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Tips and tricks for hallways – guest post by Abigail Ahern

Happy New Year. I think this is the year to decorate from the heart, throw out the rulebook and go with your dreams. Ignore what’s hot and/or what’s not and decorate intuitively. So that said I thought we would start on the first room anybody ever sees and often times the most neglected room in the house– THE HALLWAY!

Hallways are such transitional areas we pass through them in a jiffy and don’t really think about them, hence the neglecting I reckon. However, I would like to challenge you to think about hallways differently this year and decorate them as you would your living room. Turn them into spaces filled with lamps, books and flowers so when you walk through the door you are transported into a magical place. First impressions count as they say!

There are oodles of tricks for decorating hallways as they are not the easiest. Often narrow with long stretches of uninterrupted space they are somewhat difficult to make homely or get right. So lets start with the practical stuff first and get that out of the way.

Many of us don’t have the luxury of mud rooms and little closets for boots, wellies and what-not off the hallway so they kind of have to work extra hard at being practical but as the same time being cool. From my time spent living and working in America I have a renewed admiration for small space living. In cities like NYC where everyone is jam packed together and spaces are teeny tiny I’ve seen some of the best hallways around.

The Practical stuff

Hallway Practical

Any sort of table, console (no matter how skinny) or storage unit works a treat.  Great for storing hats, gloves, bags, keys, all the messy stuff. I’ve got a super slinky one in mine that takes minimal space but does the job in hand perfectly.

The real trick is to layer up these surfaces with stuff so they don’t feel so sterile. You don’t need to overdo it, a picture, a lamp, maybe some foliage is all that you need to take it to the next level. I’ve also used a couple of fun hooks for my coats which look fab adorned or not.

You can also go down the shoe rack route, Ikea and similar stores do sweet little ones which when painted out the same colour as your walls, go away. I don’t bother, I just put a few shoes under the console and you barely even notice.

The Fun Stuff

Add Pattern

Onto the fun stuff. The biggest trick for hallways, I would say, is to trick the eye. Whether they are tiny or huge, they are still an awkward space to decorate so we want to direct the attention away from this fact by tantalising the eye. You can do this through adding pattern, the bolder the better I say. A rug skimming the floor perhaps, or a  patterned runner up the stair treads, are super practical as it won’t show the dirt as easily and not just that, it will give your hallway instant pizazz! Think of pattern as a herb, it adds a whole different dimension. Anything bold like pattern or colour will play with the perception of the space, and distract the eye at the very same time. Clever no?

Add Colour

Add Colour to your hallway

If you are scared of trying out a new colour then hallways are the perfect place to start. Being a transitional area and often the smallest area in the house, if it doesn’t work out its not such a chore to paint it back. Hallways are great places to take risks with colour, the more saturated and intense the hue, the cooler the hallway! If you’re not a dab hand with a paintbrush, why not get in touch with painters and decorators in your area.

Add Artwork

Add art to your hallway

Artwork is fabulous for hallways making them super galleryesque. My trick is to cluster them saloon style, not only will it make your hallway feel more casual and lived in, it will make you literally want to linger in them longer! If your hallway is small or oddly shaped, hanging artwork in this way will elevate it to new heights. You’ll take the attention away from how small or awkward it is and onto how cool it actually is!

Go Vertical

Go vertical in hallways

Often times we opt for long narrow tables for hallways but you can totally think outside of the box and use the vertical space. A floor to ceiling shelving unit is a great solution when space is tight. Fab for mail, glasses, shoes, mags decorative items, it pushes the eye upwards and looks fabulous. By all means add the practical stuff, but then the odd wow piece will totally grab the attention.

Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches to your hallway

It’s the personal touches that turn hallways around like the soft glow of a lamp, some flowers maybe and don’t neglect scent. I bang on about this a lot, but discovering Santa Maria Novella’s pot-pourri a few years back has literally transformed this house. It’s an organic blend of herbs and spices collected in the Florentine hills which you buy in a bag and because the scent is quite heady, I decant in tiny little t-light holders and plop all over the house. The minute I put that key in the door the scent hits me (it,s soooooo fabulous in hallways), it feels like you’ve just walked into an Italian forest. The image below is one of the tiniest hallways I have ever been in. It’s in the centre of Manhattan, it has no natural light and only one person can walk through at a time. It is taken to another level by adding a bar (yep in the hallway), wallpapering it and making it feel super living roomesque!

It doesn’t take much to turn hallways around and as I said, when you decorate them like you would your living room with things that represent you and your lifestyle, you’ll have on your hands a space that you’re be dying to get back to.

More ideas on how to make the most of your hallway.

Abigail Ahern

Interior designer and author Abigail Ahern has been hailed as ‘style spotter extraordinaire’, by The Times. Her style is as unique as it is affordable and is characterised by glamour, wit and show-stopping colours.

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14 Comments

  1. my hallway is square radiator right in line with front door wrong place and pipework & trunking in abundance part of it over the top of a cupboard being short have job to reach even on a ladder any ideas please?

  2. Some great tips. Have sourced the pot-pourri & will definitely be trying it. Love the idea of a bar in the hall!

  3. love the article on hallways – please can you tell me where i can purchase the Santa Maria Novella
    pot-pourri. thanks

  4. Hi great hall ideas – please could you advise where you buy this Novella’s pot-pourri as like you I like to open the door to a heady smell thanks Jan

  5. I thought the idea was to help with SMALL spaces not larger ones…. our hall is 1.1m by 1.45m so no room for any ideas shown!

    1. I’d try an oblong mirror. Either vertically or oblong, a small floating shelf and a small storage basket in a funky colour – to put your keys, mail, hair brush And perhaps a small plaque with 2/3 hooks – to hang ur trainers / umbrella on x

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