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The hallway can sometimes be the most neglected area of the house, but to help you transform your entrance hall, we’re sharing some great hallway ideas from interior designers and colour experts to help you make the most of this space.
Hallways are the most important transitional spaces within our homes so whatever we choose to do decoration-wise has to work perfectly with the other rooms that lead off it,’ says Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux. ‘This decorating dilemma often results in us being super cautious with colour and using neutral pale shades which can flatten the atmosphere creating a space that is simply a functional corridor that no one really lingers in or remembers.
‘You need to break down the visual boxiness of the space and add focal points of interest that make it a more dynamic part of your home to be in.’
Whether you have a dark hallway or a cluttered dumping ground, take inspiration from these hallway decor ideas, expert tips and tricks – they’re sure to solve your hallway decorating dilemmas.
Hallway ideas: paint and colour schemes
1. Craving more colour in your home? Hallways and stairwells are the perfect areas to do so.
‘Hallways are typically smaller spaces, so we can afford to add more colour as we are merely passing through to our main living spaces,’ begins Gillian C. Rose, colour scientist, interior designer and founder of The Science of Colour.
Gillian suggests considering the colours of the sun or candlelight – who wouldn’t welcome being surrounded by the warmth of a golden glow? ‘It conjures up the feeling of home and contentment,’ she continues. ‘Whether or not you are near a garden, you may want to consider bringing one in by using soft lettuce leaf shades. I would recommend a dull flat finish as this creates gentler shadows and softer reflections. However, if you wish to create a more dramatic environment, then by all means select colours that conjure up strong, immediate emotional responses – deep aubergines and plums will do just that.’
2. Marianne Shillingford says we should focus on the fun in the function of a hallway and use colour and painted details to draw the eye through the space.
‘Paint a subtle harlequin design on a wooden floor and let the diamonds guide you towards the most interesting bits of your home. Strong blocks of colour used on doors will add personality without overwhelming a space, plus you can make the choice of colours personal to the people who live behind them,’ she explains.
3. Dark hallway? Avoid these colours…
‘Hallways, by nature, are typically dark. Brown, green, grey, telephone box red, and any of the primary colours in full hue, are all ones I would avoid,’ warns Gillian. ‘These are dark and very strong colours. Primary colours in small spaces give off too much vibration and stimulation for us to absorb, causing unwanted headaches, loss of attention span and in some cases, even feelings of nausea.’
So when deciding on a palette, if you are seeking drama, consider the level of sheen as well as the colour. Gillian says we should also think about the colour of adjacent rooms to the hallway too.
4. A small hallway doesn’t have to mean a dull hallway, says Emily Dunstan, Buyer at Heal’s, nor do you have to stick to white paint to make it feel brighter and bigger.
‘Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour, especially in a light-starved space; confident use of a bright colour such as yellow creates a welcoming and vibrant space. If you don’t want to go all out and paint your walls bright yellow, try adding a few bold accessories such as hooks or benches to get a similar feel,’ Emily suggests.
5. A quick paint tip…
A really simple and effective way to add some colour to your hallway is to paint a horizontal band of colour at ground level, and repeat the same colour on the skirting board, suggests Marianne. It’ll help to reduce the appearance of scuffs and wear, too.
6. Be practical
Regardless of what paint colour you choose, it’s advisable that you invest in washable paint for a hallway. ‘This way, any muddy splashes or little fingerprints can be easily wiped away. Alternatively, wood panelling can help to keep your walls in good condition. Try to opt for panelling that suits the age and history of your property,’ says Emily.
Hallway decor ideas: wallpaper design
7. There’s never enough space in the hallway, leaving little room for accessories or other decorative items.
But adding wallpaper is an ideal way to add a design feature and personality to the area without taking up valuable space or over cluttering. Alex Whitecroft, head of design at I Want Wallpaper, advises: ‘Stripes are a classic choice for homes and can be used to create the illusion of space in a hallway. Horizontal stripes will lead the eye upwards and vertical stripes will elongate the area. Choosing light and neutral colours or the ever-popular shades of grey will also add to the feeling of air and space.’
8. Make a feature of period wood panelling by adding patterned wallpaper inside the panels.
‘This is a great option for maintaining and updating period features or if you’re worried that wallpapering the entire wall could feel overbearing. Alternatively, add wallpaper to an alcove or underneath the stairs to draw attention to the space,’ suggests Alex.
Hallway size: small, narrow, wide, long hallways
9. Clever painting techniques can help make a narrow corridor or hallway seem bigger.
‘Use a lighter colour at the top of the wall, and halfway down – where a traditional dado rail might have gone – change to another colour. But always with small rooms, use light coloured paints and furniture, to help give an illusion of more space,’ says Cato Cooper of The Emporium Somerset.
10. If the entrance to your home is quite compact, for flooring, avoid using intricate patterns and look at large format tiles in a highly polished, light neutral shade, advise the team at Topps Tiles.
‘This will create the illusion of a larger space and make the most of the natural light available. In larger, more open-plan spaces, you have the freedom to experiment with both pattern and print,’ Topps Tiles explain. ‘Play around with designs that draw the eye from the door and into the heart of the home. A beautiful parquet herringbone pattern is perfect for fooling the eye into seeing never-ending depth, while still keeping a traditional, warm and homely feel to the overall look.’
11. The size and length of a hallway should always be a key consideration when selecting a colour palette.
‘If the ceiling is low, you can make it appear taller by selecting colours that will create an optical illusion. In this case, avoid making the ceiling the same colour as the walls,’ Gillian says.
12. A small hallway can quickly feel cramped and cluttered. Want a quick fix?
‘Create the illusion of space by adding mirrors,’ says Emily. ‘They reflect light, making the space seem wider and brighter, as well as giving you the chance to double check your appearance before you walk out the door.’
Your hallway doesn’t feel warm or welcoming
13. Think about how you wish to feel in your home, as this will inform you of the colour and the direction you will go towards.
‘For example, for a warm glow the skirting could be a clotted cream colour (high gloss finish), the walls could be in a soft butter yellow (flat finish), and the ceiling could be a hint of peaches and cream (flat finish). For a fresh, cool bask, the skirting could be a crisp light grey (high gloss finish), the walls in a pale minty colour (flat finish), and the ceiling the palest of azure (flat finish),’ says Gillian.
14. An easy way to introduce scent and atmosphere is through fresh flowers and fragrance.
Lisa Lewis, a Home Staging Consultant at Stylize, explains: ‘Display leaves and plants on both sides of the front door to create a balanced energy and open a window to let the light and fresh air in. Having plenty of natural light in the hallway signifies a warm and happy home. Continue this happy state by keeping the entranceway clear and add a beautiful vase of real flowers to represent life and growth.’
15. The ultimate hallway plant
‘The Fiddle Leaf pops up on our feed as the ultimate statement piece for a hallway – what a welcome! The large, beautiful violin-shaped leaves are thick and leathery, the stem is substantial and robust. It prefers the indirect sun so by a door is often the perfect place,’ says Maddie Porritt, Head Buyer at The Stem.
16. Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at interior design studio Albion Nord, suggests using tapestries in hallways to add richness and warmth to a space that may not have much furniture.
‘They also come in huge landscape sizes which make them great for long hallways or entrances. Always walk around the space and you will feel the natural spots for art to be. This may be next to a window or at the end of a corridor. Remember art doesn’t always need to be hung on the centre of the wall it can rest on top of tables or layered next to sculptures or on bookshelves and joinery,’ she explains.
Lighting: transform a dark hallway
17. Transform a dark and dingy hallway with carefully positioned lighting, says Emily.
‘Directional wall lights can highlight a beautiful ceiling, and pendant lighting can be really effective in making a small space feel much bigger. A single pendant light can have the opposite effect, leaving too many shadows and patches of darkness. Instead, opt for multiple pendant lights running the length of your hall. This will draw the eye into the space and feel much warmer and inviting.’
18. Remember, lighting is just as important as colour when creating a mood.
‘If your hallways are simply designated points from A to B, then you want to make sure that your walkway is clearly lit,’ says Gillian. ‘Alternatively, you could illuminate your ceilings with uplights that bounce light off of the ceiling and then reflect down into the entire hallway.
19. Need more lighting tricks?
‘Layering of light is key when it comes to creating the impression of space in your hallway. LED step lights can help by creating drama,’ says Sally Storey, creative director of John Cullen Lighting. ‘A useful trick is to use 1W LED uplights to light a feature at the end of the hallway. This will draw ones eye down the hallway, creating the impression of space. Combine this with directional recessed downlights, to wash light down the walls, illuminating every inch of your hallway.’
20. If you’ve got a corridor, hallway or narrow space that you want to make better use of, then it’s worth spending an hour or so getting it organised with storage essentials.
‘By running lengths of peg rails along the walls you can create clever storage solutions and can hang not just coats and hats but bags and gardening equipment such as watering cans, brushes and trowels. Add a run of overhead shelving above or around head height to store boxes and baskets, and keep shoes and bits and bobs off the floor. Keep the clutter under control as all too often a corridor or hallway can become a dumping ground. Make sure there’s a home for everything and everything has a home,’ says Cato.
21. ‘Not only are unorganised shoes unsightly, they can also be a trip hazard.
The solution? ‘Ensure you have enough storage for everyone in the home to have a couple of pairs of shoes in the hallway, plus room for guests to leave theirs when they arrive. Add bench seating as a further incentive for shoes to be left at the door,’ says Emily. ‘Why not opt for an option where the bench is also the storage?’
Hallway storage ideas
22. Coat stands and hooks: Unless you have a separate porch it’s likely you will still need somewhere to hang your coat and other accessories. ‘Modern coat stands can bring a funky element to contemporary hallways and may better resemble a modern sculpture piece than a traditional coat stand giving you an interesting new talking point for visitors,’ says Emily.
No room for a coat stand but still need somewhere to hang your outdoor gear? ‘Colourful coat hooks can offer a playful alternative that will be less obtrusive than a coat stand but still offer the same functionality. Plus, they make a great wall feature too,’ she adds.
23. Wall storage: If you’re always looking for your keys on the way out or wanting to grab some change for parking, then wall storage can offer the perfect home for your knick knacks in the hallway without compromising on space. It also makes it easier to find those last-minute items as you rush out the door.
24. Seating: If space allows, then seating can be a useful addition to a hallway. ‘It could be the perfect spot to escape to relax and read, somewhere to chat on the phone or simply a space to wait for others to put their shoes on. You could choose a statement chair and table to create a proper seating area or use a bench option instead,’ says Emily.
25. Under stair cupboards: An often neglected and under used area, under stair space can be about more than just a cupboard full of junk. Opening it up could allow you to create new uses, such as a seating area to relax in. Alternatively, you could position a desk and chair there to provide extra work from home space.
26. A reading area: ‘Transitional spaces are those parts of the home that we use to get from one to another, such as hallways, corridors and landings. Often there is quite a lot of wasted space here which could easily be big enough for a reading area. Recessed reading nooks, such as under the stairs or by transforming a built-in cupboard area can also be a great idea,’ says Kelly Collins, head of creative and in-house interior designer at Swyft Home.
Hallway ideas: flooring in a high traffic area
27. Seeing some of the highest footfall in the entire house, the entrance to a home will always suffer from wear and tear.
‘Make sure you opt for a smart choice of flooring and something that’s hardwearing. A porcelain tile will help to minimise any deterioration while still allowing homeowners to maintain something stylish and design-led, thanks to the choice in prints and patterns that they come in,’ advise Topps Tiles. ‘Porcelain or ceramic tiles offer practical solutions and are available in a range of styles and colours to suit any design scheme. Wood-effect porcelain tiles are an excellent alternative to real wood, visually identical but unaffected by everyday use and much easier to maintain.’
28. A hallway tile is typically an extension of any tiling on the ground floor.
‘For instance, a tile used in a kitchen/dining area is followed through into the hallway to give a consistent feel to the flooring and will make the area feel larger,’ says James Arkell, founder of tile specialists Techtile. ‘This can be a variety of aesthetics to suit the property. Alternatively, the hallway can be made a feature, such as encaustic or a traditional Victorian chequerboard.
‘Wood is often used in living areas and by using wood effect porcelain tiles throughout areas including hallways, you can achieve the warmth and depth of wood with the practicality of porcelain.’
29. Emily says the days of a carpeted hallway are largely gone, with tiles or wooden flooring now the easy-to-clean option in such a high-traffic area. However, slipping your shoes off onto a cold floor isn’t very welcoming for you or your guests.
‘A hallway runner can offer comfort as well as being the final touch that brings the design elements of your hallway together,’ she explains. ‘Choose from a variety of colourways, patterns and textures. Think about whether you want to make a statement with your runner or whether your flooring is the centrepiece. If it’s the latter, a more muted rug, such as natural jute, might work better. Don’t forget to add an anti-slip mat underneath.’
30. Darwyn Ker, Managing Director at Woodpecker Flooring, says engineered wood flooring is perfect for a busy area such as the hallway.
‘With its high durability and real wood top layer, it’s not only practical but beautiful too. The natural wood grain creates a wonderful texture underfoot and the characterful detail adds warmth and interest to a space, creating an instant welcoming feel,’ he explains.
You want your window dressing to tie in with the scheme
31. Window treatments…
‘Blinds can be used to add a pop of colour and visual interest in the hallway where there is less wall space for other decorative elements. Introduce a window blind with an on-trend botanical design to bring the scheme right up to date. You can introduce texture to a neutral hallway with digitally printed window blinds. The result is a simply stunning showpiece for windows,’ says Mike Stephen of Apollo Blinds.
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