Whatever its size, your hallway is your home’s gateway. As well as a showpiece for visitors it is also your space for transitioning from the outside world to your home life. In order to fulfil both purposes, a hallway needs to combine practicality with the right aesthetics.
Colour: paintwork and wallpaper
Many hallways are small and windowless. Clever use of colour can enhance even small spaces. Neutral shades of white, cream or grey are the obvious choice due to their ability to make a hallway seem brighter and more spacious, especially if you choose a light-reflecting paint. You will also need to choose between a cool and a warm-toned neutral. Cool neutrals tend to have blue undertones while warm ones have golden or peach undertones.
If you are a fan of brighter or darker colours, you may find it easier to use them if your hallway is on the larger side. However, it is always possible to make a feature of even a small hallway by unapologetic use of a carefully chosen colour. Alternatively, if you have a dado rail or wood panelling, you might like to consider painting the lower half of the wall in a colour and the top half in white. Whatever paint colour you choose, it is sensible to use a wipe-clean type that has good resistance to scuffs.
Perhaps because it is more laborious to change, wallpaper is a less popular option for hallways. That said, exactly the same principles apply to its use as do to paint. In other words, you want to pick a colour and pattern that is right for the space and choose a wipe-clean paper that will not rip or tear easily.
Inevitably, most hallways have to cope with fairly heavy foot traffic. Consequently, you want your flooring choice to be hard-wearing and durable. Even if you have a “shoes off” rule, it may be sensible to select flooring that will not mark easily if high heels are walked across it.
As with paintwork, relatively neutral flooring often works best in smaller spaces. This does not mean you should automatically decide against a fabulous Art Deco-style black and white floor or replica Minton tiles. However, if you do make such a choice, you should perhaps allow your floor to be the statement piece in your hallway and keep everything else as neutral as possible.
Artwork and mirrors
The judicious use of artwork, photographs and mirrors can really bring a hallway to life. Artwork is an excellent way of injecting the space with colour while photographs, perhaps in the form of a gallery wall, can add personality and interest. Meanwhile, as well as being a piece of artwork in its own right, a mirror is a fantastic way of tricking the eye into believing that a space is larger than it appears.
Unless care is taken, it is all too easy for a hallway to become a general household dumping ground. Shoes, coats, schoolbags and post are just some of the items that might clutter up your hallway.
Picking the right storage for the needs of you and your family is the best way of avoiding this problem. Wall hooks or even an old-fashioned coat stand are a great option for coats, while a shoe rack can keep the family shoes tidy.
There are a wealth of different storage options to suit all tastes, needs and hallway sizes. For example, you may be taken by the idea of a storage bench, with a padded seat top and nifty storage beneath for bags, sports equipment and shoes. A radiator shelf or slim console table may suit some spaces while an awkward-shaped hallway might call for purpose-built storage, which could incorporate space for coats, a shoe rack and much else besides. Finally, an old-fashioned umbrella stand or a letter rack could add the perfect finishing touch.
Many hallways incorporate a set of stairs. It can be difficult to make a hallway flow seamlessly into the stairs but thoughtful choice of flooring can be a useful start. While some people decide to continue their hallway flooring up the stairs, others choose to make a feature of the stairs. There are several ways of doing this. Stair runners, with or without stair rods, are a popular choice, as is sanding and painting the stairs. You might even choose to paint each step or riser in a different colour.