By Hebe Hatton
Looking for stylish hallway ideas? First impressions count, so getting these often small and awkward spaces spot on is really important. However, probably because they are often small and awkward spaces, hallways often get slightly neglected when it comes to design. They are areas we sling shoes, dump keys and pile up dog leads, almost like we stop noticing them as we run in and out of the house. But we think hallways deserve more of our attention, so we have pulled together loads of gorgeous hallways and entryways to get you inspired to give your space an update.
From stylish hallway wallpaper ideas, dramatic color schemes to clever storage ideas and handy hacks to back the space feel bigger, we cover it all with inspiring spaces and experts tips. And remember, your hallway sets the mood and tone for your entire home, so put as much effort into its design as you would a bedroom or a living room, and rather than playing it safe, create a vibrant and welcoming space that reflects both your taste and the style of the rest of the house.
Modern hallway ideas to refresh your space
1. Go bold with an all over wallpaper
'First impressions count and your hallway is the perfect place to set the tone for the rest of your home. As the first thing you see when you walk through the door, it makes sense to spend time and effort making the hall a fabulous place to be.' says Lucy St George, Co-founder of Rockett St George.
'Whether you have a grand entrance or a more compact space to work with, wallpaper is a great way to bring wow factor. Floral patterns are a timeless addition, with oversized florals and darker color palettes perfect for introducing a more modern take on this classic trend. Alternatively, tropical wallpapers and murals can be a great way to brighten up your hallway. Reminiscent of fabulous getaways; by opting for palm prints, tropical landscape scenes or beautiful botanicals you can create a hint of that holiday feeling back home.'
'If you’re hesitating to go for full pattern on the walls then why not play around with wallpaper on your stairs. Perfect for DIY novices or experts, wallpaper can be added to the risers of your staircase to create a similar look to a stair runner but at the fraction of the cost. Preparation is key but as long as you’ve measured properly, the process should be simple.'
2. Up the pattern with a mural below the dado rail
This hallway, designed by Claire de Quénetain who's known for my beautiful bold fabrics and murals proves that you can bring in a busy pattern in more subtle ways. A mural or wallpaper doesn't have to go floor to ceiling, in this space it's just used below the dado rail adding a punch of pattern that doesn't overwhelm the room – the space feels linked with the bolder prints used in the adjoining rooms but isn't competing with it for the focal point.
'To create an impactful hallway design it is important to consider colors and movement.' says Claire. 'Murals allow me to paint everywhere and create atmospheres each time very unique. I am challenged by the wishes of the clients who are choosing colors and designs to bring a special piece into their home, I love it.'
3. Go for a striking all white scheme
Sometimes, no color can make just as much of a statement as a really bold color scheme. Case in point with this hallway idea. It's the lack of color that makes the statement, the sea of white barely punctuated by any other shade or piece of decor. It's a look that can work wonders in a small hallway, making the space feel more open and airy but equally it looks chic and clean in a more spacious hallway too.
To recreate this look don't just stop at the walls and ceilings, bring the white paint onto the stairs too and even the floor. You can add in pieces to stop all that white looking stark like a rug or a runner, or add simple mirrors or prints onto the walls.
4. Add interest to hallway walls with a gallery wall
If you are decorating a narrow hallway, or you are squeezed for space, gallery walls are a great way to add in plenty of personality without taking up any square footage.
Designer Kathy Kuo says, 'One of my favorite ways to spruce up the hallway is by creating a gallery wall -- not to mention it adds personality and doesn’t take up any floor space. When it comes to choosing the art, variation is the most important component. This is a time to play with shapes, sizes and frames. Every piece doesn’t have to be the same, in fact, it often looks more aesthetically pleasing when they’re not. As long as all the pieces share some common colors and visual motifs in terms of the art itself, it will look cohesive.'
'You can also complement the gallery wall, and your hallway, with other decor that is more subtle yet functional. If you have the space on the opposing side, adding a sleek console table with sculptural objects, antique trinkets or a table lamp can add dimension to the overall flow and allow for additional design creativity without crowding the space.'
5. Be brave with your color combinations
Hallways are the perfect place to have a bit of fun with your decor. Sure, you might walk through it every day but you don't actually spend a prolonged amount of time in the hallway as you do a living room or a bedroom, so you don't have to think as much about how liveable space will be. Going bold in say a living room is a proper commitment as you have to live in the space, relax in it, watch TV in it, and maybe even work in it, but a hallway is just a space to pass through, be wowed by the interiors and move on.
'Make a statement - the hallway is not only a space that greets you when you return home, it also greets guests, so give yourself and your guests a big warm welcome with a bold glimpse of who you are. This could be minimalism or it could be clashing pattern, whatever feels really ‘you’. Go there big in the hallway.' says Russell Whitehead, founder of 2LG Studio.
'It’s a space that you move through so it’s an opportunity to go bold as you won’t be lingering long. Don’t be afraid to try strong colour or print in this space. We have a deep blue patterned carpet in our and pink wallpaper on all walls, leaving guests in no doubt about our love of color when they arrive.'
6. Draw the eye through the space with herringbone flooring
Hallways tend to be small spaces, especially in more modern homes that haven't been blessed with the acres of floor space you often find in the entrance of period properties. So in order to make these small spaces feel bigger, you need to make the most of some of the oldest design tricks in the book.
Hallway flooring is a good place to start. Look for designs that draw the eye away from the door and avoid anything too busy like patterned tile. A herringbone pattern created either with tiles or floorboards is perfect for making a small or narrow hallway seem longer as it gives that never-ending optical allusion to the room.
7. Make use of the space under the stairs
That space under the stairs is prime real estate for storage, but don't just let it become a dumping ground for shoes and bags, make it part of the design. If you do need to use it for more... un-aesthetically pleasing items like shoes and umbrellas opt for built-in closed storage that just fits seamlessly into the space. You would even make it a feature by wallpapering or painting the doors.
If you already have the shoe storage covered elsewhere, why not go for a beautiful bookcase. Display books, candles, plants, and more to turn that boring space into a real feature of the room. We love how this is painted in moody dark charcoal too so all those bright colors really pop.
8. Save floor space and add storage with shelving
‘If your hallway is tight in space then we would suggest using a wall mounted shelf to save space, it’s a great way of introducing a focal point to a hallway. Not only does it allow you to display a nice brass or ceramic bowl (handy for house keys and accoutrement) but it can also be an area to place a vase and bring in a fresh bunch of flowers. Instant design points for making the space welcoming!' says Interior Designer Petra Arko, founder of interior design practice Bergman and Mar.
However, if using a shelf affixed to the wall, space is key in this high traffic area. 'My top tip would be to try and find a shelf that has rounded corners so that if anyone does happen to brush passed too closely, it’s not an issue. Also, just make sure it’s thoroughly secured to the wall. Some hallways can be busy spaces, particularly family homes, so making sure it’s petite but robust, is a must!’
9. Create a surface for decor with a console table
Not everyone has the room, but if you do, add the ultimate wow-factor piece to a hallway in the form of a chic credenza or sideboard. It’s hassle free as it involves a single item of furniture.
Petra explains, ‘an elegant sideboard or credenza can instantly transform a hallway into a stylish space. You can use the surface top to display an edited selection of design accessories; a large statement vase with fresh flowers, a table lamp or a for photo frames. Whether traditional or contemporary in style, using a well-designed piece of furniture like this in a hallway can create a great first impression of your home,’
10. Add contrast with the woodwork
Want a simple hallway idea to make give a neutral space a bit of interest? Paint the woodwork in a contrasting color. In smaller hallways keeping the color scheme light and bright is an easy way to make the space feel bigger, but you want to ground all those paler hues with just a touch of something darker to create a bit of depth. And see how the black lines of the dado rail in this hallway again, draw the eye away from the door and make the space feel much longer.
11. Build in a window seat
If you are lucky enough to have been blessed with a window in your hallway, make the most of the dead space underneath by building in a window seat. They are ideal for shoe storage and look really stylish too. Plus it can help make your hallway feel more like a room rather than just a buffer before entering the main house. Soften it by adding a few cushions to create a lovely reading nook or just a comfy spot to put on your shoes.
No window? No problem you could add a build-in bench along one wall or underneath the stairs.
12. Make practical hallway paint choices
This chic black and white hallway is not only a really striking entryway to the home, it's a really practical design too. Firstly the tiles, more on those later, are one of the most effective and stylish hallway flooring ideas, and see how the walls are kept darker below the dado rail? Perfect for hiding the wear and tear of such a high traffic area.
'Color blocks are great and very popular and add real interest to a space. Choose a finish that is tough, which is easy to wipe clean and touch up. Hallways are the busiest thoroughfare of your house with people passing past each other at the busiest time of day. It needs to be practical and stand the test of time.' says David Harris, Design Director at Andrew Martin. 'Dark colors under the dado rail with fresh white woodwork and light colors above, work really well to hide any scuffs and marks. It adds lots of light this way, to what can be narrow spaces.'
13. Make a statement with tiles
Not only are tiles a really practical flooring choice for hallways – they are easy to clean, hide dirt and scuffs, and are ideal for high traffic areas – they can be the main feature of your hallway. Give a traditional Victorian modern twists by opting for a monochrome scheme and keep the rest of the space really simple so the flooring doesn't feel too busy.
Yet again, there's another hallway idea here that helps the space feel bigger too. Not only do the tiles elongate the room, but the deeper color at eye level at the end of the space also creates the allusion of more space.
As Jemma Dayman says, 'Often the first thing you see when entering a house, the stairs and hallway create a first and lasting impression on your guests. It's the perfect area to take risks and be daring with your styling. Bold, geometric designs and bright colors will give your space that wow factor and work well when mixed with minimalist furniture and accessories. Opting for repeating patterns will not only allow your design to flow easily into other rooms, but will be forgiving to everyday marks and scuffs as your stairs see some serious use over their lifetime.'
14. Or take the pattern onto the walls
It can be tricky to bring lots of decor into a hallway, you don't want it to feel too cluttered and really it has to be a practical space first, stylish space second. So instead of adding personality with lots of decorative items that are just going to clutter up the space, use a fun hallway wallpaper as a design feature.
We love the bold colors of Cole & Son's Circus just on a single wall in this hallway, it brings the perfect amount of color into this otherwise quite neutral space. And see how it started above the dado rail? An easy trick for making the room feel loftier.
15. Experiment with dark colors
It's a total myth that dark colors shouldn't be used in small spaces, they can in fact expand space just as using lighter colors can. Create a really dramatic entrance to your home by going all over with a really deep inky blue or soft matte charcoal grey. And don't just stick to the walls, go all over the woodwork and radiators too and even blend your furniture in by painting it to matching.
Make the space less cave-like by keeping the ceiling light and going for bleached wooden floorboards for a softer, rustic touch. If you do opt for a darker palette make sure to get your hallway lighting spot on so it never feels gloomy when you have to rely on artificial light.
16. Expand the space with a large mirror
Another simple design trick for making a hallway feel bigger is to hang mirrors. They bounce light around the space and, if placed strategically, can allude to there being more space. If your hallway is narrow, opt for a large, tall mirror at the end furthest from the door. For hallways that just need a hand to feel more open and light, choose a large mirror to hang at eye level above a console table.
'When designing the hallway or entrance, consider the space and functionality. A slimline gold framed console works especially well in hallways or smaller spaces. The warming tones of the metallic make the space feel welcoming, while the minimalist style tricks the eye into thinking the space is much larger.' advises Ben Stokes, Founder and Interior Designer for KAGU Interiors. 'Complete with a mirror above in a similar metal for a cohesive look. The mirror will also bounce natural light around the space, making it appear much lighter and brighter.'
17. Blend in a staircase
The stairs are a big part of your hallway, so consider if you want them to be the main feature or almost blend into the background. In this smaller hallway, it makes sense to 'expand' the space by blurring the white floorboards into the stairs and the walls. This simple, monochrome look is a classic for small spaces, but it's a classic for a reason – it always works.
18. Or paint them to stand out
Or at the opposite end of the spectrum, make your staircase the feature of the space by painting it in a bright color. It's a really easy update you could do yourself in just a weekend and can totally change the look of your hallway. Go for a playful hue like this vivid blue, a soft but stylish muted pink, or make it more dramatic with a glossy black paint (cool and practical).
19. Bring in light with Crittall doors
It can be tricky to know how to make a dark hallway feel lighter, they are often windowless and rely heavily on lighting. But why not copy this hallway idea and borrow light from adjoining rooms using glass or Crittall doors. Light flows into this spacious hallway thanks to the Crittall partitions, making the space lighter and more open.
20. Keep it simple with symmetry
A symmetrical layout creates an instantly more elegant hallway, plus is always going to make a space feel longer. Try facing two slimline console tables towards one another, and mirror the wall lighting to create a really cohesive, balanced space. Avoid that matchy-matchy unnatural look by hanging artwork or mirrors to break that absolute symmetry.
‘There are two really effective ways to make a statement with art in a hallway.' says Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at Albion Nord. 'The first is to play with scale. Make the most of the wall space and choose a large-scale artwork that spans the full height of the wall. It will feel bold and impactful. If you have a long hallway, another interesting way to make a statement with art is to create an art wall. Play with a mixture of artworks in different sizes, colors and genres to create your own personal gallery space.’
‘We love to use tapestries in hallways as they 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.’
21. Mirror the adjoining rooms
When designing a hallway, also think about the look and style of the adjoining rooms. Do you want the hallway to seamlessly flow into your living space? If so create that link by bringing some of the colors used in the other rooms into the hallway.
The steely blue of the velvet sofa in the living room of this home is mirrored in the hallway with the same blue being used on woodwork and in the floor tiles.
22. Or contrast the adjoining rooms
Or you could create a contrast with the rooms that lead on from the hallway. Despite being different colors, it doesn't have to feel jarring if you go for this approach, see the rooms as a single color palette, so they should all work together and feel cohesive even if they don't have the same scheme.
We love how the yellows and pinks in this hallway work with the pistachio green of the adjoining room. It's such a fun and vibrant look, that still feels stylish and sophisticated.
23. Add height by adding color at ground level
If you want to add in some color to your hallway but don't want to overwhelm the space, be inspired by this hallway idea and just paint a quarter of the way up wall. Plus, if you go for a darker color at ground level it will hide all those scuffs that just instantly seem to appear in hallways and up the stairs.
Tash Bradley, color specialist at Lick suggests: 'Painting a two-toned wall in your hallway is an effective way to create a unique space. I would recommend choosing a darker tone like Lick’s Teal 01 or 02 for the bottom half and then a softer tone, such as Lick’s White 03 or 05, for the top half and ceiling. This color combination will bring an instant calmness to the room.'
24. Repeat lighting in a hallway
Whether you are opting for pendant lighting or wall sconces, never just stick with one light source, repeat the lighting two or three times along the space. This creates multiple pools of light throughout the space, so you don't end up with any gloomy corners. And having the repeating aspect along the space will elongate it too.
25. Throw down rugs
Carpets just aren't a practical solution for a hallway, but you can add some softness underfoot by throwing down a rug. A single runner is great for lengthening a narrow or go for a few shorter mismatching rugs dotted along the space for a more laid back look.
'A rug should always be considered early in the design process, no matter which room, as it can be used to anchor a space and plan furnishings and accessories around. Once the paint color and any key furnishing have been picked, it is time to consider whether you’d prefer pattern or plain, and in which color, depending on the overarching style you want to achieve.' says Noemie Deed founder of Cosy Coco.
'For a statement hallway, incorporate bold patterns and colors as a focal point and an injection of personality. A hallway is a great place to introduce guests to your interior style so if you’re a maximalist, don’t be afraid to show it straight away.'
How do you make a hallway welcoming?
The best way to make a hallway welcoming is to treat it as you would the other, more lived-in rooms of your home. Use it to set the tone for the rest of your house, mirroring the style and color palettes of the other rooms. You want to make sure it's well lit so it never feels like a gloomy space to just shuffle through. Use mirrors to enhance that light and if you have room bring in a key piece of furniture, whether it be a bench or a console table so it doesn't just feel like a sea of floor.
Rugs will help to soften the space, and wallpaper can add in some personality without actually taking up any space or adding too much visual clutter.
What is the best color for a hallway?
The best color for a hallway will depend on the size and aspect of the space. Is it long and narrow? Or open and airy? Does it have any windows or are you relying totally on artificial light? And you'll also what to think about how your hallway colors will work with the rooms adjoining it. Do you want them to flow seamlessly with similar schemes or for them to feel like totally separate spaces?
A safe option for a hallway color is to keep it light and bright with a white, cream or light grey. These colors are known for their space-expanding effects so are guaranteed to make the room feel bigger. That being said, going dark in a small hallway can also work. Not only well it creates a very dramatic entrance to your home, but it can also blur the edges of the room, making it feel bigger.
'Hallways are often starved of a generosity of natural light but don’t let this inhibit you too much. If you are nervous about compromised natural light you can lean towards warmer tones specifically those with an underlying red or yellow through them like Joa’s White, a warm red-based light neutral teamed with one of our softest whites like Pointing for your woodwork & ceiling color.' advises Patrick O’Donnell or Farrow & Ball.
'If you feel courageous and want to make your hallway a statement area go dark, as Hallways are transitory areas for passing through it is a great place to be bold. The perfect dark would be Inchyra Blue in Modern Emulsion, the green nuance stops it feeling to chilly. If you are blessed with a high ceiling, choose a deeper neutral such as Shaded White which will give you a softer line where wall stops & ceiling starts.'
'If it is a dark hallway, using a bright white(ish) color won’t necessarily make it brighter so using complimentary deeper tones will make the spaces off of your hallway feel brighter and fresher.' explains Aaron Markwell Color Lead at
COAT Paints. 'Combinations must-tries for darker hallways would be And Breathe and Nomad, creating a rich and warming botanical atmosphere. Kind Regards and Adulting, are great cooler neutrals that provide a clean contrast. If you're looking to create a bold statement pairing marine tones like Hamilton and The Drink work really well, and make rooms coming off of them feel warmer and cozier.'
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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