How to decorate a period hallway - 10 expert tips to create a stunning entryway

Your period hallway is a defining feature of your home. Not only does it provide a practical entryway, but also sets the tone for the house beyond

hallway with wooden flooring and navy painted staircase paired with striped grey stair runner
(Image credit: Original Style)

When it comes to figuring out how to decorate a period hallway, the main challenge is to brighten and expand the look and feel of the space. From choosing the right colours for your period hallway to finding the right storage options, each decision will be informed by the heritage and style of your home. 

Despite being one of the smallest rooms in your house, your hallway ideas define the look and feel of your home, giving guests a valuable first impression. It is not only seen by friends and family but also by anyone who rings the doorbell. Therefore, it is vital that this space is chic and sophisticated, expressing your personality and providing the perfect introduction to your home beyond. 

How to decorate a period hallway

Period hallways are characterised by their small footprint – especially when it comes to small hallway ideas – which means that you only have a few pieces of furniture at your disposal. Therefore, you must choose each piece carefully and ensure that it earns its place in your hallway design. To help, we have asked interior designers for their top tips on curating an impactful period hallway.

1. Elongate your hallway with statement tiles

checkerboard flooring in decorative hallway

(Image credit: Original Style)

Durability is the keyword for hallway flooring ideas. Tiles, stone flooring and engineered wood are all viable options, but for decorative flair, tiles are a natural choice. In this elegant hallway, a chequerboard design bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary.

‘Black and white is an effortless combination and can be used in any environment to great effect. It can act as grounding for a more vibrant scheme to provide a point of contrast, it can be minimalist or it can be patterned and striking in its own right,' explains Emma Hughes, studio manager at Original Style. 'For a maximalist look, we love pairing a bold checkerboard floor with bright wallpaper, bold colours and eclectic accessories.' 

2. Channel vintage chic with your wallpaper

decorative blue and cream wallpaper in hallway with vintage sideboard

(Image credit: Lucie Annabel)

As an occasional space, the hallway is the perfect place to make a statement and go bold with your interior design. Wallpaper is the best way to achieve an instant hit of character and it can also inform your hallway colour schemes.

‘These spaces are often narrow and don’t get a lot of light, so it is best to keep colours bright to ensure the space feels as large and airy as possible. Small repeating patterns help to create the illusion that a wall is bigger, whereas horizontal stripes help to make walls appear taller,’ explains Chelsea Clark, head of brand at Lucie Annabel

Pair your period hallway wallpaper ideas with panelling to break up the pattern and ensure the space doesn’t feel too busy. 

3. Showcase your favourite artwork

gallery wall in hallway with five pictures console table and chair

(Image credit: Kate Guinness)

Artwork is an easy way to make a bold statement in a period hallway. ‘Given that most hallways are narrow, large pieces of art are often unable to be properly appreciated in these spaces. Gallery wall ideas are a great solution as you can group together smaller treasures that are all wonderful to look at individually when passing through, but also create a pleasing picture together,’ says interior designer Kate Guinness

‘I personally like the asymmetrical/off-centre look so as not to look staged. I love juxtaposing contemporary works of art and vintage textiles with antique and mid-century furniture to create lived-in spaces that are anchored by timeless details.’

4. Dress a console table with elegant decor

hallway console table with storage mirror and lamp

(Image credit: Oka)

A console table is a hallway must-have and will provide a practical storage point for keys while also serving as an opportunity to dress the space. 

‘I love the idea of decorating with a statement lamp – such as this Miyanoura design from Oka –  it’s such a simple way to bring a pop of colour and create a welcoming ambience at the same time. If you have a favourite artwork or rug in your period hallway, I’d suggest picking out a few key colours and choosing accessories in complementary tones – a selection of vases, for example, with some faux flowers or stems, will bring a little personality to your space. Think of it as the perfect introduction to your home,’ says Sue Jones, co-founder of Oka.

Opt for a design with drawers underneath or pair an open design with large baskets to maximise the hallway storage ideas.

5. Add warmth and pattern with a door curtain

decorative botanical green door curtain in hallway

(Image credit: Sanderson)

Creating a warm welcome can be a challenge in a period home. Stone floors and draughty doors combine to create a chill that can be difficult to beat. This is where a door curtain really comes into its own. 

Lined with wool or similar thermal material, a door curtain reduces draughts and helps to insulate the space, while the pretty pattern also brings a textural edge to the space. Opt for light colours to keep your period hallway feeling bright and airy.

You can get designs custom-made by many fabric or curtain manufacturers, or alternatively, you can learn how to make a door curtain and undertake a fun DIY project.

6. A place to sit is a must

hallway with flagstone slate floor natural material rug with dog sat on rug and antique monks bench seating coat hung on the back of white door

(Image credit: Future)

A spot to sit is essential in a period hallway, especially if you want to avoid dirty shoes being traipsed through the house. While a singular chair would do the job a charming monk's bench is perfect for a rustic interior. Not only does it provide multiple spots to sit but the lift-up seat offers excellent hallway shoe storage, helping to keep your hallway clutter free. 

7. Incorporate vintage furniture

hallway with green door and stained glass with aged vintage wire table and chair

(Image credit: Future)

When you only have the space for one or two items of furniture, they really need to pack a punch; buying second-hand furniture and decorating with antiques is an easy way to give hallways the wow factor.

‘Long spaces lend themselves to interesting architectural pieces which may not be practical in other parts of the house, old cinema chairs or fragile vintage garden furniture are a superb example, while possibly not comfy enough for a seat in the lounge they make perfect sense in a period hallway as they take up little space and are extremely practical when it comes to taking shoes on and off!’ advises Hayley Wallis, founder of Ivy Joan.

8. Add panelling for instant hit of period charm

hallway with blue tongue and grooved panelled walls and cream walls

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Hallway paint ideas and hallway wall panelling ideas provide the perfect balance of contemporary colour and period charm – plus it is a very easy hallway transformation.

‘Panelling in a period hallway gives a delightfully fresh look and adds buckets of character. Paint with a satin paint as the soft sheen will provide the required durability,’ says Annie Sloan, colour and paint expert. Panelling is also a great way to visually break up a long hallway.

‘When it comes to shades, blue is a great choice. Blue is a ‘recessive’ colour meaning it draws the eye outwards, creating the feeling of space which will make the space feel larger. Avoid blues which are too pale, as this will feel insipid and unwelcoming.’ 

Featured is Annie Sloan’s Cambrian Blue Satin paint.

9. Maximise natural light to brighten the space

hallway with stone floor and runner leading into living room through open door and internal full height decorative window

(Image credit: Future)

Often lacking windows, period hallways have a reputation for being dark spaces and while artificial lighting can help to combat this, measures to improve natural light will make your hallway feel warmer and brighter while also helping to integrate it into your home. 

Front door designs with glazing or fanlights are a great way to increase the light –  something that is vital in narrow hallway ideas. Pair with hallway mirror ideas which will then help to bounce this natural light through the space. 

Opting for semi or totally-glazed doors or even adding internal windows leading into the rooms beyond can be transformative, flooding the space with natural light from otherwise closed-off windows, as seen in this elegant space.

Adding glazed areas will prove most effective when paired with white hallway ideas.

10. Don't forget the stairs

hallway with wooden flooring and navy painted staircase paired with striped grey stair runner

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

While wooden stairs are a beautiful choice, they do present a slip risk, especially if you have younger or older family members often ascending and descending the steps. 

Decorative as well as practical, a hallway runner or stair runner adds a textural depth to the space and brings your staircase into your interior design. Featured is the beautiful Finchley Stone 100 per cent wool flatweave runner from Roger Oates.

What colours look good on Victorian hallway?

Moody blues, deep reds, forest greens and mustard colours all look good in a Victorian hallway. 'As Victorian hallways are typically small spaces, being bold with colour can create an impact and a grand welcome for your guests, don’t be afraid to experiment a little!' says Jessica Clayworth, lead designer of Morris & Co

'Often, we see wood panelling or a dark oak finish which is complemented by rich painted walls or a bold wallpaper. Colours such as deep reds, chalky greens or mustard yellows create a dramatic entrance while keeping it homely,' adds Jessica Clayworth. 

'Alternatively, many adopt a more modern scheme for their Victorian hallway, sticking to pastels or a monochrome palette. This can easily brighten up the space while keeping in line with the traditional features in the home.'

How do you dress up a boring hallway?

The best way to dress up a boring hallway is to add colour. Patterned wallpaper or rich hues will breathe elegance and life into an otherwise bland space. Panelling is a great way to elevate the space a step further.

Holly Reaney
Content Editor

Holly is one of Ideal Home’s content editors. Starting her career in 2018 as a feature writer and sub-editor for Period Living magazine, she has continued this role also adding regular features for Country Homes & Interiors and the Ideal Home website to her roster.  Holly has a passion for traditional and country-inspired interiors – especially kitchen design – and is happiest when exploring the countryside and hills of the Lake District. A keen gardener, she is a strong believer that you can never have too many houseplants.