Kit Kemp shares her expert advice on how to liven up a small hallway instantly

The esteemed designer reveals how to inject some life into the entrance of your home in one quick step

Hallway painting trick
(Image credit: Future)

If anybody knows how to design a hallway it is Kit Kemp. The British-born interior designer gained an MBE after founding her exclusive hotel chain, Firmdale Hotels, which has properties across the globe, including London and New York City. 

What does a luxurious hotel entrance hall have in common with a small residential hallway, you may ask? According to Kit Kemp, these two settings are not world's apart- even if they are oceans apart. 

First impressions can be tough, but they don't need to be if your hallway has the Kit-Kemp seal of approval. As we begin to think about inviting guests back into our home after lockdown, we can think of no greater time to take Kit's advice on board.

Speaking to the editor of Livingetc, Pip McCormac, in our Home Truths podcast, the designer shared her expert interior tips that breathe new life into any hallway, no matter the size - all you need to know, is how to paint a room with a bright color. 

Patterned hallway in Kit Kemp owned Firmdale Hotel

(Image credit: Kit Kemp & Firmdale Hotels)

In his interview with the designer, who is famed for her fearless use of pattern and color, Kit Kemp explained how a small hallway is the best canvas for a bold design.

'With very grand entrance halls, I like them to be very light and fresh, and sometimes use neutral backgrounds- but if I'm doing very small, very intimate, almost cubbyhole of a hallway, I will use a much brighter color, and a strong pattern, because strong patterns look better in a smaller area.'

Going big and bold in a small area might sound counter-intuitive, but small spaces that are lacking in natural light need a bold design to lift them. They are the perfect areas to flex your creative muscles.

Kit Kemp inspired hallway with blue patterned tiles

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

In the podcast, the designer highlighted her affections towards the 'Chain Stitch' pattern as one of her favorites for a small hallway. She first unveiled the pattern in room 505 at The Whitby Hotel in Manhattan last August. 

'We have actually just recolored the chain stitch… It's in a lovely happy blue and raspberry pink [shade] and a neutral honey color. There are lots of blues and pinks around at the moment, and the yellows are always very popular,' Kit shared. The designer then expanded, defining what a 'happy blue' was to her. 

'It's a bright blue- it looks good even in northern light. Very often, if you've got a northern light, they can look very heavy, so you need to be careful how you use them.'

Blue and green wallpaper in hallway, Kit Kemp hallway tips

(Image credit: Woodchip and Magnolia)

Whether you are planning on showcasing your hallway's spacious grandeur by dressing the room in a neutral shade, or you are opting for a bold pattern or happy blue in a smaller hall - Kit's advice will ensure the entrance to your home is an inviting and stylish sanctuary for spring, and beyond. 

Looking for even more hallway inspiration? Little Greene's creative director shares her clever painting trick to make narrow hallways feel lighter.

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.