The hallway is the first place that visitors see so it’s arguably one of the most important rooms in the house, setting the tone for what’s to come. But the hall also has to work hard because it’s usually the second smallest room in the house, it’s busy and it has to find room for a lot of stuff.
In small city homes it’s perfectly normal to find bikes and scooters cluttering up hallways. Not to mention the coats, boots and school bags. And that’s before you bought a little table to collect the post and rest the keys.
Dare to be bold
In the 18th century, it was considered appropriate to make hallways as restful and tranquil as possible to soothe travellers after their long journeys, hence the cool restraint of black-and-white floor tiles.
There is however, a case to be made for a bold and dramatic welcome. This is where you can stamp your personality or reflect the history of the house with a flourish. It’s a well-used room. People walk through it every hour of the day, but no one actually spends much time there, so you can afford to be daring.
Let there be lighting
If your hall is long, narrow and dark – Victorian in other words – then don’t despair. You can inject some drama with clever lighting.
Try breaking up the symmetry by creating some contrast. Use recessed downlights to create a wall wash on one side and put some recessed floor washers on the other side. You should avoid central downlights as they won’t break up the space at all. If you have space, then a table light will also provide a soft glow that introduces another layer of light.
Another trick is to light the far end of the hall or the landing above, which will draw the eye in to the house, making it feel bigger. Using mirrors on one side will also do this, and it reflects the lights at the same time.
You can always introduce dimmers in a hall. It creates drama for evenings and if you have rooms on either side that have been dimmed for a relaxing atmosphere, a glaringly bright hall in between can ruin the ambience.
Walls of colour
The temptation is to try and keep it light and bright, particularly if it’s a small space but you can be more daring with a darker, more dramatic, shade than that of the sitting room which will give a hint of what is to come.
The main thing to remember is that it has other rooms leading off it, so if using a bold colour bear in mind it will need to go with many others. You can also use subtle blocks of colour or stunning geometric wallpaper for a clean, contemporary look.
You could also paint the banisters different shades of the same colour, or, if monochrome bring in some details in the textures and materials.
A large mirror will bounce light around the hall, as we’ve discussed, and the long walls can be great for hanging a series of pictures, which adds personality without taking up space.
Be practical with flooring
Carpet is hard to keep clean in a hallway, given the amount of wear and tear it will get. Consider options like wood or stone which are much easier to maintain. Vinyl flooring has become hugely popular in recent years, especially with families, due to its durability and low maintenance.
Get creative with storage
There often isn’t much room for furniture in the average hall but you can be really creative in a small space, and getting the storage right can make all the difference.
Shoe and coat storage is a key thing to get right, especially with a busy family coming and going all day long. If you are lucky enough to have a cupboard for coats not too far away from the door that’s great, otherwise consider building clever storage to maximise your space. Going bespoke can seem like an expensive option but for a little extra investment, you can often gain a lot in terms of practical storage.
These days, there are all sorts of clever staircases that use the space under the steps. With clever planning, you can transform this overlooked area into a place for anything, from sports equipment to wine.
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