practical for putting on shoes but also adds a bit of colour.

8) Bought a jute runner, which is super practical with a dog and it tones in with the table top and chair (I normally have a seagrass basket in the righthand corner too for scarfs and gloves etc). Some of you may remember that I bought a Turkish Kilim runner for the hallway but Otto ran down it with paint all over his feet – cut a long story short, the runner did not survive.

9) Styled up the hallway table to make it more appealing to look at and added a huge vase of flowers, which is always filled with yellow flowers to tie in with the cushion. I bought the vase from Petersham Nurseries Shop.

10) Bought some vintage hooks from eBay to match the black and white colour scheme.

All that is left, is to find the perfect rug/mat to go in front of the front door and some new light fixtures…

Hallway makeover | Apartment Apothecary

A lighter, brighter space. This is looking up the hallway from my living area.

Hallway makeover photographed by katharinepeachey.co.uk | Apartment Apothecary

I added character with a vintage school desk for the hallway table, vintage hooks from eBay and nice bits and bobs on the table.

Hallway makeover photographed by katharinepeachey.co.uk | Apartment Apothecary

I always have yellow flowers on this table, which tie in with the yellow cushion on the chair. The vase is from the Petersham Nursery shop.

Hallway makeover | Apartment Apothecary

All the internal doors are now white, with original Bakelite handles that I bought from Lassco and the bathroom door has been painted with blackboard paint.

Hallway makeover photographed by katharinepeachey.co.uk | Apartment Apothecary

This is looking down the hallway from the front door. The painted floor of the hallway now creates continuity with the living area and home office, which leads off it. We also removed the door at the end of the hallway that leads into the living area so that the hallway is lighter and more integrated into the rest of the flat.

Hallway makeover photographed by katharinepeachey.co.uk | Apartment Apothecary

Styling up the hallway table and adding a mirror breathes life into the space, rather than it being seen as a dumping ground.

Hallway makeover photographed by katharinepeachey.co.uk | Apartment Apothecary

You can just glimpse a small Turkish Kilim mat that I have by the front door, but still searching for something a bit more permanent.

Hallway makeover photographed by katharinepeachey.co.uk | Apartment Apothecary

My favourite Double Merrick print has now been framed and added to the wall between the office door and the hallway cupboard door, which fits a lot better than what was there previously.

Hallway makeover photographed by katharinepeachey.co.uk | Apartment Apothecary

I hung two large honeycomb balls from the ceiling during Christmas and they looked like lovely lampshades. This has inspired me to search out two new pendant lights to replace the spot lights.

What do you think? I know it’s not perfect and it’s certainly not my ‘dream’ hallway, but with what we’ve got and the small amount of money I wanted to spend I’m pretty thrilled with the results. Gone is the dark, beige, light absorbing box and a new, light, bright and breezy passageway has arrived! I just need to find the perfect rug to placed by the front door and new lamp shades to replace the spot lights.

What DIY projects have you got up your sleeves this year?

Thank you to Katharine Peachey for the beautiful photographs.

Katy x



  1. Jill
    7th January 2015 / 7:01 am

    Wow, what a transformation and on such a small budget. Much brighter and it looks so fresh. You must smile every time you come home to such a beautiful hallway!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 12:50 pm

      Thank you, Jill! I have to say, it has made a big difference to walking in through the door, which I used to hate! x

  2. 7th January 2015 / 7:53 am

    It’s absolutely wonderful. I don’t know how you’ve done it. We live in a new build and it’s soulless. Functional, which is great with two young kids, but it really does feel like we live in a box. I spend way to much time on RightMove looking a older properties. One day!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 12:52 pm

      Desperate to move to a period home but love living in central London too much at the moment. I’ve tried to add vintage touches and interesting furniture to make our new build have more character xx

  3. 7th January 2015 / 8:57 am

    such a difference Katy! It really is proof that you can make a new build beautiful and have vintage touches! love it! xx

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 12:52 pm

      Thank you so much, Caroline! Far too kindxx

  4. 7th January 2015 / 9:17 am

    Wow! You have done such a lovely job! It looks so inviting 🙂 I would love a hallway! We just walk straight into the living room! One day I will have a hall!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 12:53 pm

      I dream of a double fronted house with a beautiful staircase leading from the tiled hallway. Off to dreamland and now…xx

  5. 7th January 2015 / 9:30 am

    Amazing! It’s looks beautiful. We live in a rented Victorian house which is most painted white except the dining room which is a horrible beige – I keep thinking about asking the landlord if we can repaint it because it’s anything but bright and fresh 🙂

    Love the little details on the school desk too 🙂

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 1:02 pm

      Out with the beige!! Sucks the life out of any room in my opinion. Thanks for the lovely comment, Lorna x

  6. Farah
    7th January 2015 / 10:19 am

    Oh Wow- just wowzers!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 1:02 pm

      🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. 7th January 2015 / 11:01 am

    Love this revamp, simple but effective changes. The little table works so well too, filled with treasures! 🙂 xxx

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 1:03 pm

      Love the school desk – it’s got kids’ graffiti on it too 😉 Thanks, Amanda! x

  8. Louise
    7th January 2015 / 11:43 am

    That looks like a totally different space, and infinitely better. You seemed to do it so easily too – congratulations!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 1:03 pm

      Thank you, Louise. It’s amazing the difference a bit of white paints makes x

  9. 7th January 2015 / 12:02 pm

    A fab transformation, what a difference. Hallways are so tricky as they are the first impression people get of your home and do often become dumping grounds (There’s shoes everywhere in my hall!). I love the vintage additions. Adding small tables and feature furniture (if space allows) can make it so much more of a useable, stylish space.

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 1:04 pm

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment! x

  10. 7th January 2015 / 12:40 pm

    I love it! Great job as always. Can I ask, do you rent your home or own it? I seem to recall you rent and I just wondered how you convinced your landlord to let you make over the floors and doors etc?

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 1:05 pm

      Hi Claire! Happy new year! We do own our flat, otherwise I don’t think a landlord would be cool with any of it – but you never know, it’s always worth asking xx

      • 7th January 2015 / 1:53 pm

        Ah OK, I did wonder! It’s been great watching you transform each space and on such affordable budgets too. x

  11. Sarah Ford
    7th January 2015 / 1:23 pm

    I agree, looks stunning. A quick tip as a fellow dog owner who also has white hallway doors and walls – Those ‘magic sponges’ that you just run under water and rub on splashes and stains works wonders for when a beloved pet comes in out of the rain and covered in mud and insists on shaking himself in the hallway. Just check on an inconspicuous spot before using on paintwork. I find it fine on paintwork (ours is a soft matt white), as long as you rub and not scrub too hard!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 6:57 pm

      I need a magic sponge! Where can I get one, Sarah? X

  12. Shelley
    7th January 2015 / 1:24 pm

    I have always been a huge fan of all white interiors since they are bright and provide a perfect backdrop to change up throws, cushions, wall and table displays, and your hall transformation is another case in point. Well done!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 6:58 pm

      Thank you, Shelley! Totally agree – in love with white interiors and do easy to layer with colour using furniture, textiles etc xx

  13. olivia
    7th January 2015 / 1:51 pm

    wonderful! brilliant transformation – love it. heaps of soul & personality too. enjoy! olivia x

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 6:59 pm

      Thank you so much, Olivia, for such a lovely comment x

  14. 7th January 2015 / 3:49 pm

    Hi Katy, I’m new to your blog so firstly just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed the posts I’ve caught up with so far. Your hallway makeover above has given me some great ideas – those painted doors make the whole place look wider as well as brighter!

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 7:00 pm

      Welcome, Lucy! I agree, I think painting the doors has made all the difference x

  15. 7th January 2015 / 5:14 pm

    OH my! Katy your home is seriously beautiful!! LOVE! And huge! I adore it all. Note to self, I need to repaint everything!!! Lou xxx

    • katy
      7th January 2015 / 7:00 pm

      Ha ha! Too kind, Lou xx

  16. 7th January 2015 / 7:59 pm

    Wow what a huge change! its beautiful.

    • katy
      8th January 2015 / 9:07 am

      Thank you so much, Afke. It really does feel different, too! X

  17. Emma
    7th January 2015 / 9:53 pm

    Looks fantastic! Ive been really looking forward to seeing this! Since i copied you the pictures of my hall, ive lost the cupboard under my stairs and gained an office… Which means i’ve lost my blackboard door… Definitely going to have to attack another with the chalkboard paint, i really miss it!


    • katy
      8th January 2015 / 9:10 am

      Hi Emma! Yay, I’ve finally finished the makeover thanks to some inspo from you! So glad you’ve seen it 🙂 Your new ‘office’ sounds very exciting. ThAnk you for the lovely comment x

  18. Nahid
    7th January 2015 / 11:08 pm

    What a transformation! Love it! For rugs, try the Afghan rug shop on Kilburn High Road. Or try Portobelllo Road – the shop next to Sitara (don’t know the name of the actual shop). There’s quite a range there.

    • katy
      8th January 2015 / 9:11 am

      Hi Nahid! So lovely to hear from you and hope you are well. I must get to those shops – they are going on my to do list! Thanks for the recommendations xx

  19. Jenny
    8th January 2015 / 1:01 pm

    Have been reading your blog for a few months and really enjoying it. Never commented before but felt I had to say what an amazing job you have done with your hallway, you have inspired me to get the paintbrush out, stop thinking and just go for it! I have a computer sitting in my hallway too, it has been there for about 18 months – I want it to go somewhere useful rather than landfill – what did you do with yours? Jenny

    • katy
      9th January 2015 / 12:00 pm

      Hi Jenny. I’m so pleased you’ve been following my bog and even more pleased that you left such a lovely comment! I’m also VERY glad to hear that i am not the only one who means to get rid of things but somehow they hand around for months and before you know it they have become a piece of the furniture that you don’t notice any more 😉 We actually ended up putting the old computer on Freecycle because, like you, we didn’t want it to end up in landfill. It’s surprising how many offers we got for it, I suppose because people want to use it for parts. You can also take them to local recycling plants – just do a quick google – or there are specialist charities that will take them. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog x

  20. 8th January 2015 / 2:42 pm

    Wow, what a beautiful space. Strange that hallways are so often an afterthought, yet they’re the first thing you see! I love the blackboard door – does the paint go on to most surfaces? We have one 1970s door among wooden originals and this could be a good solution.

    • katy
      9th January 2015 / 12:02 pm

      Hi Abi, thank you so much for your lovely comment! Our door had a shiny laminate surface so we used a primer and then painted over it with the blackboard paint and it has adhered perfectly. Hope that helps! x

  21. 8th January 2015 / 8:38 pm

    What a transformation! It looks gorgeous Katy, well done xx

    • katy
      9th January 2015 / 12:02 pm

      Thank you so much, lovely xx

  22. Sarah Ford
    9th January 2015 / 1:00 pm

    Hi Katy – Supermarkets seem to be doing the magic sponges at the moment (well Tesco and Asda) – usually in the cleaning aisles with the dinfectant/cleaning sprays. However, I noticed on QVC that they have a large pack in a variety of sizes cheaper than the supermarkets, on their site they are called superblocks by a company called ‘It Works’. I have no connection with these companies by the way!

    They also work on stainless steel, stubborn marks in the bath etc.

    • katy
      12th January 2015 / 10:56 am

      Brilliant – thanks so much for sharing x

  23. 11th January 2015 / 9:30 am

    This looks amazing! White paint all the way 🙂 I love the mirror above your hall table too. And the painted floor makes such a difference!

    • katy
      12th January 2015 / 10:57 am

      Thank you so much, Ruth! x

  24. 11th January 2015 / 2:04 pm

    I saw this on Instagram first (I’m letsstaygoldd) and I HAD to track down your blog. What an amazing transformation. Thank you for showing us how a functional space can be delightful too. The details are lovely and I really appreciate your ‘landing strip’. Um. I do mean that in a solely interior-design-esque way!

    PS, Otto is to DIE FOR.

    • katy
      12th January 2015 / 10:58 am

      Aw, thank you Sarah, for making the effort to find me here and all of your lovely comments x

  25. 11th January 2015 / 10:25 pm

    What an unbelievable transformation! It looks so fresh. I spot succulents, prints, lots of white, glass frames and a blackboard…all currently on my wish list. Glass frames are magical. Amazing job and so worth your hard work! x

    • katy
      12th January 2015 / 11:00 am

      Well spotted, Esther! I love glass frames, too. I have an old black and white photo of my mum in mine. I really appreciate all your kind words x

  26. 14th January 2015 / 5:21 pm

    Great ideas Katy, I love the fact that it is simple but it looks cozy and beautiful. The hallways colours makes it look very spacious. I will definitely follow your blog more often and share this with our followers as well. Thanks.

    • katy
      16th January 2015 / 11:10 am

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment x

  27. 15th January 2015 / 5:27 pm

    Beautiful makeover!! Just starting out my own adventure in blogworld so finding your site inspiring Tina x

    • katy
      16th January 2015 / 11:10 am

      Ooooh, exciting! SO flattered you are getting inspiration here x

  28. Sue Skinner
    4th April 2015 / 10:19 pm

    Hi Katy,
    I am new to your blog and enjoy the ‘befores’ and ‘afters’. Just wondered if you could put up a photo of the honeycomb balls you mentioned as I have to source some shades/light fittings for 3 oddly spaced ceiling lights in my dining room. One over the table and 2 opposite across the ceiling a bit. I am having such trouble. Any thoughts?

    • Katy
      9th April 2015 / 8:12 am

      Hi Sue. So sorry but I dont have a picture of the honeycomb balls hanging in the hall (they were just decorations for Xmas). If you want to see what they look like just google ‘honeycomb balls’. I’d say use the same shade on all three light fittings and keep them as simple as possible if they are oddly spaced so they don’t draw too much attention x

  29. 4th May 2015 / 5:54 pm

    It’s absolutely stunning your home! I love all the accents and the colors against all the white. It’s my dream to have more white and space in my home when the kids get older. I love that mustard cushion. Mustard/yellow is my fave color. It’s such a change from what it was. You are so creative!!!

  30. 28th January 2016 / 10:31 am

    Hi Katy
    I love what you have done with your hallway! We too live in a new build flat so completely know what you mean on the doors! We’ve got 7 in ours (including the huge cupboard we have)…all the same shade of rubbish beige. Our hallway is next on our list. So I wanted to ask you about painting the doors – it’s something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while. What paint did you use? How did you find sanding down the laminate (assume yours are laminate wood)? Did you prime them? I want to get as much advice as possible before I embark on it as I’m sure that Robert wouldn’t forgive me if they look rubbish!
    Thanks 🙂

  31. Claire
    29th March 2016 / 7:46 am

    I love the coat hooks and trying to find in a similar style/colour would you mind telling me what you searched for on ebay? Thanks!

    • Katy
      31st March 2016 / 8:02 am

      Hi Claire. I searched for ‘vintage atomic coat hooks’. Hope that helps x

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