Hallway ideas – 25 clever design tricks and color schemes for a fresh and modern style

These stunning hallway ideas are sure to give your entrance hall some wow factor

built in wooden storage and terazzo flooring in a hallway
(Image credit: Mariell Lind Hansen / Emil Eve Architects)

First impressions count, so getting your hallway ideas spot on is really important. However, because they are often small and awkward or overly vast and vacant space, 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 tons of gorgeous hallways and entryways to get you inspired to give your space an update. 

'A good hallway has the potential to create a lovely vignette in the home, a brief moment of art, color & texture as you pass through the space,' says Caitlin Parker-Brown, director of Parker Studio. 'With that in mind, I always aspire to add something artful to the space, which is so often overlooked.' 

From dramatic color schemes to clever storage ideas and handy hacks to make the space feel bigger, we cover it all with inspiring spaces and expert tips. And remember, a hallway can set 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. 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.

25 hallway ideas to refresh your space

1. Add wall molding and paneling

Grand entrance hallway with paneled walls

(Image credit: Ema Peter Photography)

Wall paneling ideas are super chic and will look good in any entrance hall, whether modern or traditional, you're adding it as new, contemporary addition or restoring original paneling. Keep it neutral for an elegant scheme or paint in bold, bright shades for something a little more dramatic and fun!

'No space in the home should go undressed - especially hallways which are essential spaces for transitioning from one room to another. In this home, the wrap-around staircase in this grand entry flows right into the upper hallway,' explains Kelly Deck, interior designer and founder of Kelly Deck Design. 'We dressed all the walls with delicate moldings to catch the sunlight as it streams in through the front door and upper landing windows,' 

2. Make a statement with tiles

Hallway with black and white tiles

(Image credit: anna Stathaki)

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 floor a modern twist by opting for a monochrome hallway flooring idea and keep the rest of the space really simple so the flooring doesn't feel too busy. 

'The hallway of our house, creates a visual link to the garden. The hallway sets the tone for the house, with the black and white marble tiles which remind me of Alice in Wonderland, the original curves retained and some Dentil cornice added for some drama,' says Kate Clare, founder of Loud Architects. 'The tones are kept quite muted, as my style is full of 'color pops' which in this case, is done with art on the walls. The hall skirting boards reflect the height of the ceilings and draw the eye upwards.'

As Jemma Dayman, buyer at Carpetright points out, '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.'

3. Go for a striking all white scheme

All white hallway and stairs

(Image credit: James Merrell)

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. 

London townhouse with modern rustic interiors

(Image credit: Inigo)

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. Create a surface for decor with a console table

a lilac hallways with a large console table

(Image credit: Ansel Olson photography)

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. 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 photo frames. 

The colorful home was updated by northern California-based interior designer Kevin Sawyers of Sawyers Design. The couple met Kevin Sawyers in 2015, when Sawyers was hired to do a large remodel of the couple’s San Francisco home. The goal was to give the home a significant refresh; they wanted to use a bold color palette while keeping the original architectural elements of the classic 1870 structure, resulting in this hallway paint idea using lilac.

'I love to do accent walls in entry spaces. It’s a time to put your best foot forward and to go big,' says Kevin. 'In this entry for a home we recently finished, I played with scale and proportion by adding the oversized mirror.'

6. Draw the eye through the space with herringbone flooring

a modern hallway with herringbone flooring

(Image credit: Taran Wilkhu)

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. 

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 wood flooring is perfect for making a small or narrow hallway seem longer as it gives that never-ending optical allusion to the room.

'The hallway is the first space we see when we enter a home. Having a place for everything is absolutely critical. Look for unobtrusive places to put hooks, shelves and possibly some hallway furniture to make it easier for you and guests to de-robe and store things neatly,' says Jo Littlefair, interior designer and co-founder of Goddard Littlefair. 'A small mirror is an essential item on the route out of the house, ideally with a small shelf for a pen, hairbrush or lipstick. Children will unintentionally overwhelm you with coats and school bags, I’ve designed furniture pieces for the home to hide these items as much as possible!'

7. Make use of the space under the stairs

black staircase with build in bookshelf

(Image credit: Future)

That space under the stairs is prime real estate for storage, but don't just let your hallway storage 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 

Hallways ideas

(Image credit: Future)

‘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 accouterment) 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 shelving idea 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!’ 

5. Be brave with your color combinations

Pink hallway with wallpapered walls and ceilings and blue wallpapered stairs

(Image credit: 2LG studio/Megan Taylor)

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 colors or print in this space. We have a deep blue patterned carpet in our and pink hallway wallpaper, leaving guests in no doubt about our love of color when they arrive.'

10. Add contrast with the woodwork

Black and white hallway with gallery wall

(Image credit: Paul Craig)

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, helping this paint idea make the space feel much longer. 

11. Build in a window seat

Small hallway with build in window seat

(Image credit: Claire Esparros)

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 corner 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

Black and white hallway with patterned tiles

(Image credit: Alexander James)

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 flooring, 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 paint 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. Up the pattern with a mural

View through to hallway with bold wallpaper by Claire de Quénetain

(Image credit: Claire de Quénetain)

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 wall 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.'

14. Or take the pattern onto the walls

Hallway with bold wallpaper by Cole & Son

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

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. 

'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.'

15. Experiment with dark colors

a dark hallway with statement light

(Image credit: Future)

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 match, like this dark staircase idea.

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

White hallway with vintage side table and circular mirror

(Image credit: Claire Esparros)

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

White hallway with painted white stairs

(Image credit: Soho Management London Ltd)

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 painted staircase 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

Painted blue staircase in small white hallway

(Image credit: Future)

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

a crittall door in a hallway

(Image credit: Future)

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-style 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 

All white hallway with statement artwork

(Image credit: Roger Davies)

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 

Blue and grey hallway with patterned tiles

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

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 room? 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

Colorful pink, yellow and green hallway

(Image credit: The Modern House)

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

Coloful townhouse in Bath

(Image credit: Inigo)

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.'

24. Repeat lighting in a hallway

Modern house with open plan layout

(Image credit: The Modern House)

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.  The repeating aspect of this hallway lighting idea along the space will elongate it too.

25. Throw down rugs

rustic hallway with bench and large area rug

(Image credit: Future)

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.'

Rachel Christie

As the Houses Editor on Livingetc, Rachel has been obsessed with property ever since she was a kid. With a diploma in interior design and more than a decade working on interior magazines under her belt, she feels very at home sourcing the best contemporary houses the world has to offer for Livingetc. It's not just the day job either, she admits she's spent a scary amount of her own time researching schemes for her own renovations - scrolling Instagram, stalking Rightmove and Modern House, flicking through magazines and snooping in other peoples' windows - so she really does live and breathe houses on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Before Livingetc, Rachel had a stint finding homes for Ikea Family magazine where she was lucky enough to gallivant around the world on shoots meeting and interviewing interesting people, all with a very keen eye for blending high-end design with everyday items from Ikea. It inspired her to not be afraid of mixing new and old, expensive and affordable, vintage and modern and so Rachel's current Victorian terrace in north London is very much an updated, contemporary take on a period property; think open-plan modern kitchen with concrete floors, feature fireplaces and her grandmother’s paintings on the walls. Rachel is currently crushing on reeded glass, large gingham prints, squishy curved furniture; like Buchanan Studio’s Studio chair, and vintage wall sconces; she especially adores Retrouvius for sourcing antique finds and feels inspired by Lonika Chande, Beata Heuman and Matilda Goad and already can’t wait to start planning her next home, wherever that might be.

With contributions from