Hallways needn’t be neglected, cluttered thoroughfares. They can often be statement spaces decorated with a flair that harks back to the days when they were considered the heart of the home.
In the distant 1400s, the hallway was where the family dined, along with assorted guests and even passing travellers.
Great houses played host to itinerant bands of actors who regaled them with poetry music and dance.
The fashion for hallways being treated as rooms in their own right continued well into the 1700s with grand houses, such as Petworth House in Sussex and Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, featuring marble columns, sculptures, intricately patterned floor tiling and portraits of gilded forebears.
Most of us will relate better to George Bernard Shaw’s more relaxed approach.The hallway at his house in Hertfordshire remains much as he left it, strewn with gaiters, shoes, walking sticks and an eccentric collection of hats.
Top interior designers would be horrified. Here, they offer some tips on how to tidy up your hallway act.
Set the tone
Lighting is key. Too harsh and it feels like a supermarket aisle. Too dim and dinginess sets in. Get the lighting right and you can create a cosy welcoming feel.
Katey Korzenietz, at Homerestyler.co.uk, an interior design company based in Exeter, suggests getting rid of fabric lampshades and trying softer, glass pendant shades.
Plush pendant: Large lights, such as this chandelier, make arresting hallway features
‘Glass, pendants, lanterns, even chandeliers, work well in hallways because they disperse light evenly. Tall console lamps sitting elegantly in pairs can look dramatic on a slim hall table without cutting into the space,’ says Sophie Amini, creative director at London lighting specialist Pooky.
Helen Bygraves, co-founder of designers Hill House Interiors, says you can go wild with hallways.
‘It’s all in the detail, doorknobs finished in leather or mother of pearl, staircases in wrought iron or bronze, the hallway is your chance to make a lasting first impression,’ she says.
Here, you can embrace bold wall patterns or dark paint shades. Washed Denim by Mini Moderns will make the dullest hallway feel richly luxurious (2.5L £30, minimoderns.com).
Cole & Son offer some classic, graphic designs guaranteed to smarten up such a space like Parterre, Folie and the still popular Woods (£76 a roll, cole-and-son.com).
Or, if you’re not quite brave enough for a room full of Timorous Beasties’ arresting patterns, try them here. Their Grand Thistle hand-print wallpaper would make quite an entrance (£264 per roll, timorousbeasties.com).
Winning walls: These two wallpapers – Woods and Parterre – by Cole and Son are popular for hallways
Make furniture count. ‘A console table works well even in smaller spaces. It allows you to display a few well-chosen ornaments, plus giving additional storage,’ says interior designer Nina Campbell.
Storage in hallways is at a premium, as it’s the place to keep coats, bags, bikes and buggies. So, if you possibly can, find room for a cupboard, under the stairs or cleverly recessed into the wall. One with mirrored doors will bounce the light around, too.
Alternatively, stylish pegs help minimise clutter. Katey Korzenietz recommends Hem for their quirky coat pegs and punched metal hooks, hem.com.