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

Interiors writer Kate Watson-Smyth has shared some wise words and hallway ideas 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 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 writer has some other, practical tips for a hallway that makes your heart sing. For example, one small hallway idea 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

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 is out on March 18, 2021.

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.