Friday, January 28, 2011

Study Hall

Look at that glorious hallway above and tell me if it doesn't have Dorothy Draper's name written all over it. That at least was my immediate thought when I first saw this photo. In fact, old Dorothy had nothing to do with the design of this early 1960s Parisian hallway, although who knows, maybe her work inspired it. That dramatic looking surround with the columns, broken pediment, and urn scream her name to me as does that checkerboard floor. And that paneled door looks like something straight out of The Carlyle. I believe that you could easily duplicate this look by using architectural stencils from Stencil Library and painting columns and such around a door surround. Anyway, this hall and entryway is exactly the way mine looks in my Manhattan apartment. You know, the Manhattan apartment in my imagination.

So, a plaid hallway might be hard to pull off unless you're Tartanscot; he makes you want to swathe and swaddle everything with the stuff. Still, how cozy would a hallway be lined in wool plaid, especially in colder climes? Oh, you know who else this hallway might be perfect for? Robert Rufino. He's also a master at decorating with plaids, tartans, and other menswear fabrics.

Now this hallway is very me. Nice striped fabric. A portière framing the opening. And most importantly, that tented ceiling with the scalloped edging. Glorious! This is definitely not a DIY project, although something tells me that Nick Olsen could upholster a tented room in one weekend. But just think about how a small entryway or vestibule could be completely transformed into something quite magical.

I've always thought that trompe l'oeil hallways, entryways, bars, and alcoves are quite chic. This photo shows some serious trompe l'oeil for a serious house. For the rest of us, trompe l'oeil wallpaper might be the way to go.

Photos 1 through 3 from Decoration, Volume I (Connaissance des Arts Collection); #4 from Les reussites de la decoration francaise)


  1. In the plaid (!) hall, I wonder what the thought was behind the little coachlight-like fixtures wall mounted at different heights?

  2. TDC- I wondered that too; they appear to have been arranged in a triangular pattern. Odd.

  3. This gives pause for thought. Usually we only think of a hallway only as an afterthought. I am presently designing a hallway with paneled mirrors so that the narrow space and countless doors become less noticeable. Thank you for adding fuel to my thoughts.

  4. I was about to ask the same thing, Devoted!
    Also - does it bug anyone else when tiles are laid in a hallway on the 'square'? I much prefer them at a 45 degree angle - it just looks so COARSE done in a straight grid. Angle please!

  5. Well, I vote for door #3. I love the tented room, and I think treating a narrow hall like this is brilliant. Narrow halls are a challenge.

  6. I've always been partial to trompe l'oeil 'library' wallpaper, like the one that thecollection france has.

  7. Anonymous8:30 PM

    These hallways operate on the assumption that you will always be sober at 1:00am when you come home. I prefer a straight shot from front door to bedroom.

  8. #1. and #4. Both terrific. The plaid hall makes me un peu dizzy

  9. i love making hallways special.
    it is a space that you don't spend much time in...
    so ,
    if you want to
    you can go a bit wild.

  10. I think the first photo would have been perfect if the tiles were done on the diagonal to expand the narrow hallway. Still, all very elegant.
    Mary Ann

  11. What's funny is that there was a time when I would not have liked that black and white tile laid on the square. However, Devoted Classicist once showed me photos of floors done like this, and now I think I like it.

  12. I love adding a little drama to small spaces, and hallways are often forgotten indeed. Amazing lost opportunities for going a little over the top.

    Thanks for the reminder to all.



  13. I don't mind the square tiles straight on at all - it feels a bit more op art-ish but is still elegant and graphic. I adore that hall and the trompe l'oeil book hall as well - volumes anywhere are always appropriate in my book!