Hallway ideas: come on in to a welcoming space

Discover expert ideas for designing, decorating and clutter-busting the entrance to your home.

The hallway. It’s the multitasking entrance space that, in design terms, has its work cut out for it. In a quick straw poll when researching this article, the following were all on my friends’ and family’s hallway ideas wish lists: warm and welcoming – tick. Light and airy – tick. Neat and tidy – tick. Personality – tick.

As one of the first parts of the home both you and your guests see on arrival, it’s important for a hallway to make a good first impression. But the reality, for most of us, is that it’s a small space, high on traffic and low on light. It’s also the place where everyone dumps their stuff – from coats and bags to shoes – throughout the seasons.

Bright modern hallway with solid wooden door, floor-to-ceiling window and room dividerCredit: Bert & May

“By having a designated storage solution in the hallway, you’ll hopefully find that clutter can be cleared away more easily, and in turn the space becomes all the more inviting.” says OKA’s co-founder and creative director Sue Jones.

The hallway is a design challenge that needs clever solutions. We asked the experts to share their thoughtful thinking and clever quick fixes to help create the perfect entrance area.


1. Choose the right shaped stairs

Straight lines or spiral?

Landing with staircase and metal and wood bannister and balustradeCredit: Aflux Designs

When designing or renovating a hallway, it’s vital to design a staircase that maximises the space and allows for as much light as possible.

“If your entryway is on the smaller side, choose a design that helps create a feeling of space – such as a cantilever design that allows light through each of the treads,” say Amit Malhotra and Sara Ripamonti, founders of interior and architectural studio Aflux Designs. “If you’re hoping for the staircase to be more of a feature, opt for a curved or spiral staircase to enhance your hallway.”

Consider investing in a bespoke staircase that can be tailored to your specifications, allowing you to also specify the materials, such as wood, glass or metal.

2. Hang and store

Keep your entrance spick and span

OKA Ashmolean Hallway Storage Unit Round Allegro Dining Table And Berina RugCredit: OKA

A place to hang coats and house shoes and boots is the ultimate storage solution for a spick-and-span entrance. Choose a freestanding multitasking unit that will happily sit along the wall or into a corner.

“The hallway typically has two things working against it when it comes to being neat and tidy: size and location,” says Jones. “I’d suggest choosing a piece that is tall rather than wide, so you can avoid overcrowding the space.”

The hallway is the first impression people will have of your home, so select a piece that speaks to your style, as well as being practical, Jones also advises.

Featured product

Ashmolean Hallway Storage Unit, OKA

RRP: £1,795

3. Paint with welcoming colours

Lift the light levels with a lick of paint

Hallway painted in oval room blue by Farrow & BallCredit: Farrow & Ball

Because hallways and entrance areas often lack natural light, choosing the perfect paint colour can be tricky. Remember, though, that these are essentially transient spaces that lead you to the primary rooms of the home, so opt for easy-going, welcoming shades.

“For a small entryway, using a mid-toned blue such as Oval Room Blue will create a calming and welcoming entrance that doesn’t feel at all chilly,” says Patrick O’Donnell, brand ambassador for Farrow & Ball. “With a hint of green and a dash of black running through it, Oval Room Blue has enough depth to hold its own in a smaller space, particularly when used across walls, ceiling and woodwork for a colour-drenched look.”

Patrick also suggests that in a light and airy space, using a gentle shade such as Vert De Terre or Setting Plaster will create a serene welcome to the home. “Contrast it with a darker shade such as Railings, for the former, or Hague Blue, for the latter, to add some bold interest to the scheme,” he says.

4. Play with texture

Wrap your walls

Hali wallpaper in Olivine in hallway with large mirrorCredit: Studio Dean

Textures play an important role in wall decoration. In expansive or high-ceilinged hall areas, where there is potential for the space to feel outsized, even echoey, consider wrapping all – or key – walls.

“We recently used our fabric-effect wallpaper in a large hallway to add warmth and texture,” says Cathy Dean, founder and CEO of Studio Dean. “We want hallways to be warm and welcoming, and this wallpaper works well in a large, open space that has the potential to feel cold.”

The wallpaper shown is Hali in Olivine and emulates the organic features of a jute material with its flat matte finish.


5. Go narrow with furniture

Favour a slimline design

Narrow hall table with six framed picturesCredit: Home Barn

A console table is a savvy choice when it comes to furnishing a hallway space. It serves a number of purposes, both functional and decorative.

“The hallway is a space that welcomes people into the home and, as such, it can be a busy space,” say Sally and Sarah Wilkie, founders of Home Barn. “We always recommend opting for furniture with a shallow depth, so that it doesn’t overcrowd the space and protrude into the walkway.”

It’s also about balancing functionality with the aesthetics of adjoining spaces, advises the duo. “It’s important to ensure that the hallway coordinates with the rest of the rooms. Incorporate potted plants, urns and personal touches such as family photos, souvenirs and other items that reflect your personality and style.”

6. Warm up with a door curtain

Keep those pesky draughts at bay

William Morris curtain across large front doorCredit: Curtains 2Go

Is your hallway cold and draughty thanks to wind whistling in through the door? Consider a door curtain to keep winter chills at bay. Heavy tapestries were a go-to in days gone by, but thanks to today’s thermal interlinings, you can choose a decorative print, such as V&A William Morris Golden Lily from Curtains 2Go, which looks as good as it performs.

“Play with colours and patterns to ensure you choose a fabric which complements the rest of your aesthetic,” says Curtains 2Go’s head of marketing Natasha Painter. “If you want an elegant look, heavier fabrics will offer a more sophisticated touch, whereas if natural light is important to you even when the curtain is drawn, then a light-filtering lining for your curtain is a good choice.”

Stick to a single-panel design that stacks to one side on a wide and sturdy curtain pole. Alternatively, a specially designed portiere rod attaches the curtain panel to the door and enables the door to open and close as normal.

7. Take a seat

A pew to remove your shoes

Hallway with Nkuku bench and oval mirrorCredit: Nkuku

Do you operate a no-shoes in the house policy? A wooden bench seat in the hallway serves as a versatile place to sit to pull shoes on and off as you enter and exit.

For a freestanding option, choose a no-nonsense Shaker style design, such as the Tipu Acacia Wood Bench from Nkuku, which will stand the test of time thanks to its timeless good looks and ability to withstand the rough and tumble of the thoroughfare. Keep it comfy with cushions and throws.

Alternatively, a built-in bench seat made from tongue and groove can make use of unused space. Specify it with a lift-the-lid seat to allow for integrated shoe and bag storage below.

8. Paint dados and door surrounds

Enhance your home’s period features

White hallway with black skirting and door framesCredit: Benjamin Moore

In a period-style house, where heritage mouldings and banisters are still in place but need a modern twist, look to monochrome for a tailored look.

“Monochromatic schemes are smart and classic,” says Helen Shaw, director of marketing at Benjamin Moore. “The contrast offers a fantastic opportunity to highlight architectural features such as architraves, cornicing and staircases. If you use a white, off white or lighter shades on the walls you can pick out the woodwork in the bolder tone.”

If you have a dado, you can pull the look through to the walls by painting the lower half of the wall, below the dado, in the same colour as the woodwork. The colours shown here are Calm 2111-70, Black Knight 2136-10 and Decorator’s White OC-149.

9. Choose herringbone for pattern

Vinyl can pack a colourful punch

Carpetright Luna 508 Marilyn vinylCredit: Carpetright

Hallways can be long and thin, so geometric designs underfoot break the lines and bring interest to the eye. Herringbone-style wooden parquet continues to be a popular trend but can be cost prohibitive, so consider thriftier options.

“Vinyl flooring for hallways is an inexpensive way to add colour, pattern and personality at the entrance of your home without compromising on quality,” says Punam Chada, Carpetright’s carpet buyer. “It’s a great choice for busy families with constant movement of children, pets and regular guests, as it is highly durable, easy to maintain, moisture proof and slip resistant while still being soft underfoot.”

10. Mirror the design

Reflect more space around the place

Arteriors Payton Bench £2,678, Autero Small Round Mirror £938Credit: Arteriors

First impressions make all the difference when guests visit, so the front hall should set the tone for design decisions throughout the home. Decorative mirrors used in singles and multiples are a clever way to give the illusion of a larger space.

“The addition of a mirror is sometimes overlooked,” says Helen Pett, design ambassador at Arteriors London, “but it is a great way to reflect the light within the hallway. Practically speaking, a bench and mirror are essential for last-minute outfit checks and a seat for putting on shoes.”

The combination of a styled console table, an upholstered bench and a decorative mirror, all lit with statement sconces hovering above or framing each piece, works beautifully as a welcoming, well-thought-out entryway. Shown is the Payton Bench and Autero Small Round Mirror.

11. Jazz up coat cupboards

Wallpaper at the ready

View down hall to coat cupboard with wallpapered interiorCredit: Warner House/@thegarthhome13

Small cupboards and cloakrooms that often lead off a main entrance can feel a little neglected, so introduce exciting impact to the space with an archive design wallpaper.

“As we decorated the house, we just didn’t do anything at all to the coat cupboard, so it was looking pretty grim,” says Sam of @thegarthhome, whose hallway is shown here. “I saw a couple of examples of wallpapered cupboards on Instagram and decided to make it all fancy!”

Sam fell in love with the Paradiso wallpaper in Salsa from Warner House. Its spicy red gifts the small room a powerful sense of energy and exuberance. Go for a riotous aesthetic with all-over wall (and even ceiling) coverage.

12. Run up the stairs

Runners shine with bright colours and bold patterns

Crucial Trading Wool stair runner with zigzag patternCredit: Crucial Trading

Runners are a quick win for adding a show-stopping visual effect. Be brave with pattern, colour and borders for a spectacular way to lead the way up the stairs.

“As a transient area of the home, stairs and hallways can carry bold colour and pattern more easily than perhaps other rooms, while also providing a sense of fun,” says Claire Kimble, senior design manager at Crucial Trading. “It’s also a great opportunity to let your personality truly shine!”

Use stripes and geometrics in the direction of the interior flow, she advises, to create movement and bring a sense of energy to a staircase. “Adding a border in a contrasting colour also creates a visual boundary, therefore not only framing the floor covering but also helping to lead the eye.” The runner shown is Fabulous in Opal.

13. Lighten the mood

Create a cosy welcome

Industville Pillar Square Table Lamp in dark HallwayCredit: Industville

Mood lighting is as important as task lighting in an entrance. Pendants overhead are the matter-of-fact choice for illuminating the way. They can be switched on as soon as you open the door, but once you’re inside, a softer-lit table lamp will bring atmosphere and cosiness to the space when the door is shut for the night.

Choose a table lamp with a metallic base, such as pewter or brass, and light will be reflected further. Shown is the Pillar Square Table Lamp in Pewter from Industville.

14. Make a narrow hall wider

Fill the full space underfoot

Crucial Trading Sisal carpet in white hallwayCredit: Crucial Trading

A fitted soft flooring or carpet can make a narrow hallway look wide, neat and safer. “A fully-fitted floor covering will make a narrow corridor feel wider as it takes the full width of the space. It also limits the possibility of being a trip hazard,” says Kimble.

But which finish to choose? “For a high traffic area, Sisal is always going to be an option due to the natural hard-wearing nature of the fibre,” she advises. “Sisal comes in many different weaves to create a ‘neutral pattern’ with hints of colour, making it a fabulous option to fit in with just about any surrounding, from traditional to contemporary.”

15. Glaze away

Let the light in, and keep the cold out

Pale hallway with oversize door and Garden Trading furnitureCredit: Garden Trading

Glazed, rather than solid, front doors allow light to flood into the space. These days, toughened and double-glazed (even triple-glazed) glass will allay security and energy-efficiency worries. Glazed doors come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find a style that suits every period of home, whether that’s contemporary or country.

Glass panels are another consideration if you prefer the option of a solid front door. Pair panels either side of a door or as a single side panel. Fixed glass panels allow in the light but have the added benefit of no moving parts.


Written by Rhoda Parry


Rhoda Parry is the former Editorial Director of Ideal Home, the UK’s best-known media brand, and its sister titles, 25 Beautiful Homes and Style at Home. She is also former Editorial Director for Gardeningetc, Amateur Gardening and Easy Gardens.

As an experienced Interiors and Gardens journalist, she’s spent her career tracking the trends, interviewing the experts and reviewing the best products for inside and outside living spaces. When she’s not writing, she’s tending to her gravel garden that overlooks the sea in Sussex.