I have a really long and narrow hallway and am not sure how to decorate it. To make matters worse, there are no windows so it always feels really dark and cramped. Is there a way to make it feel bigger or more interesting?

Great question! Very often we fall in love with certain rooms of the home and have to just “deal” with the rest of it, dark and narrow hallways included. Our hallways are transition spaces, meant to take us from one room to another, and are sometimes an afterthought when it comes to good design and decorating. But no matter what hallway you’ve been dealt with, there is usually a way to make it better.

Focus on lighting

Hallways aren’t rooms for reading or performing tasks so they don’t require flood lights or task lamps. However, they are heavily trafficked areas that do need lighting in order to make the journey safer for everyone in the family. Before you decorate the hallway, consider how you can bring more light into the space. If the hallway is on the top floor you might consider sky lights. This is generally more expensive than installing ceiling lights however, it can instantly make the hallway feel twice as large. At night you’ll still need lighting and it can come from different sources. If you have outlets in the hallway, think about inserting a night light that turns on when it’s dark, this is a great idea for people who need to get up in the middle of the night and need just a small amount of light. Sconces and overhead lights are fairly easy to add however you will probably want to hire an electrician so that the placement of the lights and the switches is done correctly. Overhead lights help light up the whole hallway space, from ceiling to floor, and the scones help provide directional lighting that gives the hallway a sense of movement and decoration.


Decorating the hallway: walls

Your walls in the hallway are the perfect place for hanging artwork, photographs or special collections. It’s also a great place to use strong paint colors or interesting patterns of wallpaper. As we tend to spend little time in the hallway, you don’t have to worry about overpowering this space with too much color, pattern or design. When showcasing art on your hallway walls, you’ll have a stronger, more cohesive look if you stick to similar or like items. Think about using the same color frame or matting, or hanging the same type of artwork (like all photos). Collections can be grouped on the wall in interesting patterns as well. Placing objects along the walls will help add dimension and direction to the area, and can help break up a long hallway, making it more interesting. Mirrors are another great piece to hang in hallways as they help reflect light into the space and effectively make a narrow space feel much wider than it is. Try a collection of various mirrors for an eclectic look, or simply hang artwork with reflective glass for a similar appearance.


Decorating the hallway: furniture

Your hallway may not be wide enough for furniture or even a shelf so be sure you test out any new pieces. The last thing you want is someone tripping over furniture or stubbing their toes. But if the hallway is wide enough, try a narrow console table or bench to help break up the length of space. This furniture might not actually be sat upon or used however, it’s a great way to add color and texture to an otherwise empty room.


Decorating the hallway: floors and ceiling

You may not think of the ceilings or floors as a place to decorate but when a hallway has some visual appeal in either of these spaces, the hallway can be transformed into an interesting space. In the hallway shown below, a simple barrel vaulted ceiling is decorated with small tiles that turn a plain, white hallway into something truly special. Some homeowners find it easier to transform the flooring rather than the ceiling and choose to use a interesting wood or tile pattern on the floors to help make the hallway look shorter or longer, depending upon the pattern. If changing the flooring is beyond your price point, think about laying down a hall rug or carpet tiles. This is an easy DIY project and can be changed often for an updated look.


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Top image credit: Jorge Rosso Architecture Interiors