Design Ideas for a Small Hallway

Written by nina makofsky
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Designing and decorating a hallway is often an afterthought but, the fact is, the smallest updates have dramatic impact in a hallway. Whether you want to camouflage design flaws and create an illusion of volume or draw attention to interesting architectural features, use paint, finishes, art, lighting and accessories to make the most of your hallway decor.

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Paint and Finishes

Update your hallway with a new colour scheme. For a two-tone effect, paint long walls a lighter hue and short walls a darker colour, which makes narrow space feel more open. Add volume by painting the ceiling a crisp, blue-based white and extending it down the two long walls. If you use a semigloss finish, it will reflect light through the hallway. Cool hues such as steely blue, periwinkle, turquoise, stone grey, lavender and blue-based fuchsia make walls appear to recede. Some people abandon the idea of expanding the space and opt to paint hallways a bright, cheerful hue or a cool neutral that can serve as a backdrop for art. Wallpaper, wallpaper murals or wall decals give hallway walls graphic pop.

Architectural Elements

Design your hallway with fanciful architectural elements that lend the space sculptural style. Apply wainscoting, chair rails or a narrow art ledge to create visual interest. The relatively small square footage of a hallway makes these updates affordable and simple. For more dramatic design updates, install skylights or solar tubes to fill a hallway with natural light. A wider hallway has classical style when you line it with columns or pillars and end with an arch.


Functional and beautiful accessories give your hallway decor personal style. Begin with ambient lighting provided by a sparkling glass chandelier, a series of sleek pendant lights, recessed lighting, track lighting, table lamps on small end tables, wall sconces or small, gallery-style spotlights pointing to the walls. Paintings, drawings, prints, collages and posters in bolder colours or large-scale compositions work well in the relatively dim light of a hallway. Stack framed and unframed artwork Paris salon-style vertically on the wall or, for a more streamlined look, line a thematically grouped collection of art in matching mattes and frames at eye-level. Hang mirrors to reflect light and make walls appear to recede.

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