Decorating ideas for small hallways

Embrace the phrase 'small is beautiful' with these welcoming ways with tiny hallways

Do you have a small hallway? The hallway is often one of the most neglected spaces in our homes, a dumping ground for shoes, coats, post, keys and all the other general paraphernalia that you grab at the last minute as you are leaving the house. Yet, as the first space that guests see when they enter your home it is worth spending the time and effort to ensure your hallway has instant wow factor.

In a small hallway it is best to stick to a neutral colour scheme on walls and floors to enhance the feeling of light and space, then inject colour with artwork, flowers and decorative ornaments. Hardwearing flooring is a good idea as the hallway is such a high traffic area, so wood and stone are practical choices, then simply add a mat or rug for people to wipe their feet on. Painted walls are a popular option in the hallway as they are easier to touch up if the walls get scuffed and marked, but hallway wallpaper is making a comeback so pick a subtle pattern that will add interest without being overwhelming.

Positioning a mirror on one wall is a good trick as it will bounce the light around and help make the space feel larger. It’s also useful as it means you can check your appearance one last time before leaving the house.

It’s important to clear the clutter, so invest in some practical storage solutions such as a seat with built-in storage, a console table with handy drawers, boxes or baskets, and of course a hanging rail or pegs for the coats and hats. There is a wide range of choices available from modern streamlined furniture to antique trunks, so whatever style you are looking for, you are bound to find something to cater for your needs.

Increase the sense of space in your entrance hall and make a fabulous first impression with these inspiring decorating ideas.

Make features of coats and boots

Image credit: Dominic Blackmore/Ideal Home

Maximise the decorative potential of storage by choosing open units instead of those with doors. Place against a wallpapered wall – here, a grey geometric pattern not only makes a fresh backdrop, but turns each section of the storage unit into an attractive separate storage zone. Introduce a zingy secondary colour for added up-to-date style and why not get the children involved with low level hooks just for them? Alongside signature yellow, use black and white accessories to make the space homely.

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Wallpaper, Trapez Wallpaper, Boråstapeter Scandinavian Designers Wallpaper Collection, Wallpaper Direct

Single out a wall for pattern

Image credit: David Brittain/Country Homes & Interiors

Add a summery feel to your hallway with a splash of sunshine. The area under these stairs would be a dark, uninteresting space if it wasn’t for the uplifting flash of yellow wallpaper that cheers the room up no end. A yellow bin, cleverly used as shoe storage, adds a modern twist. Mix the tones from sunflower to sand with a standalone bench and coat hook in warming beech wood.

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Wallpaper, Cow Parsley, Cole & Son Contemporary Selection Wallpaper Collection, Wallpaper Direct

Love a runner

Image credit: Polly Eltes/Country Homes & Interiors

Look to the stairs to help open up an internal staircase. Hallways with steps that have a solid wall rather than open balusters can be among the trickiest of spaces to decorate. Make the most of this tiniest of spaces by making a feature of the stairs. This stripped back oak staircase is a thing of beauty and it provides a visual contrast to the grey painted wall panelling either side. Fit a smart stair runner with a strong linear stripe that draws the eye upwards to the light-filled landing above.

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 Runner, Shetland runner in Sudbury Light Grey, Roger Oates

Revel in the practical

Image credit: David Brittain/Country Homes & Interiors

Wallpaper depicting oak leaves and acorns sets the tone in this nature-inspired country hallway. Blue painted woodwork stands out against the wallpaper and adds another colour element to the space. Soft furnishings in muted beige and brown continue the nature theme. A wire storage unit is the perfect place for stowing woollens, while vintage hooks and a hat stand provide extra hanging space.

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Similar storage rack, Perlo shelving unit, Mercury Row at Wayfair

Stop them in their tracks

Image credit: Paul Raeside/Livingetc

Blend moulded forms, geometric design and classic marble for a timelessly elegant look. Make a bouquet of fresh green foliage your focal point by planting it in a larger-than-life lacquered planter. Here, a geometric faceted head demands to be looked at. Break up an expanse of white and grey with a vibrant colour – yellow works a treat in a contemporary scheme.

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Rug, Loha Rug, Kangan Arora at Heal’s

Add a picture

Image credit: Logan Irvine-MacDougall/Living Etc

Learn how to layer greys for a calming effect, or combine them with other colours to add extra punch to your design scheme. A large-scale print in the entrance hall will certainly make a big first impression. Pick something you love to reflect your personality and to make you feel at home as soon as you walk through the door. Finally, make a statement with gold painted chairs, upholstered in blue velvet fabric.

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Rug, Silver Rings rug, David Rockwell at The Rug Company

Realise the potential of plants

Image credit: Catherine Gratwicke/Homes & Gardens

If your hallway is too small to house large pieces of statement furniture, you may still have the space to fit a narrow console, ledge or shelf – or make use of a windowsill if you have one. Think about the decorative possibilities of potted plants. Select them according to their sculptural shape and size and use pots and planters for the colour elements. Create a line of jolly specimens that will be as pretty as any picture. What’s more, you can swap and change individual plants or pots when the mood takes you.

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Planter, Firenze Planter, India Jane

Get moody with blue

Image credit: Sarah Maingot/Homes & Gardens

Use strong colour in a small space for instant personality. In this hallway a backdrop of the palest of blue washes is the precursor to a dazzling mix of cobalt, ultramarine and cerulean blues in furniture and accessories. Go for furniture in a signature style, like this mid-century style console, and bring it to the foreground by hanging a cluster of pendant lights above. Reflect these shades in unframed artwork tacked up above the table.

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Similar prints, Etsy

Step up with colour

Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies/Style at Home

Liven up a space-poor hallway with painted stairs. Less is so much more in this modern scheme. Go for a striking blue paint on staircase risers and draw attention to them with brilliant white treads and backdrop. Bring in a contrasting accent shade and use in just two places: a single riser at the top of the stairs and a feature pendant light. This works particularly well in vibrant, life-giving yellow. Finish with a large gilt mirror. Perfect.

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Similar paint, Blue Babe, Dulux at B&Q

Work every inch

Image credit: David Giles/Ideal Home

Use the dead space at the end of a narrow hallway to house an inviting bench. This clever idea makes great use of otherwise unused space. Build a straight bench, or take the opportunity to use the space for storage by adding a hinged lid. It’s perfect for hiding away unsightly shoes and also visually elongates the small space. Cover a cushion pad in a subtle patten to blend in with the neutral scheme.

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Similar cushions, Etsy

Turn small into cosy

Image credit: Rachel Whiting/Country Homes & Interiors

Maximise the ‘snug’ factor in a narrow hallway. For a country feel, bring furniture and storage together for a look that suggests relaxed rather than cluttered. Separate two tones of soft blue on walls with a classic unpainted dado rail that picks up on the natural wood finish of a bench for a rustic edge. Soften with textured cushions and hang traditional hooks for coats and hats so they can be seen rather than hidden. Use the space under the bench to display authentic accessories to complete the intimate scheme.

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Similar storage bench, Wood Storage Hallway Bench, Wayfair

Lighten up

Image credit: Lizzie Orme/Style at Home

Reflect light with a display of interesting mirrors. Small hallways often lack windows and mirrors are the classic light-enhancing solution. Rather than hanging them, give an everyday hallway lunar appeal with a futuristic cut-out radiator cover and display your mirrors along it. Go for a mix of designs and shapes that will counterbalance the space-age vibe with a retro touch. Complete your scheme with a ‘moon-dust’ colour carpet throughout.

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