Recipe for a Happy Hallway

Recipe for a Happy Hallway

Leah Moss
Jul 8, 2009

Our hallways are not usually where we focus our decorative efforts, but like most other neglected spots of the home, they can have a dramatic, mood-lifting effect when given some love. Here are a few tips for helping hallways go from dank dungeon to peaceful passageway...

1 Add good, decorative lighting. This may seem like a silly, no-brainer suggestion, but it's amazing how many homes we see where hallways are dimly lit. Adding a little unexpected sparkle with a decorative glass or crystal chandelier is the perfect way to bring a dark hallway to life and add interest to the walls with the shadows cast by the fixture.
2 As with any space struggling with lack of light, mirrors act as a convenient window alternative by reflecting any light—natural or artificial— that comes their way. Maximize the effect with an oversized mirror or a series of smaller mirrors grouped on two adjacent walls to make narrow walls recede.
3 When in doubt, add art. It brings instant life to an otherwise non-descript space. Turning a long hallway into a gallery makes the space more inviting and personal.
4 Hallways are the perfect place for oversized artwork that may not have a place elsewhere in your home.
5 Go bold. Hallways are wonderful places to unleash your desire for dramatic decor. The normal reservations about loud style don't always apply to a small space like a hallway because you spend relatively little time in it. Stripes, graphic wallpaper, bold paint colors bring personality to the space without dominating your home.

6 For the same reason that hallways are good places for bold wall textures, they are also good places to experiment with other types of graphics like murals. You may not be a fan of decals and wall paintings int he living room, but they may be the perfect pick-me-up for a narrow hallway.
7 &8 Add architectural texture like wainscoting or chair rails. For renters this may not be an option, but for homeowners this is a relatively easy upgrade that makes a HUGE difference. I remember reading this suggestion in a magazine and rolling my eyes, but recently we added beaded board and a chair rail to our soulless powder room, and it was nearly painless and relatively inexpensive (under $200). Check out This Old House's DIY instructions here.

My friend, Anne-Marie, (an upcoming DC house tour) combined a number of hallway remedies to greats effect. She used stencils for a wallpaper effect on a budget, placed a good-sized mirror to visually expand the small space, and decorative antique sconces for a bit of glam.

(Images: 1,2,4,6,8: Living etc., 3: Tobi Fairley, 5: Design Sponge, 7: Chesapeake Life, 9: Leah Moss)

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