We use transitional spaces, like hallways, to get from one place to another – which is why it’s so easy to overlook decorating them. You’re only going to be in it for a few seconds, right? But those seconds start to add up when you have empty walls and bare floors. Take your hallway from a vehicle to a venue with these decorating tips.
1. Let There Be Light
Why put in all the effort of styling a space if you can’t see anything in it? Hallways are devoid of natural light, so making up the difference with some well-placed sconces are a must. A good rule of thumb is using half your ceiling height in spacing: if you have 10-foot ceilings, place your lights 5 feet apart; for an 8-foot ceiling, place them at 4 feet. Also consider your paint and accessories when using this rule. A lot of decor and dark paint need much more illumination than a bright white minimalist design.
Renters can’t exactly rewire the place to add more outlets, but they can add visually interesting light sources with detachable string lights or hanging lamps. No, not Christmas lights – this is not your dorm room! – but you want something with a lot of bulbs to make up for lost light that could be provided from larger fixtures. Plus, their shape means you can rearrange them easily. How about straight lines one day, and a criss-crossing pattern of bazaar-style lights near the ceiling the next?
These Pegasus Lighting string lights are magical in a way that doesn’t involve Santa. (photo via Pegasus Lighting)
2. Cozy Up to the Floor
Runners are the most under-appreciated rugs. Their unique shape is made specifically for spaces like this, yet so few people use them! They create “leading lines” that draw the eye further into the space, making it look longer. Contrary to popular belief, you should choose a runner that is a few inches narrower than the space. 2-3 inches of bare floor on either side makes the room look wider as well.
3. Make Space (or Not) for Storage
This is the part where you make a decision. Be honest: are you a keys dropper? If you have a table in your hallway, are you going to be tempted to throw your shoes under it rather than continue on to your closet? Do you have kids who consider moving their toys to a different surface “cleaning up?” If so, you might want to ban any flat surfaces from the design. But that’s okay – the space will stay clean this way, and that’s a lot better than a convenient place to put stuff. If you still feel like you need some furniture in the design, consider a chest with a rounded top to store linens and seasonal items. That way, you get the visual interest and storage without the permanent clutter magnet.
If you think you can resist the allure of turning your decorative piece into an impromptu change bowl/jewelry stand/mail station, more power to you. Go wild with a brightly-colored accent piece or stay stately with a classic white or wood grain. Don’t worry if it doesn’t have drawers or cabinets. Baskets beneath the table will do just fine.
4. Add Interest to the Walls
Again, we’re working on leading lines. This is place with a lot of motion and mission, and your walls should reflect that. This would be a good place for framed kids’ drawings, cards from relatives, or black and white photos. They should lean towards simple
Multiple pieces of art in matching frames are a great way to do this, but not the only way. You could try one large statement piece at the end of the hallway that dominates an otherwise blank space. Adding a small accent table to a corner or end of the hallway gives you a place to focus your styling and easily change out your decor for each season. For once, gallery walls are probably not the best idea – they’re a little too visually complicated for a space that sees quick, purposeful traffic like this.
Mirrors in a hallway can create an awesome optical illusion wherever they hang. One at the end of the hall can elongate the space by reflecting the entire length. Mirrors facing each other can do the same for the width. Placing mirrors beneath your light sources mean twice as much light without any extra wiring. Want a big bouquet on your table, but only have room for a small one? Put a mirror behind it. Boom! You’ve got an indoor flower garden.
If you feel your space is too narrow for frames or other art, try painting directly on the wall. Those looking for a less-permanent solution can try vinyl decals or temporary wallpaper in a bright shade. And don’t forget about the lower parts of the walls as well: tall vases, low console tables, even an unexpected pouf or small chair tucked into a corner can make a statement.
Check out this brilliant example from Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke. She has a few casual photos of her kids in an airy clothesline display. And what a cool way to use up that blank space near the floor! So much better than scuffs. (Photo via KristenDuke.com)
5. Make Sure to Clean
With great decor comes great responsibility – and by that we mean, now that you have such a fabulous design, you have to dust it. At the risk of sounding like your mom, nothing makes a space look underutilized like dusty mirrors or cobwebby corners. But look on the bright side: it’s really such a small space…