An idea for putting our hallways to good literary use

Disclaimer from Katherine: For the second time in recent days (the first is here), I’m using some photos that I found on the home-renovation site While I’m grateful for the photos (and the renovation ideas), I am kind of appalled at the quality of the captions that come embedded with the photos from Houzz. Unfortunately there’s nothing I can do about them, so please ignore the gibberish below the photos here and just enjoy the pictures themselves.


As regular readers and those who know us are well aware, Raymond and I have quite a lot of books. I’ve written many times (like here and here) about that, and have even reported on some creative ideas (like here) for how to store them. But really the only solution for a lot of books is a lot of bookshelves; and even though the Manse is not a small house by any means, I think we both worry that there won’t turn out to be enough wall space throughout the place to set all the needed bookshelves against. Though of course we’ll give it a heck of a try.

One very good way to go about it would probably be to use the fairly substantial space given over to hallways at the Manse. You know how some houses seem to have lots of hallways running through them, and others none at all because one room just kind of leads into another? Well, the Manse falls very assuredly into the first category. Here is the downstairs hallway at the front of the house (all photos taken about three years ago, very early in our ownership of the house, by the way; that’s why things look a little empty – oh, and yes, that orangey broadloom will most definitely go at some point):

Manse downstairs front hallway

And here is the hallway immediately above it, on the second floor (and apologies for the darkness of the photo):

Manse upstairs front hallway

And here is a third, a nice long upstairs hall leading to the south end of the house where the sunny bedroom that my sister and I shared when I was growing up here is located:

Manse upstairs back hallway

Now, these hallways are not nearly so devoid of contents now as they were when Raymond took the photos in February 2012. But one thing they still do not contain is bookshelves – and that’s probably why the photo from that’s at the top of this post caught my eye. (Well, that and the fact that the bookshelves in it are painted bright red, my favourite colour.) What a brilliant thing to do with a hallway! How nice our hallways would look if they were lined floor to ceiling with books on both sides (as in the photo at top) or even on one side, like here:


Houzz had other suggestions for hallways, like using them for closet space –


– and lord knows we could use some of that at the Manse, as you can read here; but I think the need for book space is more pressing.

Besides, as a visitor to our house, wouldn’t you far rather peruse the titles of our books as you roamed the hallways than check out Raymond’s shirts and my shoes?

10 thoughts on “An idea for putting our hallways to good literary use

  1. Love this idea. Books are definitely better for browsing than anybody’s shirts! Are your hallways wide enough to accommodate shelves? Perhaps you can find 9″ wide shelving instead of the traditional 12″ shelving which would hold most fiction books, and for paperbacks, 6″ would suffice and leave you less space to dust. And use the space around those lovely big windows at the end of your hall as well. Books sorted by size could give you a whole new library classification system!

    • Spoken like a true librarian! I don’t think we could accommodate shelves on both walls of the hallways, but I am sure we could do it on one wall and still have lots of space for movement. And how nice it would look! As for classifying and organizing the books, that is my long-awaited, and much-anticipated, retirement project.

  2. I have found that everyone has their own taste when it comes to decorating. What you might find attractive another cannot even see what you see. The secret is with the person you live with. You both have to have the same vision. And it will magically appear. Your photos show me many ideas but they would be my taste. And that is the problem when wondering what should you do. When I look at a room I see it finished in my mind. I already know what I want I am just wondering how that will happen. Along the way my taste will change due to obstacles I have to work around in an old building. Like registers and heating vents.. etc. But if I might give a little input. The one picture of the hallway looking to be at the top of the stairs. loads of room with a lovely window. Great place for a book nook and a comfy chair. And don’t forget the warm reading light. I am a big fan of shutters rather than curtains. I open them for light and shut them for privacy. The downstairs with the front door definitely a lovely new insulated 3/4 length cut privacy glass door #9 so the sun can shine in and the upper window just left bare. No curtains. When looking at the hallway not knowing what is on the other side in the next room think of maybe cutting out pieces of wall. To inset the shelving just enough to place the shelves but still gives you the space you need to walk through. I am think of that under my stairs. Wasted space. Think of the lovely little general store up north you so often visit. And last but not least is color. Over the years I have experimented in colours. Light, dark, medium. And I have found that big rooms and spaces need warmth in colours. Don’t be afraid to go darker. It makes the world of difference if you make the big space seem small. Rug yes has to go nice flooring I’m thinking wood with area runners. And then add plants. Along with a beautiful smelling candle and a nice glass of wine. Your all set. Have fun I will wait to see the fabulous transfer. 😉 I am now looking for ceiling light fixtures for my room I need 5 all matching. I want to keep it looking like the older room think like gas lanterns. Not sure maybe you can help me.. good luck Katherine & Raymond 🙂 Most of all have fun!

    • I think it is a gift that you are able to look at an unrenovated room and see what you want to do with it, mk – and I wish I had that gift! Mind you, one of my prime considerations is not messing with the general layout of the Manse any more than absolutely necessary. I could not agree more with you that the upstairs hall with the window at the end would be a great place for some bookselves and a comfortable chair to curl up in – I kind of thought that from the beginning. Right now, though, it is the children’s corner, influenced by the fact that when I was a kid here it’s where our toybox was stashed. And we have to have a children’s corner somewhere, because of all those vintage Fisher-Price toys that I like to collect! Love your idea for using space under the stairs, and yes, you’re so right about how well-used that space is for the delightful under-the-stairs nook at the Old Hastings Mercantile in Ormsby. Also: your description of our front hall with hardwood floors and beautiful carpet runners and plants created such a beautiful image in my mind – I can’t wait to get at it!

      P.S. Will keep an eye out for gas-lantern-style ceiling fixtures for you.

  3. O and one more most important thing I forgot to mention is when you renovate don’t throw away or take to the dump the doors window etc you change from the original building. Save it because you might just build yourself a beautiful cabinet with those very same doors or windows form your house inside as a cabinet. You would be amazed at what things you can save from the outside that are used inside. 😉

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