How To Maximise A Narrow Hallway

How To Maximise A Narrow Hallway

The hallway is the entrance to your home, so you want to make it feel warm and inviting. But at the same time, it’s also one of the most high-traffic areas – not to mention one of the narrowest. So how do you strike the right balance between style and practicality? We asked some of the industry’s top interior designers to share their tips.
Photography: Anna Hewitson

Opt For Light Colours

To keep your hallway feeling fresh and clean, choose one, light neutral colour and paint the woodwork the same shade. This avoids any woodwork details or walls from defining the area through visual frames, and instead creates a space with no obvious boundaries. However, if you want something a bit more interesting, consider playing with shades between the architectural details. “Try using a darker colour on the lower levels to hide scratches and scuffs,” offers interior designer Olivia Emery

Get The Right Finish

Choosing a paint finish that is up to the job is key. “Paint and Paper Library Architects Eggshell Emulsion is a little more hardwearing, so it comes highly recommended for areas where there’s higher traffic,” advises interior designer Anna Hewitson. “Also, consider painting the back of your front door to match the woodwork, so everything blends in.”

Use Other Wall Treatments With Care

If you do decide to use wallpaper, use it only above the dado rail. That way it’s less likely to get damaged, and you can easily touch up the paintwork below while ensuring the wallpaper remains unscathed. “Be mindful about how you use panelling in a hallway,” warns Anna. “If you decide to go for it, opt for applied panelling as that will come out from the wall the least, so you can keep as much width as possible in the space.”

Anna Hewitson
Anna Hewitson
Jo Hamilton
Jo Hamilton

Capture The Outside 

It really goes without saying, but whatever you do, try to harness as much natural light as possible – a good example is to glaze the front door to flood the hallway with daylight, and use plenty of mirrors. “As it's a space that usually gets little natural daylight, mirrors can really help to bounce the light around and enlarge the space – think about using a collection of antiqued mirrors together, but spaced randomly,” explains designer Alice Leigh

Plan The Rest Of The Lighting

“You can distribute artificial light using two ceiling pendants,” suggests interior designer Laura Stephens. Decorative glass ones from Rothschild and Bickers or classic lanterns always look smart, while wall lights will add more light and interest to the space. “Directional spots which wash the walls with light, rather than beam down to the floor, create a nice ambience and avoid that airport runway look,” says Anna. “You can also put floor washes in the skirting to achieve a softer look.” If you don't have plug sockets handy, use battery powered lamps on a console or shelf instead – and head to Collier Webb for some stylish options.

Alice Leigh Design
Alice Leigh Design


Use Clever Tricks 

You can add glazed double doors into the reception room from the hall to create a sense of more space. Crittal and traditional styles both work well, and it’s worth considering glazing the area under the stairs if you have a lower ground floor – this can be very effective at flooding light and giving the illusion of more space, suggests Alice. “The addition of a decorative stair runner is a good idea – as this immediately draws the eye away from the pinch point of the hallway,” she adds.

Don’t Forget The Practicalities

If possible, think about investing in a sunken, fitted doormat. “Just order some coir matting online," says Anna. If you have a radiator and don’t have room for a console, you can install a radiator cover that doubles as a tabletop for keys, says Olivia. “We also designed a piece of joinery that was built for storage; it has cubby holes for shoes and a pull-out drawer at the end which holds hats, gloves and scarves, with hooks above for hanging coats,” adds Laura.

Finally, Remember To Inject Some Personality

The hallway is where you welcome guests into your home, so make it interesting and have some fun with it. “Art is a great way to add interest to a narrow hallway and it can be the perfect area in your house to hang all of those pieces that currently don’t have a home,” says Olivia. “Create a ‘vignette’ on a narrow console table if you have room by using a mirror above and lamps each side,” adds Laura. Incorporate fresh flowers, a pot plant or sculpture to bring some beauty into this otherwise functional space, and don’t forget about the floor. There are lots of eye-catching tile patterns from brands like Artisan of Devizes and Otto Tiles that can transform a hallway, injecting personality and colour, without compromising on practicality.

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