The 5 lighting tricks to make a narrow hallway look bigger - how the experts create the illusion of a grander entrance

Lighting experts share their top tips for illuminating a narrow hallway in style

Hallway with green stair runner on painted white stairs.
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Working out how to light a narrow hallway is the reality for many of us, trying to turn a small home and slither of corridor into our dream entrance. But while you might have had to sacrifice many home decor choices when planning your narrow hallway ideas, lighting is the one area to can have some fun with. 

Every home needs good hallway lighting ideas, no matter whether it's big or small. While there are a few guidelines you need to follow in a narrow space they're the perfect spot to add a bit of stylish flair without encroaching on any precious floor space.

Firstly, you need to consider the current lighting in your space. If your front door has windows or a top light your goal should be to accentuate this natural light with reflective materials and colours. However, if you need to know how to lighten a dark hallway you might need to consider more than one lighting solution, alongside some other design tricks.

How to light a narrow hallway

The next stage is choosing a lighting option that will make a statement without making the space feel small and oppressive. As a general rule of thumb, you want to draw the eye upwards. 

'Think about the proportions of the space you are working with - with a narrow hallway you need to work vertically, try to avoid dado rails and picture rails which will elongate the space,' says Claire Pendarves, Independent lighting consultant for The Soho Lighting Company.

1. Opt for a statement ceiling light

Hallway with navy accents and large pendant light.

(Image credit: Future)

The simplest way to draw the eye up is with a statement ceiling light. If you have dreams of a grand Victorian entranceway, the good news is you can still live out this fantasy to an extent when planning the lighting in a narrow hallway. 

A bold light fixture such as an oversized pendant or chandelier can all look great in a narrow hallway. Make them the focal point of the hallway to fake a grander entrance. 

'Consider multi pendant lighting. These will serve as beautiful focal points, whilst maximising headroom and providing ample light. Opting for intricate designs made from materials such as glass, wood, or metal, will add a unique charm adding character to a narrow hallway space,' adds Mara Rypacek Miller, Managing Director and Founder at Industville.

Opt for a lighting fixture that casts as much light around the space as possible. 'It's key to utilise a light design that will cast light around the space, not just downwards,' explains Claire. Our advice would be to stick to glass lighting fixtures that cast light out from all angles.

2. Incorporate downlights

Narrow hallway with mirrors and pictures

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Alternatively, you can use downlights or picture lights to help draw the eye upwards. 'A series of tilted downlights can work well when angled towards the walls, helping to draw the eye upwards. This will give the visual illusion of widening the space, especially when illuminating pictures,' says Claire Pendarves.

The downside of downlights is on average they will cost around £300 to £400 to be installed by an electrician. However, you can fake the look for less with a spotlight bar from a high street store. These usually cost under £100, and an electrician will usually cost less than £100 to fit it.

3. Consider LED lighting

a hallway with a black front door, a large round mirror and a ceiling light above

(Image credit: Philips Hue)

'An alternative option is to explore coving that houses linear LED lighting, helping to cast light upwards and reflect off the ceiling,' says Claire Pendarves.

 Kelly Collins, Interior Designer and Head of Creative at Swyft also recommends this approach saying: 'If you have a relatively modern home, you can add lighting in the ceiling architrave to help exaggerate the ceiling height and create more space.'

Again you can have this professionally fitted, but LED lighting strips are now easily available from places such as Amazon that you can fit yourself. Many of these options have the added perk of being controlled by a remote and are sticky-backed for easy installation. 

4. Choose wall lights over lamps

White narrow hallway with pictures and mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Table lamps and floor lamps have their place but it's not in a narrow hallway. 'When lighting a narrow hallway it is key to draw the eye level up to help make the hallway appear more spacious. Instead of using floor lamps or putting lights on a console table, I'd suggest saving space and going with beautiful simple and long wall lights,' recommends Kelly Collins at Swyft.

Keep your wall lights simple and streamlined, ideally sitting flush against the wall. If you have space for a console you can consider including a lamp, but there is an art to it. 'Opt for slim-profile table lamps on cabinets or stylish wall-mounted lamps that add flair without eating into your valuable walking space,' recommends Mara Rypacek Miller, Managing Director and Founder at Industville.

5. Partner with mirrors

Hallway with green stair runner on painted white stairs.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Hallway mirror ideas are essential in a narrow hallway, they will help make a narrow hallway look bigger, but also double the impact of any lighting you include. However, placement is key.

'Avoid placing a mirror at the end of the space as this will also draw the eye to the narrowness of the hallway rather than the height,' warns Claire Pendarves. 

Instead, position the mirror in a strategic spot to maximise the light and size of the space. The best spot will usually be by the front door so it reflects the light onto the door where you need it, and has instant impact when you walk in. 

Get the look


How much light do you need in a narrow hallway?

In a narrow hallway, you want maximum brightness, but a warm and welcoming glow. You will need to invest in the correct light bulb to achieve this. 'I usually recommend 2700K temperature and a CRI of 90+ to give maximum brightness,' recommends Claire Pendarves. 

It really is amazing the transformation the right light fitting can have on a narrow hallway, so take your time to find the right one. We promise the payoff will be huge.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.