Long hallway ideas – 10 ways to make the most of your space

Need to make a long hallway more interesting? Try these easy design savvy ideas to make it appear wider

Hallway full of patterned with wallpaper, patterned floor tiles and spotty carpet on the stairs
(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

Hallways are tricky spaces to get right; they need to be practical, almost the epicentre of family life, then add to this the fact hallways are often tricky spaces to decorate, with multiple doors coming off, different materials in use and awkward shapes. Long hallways are even more problematic, yet with a little design know-how and confidence, you can make your hallway idea work hard and look good. 

‘I love to use wallcoverings and art to help keep the useable space in a long hallway as ample as possible,’ shares interior designer Camila de Oliveira Rodrigues, founder of COR. ‘You could also create horizontal or diagonal lines to boost the sense of space. A quick solution can be adding a stripes rug, but for a more comprehensive change, you can add a wallpaper or a feature panelling.’

How to make a long hallway look welcoming

Start your own hallway mission by discovering plenty of ideas for hallways, including narrow hallway ideas – and remember, just because your hallway might be long and thin, there are plenty of ways these design tricks can be adapted to suit. From how you use pattern and colour, to ways with flooring and storage solutions, you’ll never view a long narrow hallway as a problem again.

1. Break up with colour

White hallway with blue painted stairs and warm wood flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Matt Clayton)

Use colour to bring stairs of a long hallway visually closer. Dark colours can visually push things away, so choose a mid-to-pale shade for the stairs. If you have ceramic tiles at the front door, then choose a colour from the design, so the space flows through. When looking at how to paint a staircase, choose a hardwearing floor paint, which is designed to be non-slip. 

If you have a wall at the back of your staircase then try a cut-through section, which will allow you to see the room beyond and benefit from additional natural light. A large mirror can also achieve a similar result.

2. Zone your long hallway

White hallway with grid of wall-mounted shoe storage cabinets, with accessories displayed on top

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

With a long hallway, you can divide the length up, creating zones. This will help the space feel less of a long ‘through’ room. Try a shoe area, with wall-mounted storage a great space-saving solution, a section for coats, and even a console table that can function as a launch pad for those essentials you need to take with you when leaving the house.

Create pockets of interest down a long hallway, utilising the tops of storage for a vase display, a section of wall for a picture gallery, and a textured rug underfoot.

3. Be bold with colour

Hallway full of patterned with wallpaper, patterned floor tiles and spotty carpet on the stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

In a long hallway, use a pop of colour at one end to draw the eye away from the corridor effect. This bright pink lampshade leads the eye to the console on the left, rather than straight down to the living room at the other end, which makes the space feel wider than it is. Good hallway lighting ideas are a must in a successful hallway scheme – it’s often the most poorly lit room in the house, so make sure you have lighting from a number of different sources. 

A long hallway can be a great place to use pattern as there’s plenty of opportunity to appreciate the design of a patterned wallpaper, tiled floor, or snazzy stair carpet. If you are using lots of patterns, keep woodwork and walls simple – white and/or black will help isolate the different designs.

4. Use the same pattern

White hallway with geo style bold wallpaper on the walls and a natural flooring stair runner with red edging

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

A long hallway can be a great opportunity to use a hero wallpaper – we’ve plenty of decorating tips for hallway wallpaper ideas, and if your hallway has lots of traffic or you’ve small children, then consider papering above a dado rail, painting below. This lower section can easily be touched up if knocked or scraped. 

By using the wallpaper on the lower and upper walls of a hallway, you also lead the eye up rather than down the length of a long space.

5. Keep to monochrome

White hallway with stairs carpeted in black

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Long hallways are often narrow which can make them even trickier to decorate. Try a simple black and white scheme, with touches of luxe, such as a velvet-pile carpet and shimmering metallics. 

With the stairs such a focal point of this long, narrow hallway, a stairway runner as your stairway carpet idea makes the stairs appear wider than a carpet running stair edge to stair edge would. 

6. Break up with a runner

Hallway with colourful kilim runner

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tyson Sadlo)

Use a rug to create a room-within-a-room in a long hallway. Here, a kilim-style runner sections off a slightly wider section of the hallway, making a neat desk spot. The temptation with a runner is to fill the length of a space but stopping short can make a long hallway appear shorter. 

Use a runner to bring in warmth, with burnt oranges, reds, and ochres lovely colours for an otherwise cool hallway. Pick out one or two shades for accessories – look at how the chair pad and flowers echo the runner’s colours.

7. Use a long hallway for a gallery

Light grey hallway with wooden floors and a gallery wall in black frames

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Make your long hallway a place to stop and enjoy family moments with a gallery wall. Choose the same frames for each photo and space them uniformly down both sides – this look is all about a crisp, sharp display. 

Take the same herringbone wood flooring through from a long hallway into the room beyond; this will help the rooms flow into each other, rather than stop abruptly at a change of flooring.

8. Paint a pattern on the floor

White hallway with dark grey panelling and front door, and hallway painted with stencils

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

A long hallway can be an expensive area when it comes to hallway flooring ideas. If choosing carpet, unless you have a join, there will be lots of wastage. One option is to paint the original floorboards, but if they run from the door downwards, this can end up exasperating the problem of a long hallway. Try a diamond design, which will add a sense of width by breaking up the floorboards’ length.

Choose a hardwearing non-slip paint for such a project, echoing the colour on panelling and the front door. 

9. Choose flexible pieces

White hallway with wooden flooring and a pink painted front door

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

A long, narrow hallway idea needs to be flexible. If you’ve fitted cupboards or shelves, then moving larger pieces of furniture or hosting a crowd can be a tight squeeze. Look for freestanding items, such as a bench (which can double up as extra seating) and a tall plant stand.

Try hanging an unusual pendant light in your hallway, which will obscure the length of your hallway when looking down, away from the door. 

10. Don't scrimp on furniture size

Dark grey hallway with wooden console unit for display and storage

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

In a long hallway, make sure your furniture is in proportion to the length of the hallway. You’ll not only value the extra display and bits-and-bobs space a large console will give you, but it will also help the space to feel balanced too. 

Likewise, don’t scrimp with artwork – the walls of a long hallway are made for being bold with canvases and prints and will visually break up the length too. Try a dark grey hallway idea to give both furniture and artwork a chic background in your hallway. 

How should I decorate a long hallway?

‘The hallway is your guests' first impression of the home and the room that will welcome you every time you get home,’ says Camila de Oliveira Rodrigues, founder of COR. With a long hallway, decide whether you want to make a feature of its length or disguise it? Do you want to lead the eye down and away from the door (in which case paint the walls the same colour), or create moments for the eye to stop and pause, like a photo gallery halfway down? 

‘Light and airy can help make a long, narrow hallway seem bigger, but try using pattern on the floor to help create a welcoming space and trick the eye into seeing more depth,’ says Grant Robertson, Interior Design Leader, IKEA UK & Ireland.

‘Wallpapers are also a great way to create a unique hallway,’ says Camila de Oliveira Rodrigues, founder of COR. ‘They can also be used to create lines and mind-trick effects when needed, such as making a long hallway feel cosier.’

What should you put at the end of a long hallway?

Again, this depends on if you want to make a feature of its length. If you can’t see into the room at the bottom, then try adding an extra light source, such as a mirror or even a cut-way section into the room at the end. A console table will provide you with a great styling moment, but make sure this can be seen from the front door, going large on table lamps, vases and foliage. If you haven’t space for a console, then try a feature wallpaper or large piece of art – you are looking for a reason for someone to walk down the hallway.

Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan is an award-winning editor, writer and stylist, with over 25 years’ experience writing, styling and editing home interest magazines. Jennifer was the deputy editor of Ideal Home from 2008-2010, before launching Ideal Home’s sister title, Style at Home in 2010. Jennifer went on to launch several craft magazines and websites, before going freelance in 2016, with a client list that includes John Lewis, Dunlem and Nordic House. Today, she writes for Ideal Home, Real Homes, Waitrose, Woman & Home, Sainsbury’s Magazine and Homes & Gardens. But it was during lockdown that Jennifer realised her dream of publishing her own magazine – Simply Scandi.