Big up these overlooked spaces with clever decorating techniques
1 VISUAL TRICKERY
Let mirrors and paint effects play with the senses
BEST FOR Turning a poky hall into a seemingly spacious room.
DESIGN KNOW-HOW Wide-striped wallpaper placed horizontally works a treat in smaller spaces. To make a hall appear even broader, paint the far wall in a rich accent colour, such as a cobalt blue or charcoal black, so it appears to expand as you advance down the space. Another idea is to paint the doors leading off the hall in a darker shade than the walls.
TRICK OF THE TRADE In small areas, mirrors are your friends – not only will they bounce the light around, they can also make a space seem wider if you place a large-format mirror on one side wall.
Ideally, go for something such as built-in storage with mirrored sliding panelled doors for maximum effect. To lengthen a hallway, put a mirror at the end of the space to draw the eye in.
2 DISPLAY CASE
Turn your entrance hall into a gallery
BEST FOR Adding interest and character to a narrow space.
DESIGN KNOW-HOW Hanging a collection of your favourite artwork or showing off a group of star objects is a fabulous way of turning your hallway from a mere thoroughfare into a lived-in area that has its own personality. It will also add to the illusion of space because of how much more there is to catch the eye.
CLEVER SHORT CUT If your hallway’s particularly narrow, lip shelving is a flexible way of displaying art. Ikea’s Ribba picture ledge is a smart solution at £7.90 for a W115 x D9cm shelf.
3 BRAVE NEW WALLS
Go beyond the pale with a colour-pop design
BEST FOR Creating a sense of surprise in this little-used space.
TRICK OF THE TRADE Unlike many other rooms in the house, you don’t have to contend with loads of existing furniture or architectural details in a hallway, so the walls can be the focus of your scheme. If you have a dado rail, it’s best not to split the wallpaper design – continuity is preferable in corridors, as just wallpapering up to the dado will make the walls seem shorter and the ceiling lower.
LITTLE BLACK BOOK This hallway is by designer Rebekah Caudwell. Fabrics & Papers, Mr Perswall, Wallpaper from the 70s, Rockett St George and Timorous Beasties stock bold and bright wallpapers that will instantly jazz up your space.
4 DOUBLE UP
Make your hallway and landings work harder with dual-purpose solutions
BEST FOR When you don’t have room elsewhere for a study or cellar.
TRICK OF THE TRADE Landings are often left unused, but are definitely worth capitalising on. If you have a window on the landing between two sets of stairs, you could put recessed storage around it.
This area can also be used for a home office or transformed into a concealed study.
CLEVER SHORT CUT If you’re considering installing wine storage, John Lewis offers a pre-ordering measuring service for
£50, which is redeemable against the cost of any of its three bespoke wine-rack ranges. For a non-fitted approach, its 42-bottle rack for £45 is a great solution to install under the stairs.
5 LIGHT THE WAY
Illumination is key to an entrance
BEST FOR Setting the right mood in your hallway day and night.
TRICK OF THE TRADE For a successful lighting scheme, it’s best to layer different types, such as downlighters, strip lighting and floor lights. Using only just downlighters will create a flat, harsh light and make a space seem smaller as no light is reflected off the walls and ceiling. So it’s best to mix these with fittings that will wash the walls and floors with light, especially up stair treads.
LITTLE BLACK BOOK This project is by John Cullen Lighting. Ikea, Häfele and Collingwood Lighting all do linear lighting, which works well recessed into a handrail.
6 EMBRACE THE DARK
Be bold and transform a dingy space with a daring hue
BEST FOR Small, compact hallways with little natural light.
BIGGEST PRO The hall is a transitional space where not much time is spent, so it’s naturally an area of the home where you can afford to be bolder with your colour scheme. A simple navy, red or grey paint is a fail-safe way to add drama without having to do any hard graft.
EXPERT TIP ‘By using a dark colour, you can instantly make other rooms off the hallway seem brighter and bigger,’ says Josephine Rance, marketing director at Farrow & Ball. ‘Just ensure the darker paint is still complementary to the other rooms so that it doesn’t jar.
Try painting a hall in a rich, dark hue, such as Mahogany or Blazer, to create a really dramatic entrance.’ Farrow & Ball also suggests treating your ceiling as a fifth wall by taking the paint up over the cornice and letting it bleed into the ceiling, which will immediately add height.
7. CLOSET CASE
Go for hidden, built-in wardrobes instead of freestanding hall furniture
BEST FOR Making the most of readily available dead space.
EXPERT TIP ‘An under-stair area is ideal for squeezing the most out of your hallway, as these spaces tend to be very deep. Pull-out cabinets are best for easy access, with drawers as well as coat cupboards,’ says Barbara Genda, founder of Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture. ‘We recently did a project where we fitted the washing machine and tumble dryer under the stairs. This still left room for deep pull-out shelves for shoes, plus some coat hooks put on a swivel panel, so you could store plenty of garments, but easily get to the one you wanted.’
LITTLE BLACK BOOK Smart Storage, Holloways of Ludlow and Avar Furniture are all companies that could maximise your under-stair storage potential.
8. RUNNERS UP
Ditch the carpet – stair runners are on the rise
BEST FOR Making a style statement that’s easily updateable.
EXPERT TIP ‘A runner on the staircase can instantly transform a once-dark hall into a warm and inviting space,’ says Roger Oates, founder of eponymous specialist company Roger Oates. ‘Bold, chunky stripes are a popular look right now, especially in hallways, where you can afford to be more daring.
We’ve also seen more customers mixing striped designs with patterned wallpaper.’
LITTLE BLACK BOOK This runner is by Roger Oates. You could also try Alternative Flooring, Crucial Trading and Rug Couture.
9. GET A GRIP
A stylish balustrade is a sign of good design
BEST FOR Making a handsome feature out of your stairwell.
DESIGN KNOW-HOW When deciding on a style of balustrade, hand-forged uprights are always popular with period properties, while glass balustrades are a coveted look for modern homes. Glass may be slick in theory, but sticky fingers can soon change that, so think about the upkeep before you invest. For a quick update, consider feature posts (newels) or tailored bottom treads that can be added to an existing staircase.
EXPERT TIP ‘Halls need as much light as possible and there are many ways of introducing it into a staircase area, be it with a glass balustrade, glass walls, open treads or spotlights set into the wall above each tread,’ says Richard McLane, design director and founder of bespoke staircase maker Bisca. ‘A balustrade follows the line of the staircase, so a single sheet of curved glass, which is possible on a straight flight, may not work on a tightly curved staircase due to the radius. Instead, glass panels or uprights would be best.’
10. ON THE TILES
Hard-wearing and decorative, this flooring is ideal for the most high-traffic area in the house
BEST FOR Adding pattern and colour to a neutral hallway.
TRICK OF THE TRADE If you’re not blessed with a period tiled hall, laying patterned flooring is a great way of injecting personality into the space.
Tiles are especially fab for decorating a small or narrow hall, because, with the pattern at floor level, it’s easier on the eye than a loud wallpaper and will draw the eye along the floor, making the space seem bigger.
LITTLE BLACK BOOK Find decorative tiles at Surface, Fired Earth, Bert & May and Topps Tiles.