The Hallway. Potentially the most ignored space in a home yet it plays such an important role. The welcoming spot to all who visit – The connector of styles from one space to another – The route from A to B – The holder of life’s necessities (coats, shoes, keys). On the practical vs inspirational scale, it probably falls in the ‘practical’ camp but that doesn’t mean it can’t bring you joy and give you happy feels.
In our last home, we were completely pampered with a luxurious Georgian hallway (read enormous). It was epic at 2.3 meters wide, it ran 12 meters long with bends to the left & right and a staggering 3.6 meters high. I used to complain (1st world problems) that it was wasted space but it brought me so much joy & happiness. I now I regret all those rants and you’ll shortly see why!
We traded in a decadently spacious Georgian hallway for our Victorian counterpart. Anyone who lives in an Victorian Terrace will know what I’m talking about. Let’s just say, I now have serious hallway envy, something I thought I’d never say. Why? Our new place has a dark and impossibly narrow hallway with more doors than overnight sleeper train.
No on ever said “I love a narrow hallway”
I’ve been on a “remove doorways” mission since we bought our home nearly 3 years ago. I’m happy to report this hallway has TWO fewer doors than when we bought it. Now it’s time to add some va-va-voom and bring on the joy & happy vibes. I thought I’d share ideas of how to create a bright light welcoming hallway without knocking down walls. Let’s jump in with some hallway inspiration.
Play up your assets
The first tip is to work with what you have. Instead of looking at the negatives, celebrate the positives. Perhaps it is an interesting floor, maybe period details like paneling or ornate cornice, or a sexy staircase with drool worthy balustrade, or even a sneaky peek into an adjacent light filled room. Emphasise those assets & let them bask in the glory of being the star of the hallway. If none of those exist, it’s time to start thinking about where you can create a focal point or statement. The goal is to get people thinking “What’s that” in a good way – yup, essentially something to distract you from the lack of space.
Inspiration: who is winning at ‘playing up their assets’?
Jess of Gold is a Neutral uses monochrome Bert and May tiles to wow, Annette of The Foothill Farmhouse uses paneling and wallpaper in soft hues open up the space, Rachael of Banyan Bridges creates a focal point with colourful staircase whereas all eyes are locked on the far bookcase in SF girl by the bay (pic by Tom Blanchford). With some simple changes, Olivia of Lust Living’s hallway revamp is entirely drool worthy from the playful expression in the small floor tiles to the minimalist vibe storage to the elegant stripe and decadently dark stairs. It’s safe to say I’m jealous.
Magnify the light
We all feel happy when the sun is shining bright. The second tip is all about creating light where it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean go all nude or neutral with white paint everywhere. Enhance what natural light you have with a few simple tricks. Add a mirror, a touch of gloss, use paint effects or furniture with thin narrow legs to create a sense of space and light. If that still doesn’t work – add pendant lights and wall lights to tackle dark areas and then add some moody table lamps and floor light for atmosphere.
Inspiration: who is winning at the ‘magnifying the light game’?
Rachel Henderson Studio goes full on colour and bold wallpaper to create a bright cheerful hallway, the eye naturally follows the two tone paint along the hallway to the even brighter hello yellow wallpaper in the lounge. Farrow & Ball showcase their Inchyra Blue paint in matte and reflective gloss, creating a touch of extra light in a dark moody space. Gemma of My House is My Thing magnifies the light with a neutral colour palette, delicate legs on chairs & tables and extra lighting also in a delicate design. We are Found use a supersized mirror and spot lights to reflect light from adjoining rooms where as Het Atelier Interiors uses double wall to wall mirror to create a bright minimalist vibe (these are actually windows but I’m liking the idea of using mirrors to create the same vibe). Last up is the use of full on gloss (aka lacquer) paint to create ‘grab your sunglasses’ reflection. Featured in House Beautiful the turquoise panel and large pendant lights provide a seriously glam light overload (designed by Lindsey Coral Harper) where as in Elle Decor, the Madrid Apartment by Luis Bustamante, light bounces from the wall to ceiling to floors and lands on the reflecting red artwork.
Hide the crap (aka have space to tidy things away)
My third tip is quite simple, storage. It’s true, things appear more spacious and are definitely more uplifting when floors are empty of shoes, bags, coats, keys, mail. That means getting smart about hallway storage and having a place for all those daily essentials. There are so many brilliant storage ideas on Pinterest that it will have your head spinning within a few minutes. There are hooks, to baskets, to shelves, to consoles, to units, to folding seats to all sorts of Ikea Hacks out there. It also means being smart about where and how things are hung to maximise circulation space.
Inspiration: who is winning at the ‘storage game’?
Elaine Gaito’s home featured in Domino Magazine is ace at mixing storage ideas from basic Ikea Stall units, hooks for coats & bags and original artwork to keep things looking organised and spacious. Medina of Grillo Designs makes the most of a small space by combining a bench with hairpin legs, baskets for shoes and a wire mesh mail catch. Clem Around the Corner maintains an airy vibe by keeping it simple with a stool, a basket, hooks and a console table. Hannah of The Otto House keeps it super simple with one long row of open pegs above an exposed radiator while the glass door provides a touch of extra light. Shmidt combines lots of ideas into one bespoke unit that can fit into a tight space. And the use of unusual materials to create stylishly spectacular storage ideas – peg board seen in Architectural Digest and wire mesh shelf in Sundance catalog are two ideas that jumped out to me.
Other random things that are simply quite brilliant
There are so many unique & unusual ideas I found that just made me smile. I’ve created a Pinterest board called “Hallway & Entry” that you can enjoy too, click HERE. There’s just one that I’m sharing as a final inspiration, the Skagerak wall hung folding seat as a perfect spot to take off shoes.
So what’s my big plan for our dark & narrow hallway, you ask?
The first big issue to tackle is to brighten up the space. We currently have a warm neutral wall colour, which I thought would calm the space, instead it feels lifeless and blah. So it’s time to liven it up with some fresh & minty vibes. We have some touches of oh so pale green in a couple rooms and it is a perfect compliment to my fave yellow and some blues that dominate other rooms in our home. Here’s my overall inspiration for the hallway (See below for sources):
Thinking through ideas
I’m putting my newly learned Auto CAD skills to use and have drawn up a couple of the elevations to see how different furniture options will look in the space. First stop is the end of the hallway. I’m thinking this is the perfect spot for a wee feature of some lust worthy art accompanied by the narrowest of shelves. That way when the front door is open, the art at the end of the hallway grabs your attention. Which do you prefer?
Dark & Moody with Hormazd Narielwalla Lost Garden’s print which I already own from winning a King & McGaw giveaway earlier this year. I had been lusting after Hormazd’s art for years and his clever designs are inspired by vintage tailoring patterns. Fret not, there are colourful ones too. I’m thinking this grand art is perfectly paired with a miniature midcentury bookshelf (see 1st Dibs,) and a Menu smoky glass & brass vase.
Bright & Dreamy with Soo Burnell’s Poolside photo with serious Wes Anderson vibes always makes me dream of a sunny holiday escape (which is needed when living in Scotland). Soo has an entire photo series of Victorian and Art Deco pools across the UK and one in Paris too. I’d pair it up with a narrow floating Cox & Cox brass shelf, some plants and a Kristina Dam ceramic bowl. Which gets your vote?
Next up is the tiny nook in the middle of the hallway where it bends to the right. I’m thinking the Northern Peek mirror will help bounce some light around and allow me one last check that I don’t have toothpaste or lipstick smeared across my face. I’d pair it up with the Ferm Living plant box which will double as a place to dump keys while not visually overloading the small nook with a bulky piece of furniture.
Going grand and glossy with paint
To open up the space and create the illusion of a wider hallway, I’m going to attempt something that I might just live to regret – a high gloss nearly lacquer wall. Actually a half matte & half glossy wall. I’m leaning towards a soft mint shade that is on the cooler blue-green minty side vs a warmer yellow-green mint.
Enter the great debate over the perfect shade of fresh minty green. In the running are Farrow & Ball Theresa’s Green, Little Greene Paint Aquamarine Light, Craig & Rose Pure Mint, Designers Guild Fresh Mint and Paint & Paper Library Glass II. I’m saving the full on neon mint for the interior door … watch this space for more to come. The big question is … Am I missing any minty greens that are a must sample? Please DM immediately. Thanks.
There are a few things that make me just a touch nervous about this hallway revamp. 1. Will I be able to paint a straight line down both sides of the 10 meter hallway? 2. Will I survive the paint, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, paint process up to potentially 10 layers to get the glossy look? 3. Will the hubby go along with the fresh minty colour and other colour ideas I have for the interior door and front door? Other than that I’m ready to dive in.
That’s a wrap on today chatter about hallways. My final question to you is “Should the hallway be TOP of the list when it comes to designing a home to set the “vibe” or LAST on the list to unite everything together”? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please share below.
Mood board sources:
Soo Burnell – poolside photo print
Ferm Living – large black plant box
Northern peek mirror available at Skandium
Little Greene – pall mall green
Little Greene paint & paper inspiration book, pall mall green
Farrow & Ball – sulking room pink
Grace and Glory Home – ebony beehive door knobs with brass collar
Zoe Olivia Blog – half painted wall trend (pic of dining space)
Baehr Beauty Concept Nails – gel polish in mint soft pastel
The Zhush – palm beach house tour, entryway pic