What are good colors to paint a hallway?

Updated November 21, 2016

On the surface, painting a hallway may seem like a no-brainer. In fact, a hallway is a space in your house unlike any other. On one level, the hallway simply joins rooms and acts as a corridor, but it also helps make subtle decor transitions from one room to the next and may also serve as an entryway for your home. Choosing the right colours for this space will contribute to the unification of all your rooms and give visitors a memorable first impression of your home.


Before you choose colours, consider the proportions of your hallway. A long, narrow or short hall, perhaps coupled with a low or high ceiling, can be a decorating dilemma. Fortunately, many painting tricks can help you deal with these issues, so you will not need a costly remodelling job to create that "just right" effect.

Paint overly wide hallways in warm colours or bright jewel colours--particularly yellows, peach, earth tones or red--to make the area seem smaller and cosier. Try terra cotta or a mellow red for drama or peach with warm, white accents for a cosy feel.

A long, narrow hall will benefit from application of blues, greens or cool neutrals on the long walls with contrastingly warmer, deeper tones on each end. Cool colours recede, thereby expanding space and giving the hall a wider appearance, while the warm colours on each end will make those walls come forward, shrinking the distance. The result will be a visually wider and shorter space. An attractive colour combination for this scenario might be sea blue side walls with apricot end walls and warm, grey trim.

Bring high ceilings down to scale with dark, warm colours--particularly effective if you continue the ceiling colour for a short distance down the walls, and then paint walls a contrasting colour to make them stand out and look shorter. Conversely, painting one pale colour on both walls and ceiling will send them soaring away from one another to open the space. According to Jessica Ackerman, senior staff writer at Wall Decor and Home Accents, "To make the entire space look larger, paint the ceiling just a shade lighter than the walls. Going progressively lighter from the floors to the ceiling makes the area seem more expansive."


If your hallway joins rooms of widely differing decors or themes, consider a neutral colour scheme with accent colours picked up from dominant colours in the rooms on either end. One way to do this is by painting the area white or grey, with a modest stencil or wallpaper border containing colour elements from both rooms. You can also simply use those colours applied to trim or decorative woodwork. You may also want to experiment with washes or other faux finishes--using colours from the other rooms--to tie all of the connecting areas together subtly.

Alternatively, do not try to match the colours, but choose a scheme that complements both. For example if one room is brightly painted blue and yellow, while the room down the hall is soft pink, you might try a pale, neutral green in the hall. (Blue and yellow combine to make green, while pink is really only light red, which is the colour opposite of green, and therefore its complement.) Tie all three together with a neutral, white trim for a fresh, clean appearance that transitions smoothly from one scheme to another.

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