The front door and the hall

THERE is a Scottish saying that you judge the way a home is kept by the symmetry of the window curtains and the cleanliness of the doorstep. Thus a Scottish housewife starts cleaning her home from the front step inwards.

Wherever I can I arrange things to lessen work. My doorstep is of dark oak, my letter-box and bell are of iron design, and the door itself ia unpolished and therefore only requires a quick dust down, or rub-over with an oily cloth. I wouldn’t have a polished brass step, letter-box and knocker for all the money in the world. They make housework harder to get through, for they must be polished daily if they are not to be unsightly.

My front door opens the opposite side to that of most front doors, so when the door is opened, instead of the view of a long wall there is the inviting view of the staircase and the yellow-curtained staircase window.

There is a lantern light in the porch which I switch on before opening the door. It gives me courage at night! I have one mat outside and another inside the door – they take up most shoe dust and save the hall carpet.

The hall has a light wallpaper to take away the dismal, dark look, and a red shade on the light gives a warm welcoming glow. The floor is stained and there is a centre strip of carpet from the door to the stairs.

The long mirror (taken from an old wardrobe) on the wall panel facing the door makes my hall look twice its size. There is no hatstand taking up precious room – coats are put in the cupboard under the stairs.

There is a small table for the comfort of guests arriving with bags and parcels, and a ‘handy box’ fixed just under the letterbox. In this box I keep all kinds of odds and ends, from a string bag to odd change. This saves me leaving the door when tradesmen call.

All the woodwork in the hall, stairs and landing is dark-stained oak to save work, and the opposite wall all the way upstairs is stained to match the wood of the stairs. There is a ‘dado’ rail fixed on staircase level, all the way up the stairs, to finish off the wall effect to look like wood.

This prevents the children from making the light wallpaper unsightly with finger-marks as they go upstairs and it gives a nice finished look.

On a grading slope to match the slope of the stairs I have hung a row of pictures.

I have decorated an army blanket with coloured wools to make an attractive pull curtain for the front door, so that we are all ‘cosied in ‘on winter evenings.

The purpose of the hall is to say ‘Welcome ‘to friends and relatives, so before I open the front door to them I open the sitting-room door and let the look of the bright room with its cheery fire say ‘Come in and welcome ‘as the visitors stand taking off their outdoor things.

I never allow the children to answer the door. I think the welcome to guests is so much warmer when you welcome them yourself.

One other thing – at either side of my back door is a wooden-lidded box – one for milk bottles, the other for bread.