Planning a hallway

In most homes, the hallway is a transient space which traffic passes through. Consequently, it's low on the list of radical redesigns, with homeowners preferring to devote cash and space to more 'functional rooms'. When it comes to planning your hallway, it's often a case of 'working with what you've got', but with the right colours, lighting and textiles, you can create a spectacular entrance to your home. Here's how...

Hallway design ideas

How to choose hallway storage

Decorating video: Create a warm yellow hallway

Planning a hallway

Hallway design tips

  • Hang a mirror in your hallway to reflect light and create depth.
  • Keep your hallway clutter-free at all times.
  • Choose slimline furniture and keep it to a minimum.
  • Allow light to flow wherever possible: dingy just won't do.

Colour your hall
A dark hallway says all the wrong things about your home. Use colour to make the entrance as light and appealing as possible. The general advice is to steer clear of dark and bold colours however, as with all the best rules, there are exceptions! If your house is a large listed building or a grand period home, a deep traditional red or green will enhance the pedigree of the building and add enormous impact.

If your hallway is narrow or small, neutrals invariably work best. Don't be tempted to use a dark colour beneath a dado rail as it will make the walls look shorter and the space feel claustrophobic.

If you have painted floorboards in your hallway, give the impression of greater floor surface by painting the skirtings the same colour as the floor. Be warned however, that floorboards painted a light colour can be particularly high-maintenance.

Wall treatments
Flocked wallpaper, once the style crime of the Eighties, has undergone a radical rethink and emerged hipper than ever. If you have a dado rail, do as the Victorians did and line beneath with embossed wallpaper leaving above painted or plain-papered.

Polished plaster finishes give walls real warmth and depth. Limestone, marble flour, waxes, sand and grains can all be used to give walls character, texture and lustre.

If your hallway is likely to take a hammering from heavy footfall, choose paints that are both washable and durable so you can scrub away the marks without scrubbing away the paint.

Alternatively, if you're channeling a fresh New England look in your home consider tongue and groove cladding. It's an excellent choice for hallways - hardwearing and good-looking.

Style statements
Floor space is invariably at a premium, but your walls are the perfect place to make a statement with a mirror, photographs, art or hangings. A strategically positioned mirror can make a narrow hallway look bigger and reflect light, a view or a painting. A hallway mirror also allows people to check their reflection as they walk in or out of the house.

Estate agents warn that a rogue's gallery of family photos can alienate buyers. Though while a question mark may hover over a triptych of Daisy the dog, a grouping of framed black and white photographs can look very chic indeed. More inspirational artworks can give your hallway a cool gallery feel. When hanging art in a hallway consider lighting it to its best effect. A simple spot can be used to highlight a particular feature in a painting or go for general illumination with an overhead picture light.

There on the stairs
The staircase is usually a feature of most hallways so it needs to be visually appealing. Runners with rods can give a distinctive look that's particularly well suited to period homes. Roger Oates has an excellent selection of traditional and contemporary stair runners. You can also create some excellent effects by painting stairs.

Let in the light
If your hall has a low ceiling, uplighters will give the impression of greater height. If you have lofty, high ceilings they're perfect for displaying feature lighting. Suspend globes of light from the stairwell (Jasper Morrison has designs that are perfect for this) or go for a luxe look with a beautiful chandelier.

Maximise natural light wherever possible. If your hallway is dark, a solid wood front door won't do you any favours. Could a glazier install glass panels to allow the light to flow? Alternatively, glazed interior doors will allow the light to bounce into your hallway. Paint a dark staircase white or embrace a radical alternative with a funky glass installation.

Only store the absolute essentials in your hallway. Anything other than the bare minimum will get in the way of the morning scramble for bags, shoes and coats. A narrow console table is a good choice (one with a curved front edge will avoid those bruised hips!) but it can easily become a depository for drinks, newspapers and the morning's post, so beware of clutter!