The hall can be an awkward space to design. While not a room in its own right, it gives guests their first impression of your home. Interior designer Julia Kendell explains some clever hallway design ideas.
1. Go wide
Long halls can be 'Alice in Wonderland'-like and have an extended perspective that's uncomfortable to the eye. Using interior design tricks will shorten the length and redress the balance of the space. Try painting the end wall a dark or strong colour, particularly from the warmer end of the colour spectrum, or use a strong pattern for a similar effect. Avoid using striped floorings that will emphasise the length, choosing instead square or trellis designs, or rugs on solid floors to break-up the floor length.
2. Lighter and brighter
Floor-standing and oversized mirrors play an important role in opening up narrow spaces, but the trick is to make sure they reflect something of interest, not just a plain painted wall. Use glossy, reflective flooring to bounce light around and make the area feel as spacious as possible. Pale colours and soft blues and greens will enhance the feeling of space, but if the hallway is particularly dark, consider a deeper colour to enhance the natural mood of the room and give it wow factor.
3. High drama
A large, square hall can be just as problematic as a long narrow one to design as they're often left as wide-open spaces with no point of interest. A circular seat in the middle of the room offers a practical and soft focal point, and an opportunity to bring colour and height to the centre of the space. A centre table with a spot-lit sculpture or vase of flowers can also look dramatic, although it's maybe not the best solution if you have young children in the house. If the room isn't quite large enough for a central piece of furniture, a bold rug will add balance and interest.
4. Big personality
The tendency is to paint the hall a neutral colour to appeal to the majority and open the area up as much as possible. But as this is a space that's not lingered in for long there's no reason why you can't stretch your design wings and experiment with stronger colours and patterns. After all, this is a communal area and should reflect the personality of the family. I will often specify something 'quirky for a hallway design as I think it is definitely an area of the house you can get away with it, and why not put a smile on people's faces as they arrive?
5. Fixes for tricky areas
While it's not essential to coordinate the wall colour with the rooms that lead off the hallway, it will help the 'flow' of the house if there is a linking colour or theme between them, and will help to create a cohesive feel. If you want to re-balance a very high ceiling, a bold horizontal painted band in a contrasting colour following the line of the stairs is very effective and will add a dynamic feel to the space. For a busy hall where lots of children, prams and toys pass through, try wall paneling. It's suitable for both traditional and contemporary schemes, and is a favourite choice of mine to give an elegant, textural look that will stand up to the knocks of everyday life. Paint in an easy to apply acrylic eggshell for a long-lasting and wipeable finish. Or for the most up to date look, paint in a matt dark grey adding a blaze of colour in other furnishings to bring the scheme to life.
6. Essential storage
Well thought-through storage is essential to keep clutter to a minimum. Choose furniture that's shallow in depth to provide useful surfaces for keys and post without encroaching too much into the space. Wall-hung furniture or items open to the floor will also help to maximize the width of the room. As well as making the most of all the space, high-level shelving is a great way to store items that aren't needed on a daily basis or to hold ornaments that will add interest without getting in the way. To encourage children to keep their things tidy, use personalised, named boxes. A bespoke system built under the stairs is the best solution as it makes the most of every inch of space, especially in smaller hallways.
Julia Kendell hosts Interior Design Masterclasses throughout the year. Visit juliakendell.com/courses for more info.