Small hallway ideas – simple decorating tricks to maximise a small entrance

Embrace the phrase 'small is beautiful' with these welcoming small hallway ideas that are sure to make the most of a tiny space
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  • With clever small hallway ideas, a compact space no longer needs to feel problematic when it comes to decorating and furnishing. It can be a wonderfully welcoming space filled with smart storage and thoughtful decorative touches.

    The hallway is often one of the most neglected spaces in our homes – a dumping ground for shoes, coats, post, keys and all the other general paraphernalia grabbed at the last minute when leaving the house. Yet, as the first area of your home to greet guests it is worth spending the time and effort to ensure your hallway has instant wow factor.

    Small hallway ideas

    When considering decor for a small entryway, it is best to stick to a neutral colour scheme on walls and floors to enhance the feeling of light and space. Then inject colour with artwork, flowers and decorative ornaments.

    Hardwearing flooring is a good hallway idea as it is such a high traffic area, so wood and stone are practical choices. Then simply add a mat or rug for people to wipe their feet on.

    Painted walls are a popular option in the hallway as they are easier to touch up if the walls get scuffed and marked. But if you want a hallway wallpaper, pick a subtle pattern that will add interest without being overwhelming to the compact space.

    Increase the sense of space in your entrance hall and make a fabulous first impression with these inspiring small hallway ideas.

    1. Conceal clutter from sight

    white hallway with wall of elevated storage

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Jo Henderson

    Firstly it’s important to clear the clutter. Concealing all items will instantly help to make a narrow hallway look wider, simply because your eye won’t be distracted. Coordinating storage with the wall colour will ensure the small space is kept streamlined.

    2. Choose plenty of practical storage

    Dark grey hallway with plenty of storage room and hanging rails

    Image credit: IKEA

    Invest in some practical hallway storage ideas and solutions such as a seat with built-in storage, a console table with handy drawers, boxes or baskets, and of course a hanging rail or pegs for the coats and hats.

    There is a wide range of choices available, from modern streamlined furniture to antique trunks. So whatever style you are looking for, you are bound to find something to cater for your needs.

    ‘Adding clever storage to your hallway makes it easier for everyone to make that stress-free dash out of the house,’ says Clotilde Passalacqua, Interior Design Manager at IKEA UK and Ireland.

    ‘Two-in-one furniture, like the PINNIG bench with shoe storage really comes in handy when you want to optimise a small hallway, whilst wall-mounted hooks will help you take advantage of the full height of your ceiling.’

    3. Welcome more light with a mirror

    A wooden staircase with round mirror and picture ledge

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Kasia Fizer

    It’s one of the oldest styling tricks in the book, but it’s a proven winner! Positioning a mirror on one wall is a good trick as it will bounce the light around and help make the space feel larger. This idea works more effectively in a white hallway or any other light colour, because of the pigment reflecting the light more.

    Any hall mirror idea is always a welcome addition to check your appearance one last time before you leave the house.

    4. Add wall lights to widen the space

    narrow hallway with numbered stairs slim console table and large mirror

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme

    Lighting plays a key role in finishing a room off beautifully. In a small hallway space it’s imperative to ensure there is adequate light to use the compact space to its full potential. ‘The hallway serves a functional purpose, so don’t forget to introduce task lighting or brighter bulbs in areas where needed,’ advises Peter Legg, Lead Designer, där lighting.

    In a small, narrow hallway consider wall lights to add more ambient lighting to open up the space. Staggered wall lights will draw the eye outwardly to the point of focus, as if stretching the walls to feel further apart. Pair wall lights with directional overhead lights to ensure the space is well lit.

    5. Elevate storage to free up the floor plan

    A blue hallway with a shelf and mirror

    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Being able to see more of the floor will automatically make any room feel more generous, particularly a small hallway area. Choose slim, wall-mounted cabinets to elevate storage off the floor and use the vertical space instead. This handy IKEA hack shows how hallway shoe storage can double as a storage shelf too, to keep bits and bobs to hand.

    6. Make a feature of coats and boots

    Hallway with bench wall hooks and yellow pegboard print wallpaper

    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Embracing the ‘clutter’ makes a small space feel less encroaching. A fun peg board-style hallway wallpaper idea creates a sense of purpose on one wall. Paired with a simple peg rail and attractive baskets the space becomes immediately identifiable as the place to store garments, nothing more.

    A handy bench provides an elevated seating area, where the baskets can be neatly stowed underneath making the best use of limited space.

    7. Revel in the practicality of smart shelving

    A white hallway with a mirror a small wall cabinet

    Image credit: A Place For Everything

    A simple shelf, above concealed storage units, provides the perfect place for keys, welcoming vases of flowers and family photos to give your small hallway a touch of personality.

    Mirrors are always a great idea for small spaces, to reflect light. In a hallway they become even more valuable to quickly check your hair before you leave the house. A mirror with a shelf  in a hallway, well that’s just magic! You get the light, the reflection and a place to pop things to remember or keepsakes to display. Win, win.

    8. Maximise space with bespoke storage

    A grey and white built in shelving unit with coat pegs and a bench

    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore/Ideal Home

    Maximise the decorative potential of storage by choosing built-in open units instead of those with doors. Place against a wallpapered wall – here, a grey geometric pattern not only makes a fresh backdrop, but turns each section of the storage unit into an attractive separate storage zone.

    Introduce a zingy secondary colour for added up-to-date style. And why not get the children involved with low level hooks just for them? Alongside signature yellow, use black and white accessories to make the space homely.

    9. Single out a wall for pattern

    A hallway with a yellow feature wall wallpaper and open storage unit

    Image credit: David Brittain/Country Homes & Interiors

    Add a summery feel to your hallway with a splash of sunshine. The area under these stairs would be a dark, uninteresting space if it wasn’t for the uplifting flash of yellow wallpaper that cheers the room up no end.

    A yellow bin, cleverly used as shoe storage, adds a modern twist. Mix the tones from sunflower to sand with a standalone bench and coat hook in warming beech wood.

    Buy now: Wallpaper, Cow Parsley, Cole & Son Contemporary Selection Wallpaper Collection, £100 per roll, Wallpaper Direct

    10. Add a sense of depth with a stair runner

    A narrow stairway with a runner leading to a grey textured wall

    Image credit: Polly Eltes/Country Homes & Interiors

    Look to the stairs to help open up an internal staircase. Hallways with steps that have a solid wall rather than open balusters can be among the trickiest of spaces to decorate. Make the most of this tiny space by making a feature of the stairs.

    The stripped back oak staircase in this grey hallway is a thing of beauty, and it provides a visual contrast to the grey painted wall panelling either side. Fit a smart stair runner with a strong linear stripe that draws the eye upwards to the light-filled landing above.

    11. Step up with colour

    A white hallway with wooden flooring and painted blue and yellow stairs

    Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies/Style at Home

    Liven up a space-poor hallway with painted stairs. Less is so much more in this modern scheme. Go for a striking blue paint on staircase risers and draw attention to them with brilliant white treads and backdrop.

    Bring in a contrasting accent shade and use in just two places: a single riser at the top of the stairs and a feature pendant light. This works particularly well in vibrant, life-giving yellow. Finish with a large gilt mirror. Perfect.

    12. Utilise every inch of space

    A small white hallway bench seat with clothes pegs and patterned cushions

    Image credit: David Giles/Ideal Home

    Use the dead space at the end of a narrow hallway to house an inviting bench. This clever idea makes great use of otherwise unused space. Build a straight bench, or take the opportunity to use the space for storage by adding a hinged lid.

    It’s perfect for hiding away unsightly shoes and also visually elongates the small space. Cover a cushion pad in a subtle patten to blend in with the neutral scheme.

    13. Turn small into cosy

    Grey hallway with bench and coat hooks above

    Image credit: Rachel Whiting/Country Homes & Interiors

    Maximise the ‘snug’ factor in a narrow hallway. For a country feel, bring furniture and storage together for a look that suggests relaxed rather than cluttered. Separate two tones of soft blue on walls with a classic unpainted dado rail that picks up on the natural wood finish of a bench for a rustic edge.

    Soften with textured cushions and hang traditional hooks for coats and hats so they can be seen rather than hidden. Use the space under the bench to display authentic accessories to complete the intimate scheme.

    14. Fake a window with a view

    A grey hallway with a window pane mirror and bronze lamp

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Reflect light with a display of interesting mirrors. Small hallways often lack windows so mirrors are the classic light-enhancing solution. Popular window pane designs help to add to the illusion by welcoming light, with the design breaking up the sections of mirror so it becomes less obvious as a standard mirror.

    15. Make a statement with artwork

    Staircase with black painted bannister and photo wall gallery

    Image credit: David Giles

    Make a plain staircase interesting by creating your very own gallery display. Paint the area immediately behind the pictures in brilliant white, sure to draw the eye. Then hang your chosen collection of framed prints and artwork. Choose a mixture of gilt, white and black frames to reflect the diversity of your collection.

    16. Tap into cherished country

    A wooden chest of drawers next to a coat stand holding clothing and scarves

    Image credit: David Brittain/Country Homes & Interiors

    Combine three wood finishes to give a hallway simple yet elegant style. Line walls with white painted tongue-and-groove panelling to keep the space bright and open. Then bring in an easy-on-the-eye oak chest of drawers and a classic black painted coat stand for vintage charm.

    Give the space personality with personal accessories and a pretty jug of colourful flowers.

    17. Realise the potential of plants

    Grey wood panelling behind a small wooden console table with plants on it

    Image credit: Future / Jo Henderson

    If your hallway is too small to house large pieces of statement furniture, you may still have the space to fit a narrow console, ledge or shelf – or make use of a windowsill if you have one. Think about the decorative possibilities of potted plants. Select them according to their sculptural shape and size and use pots and planters for the colour elements.

    Create a line of jolly specimens that will be as pretty as any picture. What’s more, you can swap and change individual plants or pots when the mood takes you.

    18. Aim for easy elegance

    A small hallway in white and light blue with a wall mirror and radiator

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore/Style at Home

    Initiate a warm welcome with a stylishly simple decorating scheme. Create an inviting hallway with a backdrop of soothing green walls and tasteful cream woodwork.

    Pick out typical hallway furniture, like the mirror, console and decorative hallway lighting idea shown here, to work in unison to create a familiar and homely vibe. Continue the co-ordinated scheme with cream accessories, such as a jug and lantern.

    What should be in a small hallway?

    This depends on who lives in the home. But generally speaking all small hallways should have a place to safely keep keys (out of reach of letterboxes) and minimum storage which offers maximum potential. Hall hooks are perfect for small hallways to give more freedom on where you hang items – i.e above a radiator, where you might not be able to fit a storage unit.

    How do you make a small hallway look good?

    ‘We are all familiar with the saying ‘first impressions count’ and a hallway is no different!’ says Emmie Brookman, Interiors Expert and Creative Director at Silver Mushroom. ‘Often hallways are the most neglected room in our homes because they lack natural light and tend to be on the smaller side.’

    ‘Adding a large mirror is one way to create the illusion of a larger space, and also reflects any natural light coming in,’ she advises.

    ‘Hallways are there to be used, so thinking about the practicality of storing your items is important. Console tables are great for hallways as they’re thin and handy for popping keys and post on. This can then be decorated with a vase and some flowers to brighten it up.’

    Adding thoughtful paint colours and a decorative wallpaper will work wonders to make a small hallway look good. Just ensure colour and pattern are balanced within the small space to avoid it feeling even smaller.

    Will you be trying any of these smart, small hallway ideas?

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