You’re not alone if you walk into your home and your spirits wilt as you’re greeted by a jumble of coats, shoes and bags, as the hallway is generally the most neglected area in the home.
All too often it’s an afterthought when it comes to decor, and yet the hall should be the star of the show, because it presents the first impression of your style to visitors. Here’s the experts’ advice on transforming a hallway.
A hallway is usually such a small area in a home that you can let loose and try a bold pattern paper or a colour you might be too inhibited to use in a main living area.
“Painting walls a bright or darker shade half-way up a wall, dividing with a dado rail if desired, and then using a lighter shade for the upper half of the wall which reaches the ceiling will make a hallway look more spacious,” advises Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau, author of Happy Home.
Add impact, she suggests, by removing carpet and painting an entire staircase, and stencil decorative or amusing words on each riser to bring instant character to the space. Be aware this will make stairs noisier though.
Walk the floor
It’s essential to have hard-wearing flooring in a hall – a high traffic area. “Floor tiles come in such a wide range of colours, textures and finishes now that they’re becoming increasingly popular for halls,” says Claire O’Brien, trend manager for Ceramic Tile.
“Natural stone tiles are an ideal way to create a timeless, opulent-looking hall. For a real statement, combine natural stone with a French pattern design, to emphasise the shade variation of the tiles.
“Alternatively, choose a rustic-looking floor tile that can flow through the entire downstairs to achieve a sense of bringing the outdoors in. A muted, organic colour scheme with moulded borders and wood cladding will create a hallway full of warmth and character.”
Carpet, provided it’s high-quality and hard-wearing, can bring warmth and colour to a hall area, as well as minimising noise.
“Stripes are hugely popular in halls and work particularly well on stairs and for runners,” says Roger Oates, founder of the company of the same name, which specialises in floors and fabrics.
“Striped designs are timeless but have a contemporary edge in the colour combinations used – and can look stunning against old oak or even on stone staircases.
“For halls, a stair runner with underlay will soften the noise of feet resonating up and down stairs. Ensure you use entrance matting to trap as much dirt as possible if you opt for carpeting, and ideally ensure family and guests remove shoes.”
Curtains can be unsuitable for windows in halls, which are often narrow passageways, and blinds may be a neater solution.
“Hallways tend to be draughty places so consider a thermal window dressing,” says Sarah Quilliam, head of product design at Hillarys blind company.
“An interlined roman blind still gives a sleek, uncluttered feel but has extra padding between the face fabric and the lining to give extra insulation. There are other advantages too as it can help to reduce external noise, perfect if you live on a busy street.”
Staircases are a key feature in a hallway and nowadays their potential is being realised with revamps of bannisters, bespoke staircases, or lighting.
“Revamping a staircase can breathe new life into a hallway and turn your stairs into a real style statement,” says Simon Meyrick, designer at Neville Johnson. “A staircase’s visual impact can reflect upon the whole property.”
The company offers a bespoke staircase renovation service which can transform dull, tired staircases with classic wood to more contemporary designs which can incorporate sleek glass.
Adding light to a staircase can dramatically change its aesthetics, says Richard McLane, design director at Bisca, which specialise in bespoke staircases.
“A well-lit staircase, particularly one in an open-plan space, can maximise the illusion of space,” he says.
“Spotlights can be recessed into the wall alongside the stair to provide effect more than illumination of the staircase.
“Recessed LED strip lights can be used on timber or stone treads to emphasise the line of the steps and will scatter lights across the treads and risers, and the effect can also be used on glass staircases.”
To ensure safety, it’s essential to consult a specialist about lighting effects.
If members of the family discard their possessions haphazardly as soon as they’re through the front door, there’s an urgent need for storage that’s so easy to use they can’t ignore it.
“Stopping a trail of belongings littering a hallway can be a thankless task, so the space needs equipping so it’s user-friendly,” says Clotilde Passalacqua at Ikea.
“A cupboard for shoes, a generous amount of hooks or a coat rack, as well as a slim storage unit for seasonal items such as wellies, hats and gloves as well as sports kit can transform a space.”
Shine a light
Effective lighting is essential in a hall, which is a functional space where guests are greeted and you make last-minute preparations before leaving the house.
“Wall lights are great space savers and perfect for hallways,” says Laura Pagan, co-founder and buying director of lighting specialists Pagazzi.
“They generate a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and, spaced apart correctly, they can also create the illusion of a lit pathway. Wall lights can also be used to highlight any art or pictures you may have displayed.”
Make a small hallway appear larger by using uplighter wall brackets, she suggests. These will bounce light onto the ceiling and walls, in turn creating the illusion of a bigger space.
A glow of light at the end of a hallway, she advises, will pull the eye towards it and make a space appear longer.
This can be done with a statement floor lamp, while table lamps work well on slim console tables.