Entryway lighting ideas are up there with our favorite to research. Of course, they have to be practical, and lighting these often smaller and dark spaces isn't exactly straightforward, but we just love how much fun you can have with this room. What other space in your home do you spend as little time and yet literally everyone that comes into your home will see? It's a place you can really go bold because it's the least lived-in room and yet the one that has to make the most impact.
Lighting is such an easy way to make a statement, especially in an entryway when space might be tight so bringing in bold pieces on furniture or it risks being overwhelmed by bright colors or busy patterns. Pick the right fixture and that's all your entryway needs.
And there are so many options out there too, and actually, quite a lot to consider to create the perfect scheme. From recessed lighting, statement pendants, pretty sconces, and classic side lamps, where do you start? Well, we asked our favorite designers to talk us through their best entryway ideas to get you inspired.
Entryway lighting ideas
1. Be subtle with sleek minimalist wall lights
Not all entryway lighting needs to make a huge statement. Subtle and sleek wall lighting can be just as impactful on a space as a massive pendant light and ideal if you are after a more minimalist vibe.
The gold sconces used in this entryway designed by Marie Flanigan are the perfect example of how less can often be more. 'This Houston, Texas home has an abundance of natural light throughout the day. As such, the natural light coupled with the white color palette eliminated the need for large overhead light fixtures. However, to create ambiance and address the inevitable need for lighting, we incorporated stairway sconces for aesthetic and function,' explains Marie.
2. Get the scale right
'Scale is the most important consideration when choosing entryway lighting.' says Marie. 'My trick for choosing the right fixture for any space is formulaic. I add the length of the room in feet to the width of the room in feet. The sum of those two numbers is the inch size of the fixture that’s an appropriate scale. For example, a 6 ft. long room + 9 ft. wide room = 15 in. light fixture.'
3. Use natural materials to add rustic texture
Soft, effortless and perfect for creating that ever-popular modern rustic vibe, rattan lampshades work perfectly in an entryway. They never overwhelm a space because the natural colors and textures tone down any bold statement made by the size or shape. But, as this gorgeous beachy hallway designed by Lisa Sherry Interiors proves, pick the right design and pair it with bright neutral hallway paint ideas and the lighting can become a focal point.
'This is a beach house for a client. The front door opens up to a view across the living room to the water view beyond. The rattan pendant adds to the coastal beach feel. I love adding texture into my projects.' explains designer Lisa Sherry.
'I always like to have functional recessed lights too but on dimmers of course. Then add just the right light depending on what the feel is for each space. I look for the right scale and proportion and also something that makes a statement. No LED please. The light is too cold and lighting should add warmth to your hall.'
4. Layer your entryway lighting
'The entrance hall is an important space, it’s where you greet guests and the atmosphere can set the tone for the rest of the house. To create a welcoming feel, varied and layered lighting is often the best approach, a mix of lamps, wall lights and ceiling to suffuse light and create a warming glow.' explains Pamela Cox of HÁM interiors.
With that in mind, when planning entryway lighting, don't just focus on overhead. Alongside your ceiling lights, bring in lighting at eye level too. If you have the room floor lamps add a lovely glow, or place a couple of table lamps on a console. And if space is tight sconces will give the same effect and take up zero floor space.
5. Consider ceiling height
So you may have lost your heart to a 3ft chandelier, but consider the hanging room you have. Your lighting needs to sit at a height that's practical, no ducking or dodging required, and if you have lower ceilings this can feel a bit limiting. However, be inspired by this entryway – the ceiling light is classic, still makes a statement but doesn't lower the ceilings by being too bold or hanging too low, and then it's the wall lights that add all the decor you'd want from a bolder pendant light.
'We placed a flush mount from CircaLIghting in the front hall of our Riverside Project. Its lower ceilings required a flush mount, but even with the lower ceilings the application warranted a low key classical fixture to let the sconces be more prominent.' explains Heide Hendricks, co-founder of Hendricks Churchill.
6. Use entryway lighting to create contrast
As we may have mentioned, for us entryways are all about having a bit of fun and experimenting with styles, more so than you perhaps would do in your more lived-in rooms. So when it comes to lighting, don't always play it safe.
Light fixtures are such a simple way to blend styles within a space – something we always encourage. If your entryway is more on the traditional side, contrast that with simple modern and sleek light fixtures, or vice versa, bring an antique chandelier into a contemporary space. It just makes spaces more interesting, gives them depth and character.
Case in point this space designed by 2LG Studio. 'This arts and crafts home was jampacked full of original and beautiful features so we wanted to keep the hallway light bright and airy we opted for a natural oak floor to highlight the beautiful original beams and doors.' explains co-founder Russell Whitehead. 'For the lighting, we wanted something super modern that spoke to the arts and crafts movement so chose these beautiful Areti pendant lights that are reminiscent of flowers.'
7. Make a statement with ceiling lights
When deciding on lighting for a small hallway, the go-to is often spotlights. They are discreet, take up zero room and light the space effectively. But what if you don't want to be discreet? What if you want the lighting to be a feature in your entryway? Ceiling lights come in all shapes and sizes, not just low-hanging pendants, and there are plenty of designs that sit close to the ceiling and can still make an impact.
'Often the entryway can be one of the last rooms in the house to be decorated, but it can be one of the best areas to tackle first. There are so many great ways to make the best first impression, even in the smallest of spaces,' explain Jen and Marr, founders of Interior Fox.
'First, think about lighting, it provides you with an opportunity to add drama and brighten the entire space. Steer away from spotlights, they can be a little overpowering and lack a sense of style. Swap spotlights for subtle ceiling light. and if you’re planning from scratch, consider wall lights positioned slightly above head height to avoid any head-on collisions.'
Top tip, that works for modern apartment entryways or grand sweeping vestibules: always group ceiling lighting in odd numbers. Three ceiling lights adds far more visual interest than two as our eyes don't automatically register odd numbers so you are going to notice your fixtures far more.
8. Keep it simple with symmetry
We know what we just said about odd numbers but sometimes you can't go wrong with symmetry. It's timeless and can work with any style. Place two lamps on either side of a console, hang two pendants either side of the stairwell, or as shown in this beautifully beachy space, place two wall lights on either side of a mirror. It gives a wonderfully contrasting formality to this otherwise relaxed room.
'When the client purchased this Hamptons beach house compound, it was important that the design convey a comfortable, rustic setting rather than a large formal estate.' says Elena Frampton, founder of Frampton.
'The extensive construction, meticulous millwork, and material selections were key to our success. We chose a mix of striped vintage rugs layered on white oak floors with decorative yet understated sconces in the entry hallway. The key was punctuating the white paneling with bronze and steel elements for depth and to avoid the basic white beach house.'
9. Create a more focused glow with a floor lamp
You don't see floor lamps in entryways all too often, but we love that lived-in feel they give to an entryway. It makes it less like a transient space and helps create that layered lighting that's so important for creating a welcoming, all-over glow.
As designer Clare Gaskin explains, 'Lighting in a hallway needs to be layered with functional light ensuring you have good practical task lighting (in particular when arriving/leaving home at night and you don’t want to struggle to find the keys, your shoes, or a light switch) as well as accent lightings such as this floor light which creates a softer more ambient light and a different atmosphere of an evening, when transitioning through the space or welcoming guests.
'If you can creating a focal point in a hallway can work really well – drawing your eye to something in the hallway or beyond – lighting something in the distance (even in another room) such as a downlight centered on a floral display on a table or a picture light above an artwork.'
10. Strategically place mirrors to up the lighting
In a light-starved narrow hallway, you need all the help you can get at maximizing light. So alongside the light fixtures, consider how you can up that lighting in other ways. Mirrors of course are known for their space-expanding, light-enhancing effects so hang a mirror below or next to your wall lights to bounce more light around the space. And of course think about how your color scheme will impact the amount of light, think bright. And that doesn't always mean white either as you can see in this sunny yellow space.
'Smaller hallways require careful consideration to create visual impact and ensure they work on a practical level. We wanted to create a joyful entrance and painted the walls half height with rich India Yellow, so as not to overwhelm the space, keeping the upper half a light neutral to reflect light.' explains James Arkoulis, Creative Director at Howark Design.
'We also included a large brass mirror to further reflect light and give the illusion of space, while colorful artwork and picture lights added much-needed light and created a warm and inviting entrance to the property.'
How do you approach lighting an entryway?
'The hallway is a perfect setting to create lighting magic while problem-solving function. Hallways offer opportunities to create interesting experiences, and lighting plays a big part in that.' explains Elena Frampton.
'You want to always consider the architecture of the space and desired effect - which spaces does the hallway connect, how does natural light factor in, is there a functional or decorative need for lighting? Though it’s less intuitive, in a long corridor without natural light, we may choose very minimal lighting to create a more dramatic transition or "reveal" of spaces beyond.'
What light fixtures work best in an entryway?
'If you have plenty of both wall and floor space, incorporate a mixture of sconces, lamps, and overhead fixtures – whether that be from a singular statement chandelier or multiple pendants. Combinations will offer pools of illumination throughout, rather than harsh lighting from a single, central source.' explains Helen Pett, Design Ambassador at Arteriors London.
'As with any room, having multiple layers of lighting makes for a richer and more versatile space. It hugely depends on the space, but at the very least you should put overhead lighting on dimmers to allow you to alter the hallway mood and lower the lighting level in the evening.' explains Andrew Griffiths, founder of A New Day.
'Where possible, I look to mix overhead lighting with softer lower-level lighting sources like table lamps or wall lights. Wall lighting can also add real impact in guiding you through hallway corridors.'
How can you effectively light a small entryway?
'If space is at a premium, it makes sense to opt for sconces. Discrete and atmospheric, wall lights take precious little space and can provide a decorative flourish.' explains Helen. 'We have seen lovely examples of customers using wall lights in pairs or trios along the length of the hallway which looks particularly stylish and creates a welcoming, warm glow.'
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Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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