February 1, 2011

My Old House: The (Tiny) Front Hall

Between the living room and the kitchen, in the center of my house, is the front door opening to a small––around 5 by 6 foot––hall. In a larger cape style house, this hall would also contain the staircase leading to the second floor; in a small cape like mine, the staircase rises from the pantry. The hand-planed beaded panel walls became a mottled white after stripping layers of paint. This narrow primitive table, displaying some favorite objects, is the only piece of furniture that fits in the space. Above it, a railing that likely had been used to hold coats, now displays dried flowers.

The coat rail continues on the wall adjoining the living room, and I do use this one for some light jackets and sweaters, while other outerwear is kept in the mudroom. My textile Five Plus Five is hanging with one panel a horizontal and the other vertical.

The old raised panel door is a substantial one, and has three divided lights above it, with the original old glass, full of ripples and bubbles. It's never used in winter and is kept closed with that little wooden toggle.

When electricity was brought to the house, probably in the 1950s, there was a problem running wire on paneled walls. The solution was to nail a board on top of the wire to protect it.

I hung the piece Lunette above the dried flowers, but what I wanted to point out in this photo is that there's a door behind the hooked rug; you can see the hinges on the left. This door would have opened into the fireplace area, so maybe it was a warming cupboard. If any readers know the purpose this cupboard had, I would love to know, though I enjoy the mysterious traces of past use that I find around the house.

*I hope you're enjoying this tour through my house. To see the previous rooms shown go to:
The Living Room
The Guest Bedroom
The Back Room/Office
The Mudroom
The Kitchen
The Pantry


  1. 5 plus 5 looks so well where you have placed them. I really can see how the pieces enhance your living spaces. Love the front hall! Maybe this summer I could come for an actual walk around...must go shovel snow!

  2. thanks, Maggie. A real physical tour would be wonderful!

  3. I love that your door is closed with toggle; a piece of country poetry. Alas in a 1950s house like ours, any quirky bits — unlike your little cupboard door — tend to be things that detract from the house rather than add to its charm. Hope you are keeping warm.

  4. Linda, that toggle is a newly made one, but I have others in the house that are very old. They are charming. I'm warm and dry inside, watching the snow taper off.

  5. Altoon we had a tiny door in the wall of the house I grew up in, which connected with the back of the fireplace. It was low down and opened outside into the garden. It was used to sweep ashes from the grate. We also had a two way cupboard at waist height for milk deliveries. Once when my parents were locked out my Dad tried to post my mother through - she was tiny but he hadn't figured the width of her hips and got her stuck fast.

  6. Thanks for the wonderful stories about your house, Carolyn. I hope your father didn't have to break apart that milk door to free your mother.

  7. All your pictures are wonderful stories!