Every morning, I roll out of bed, slide on my slippers and pad down the hallway to the kitchen for my requisite cup of Earl Grey. And every morning, I lean against the kitchen doorway, sip my tea, and peer back down the hallway, my mind swirling with possibilities for that narrow, lifeless strip of house.
By definition, a hallway is a long passage that links rooms. That is its sole function, to usher you from one area to the next. I don’t know about anyone else, but in my quaint little home, I need each space to serve a purpose, and that includes hallways.
That brings us back to my pre-dawn pondering. After months —my husband might argue years—of musing, I determined the best course of action was to prioritize the most important elements of the design and make a plan. What else is a Type A to do in such a situation?
As you ruminate on your own corridors, ask yourself the ultimate question: How do you want to feel in the space? The answer to that question will fuel every choice, from colors to fabrics and everything in between.
From the Pantone Color of the Year, “Greenery,” to deep plum, rich cerulean, and everything in between, color breathes life into our homes.
Imbue your space with distinct hues to add vitality to what could just be a pass-through. Such color can come in many forms: wall paint, a rug, artwork, curtains, light fixtures—anything you dream. To avoid overwhelming your hallway with color,
I recommend selecting a palette with one rich color and two or three complementary colors in a more muted shade.
When it comes to your walls, unlock your creativity. Instead of a solid color, consider thick horizontal stripes. Pair light walls with a bold hue on the ceiling. A long strip of color visually pulls you through the corridor. What about wallpaper? With infinite options, wallpaper simultaneously adds visual interest and texture, resulting in a distinct space all your own.
A sundry of textures and materials softens a room, gives it warmth—and a hallway is no exception. For instance, after withstanding constant foot traffic, hardwood floors deserve a plush, braided rug. Not only will this add comfort underfoot but also a visual anchor. To enhance color and add light, incorporate metal art or mirrors. These reflective surfaces bounce light and brighten the space.
Illuminate your ancestry by mounting a family quilt on the wall—an inexpensive and meaningful option. If the majority of your family photos are collecting dust in the attic, a gallery wall might be just the ticket. Frame a collection of your favorites in a variety of sizes. I like to arrange the photos in a thoughtful order—chronological, by frame color, by size—to give the layout intentionality. In addition to family snapshots, consider hanging works of fibers and mixed media. These disciplines offer beauty and texture in one neat package.
To add architectural interest and depth, consider adding a chair rail, typically mounted three feet from the floor, and a two-tone wall. I recommend keeping the lighter color on the bottom. To take your design to the next level, install beadboard, shiplap à la HGTV’s Joanna Gaines, or classic wainscoting to the lower half of the wall. These options will engender your space with classic elegance for minimal cost.
I said it once, but it deserves a replay: every room in your home, even a hallway, should serve a purpose. Think about your space and what functionality it’s hoarding. In a wide hallway, add an accent chair and lamp combo to create a cozy reading nook. Arrange a small desk and chair in the dead space at the end of the hall for a minimalist office. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a narrow hallway is ideal for skinny floor-to-ceiling bookshelves or slender storage cabinets for shoes, gloves, scarves, or anything you’d like.
In the Goldilocks of corridors, not too big and not too small, define a staging area for your family. A few storage benches and coat hooks transform a pass-through into an organized catch-all for your everyday items.
Hallways are primed to be interactive. Mount a long, framed chalkboard on the wall for to-do lists, reminders, or doodles if you’re feeling creative. For kids, use adhesive vinyl cutouts to create a hopscotch pattern on the floor. Find the artistic possibility in the space and use it to stoke the embers of your imagination.
Designing any room can be overwhelming, and hallways are the ultimate challenge. If you find yourself like me, sipping an early morning beverage and staring aimlessly down the corridor, take a deep breath and remember: every space craves color, variety and function. Once you have those elements, the natural charm of your space will shine through.