Interiors expert Kate Watson-Smyth shares instant hallway update tip that costs nothing

A seven-coats-on-one-peg approach is not welcome here

The hallway is a prime location for clutter to build. Since it's somewhere we're only ever passing through, it can end up looking neglected as we see to other more exciting rooms. But it's the space that welcomes you home after a long day, and you just don't want to be shuffling past bikes, piles of coats, and cardboard boxes. 

Related: 5 hallway decorating mistakes we’re probably all making – how to solve them (opens in new tab)

Interiors writer Kate Watson-Smyth has shared some wise words and hallway ideas (opens in new tab) with us - and one will cost you absolutely nothing.

hallway with black door and orange wall

(Image credit: Oak Furniture Land)

‘My hall is fantastically narrow,' Kate tells Ideal Home. 'I fantasise about a hall table - I don’t even have a shelf. I think a lot of people live like that,' she says. But, as she points out, it's a space that we can't afford to overlook. 'You really must address it. Because this is your home, your story, and this is the opening chapter.'

Kate Watson-Smyth's hallway storage tip

The Mad About The House writer explains that in a hallway, you've got to exercise some discipline. 'You’re very much guided by the size of your hall,' she says, 'but you have to be disciplined. You just do. Everybody in the house can’t have all their coats and all their shoes and all their bikes in the hallway all the time.'

'They just can’t, and that’s all there is to it. You can have a couple of coats there and the rest have to go upstairs. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have some space under the stairs where you can tuck them out of view, but it can’t run riot.' So, if your hallway's looking a little bit like a school cloakroom with a coat falling off the wall every time you walk past, it's time to reassess. Our hallway storage ideas (opens in new tab) page will prove useful.


hallway with plant on pot and painting on wall

(Image credit: Future)

For those of us who simply can't be disciplined, the Mad About The House (opens in new tab) writer has some other, practical tips for a hallway that makes your heart sing. For example, one small hallway idea (opens in new tab) is to do something dramatic on the ceiling, be it wallpaper or dark paint.

Talking of paint, Kate also suggests using it on any doors coming off the hall to make them the same colour as the walls. This instantly calms the space down.

hallway with stairway and flower on vase with jug

(Image credit: future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Finally, in many houses, the first thing you see when you open the door is the stairs. 'If ever there was a case for not resorting to an oatmeal twist then that’s it,' Kate comments. 'Have something fabulous on the stairs that is going to make you happy when you come in, that reflects your personality, that reflects your wardrobe. Patterned carpet is scary, but it’s not scary on the stairs,' she says.

Related: Making an entrance – colourful and practical ideas for refreshing your hallway (opens in new tab)

There are many things you can do, but ultimately, you've got to clear away the clutter. 'All the beautiful decor and design ideas in the world would be ruined by a bunch of coats, and bags and shoes.'

Mad About the House Planner: Your Home Your Story (opens in new tab) is out on March 18, 2021.

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She first joined the team at the start of 2021. Previously, she worked in women’s lifestyle and homes news, writing about everything from budget kitchen makeovers and gardening tips to homeware dupes and cleaning hacks. Millie can often be found looking up trending terms, spotting news stories our readers need to know about and finding ways to decorate her rented flat.