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How to turn your hallway into a bright, welcoming and useful space

The call of the hall: Hallways are not just thoroughfares – they can be bright, welcoming and useful, too

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. 

Yet the hallway, the part of the home that people see initially, is frequently the space to which we pay the least attention — a cluttered, unloved and poorly lit zone.

A quick makeover can make it not only brighter and more welcoming for visitors, but more useful, too.

So here’s our guide to exploiting that potential before you start hosting Easter weekend gatherings.

Inviting: Create a warm welcome for your visitors by giving your hallway a spring makeover

Light fantastic

The right lighting gives an illusion of space in even the most cramped hallway. For maximum effect, Julian Page, head of design at BHS Lighting, recommends a statement ceiling pendant light. 

‘This kind of light draws the eyes upwards, which makes the room seem larger,’ he says.

BHS has pendant lights in styles from space age and industrial and country cottage. Dunelm, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer also have wide ranges. 

The £79 Alexis from Dunelm in smoky glass adds a touch of 1960s Italian glamour.

The £110 Gatsby wall light in brass and alabaster from Pooky is a piece of art deco sculpture, but also sheds a warm glow.

Furniture flourish

A shoe and coat rack brings order to a hall strewn with outer garments. The £104.99 Alora Hall Tree from Wayfair would work well in a stripped-down interior.

The Cotswolds Company has the Chester hallway tidy in dove grey for £699. This chic cottage-aesthetic piece has hooks, plus a bench for storing shoes.

If you have room in your hall, why not install a sofa? Marks & Spencer’s Sofa in a Box promises to be simple to assemble and costs £349.

Alternatively, Wil Law at John Lewis suggests: ‘A hallway can be the ideal spot to tuck in a desk. This is a great option for those who prefer to keep home-working areas out of spaces intended for relaxing.’

B&M’s Tromso desk is £35, while Marks & Spencer’s Salcombe desk console is £149. And the £375 Sid black metal desk from Graham & Green is a nod to industrial chic.

The archetypal furniture arrangement in a hallway is a console table and a mirror. Habitat’s Nel console at £106 could be teamed with bevelled over-mantle mirrors from The Range.

Walls and floors

There is an abundance of advice on the best ways to paint a hall. These include choosing a darker shade for the lower half of the walls and a paler hue for the upper section, to give the impression that a ceiling is lofty rather than low.

Soothing greens produce a sense of peace, while sunny shades raise the spirits. 

Sombre hues bring drama to a hallway. 

If you prefer a neutral palette of greys and taupes, painting the woodwork and any architectural features in a darker tone will highlight their form.

The high traffic in the hall means that flooring needs to be durable. 

If you prefer the cosiness of carpet to stone, wood or tiling, choose a flatweave design. A rug or runner supplies extra warmth.

A Middle Eastern pattern runner in vibrant shades looks and feels luxurious. Wayfair’s range includes the Nile Tarifa in gold or amber from £34.99 to £203.99 depending on size.

Bold artwork

Designers suggest you should be bold in your hallway artwork choices. A print, painting or poster that can overpower a sitting room may be better suited to a hallway where you admire it in passing.

The late, great Sir Terence Conran would often turn a hallway into a micro gallery, and this is an idea you can borrow. 

Group together much-loved photos and pictures in matching frames. Or try Dunelm’s £60 set of Victorian grey-and-white botanical prints, which look pleasingly antique and rather expensive.

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