Some areas of the home are more difficult to design or decorate than others. We’ve written a few posts on Decorating Difficult Spaces and designing the entryway. Narrow hallways are another one of those home design areas that present a challenge.
There isn’t room for a bench, chairs, table or other space-sucking items to jazz it up, and narrow spaces can make guests feel claustrophobic. There are some things you can do, however, to make your long hallway both more inviting and visually appealing.
Tips for Decorating a Long Hallway
Use a runner. Here’s a situation for an area rug if I ever saw one. I’m not a huge fan of wall-to-wall carpeting in the first place, but you can use a runner for this application even if your hallway is carpeted. You’ll want to leave at least 3- or 4-inches of space on either side, depending on the width of your hallway.
The runner will draw the eye to the end of the hall so the journey doesn’t seem so long. If the hallway is illuminated well enough, use a runner with an attractive pattern to jazz things up a bit.
Create a focal point at the end
While you may not have space for anything along the edges, feel free to create a pleasing arrangement at the end of the hallway. A small chair and table, an antique furniture piece with a plant, sculpture or beautiful lamp – whatever it is, it will draw the eye, which shortens the hallways visual length.
Use molding and trim
A long hallway can be the perfect place to use wainscoting, wall panels or a chair rail. Decorative trim comes in all styles – from traditional to modern – so there is something for every taste. There are two benefits of adding this type of trim to a long hallway. First, it is more visually interesting and, like a runner, it draws the eye ever forward. Second, it adds texture – and almost every interior design benefits from a little more texture.
Re-think the lighting
I had a client whose child was terribly afraid of the dark – and this included the long walk down the hallway from the main living areas to the bedrooms and bathroom. I could understand the child – who wants to walk down a long, narrow hallway in the dark?
Since we were in the midst of a remodel, we had the luxury of re-doing the lighting plan, using LED recessed cans that could be set on a dimmer. This way, in the afternoon and evening, the lowest dimmer setting made for ultra-efficient safety lighting that added pennies per month to their electric bill. Plus, that additional light made the hallway more appealing.
If you aren’t interested in revamping the entire lighting plan, consider hiring an electrician for a day and having him drop down the wiring for a handful of beautiful sconces. They add style and illumination – both of which will improve the energy in the hallway.
Have high ceilings? Think soffits or transoms
If you have high ceilings and a hallway that is 4-feet wide or more, I like the technique of adding soffits every so many feet and using decorative furniture trim to create faux-doorways. This leads the eye section by section and shrinks up the linear space. The soffits can be solid – or – even better – you can install transom windows. If you want to up the ante even further, hang attractive suspended lighting fixtures that are framed by the transoms. Now you’ve created an architecturally beautiful hallway experience.
Install windows or mirrors
Is your hallway along an exterior wall? I can’t believe how often this is the case and yet original architects designed for solid walls. What a waste This is a prime opportunity to add windows and gain beautiful natural light. Even upper wall windows will make a huge difference.
If windows aren’t an option, mirrors can have a similar effect. First, they’ll increase the amount of available light by a notable margin. Second, their reflective properties will shrink the length up a bit.
Create a gallery wall
Of course, hallways are often the place where homeowners create some sort of gallery wall. There are pros and cons to this. Typically – especially as we (ahem) grow older, we need to step back a bit to really take in the entirety of a photo or work of art. So, in a narrow hallway, this might not work out all that well. However, if your hallway is more than 3-feet wide, a family portrait gallery can be just the thing – and I recommend installing appropriate lighting to boot.