How to make a narrow hallway look wider with paint tricks and clever styling

Creative ideas to make a narrow entryway feel bigger

A narrow hallway is one of the trickiest areas of the home to know how best to decorate. If your hallway is lacking in space and light you might be seeking ideas on how to make a narrow hallway look wider perhaps? Look no further, we explore simple styling tricks and ask paint experts to share their imaginative ideas to make small entranceways feel bigger.

Thoughtful paint tricks and savvy storage ideas can go a long way for creating a sense of space, even if it's not actually there in an existing narrow hallway idea.

How to make a narrow hallway look wider

Problematic small hallways are the perfect space to experiment with more daring paint ideas. 'To avoid the feeling of being hugged by an over friendly bear in a narrow hallway you need to keep the colours pale and the light source multi- directional' advises Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux (opens in new tab).

'Pale colours make small spaces appear bigger.' However don't fret if your are looking to go for on-trend saturated colours, the right paint idea can make darker tones work just as well.

Whatever your style and colour palette, a clutter-free entry that makes you smile every time you arrive home is the ultimate goal for any hallway idea.

Read on to find out how to make a narrow hallway look wider and more generous in size.

1. Drench the space if going for dark colours

Navy blue hallway with artwork on wall and floor

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If choosing trending dark paints shades, such as navy blue, almost black and charcoal greys it's best to go all-in. by this we mean 'colour drenching', a term which has emerged time and time again with current paint trends. It simply means painting all surfaces, walls to skirting boards and even ceilings.

'Dark colours can have magical effects in a hallway if you drench everything from floor to ceiling in the same colour,' advises Marianne. 'Have great lighting and loads of artwork to bring it to life.'

'The visual effect blends all the corners and walls together and so you feel like the space is endless. It’s not for the fainthearted though and so if you are not a huge fan of dramatic impact, proceed with caution and opt for mid tone rather than really deep shades.'

2. Declutter to add a sense of space

white hallway with wall of elevated storage

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jo Henderson)

A tidy space will always feel bigger in size, whether in the home. Especially a narrow entranceway because the small hallway area is not unnecessarily overwhelmed by items that block the path navigating through.

Of course the more streamlined a hallway space the better the light quality too, which goes a long way when it comes to making the space feel wider and more forgiving.

Opt for minimal storage firstly, so avoid any tables or racks you don't deem 'essential'. Keep items concealed within whatever storage you choose to ensure coats and shoes etc don't distract the eye when entering the narrow hall space. Elevate storage where you can to keep the entire floor visible to enlarge the floor plan.

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3. Create a waist height divide with contrasting colours

White hallways with navy blue painted below dado, wooden draw and s

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Using two contrasting colours to divide walls is a classic interior designer trick to push the ceiling away – affectively creating the illusion that the space is bigger than it is. Renowned interior designer Kelly Hoppen favours this genius idea for painting narrow hallways – to make the space feel bigger. Recommending, 'paint along the hallway but only to your waist level' Kelly expertly advises.

Going on to explain the theory behind why you only paint the bottom half the wall in a narrow space, 'by doing that you're framing it (the space).' This smart use of colour helps to break up a solid corridor of walls.

In a particularly narrow hallway paint the lower half of the wall slightly less than waist height – especially if using a dark colour. This will avoid the darker tone from overpowering and having the reverse effect to making the corridor-like space feel more open.

4. Go all-white with the colour scheme

White hallway with console table with matching silver lamps

(Image credit: Future PLC/ James French)

If in doubt with bolder colours, flow Marianne's failsafe advice and keep the colour pale. Nothing is better than the best white paint for a bright white hallway idea, determined by how much natural light the narrow hallway gets throughout the day. Add multi- directional light sources to enhance the all-white colour scheme after the daylight has faded.

5. Paint the wall furthest away in a richer shade

White hallway with dark grey feature wall with round mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Get creative with an alternative feature wall idea. 'A great trick for making a long narrow corridor bigger is to paint the walls in a really pale colour (or white) and the farthest wall in a much richer colour' suggest Marianne.

'The deep colour visually attracts your attention and jumps towards you, making the space feel much grander and expansive.'

6. Add reflection and light with a mirror

White hallway with a green patterned door curtain and rectangle mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Mirrors are a great design solution for many interior problems, especially when it comes to making small spaces feel bigger. A hall mirror idea is a simple yet brilliantly effective way to welcome light to a hallway space. The lighter and brighter a narrow hallway feels the less enclosed and small it will appear.

A simple mirror also welcomes a reflection back into the small space, which can help to wider the perspective of the limited area.

7. Choose cool shades of blue and green

Pale blue and white narrow hallway with three coats hanging up on wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jamie Mason)

Consider a cool hallway colour scheme to open up the space. 'Cool shades like soft blues and greens make it look bigger still because they visually recede' says Marianne. 'Which means the walls they are painted on look a little further away from us.'

This tromp l'oeil effect will alter the perspective, making a narrow hall appear wider and more generous in size. Be sure to keep the accessories and storage elements to a minimum, to avoid covering too much of the cool coloured walls.

8. Give one wall depth with panelling

A narrow white and grey hallway with stencilled floorboards and big grey door

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Another way to take this paint trick even further is to add an on-trend wall panelling idea. On just one wall is most effective, as this hallway example shows - it helps to shift the balance of the narrow space. As if pushing one wall away from the other, the decorative detail is tricking the eye into thinking the space between the two walls is far greater.

9. Illuminate the space well

A hallway with black and white striped wallpaper, black flooring and black pendant lights

(Image credit: IKEA)

A well lit space will always look better for having the right lighting in place. A well-planned hallway light idea will ensure a narrow hallway feels more inviting and generous. For immediate hallways, with a corridor like feel aim to place lighting centrally in the ceiling, to create a pool of light in the middle of the space. This idea is to almost push the walls outwardly from the lightest point, making it feel wider.

If the narrow hallway goes immediately up the stairs so the lighting is visible, try wall lights. Lead a path up the flight of stairs with lights on either side to frame the space. The light cast strongly each side is drawing attention and highlighting the stairs. Whereas an overhead light might cast shadows on the walls which in turn draws them in, rather than pushing them away.

10. Try a calming colour combination

Blue painted front door and ceiling in cream hallway

(Image credit: Dulux)

'Try a colour combo like Cornflower White on the top two thirds of the walls and ceiling with a lower band of Dulux Colour of the Year 2022 Bright Skies for the ultimate space expanding experience' suggest Marianne.

Combining two light shades, in whichever way you choose, will ensure the space is bursting with personality but also in brightness – which helps to open up a narrow hallway space.

Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.