Wall panelling ideas for hallways - from country chic to contemporary cool

Add interest and depth to this oft-neglected

Entrance hall and staircase with monochrome flooring and cream panelled walls
(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

From entranceways to long corridors, a hall can be tricky to decorate. A fairly simple but effective way of doing this is through wall panelling ideas for hallways which add subtle patterns and an extra dimension to these spaces.

Although wall panelling ideas work in just about every room in a home adding this design choice to a hall works especially well.

'Panelling is an ideal choice for hallways,' explains Rebecca Northmore, Design Manager, HUX London. 'This is because it can create a solid barrier for the walls and is much easier to maintain - functional as well as being stylish.'

There are all manner of types of panelling. 'Panelling doesn’t have to be limited to the more traditional square framework,' advises Rebecca. 'The classical tongue and groove layout will bring a more relaxed country feel.'

'For a more modern edge then why not play with the proportions of the space; cladding laid in a horizontal direction will widen, and cladding that is laid vertical will elongate. For a truly unique finish why not opt for a deconstructed geometric pattern, this will feel sleek and modern.'

And it's not just shape and depth which come into play. Carefully considering the colour of your panelling can make this decor element work even harder. 

Wall panelling ideas for hallways

Although panels work in many rooms, using wall panelling ideas for hallways can make this space not only more interesting, but actually appear more spacious. 

Plus, as it's a transitory space you can go a little more wild than you might in another area as you'll be less likely to get tired of it. Always a plus!

1. Take it up to the dado rail

White hallway with grey panelled lower half below mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

When you think wall panelling ideas for hallways you might be imagining a full corridor of wooden panels, but that's far from your only option.

Take your panelling up as high as the dado rail so you get the best of both a decorated and a plain wall. This is especially useful in busy hallway ideas as the panelling will cope better than a painted wall with scuffs and everyday wear and tear.

'Painting with a wipeable high quality paint will ensure the area remains fresh and scuff free,' advises Rebecca from HUX London. 'This is so important for areas that are of high traffic such as hallways.'

Paint the two sections in tonal colours for a considered finish, or get colour drenching and coat them both in the same shade.

2. Panel walls and doors

Hallway with blue panelled walls and doors

(Image credit: HUX London)

Panelling doesn't have to stay on just the walls - take it onto your doors, too, to create a cohesive look when closed. Additionally, this technique will help make the space feel larger than it actually is, ideal for small hallway ideas.

'Panelling creates a natural framework and point of interest and detail in a space,' says Rebecca from HUX London, 'The lines can help to draw the eye and elongate the proportions. This can be particularly effective in hallways, making them appear larger and drawing you into the space.'

3. Go for geometrics

Entrance hall and staircase with monochrome flooring and cream panelled walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

Subvert panelling expectations and use the panels to create unique and cool patterns. You can even use these panel sections as zones in their own right. 

For example, one could be the lighting zone - holding both a light and its switch. Other areas could be turned into hidden under stairs storage ideas. You're creating your own design so the possibilities are near endless.

4. Choose a traditional tongue and groove

Entrance hall with white panelled walls, hats and turquoise painted bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ryan Wicks)

It's no surprise that tongue and groove panelling remains as popular as ever. It looks stylish and interesting, but also adds a slightly rustic and wholesome feel to a space.

Classic white hallway ideas works especially well with this, and can create a clean (but not boring!) backdrop for art and other wall decor.

5. Make a panel of wall panels

Wooden wall panel in front of black glass fronted cabinet and white armchair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Why not turn your panels into wall art in their own right? Create a panel made of panels, place on the wall and you've created an easy and effective focal point. 

This is also great if you're dipping your toe into the wall panelling ideas for hallways trend as you can leave it as is or see if you like the effect and want to cover the rest of the walls, too!

6. Colour drench for extra impact

Deep blue green painted panelled hallway and archetrave

(Image credit: Crown)

Panels look great when painted in bold colours - they create interesting shadows which in turn create an extra layer of pattern.

Go one step further and paint your panels, walls, architraves and ceilings for a cool and on-trend colour drench situation. 

'Colour drenching, especially when using darker brave colours, works best in small spaces like hallways,' advises Justyna Korczynska, senior designer, Crown. 'Don’t just think about the walls - putting a new coat of paint on woodwork including stair risers and spindles really helps to freshen and brighten a hallway.'

If adding panels to an unusually shaped area of your hallway, like alongside your staircase ideas, then use the quirks to your advantage.

Place panels to frame the area, and replicate and turns and angles that the staircase wall creates.

6. Disguise storage

Entrance hall boot room area with green panelled walls and doors

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

'Panelling not only has many aesthetic benefits where it gives a sense of character, it also has many practical advantages such as creating much needed storage that can be cleverly concealed within the frame of the panelling,' says Rebecca from HUX London. 

'When planning the layout, why not factor in storage such as a hidden cupboard for shoes, bags and umbrellas, this will ensure a clutter free welcome.'

8. Make it narrow and elegant

Tall cabinet with wallpapered interior in front of white panelled wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

Vertical, narrow tongue and grove wall panels will make your hallway seem taller than it actually is by drawing the eye upwards - especially useful if you have a low ceiling.

While there are a number of materials you can use for panels like this, MDF isn't to be sniffed at.

'MDF is great for panelling as it is cost effective and creates a great finish,' advises Rebecca from HUX London. 'It is also hardwearing which is crucial for an area such as a hallway.'

9. Mirror with shelving

Grey armchair in front of teal panelled bookcase shelving unit

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Create extra depth to panelling by integrating them with built-in storage. Take your wall panels onto the backs of the shelves to create a sense of continuity, but also to add further interest.

You'll see the lines of the regular wall panels, the seemingly smaller panels on the backs, and the lines of the shelves themselves. Painting everything in the same shade will give added impact.

10. Create panelled patterns

Neutral hallway and staircase with wall panelling

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

If adding panels to an unusually shaped area of your hallway, like alongside your staircase ideas, then use the quirks to your advantage.

Place panels to frame the area, and replicate and turns and angles that the staircase wall creates. You'll have unique patterns without needing even a lick of wallpaper.

How do you panel a hallway?

If you're wondering how to panel a wall there are many ways of getting this done. If you're a novice at home improvements, then it's best to consult with a professional.

However, if you're up to the challenge, you can certainly DIY your way to wall panelling ideas for hallways. The simplest form of panelling to opt for is good old tongue and groove. That said, you can go for a quirky take and panel a wall with gutter pipes instead of wood.

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.