Ask Alice: About hall storage, floor repairs, and workspaces

Do you have an interiors dilemma? Consult our resident specialist
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Q. The hall of our home has become a disaster area. We are a family of five and are drowning beneath a mountain of coats and jackets. We had a row of hooks on the wall but they have fallen down under the weight. Can you suggest something stylish and strong to help us out, please?
Mandy Sutcliffe, by e-mail

A. Heal's ( has a plain and simple solution for you. Their Shaker peg rail has six pegs, comes in oak or cherry and is good value at £30. For something more colourful, take a look at Globo from SCP ( These single pegs are coated in plastic in a choice of six colours, £15.50 each. If you're into collectibles, you might be interested in the Eames Hang It All rack, £141, also from SCP. The steel frame tipped with maple balls in nine different colours makes a jolly-looking piece.

All of these options depend on the strength of the fixings to the wall, though, and if these are not up to scratch, you may prefer a free-standing alternative. Habitat ( has a simple, lacquered solid oak coat stand for £62 and, if recycling is your thing, consider adapting your Christmas tree (as I did last year). Remove all the branches to leave three-inch stubs, round them off with a wood file and some sandpaper and stand it in the hall. It's a great way to solve your problem and ease your conscience at the same time.

Q. Our kitchen flooded while we were away at Christmas and although the lino floor is now fairly dry, one corner has bubbled up. Our insurance company has said that they will pay for repairs to this section of the floor but I am worried that this kind of flooring cannot be successfully repaired. What do you think?
Jerry Leyland, Hornsey

A. It is difficult to advise you without knowing the state of your sub-floor but I do know that this kind of problem can be rectified provided that the sub-floor is sound. If your lino has been laid on to a plywood base and this has been given time to dry out sufficiently, the bubble can be injected with adhesive and the lino rolled with a heavy roller. The results are generally very good.

However, if the sub-floor is screed, this may have crumbled as a result of the flood and no repairs will be very successful.

Q. The only area in my house where I can work is on a table in the living room. The computer spoils the look of the room and I am also distracted by the rest of the family. I would like to find a way to hide myself and my mess from the rest of the room and am thinking of screening off the area. Do you have any suggestions?
C Hooper, Whitechapel, east London

A. Screening off the area with a folding screen is a good idea, and there are plenty of modern or antique choices on the market. You could also try making your own from a wooden frame made from canvas stretchers covered with fabric. Visit for instructions.

A more permanent solution, suitable if your room has a modern feel, can be found at Master Plastics ( Their acrylic blocks can be used to build a semi-transparent panel.