Hallway paint ideas - 15 ways to make a great first impression

Create the ultimate entryway with bright and characterful paint ideas designed to suit any scheme

Hallway with floor to ceiling wall panelling painted light green
(Image credit: Future PLC)

First impressions count, so it's important to pick a hallway paint idea that reflects your home, and the people living there. Not only is it the first area that guests see, but it also frames the start and end of every day, acting as a place to rush out of and find refuge in.

With it being a well-used space, it can also quickly become a dumping ground for shoes, bags and coats. Style-centric hallway ideas can fall by the wayside, and many narrow hallways simply don't have the space for furniture or accessories. However, one easy way to spruce up any size of hallway, for any scheme, is with paint. 

Innovative paint ideas can refresh your space, forming the perfect weekend project without breaking the bank and wow family and friends when you open the front door.  

'Paint is the backdrop to all interiors and your personality can be stamped all over it,' says Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin. 'Your hallway is the first point of entry. It should shout out to you that "I am home" every time you step through the front door, that you are in your favourite and most comfortable place in the world. It should also give your guests an insight into who you are and what your house and interior says about you.' 

Hallway paint ideas

Our clever paint ideas below will get you itching to bring out the paintbrushes and give your hallway a revamp, whether you choose vibrant hallway paint ideas or a calming cohesive scheme to make a big impression.

1. Paint all the way up

Hallway with blue paint on walls and skirting boards with pink door

(Image credit: Future)

Hallways are notoriously narrow and often dark spaces, so this will affect the colour scheme you choose, and where you paint. An easy way to be playful with the aesthetic of an entryway, as well as enhance the dimensions, is to paint all the way up to the ceiling and architrave. 

'Consider colour drenching both the walls and ceiling to create a space that feels uniformed, rather than creating additional busyness by mixing colours or introducing patterned wallpaper,' advises Tom Revill, Co-Founder of Plank Hardware

2. Combine light with dark

Hallway with yellow paint on one wall and blue paint on the other with bike propped up.

(Image credit: Future)

Struggling to decide on one colour? Go for two. 

Dark paint is having a moment and while it can be great for amping up the cosiness of a hallway, it can be a big commitment. Combining with a brighter paint idea is the perfect compromise, and means you get the best of both worlds if you're stuck between two ideas. 

'A light colour on the walls can lift a space instantly and give the light something to bounce off,' says Vicki Foster, interior stylist at ScS. 'Darker, richer colours have the tendency to soak in the light which is what makes them perfect for a cosy room. However, if you’re looking to make a space look bigger then it’s best to give your room a fresh lick of paint in a bright, airy colour.'

3. Paint panelling

Hallway with floor to ceiling wall panelling painted light green

(Image credit: Future)

Hallway wall panelling ideas offer ample opportunity for customisation, as you can paint it to a colour of your choosing, making a hallway look professionally designed. 

'Wall panels can help you increase the light bouncing around the area and open up your hallway, making it appear bigger than it is,' recommends Dominic Walsh, managing director at Off the Grain

Whether you choose to go for a statement navy paint or keep it pared-back with a light sage green, the entrance to your home will easily feel like the lobby of a chic boutique hotel. 

4. Go bold and dark

Hallway painted in black with black radiator and gallery wall

(Image credit: Future)

It's easy to think you have to avoid dark paint in a hallway due to it being a space with limited space and light, but leaning into the statement look can actually have a larger impact. 

If you're going to go for charcoal, black or navy paint, it's best to max out on colour and match your radiators and doorways to the walls. This way, you can achieve a purposefully intimate aesthetic. And if you're looking to add interest to the dramatic scheme, artwork will be the perfect finishing touch. 

'Artwork is one of the most effective ways to add individuality and personality to your space. Particularly in narrow spaces, hanging unique pieces helps to lead the eye down a hallway to make it feel more spacious,' advises Shonagh Gardiner Senior Associate Interior Designer at StudioMorey.

If you're ready or able to invest in original artwork then make use of home decor discount codes to help you find pretty prints for cheap and cheerful prices.

5. Step up your paint game

Hallway with painted front door, stairs and walls in different colours

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

There are more surfaces to paint than just your walls in a hallway - painted stair ideas are the ideal opportunity to play with colour. 

'Staircases are an utterly delightful, highly rewarding spaces to experiment and splash around with colour!' says Annie Sloan, Colour and Paint Expert.

'These are dynamic spaces; so, you don’t have to worry about maintaining a calm atmosphere, or about fitting in big furniture such as sofas or wardrobes or televisions which might disrupt the end result.'

For a statement approach, match with the colour of your walls or alternatively mix with a different shade to add dimension to an entryway. 

6. Create a striped paint effect

Geo black and white stripes on a hallway wall with grey stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Stripes have always been a staple decorating technique and it's a style easily achieved using paint. It's a great small hallway idea as vertical stripes can help a space with low ceilings feel bigger. Use decorator's tape to section off an area of wall into equal sized stripes and paint in between a contrasting colour to make the stripes stand out.

7. Frame doorways for a focal point

Pale pink hallway with pale pink internal door with grey framing painted around it

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Channel rustic French country style by using paint to frame a door in your hallway. Using several different shades, you can paint a panelling effect around the frame, turning the door into a focal point. Hallways are a great place to experiment with this technique. 

'First impressions are everything, which is why your entryway is your opportunity to go all out,' says colour and paint expert Annie Sloan. 'Build a space which delights you every single time you return home, and impresses those lucky enough to get a glimpse at its hallowed halls. 

'Given that the space is small, this is your opportunity to go bold and be holistic. I'd paint everything. This will build excitement for the rest of your home and is so much more easily done in a hallway space than in, say, a living room or kitchen.'

8. Choose an abstract style

Abstract design painted on a hallway wall

(Image credit: Crown Paints)

If you want to make a striking impression as soon as people walk through the door, using creative painting techniques. Draw out your design on paper first and lightly copy the design onto your wall with chalk. You can use decorator's tape to divide up the sections if you're using straight lines. This is a great technique to use above panelling, giving a similar effect to wallpaper. 

9. Turn a wall into a giant chalkboard

Hallway with chalkboard painted wall for messages and doodles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brett Symes)

It might seem a bit dramatic to paint a whole wall with chalkboard paint but it's an easy way to add fun to your hallway scheme – plus you can leave notes for family members or jot down your shopping list somewhere you will notice it! Leave a tub of chalk or chalk markers on a side table and let visitors get creative when they stop by.

10. Make an impact with colour drenching

Blue painted hallway and stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ollie Gordon)

One way to create a dramatic look in your hallway is by colour drenching. Not only does it make a big impact but it can help detract attention away from the size of the space and is a fab when looking at how to make a narrow hallway look wider

'Colour drenching, especially when using darker brave colours, works best in small spaces like a hallway, a corridor or small bathroom,' explains Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown Paints. 'By enveloping a small space in a colour, the focus shifts from noticing the size of that space to just appreciation of the shades that surround us.'

11. Combine paint and wallpaper

Hallway with patterned wallpapered wall combined with grey painted woodwork

(Image credit: Little Greene)

The classic combo is no stranger to our homes and it's another way to make a style statement in your hallway. Choose an accent colour from your hallway wallpaper idea and get it colour matched to paint your woodwork for a cohesive look. To prevent scuffs and scrapes to wallpaper in a busy hallway, cover with a layer of matt varnish to seal it.

12. Create a statement hallway floor

Narrow hallway with stencilled floorboards

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

It's not just walls that can be painted in hallways, if you've got wooden flooring that's seen better days why not revamp it with paint? Mark out a tile design using decorator's tape or buy a stencil with a patterned design. Give your flooring a coat of paint in the colour of your choice (darker colours are better at hiding mucky footprints) and, once dry, use your stencil with a contrasting paint colour to create a tiled effect. 

'Geometric patterns work really well in hallways,' says Jason Burns at Frogtape. 'Whether you're looking to create a design on the wall or floors, it's always a good idea to draw it out first. Frogtape Multi-Surface Painter's Tape will work well to mask out the shapes you have drawn. 

'Make sure to press and rub the edge of the tape to get a good seal. The multi-surface tape means that you can use it on uneven surfaces like a tiled or wooden floor, which might not be completely smooth,' he adds. It's a great way to update your hallway flooring idea on a budget. 

13. Have a go at ombré

Mint green ombre painted wall in a hallway with a bench and pot plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

A simple way to add a stunning paint effect to a hallway paint idea, ombré pattern looks visually appealing but it's also a clever design trick. Using a light colour in the top half gives a room the feeling of height, whereas a dark colour in the top half can help a room feel more cocoon-like. 

Either choose two contrasting colours like below or for a more relaxed vibe, choose different shades of the same colour going from lighter to darker tones. 

14. Try half height painted walls

Hallway with half-painted teal wall, and colourful storage unit

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Half-height painted walls are not only a great visual effect, but in a hallway, they are practical too. Painting the bottom half of a wall in a darker shade will help to hide any scuffs and marks, while a lighter shade above will make a small hallway feel brighter. 

Hang coat hooks on your wall in a row and paint a horizontal line matching the bottom wall colour to add interest. Do your homework and read up on how to paint a two-tone wall before getting your paintbrushes out! 

15. Experiment with paint types

Dark blue painted hallway with gloss finish on lower half of the wall

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Using different paint finishes is an easy hallway paint idea with maximum impact. 'One easy trick with its simplistic but striking style is using one colour in two finishes,' says Patrick O'Donnell, Farrow & Ball brand ambassador. 

'Paint the lower half of the wall to chair rail height in full gloss and carry this over your skirting to accentuate the height – then paint above this in modern emulsion, a fully washable finish but much better on the top half of the wall.' 

Although the colour is the same, the different finishes create an interesting contrast, while the glossier finish on the bottom is more resilient to knocks and scrapes. 

What is the best paint to use in a hallway?

Using a hardwearing and tough paint finish like eggshell is best for hallways. 'Choose a finish that is tough, easy to wipe clean and touch up,' explains Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin

'Hallways are the busiest thoroughfare of your house with people passing past each other at the busiest time of day like the M25! It needs to be practical and stand the test of time.' 

Should my hallway be painted the same colour as my living room?

It stands to reason you'll be keen to avoid any hallway decorating mistakes, so this is a good question. 'It's the one room that transitions into all rooms, so all flowing spaces need consideration,' says Emma Coles, in-house stylist at Morris & Co

'If you go with a light or neutral shade this will blend easily when you move from room to room. This is especially important if you leave doors open, have open plan spaces, or glass doors where you can clearly see through.'

What colour should you paint a hallway with no windows?

Hallways can be tricky spaces to decorate, largely thanks to the narrow shape and size that offers little space for furniture. This means they can often look dark, especially if you don't have any windows on your front door, or leading into other rooms in your home. 

Paint offers the ultimate solution to a dark hallway, as you can either lean into a cosy look or choose to brighten it up with a neutral colour.  

'Light colours help to create an illusion of space and make a hallway feel brighter,"' says Sonnaz Nooranvary, a UK-based upholsterer and interior designer, featured on BBC’s The Repair Shop

'However, if you want to make an impact and choose a darker colour - paint the ceiling and skirting in the same darker paint colour and add a mirror. By painting the ceiling in the same colour it will make the ceiling feel higher.'

Amy Hodge

Amy Hodge has been working on interiors magazines for over 11 years. She's a freelance writer and sub editor who has worked for some of the UK's leading interiors magazines including Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors. She started at Style at Home just after it launched as food editor and is now chief sub editor for Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors.

With contributions from