Narrow Hallways (& Landings!)
Updated: Jan 15, 2022
Recently, I've been asked for advice by a few people who are planning to redecorate their hallways and landings. The thing these people have in common? They are all lost as to what to do in these narrow, often light-starved spaces; they are all frightened to use the wrong colours and they are all wondering how to combat the lack of space for storage!
And so, I've decided to write this blog!
Hopefully, with the information I am about to give you, you will all have more confidence to create the hallways of your dreams with less worry and fear. After all, redesigning a space is meant to be fun!
I'll be taking you through the myriad of options there are these days when it comes to making the most of your hallways and landings. Some of these options will be simple, cheap and 'off-the-shelf' and others will need a little more planning, money and expertise. I can assure you though, that you will all find something to suit you, no matter what your position.
I'll take you through the following common problems:
* Storage and furniture options for narrow hallways
* Colour schemes to make the most of the space
* Ways to introduce more light to the area
* Decorative ideas to pack a punch and make the space feel brighter
* My personal favourite tips will be included for adding some fun and impact to your narrow hallway and landing!
Here we go..!
Storage & Furniture Options for Narrow Hallways
If you have a narrow hallway, the last thing you want is a big, bulky piece of furniture interrupting the flow and blocking any of the natural light you do get, from coming in and filling the space. If you're feeling the panic of having to have a huge cupboard in place just to store your coats and shoes, don't worry - there are plenty of slimline solutions for your woes!
Obviously, this doesn't mean you can throw every single coat, bag, pair of boots and all your umbrellas at it - you'll still need to narrow down your selection; but the good news is, there is something out there for everybody!
Let's look at some options..!
Storage and Coat Racks
Hooks! These days, there are all kinds of hooks out there! Normal hooks, pretty hooks, inconspicuous hooks, hooks that fold flat - all sorts!
I like hooks that don't automatically look like hooks. Hooks that look more like art, until you need them to function. There's nothing worse than walking into a house and seeing forty-five coats and jackets hanging on the wall, like a big, fabric monster! Hooks that look more decorative should make you think twice about piling things onto them - especially if they are likely to have a weight limit!
1. The 'Diving Man' hook from Rockett St. George is the perfect example of an inconspicuous hook! You wouldn't automatically think to hang your coat from it if you saw it hanging in a friend's hallway, but that is what it's for! Beautiful and functional!
2. These cute little birds from More Handles are the same; useful little works of art for guests to hang their bags and jackets when they visit.
3. This beckoning finger hook, featured on Toxel.com is another example of decorative over functional.
4. This incredible work of art with a purpose is featured on Pinterest and Deavita.net - I imagine it would cost a bit, but if you have a large wall, something like this would be ideal to store your outerwear when you're limited on storage.
Fold Away / Flat Hooks
Fold away hooks are a great idea; they offer more points for hanging, but they can also fold flat, so they look tidy when they aren't in use. Here are a few examples:
1. This 'Piano' fold away coat rack from The Countryside Store is in a higher price range to some of the fold-aways I've seen elsewhere, but it shows you that there are larger options out there for anybody who likes the look of these.
2 & 3. Similar examples in a much lower price range can be found in various stores online. These two were found on google, but they are linked to the websites I took them from.
No Under-Stair Storage? No Problem!
Of course, if you aren't lucky enough to have under-stair storage, then you're going to need something more than a few pretty hooks to store your belongings. So here are some other options for those who need more hanging space. Coat racks and slimline storage can be found all over the place these days. From hanging racks with benches and shoe storage, to wire-made wall-hung racks and high-hung shelves with hooks and storage boxes, you can find everything you need with a little bit of research...
Furniture to Make the Most of your Narrow Hallway
Having a narrow hallway doesn't mean you have no options for furniture. Plenty of companies offer slimline furniture options these days and most home stores give the 'Hallway' its very own category of pieces to choose from.
Shoe cabinets, console tables and storage cupboards all come in slimline versions these days and there are plenty of styles to choose from, so you shouldn't have trouble finding something to suit your taste.
These pieces are made precisely for narrower spaces and so you are not likely to walk into them as you come through the lounge door, or have to swerve around them as you say goodbye to your guests. They are perfect for these smaller spaces!
Of course, not everyone is going to be able to afford to buy new furniture especially for their new, narrow hallway; so, if you already have furniture that you have no choice but to use until you can upgrade, there is still a trick or two to use in order to make your space feel bigger, even if a little extra room is being taken up by your old, chunky cabinet!
Painting an old piece of furniture in the same shade that you've painted your wall can help to make it sink into the background, giving the illusion of more space. If you've painted the bottom half of your walls black, for example, painting the old shoe cabinet you've brought with you the same shade of black will help to make the hallway feel larger than it is.
(following images from Pinterest).
Top Tip: With taller furniture - use masking tape to paint the top and bottom halves the same shades as your walls. You can also do this with your internal doors!
Using the Stairs
If you have under stair storage, then you're in the lucky camp! Having a cupboard under the stairs to hide all those unsightly bits and pieces is something everyone would like... although, some people do favour a downstairs toilet over the storage - and there's nothing wrong with that! Loos over shoes, am I right?!
Under stair cupboards, however, do have their unappealing side. A lot of the space is wasted - especially that tiny triangle right at the bottom of the stairs that is difficult to get to. My own under stair cupboard is absolutely rammed with whatever I could fit into it (coats, shoes, games, the ironing board, the hoover, a mop and bucket, a box of helium, Buster's old bed and a couple of old rugs!); and in order to get to anything wedged into that tiny space at the front (or back!), everything else needs to come out first and then I need to get onto my hands and knees to reach anything.
It isn't ideal; and that is why so many people choose to get in the professionals!
There are ways these days to make the most of that space beneath the stairs; and there are companies all over the place who are experts at just that!
Clever Closet offer a nationwide service, fitting storage solutions into the space beneath your stairs and they couldn't be more clever about it! They offer seven ingenious answers to the biggest question of all... "where can I put all my stuff?!"
They also offer storage benches and a '60 second desk' - for those of you who need to work from home, but don't have the space for a permanent, full-sized desk in your home. It just clicks together and comes apart easily... genius!
Below, are some examples of the storage they offer:
"Our 5 Drawer Tallboy Unit is recommended for stairs that have a turn at the lower end. This unit gives plenty of space for storing everyday household clutter such as shoes, sports gear, school bags and everything in between. Avail of our additional accessories such as pull-coat rails to maximise storage in the Tallboy section."
"One of our most popular units, our 6 Drawer Unit provides you with six drawers, each guaranteed to hold 35kg in weight. The storage opportunities are endless, from shoe storage to wine storage and everything in between."
"For the ultimate clutter-free home our 6 Drawer Double Door Unit has the answer. This unit is made up of six drawers and two Tallboy doors which open into the higher end of the stairs. This provides you space for household items such as vacuum cleaners, strollers and sports equipment."
Stair Riser Drawers
These are another amazingly clever solution to using wasted space under your stairs and I absolutely love them. If you prefer to keep the space beneath your stairs free for a desk, or if your stairs are actually in your tiny lounge and you need that space for your TV unit, these could be the answer for you!
I've been searching for companies who do these, but it seems they are a bespoke service to ask a carpenter for. There are plenty of DIY instructions online, but if you're anything like me, you'd rather pay out for someone else to do the hard work when you can afford it.
I'm definitely not a DIY enthusiast!
(Images 1 & 2 from Google).
Colour Schemes to Make the Most of the Space
This is by far the most common question I get asked by people who have narrow hallways; "What colour will make the room look bigger?", "I love black hallways, but won't it make the space even smaller?"
Well, simply put - use any colour you love! It really doesn't matter, so long as you love it!
Obviously, light colours are going to make a narrow space feel brighter and that, in turn, may make it feel larger, while dark colours are going to make a dark room feel darker, but if you love dark colours, then go ahead and embrace it! As long as you enjoy it, nobody else's opinion matters. And if you decide you can't live with it, it can be painted over.
Should I go Black?
Mull it over; talk it through with your partner / house-mate / dog, or cat and really give some thought as to what else you will put into the room to help balance out the darkness. Metallics always work well as a way to bounce light around the room, as you can see below, in the gorgeous homes of Rachel (@raspberry_flavoured_windows) and Joanne (@hardcastletowers).
And if you really aren't brave enough to go all dark, like Joanne has in her narrow hallway (and doesn't it look amazing?!), then try going for Rachel's method instead; dark lower walls and woodwork with a lighter top colour works just as well if you want to make a bold statement with black! You can always go darker over time if you find yourself feeling braver as your confidence grows.
If black really isn't for you, however, there are plenty of other colour schemes you could go for. It really is all dependant on what you like and what says home to you.
One question I always ask people when they ask for my advice is, "Is there anything in particular you are putting into the room? A certain print? A particular rug? Anything?" - and then I give them advice based on that. If there's a piece of artwork you love that is going to hang in your hallway, or a stained glass window you want to make a feature of, then this is a great starting point.
Pick colours out of these things to use in the room; for example, if you have a blue print with white text on it, you could paint the hallway white with bright blue pops of colour. Or you could have blue and white stripes with another accent colour, or blue walls with white woodwork, or white walls with blue woodwork...
Jo reached out to me a few months ago to ask how she could decorate her narrow hallway and I asked her this same question. She sent me a couple of pieces of artwork she and her husband have collected, along with a photo of the stained glass above one of the doors. These are the schemes I came up with for her:
These were just a guideline to show Jo that she has a lot more choice of colours than she realised. She and her husband were stuck on green and white as their only options and they weren't in agreement as to which shade was the 'right' one. I wanted them to realise they could use any shade they loved and, in fact, any colour!
It turned out, everything they sent me had two very similar shades of green in common - olive and lichen - one of which was already in their chosen swatches and they ultimately have decided to go with.
Top Tip: Paint your front door in a bold accent colour to bring some brightness to an otherwise neutral scheme, like I did in my old house, below:
Using a gorgeous colour you've always loved doesn't only have to be for the outside of your front door!
Paint the inside the same colour as the outside to help brighten your narrow hallway and add some interest to a neutral colour scheme.
I used this beautiful turquoise for my old front door and I loved it! It really added a boldness to the white and grey scheme I used throughout the entrance.
Using the pink stripe on the stairs also helped to break up the neutral and add a little extra interest.
So, don't hold back... paint those doors a pretty hue!
Blurring the Lines...
There is another way to imitate space where you have little; and it's one of my favourite things to do when designing a room.
If you use the same shade of your chosen colour to paint the walls and ceiling (and/or woodwork!) it helps to create the illusion of a taller and wider space by "blurring the lines" between the areas. This helps to draw the eye up to the ceiling, making the room appear taller than it is; while painting the woodwork the same as the walls helps to create a seamless flow around the room, making it feel wider and free from obstruction.
I've done this in my own hallway at home and it really gives the room impact. I used a contrasting colour for the woodwork here, but I have used this trick in other rooms and I love it!
Be Bold with Pattern
Another thing I have done in my hallway is used a bright, bold mural on the largest wall to add even more punch to the room.
It might surprise you to know that wallpapers with big, bold patterns actually make smaller spaces feel larger than they are, while smaller patterns help to make a large room feel more intimate and cosy. So, adding that wallpaper you love with a large, repeat pattern could actually benefit your narrow hallway, as well as helping to make it more interesting.
Of course, there are other options here, too, if you aren't quite brave enough to go bold with wallpaper yet; you could also use a patterned Anaglypta and paint it one colour (which I did in the old house!), or, if you have some extra pennies, you could invest in some Lincrusta, which will see you right for years to come!
Ways to Introduce More Light into the Area
There are plenty of ways you can add light to your narrow hallway. Whether you are lucky to have lots of windows, or you have no windows at all - there are options available to help you with this... it just might cost you some pennies!
Glass, Glass, Glass!
What better way to add more light to a space than with more glass!
There has been a huge rise in people using glass when renovating their homes in recent years and there are many ways glass can help.
One of my absolute favourite ways to add light into a space is to knock down solid walls and invest in one of Crittall's amazing glass partitions instead; but they aren't cheap and it's a lot of work.
You could have a window added if you have the wall space and aren't attached to the neighbours (I don't think they'd like that!) - or you could choose one of these cheaper options, instead:
Glass front doors will give you windows where you may not already have them. There'll be no need to knock holes into the walls and you can pick yourself a nice colour while you're at it!
Fanlight Windows can be put in above your internal and external doors to bring light in from other rooms, or from the outside, allowing the hallway to borrow light from other areas of the home. You can do the same thing by using glass internal doors.
Mirrors can be used to bounce light around a room with fewer light sources. Use them to reflect light from the source, into other mirrors around the room.
Lamps are also a good way to add light, of course! Place lamps on console tables, in darker corners, or use wall lighting to bring more illumination to a room.
Other Ways to Add Light (not glass!)
As mentioned earlier, metallics are a great way to let light bounce from one place to another. In my very darkly painted bedroom, I have used gold leaf in the window recesses. When the sun hits it, a huge shard of gold light bounces back into the room. It's beautiful! Do this by your front door if you don't have windows elsewhere.
Gloss paint is another way to reflect light around the room - and it doesn't only have to be used on the woodwork! You can use gloss paint to create features on walls, or simply to paint the entire wall or ceiling with it! This only works if you have perfect walls, mind you; painting a bumpy, dented wall with gloss will show up every imperfection!
Decorative Ideas to Pack a Punch
There are so many other ways to make a smaller space feel interesting; just because a room is small, it doesn't mean it has to be boring, or empty in order to make it feel larger. Sometimes, it needs more in it to create that feeling of space!
Here are a few extra ideas of how to make the most of your narrow hallways (and landings!) by adding more texture, colour and pattern:
Rugs and Runners
Adding colourful rugs and runners to your narrow hallway can be a great way of adding space to your small entry. Long runners create the illusion of added length and therefore, can make your rooms feel longer than they are. Layering rugs can have the same effect and using a runner on the stairs gives them a grander, warmer and more homely feel.
Uncarpeted stairs can also make a narrow hallway feel lighter though; try using an accent colour on the treads, or some patterned vinyl on the risers to give your stairs a lift!
Voiles and Window Films
Instead of using heavy curtains in your narrow hallway and landing, voiles and linens are a great way to allow the light through, while also adding texture and softness to your windows.
Voiles come in all kinds of colours and sheer materials, so you're bound to find something you like. They are a more up-to-date version of the old net curtains our Grannies used to have!
I found this photo on Pinterest; as you can see, these pretty lace curtains allow the light to flood in, but also create a barrier to stop people from seeing in as they walk past your window.
Window films are another great way to let the light in, while also giving yourself privacy from prying eyes! You can get all kinds of patterns and fishes these days - from house numbers to flowers, reed glass to plain frosting and personalised house names to actual works of art! You can even get stained glass effect! I love a window film!
Creating a gallery wall is a good way to give people something to look at; and they are a great distraction from anything you're not too happy with. But while gallery walls have become a bit of a trend in recent years, you can still create one, even if you don't want to be a follower of 'interior fashion'.
Gallery walls don't have to just be about prints and artwork; they can also be made up of mirrors, vintage signs, metal trays, or any other trinkets and souvenirs you have collected over the years.
Hanging a collection of whatever makes up your personal gallery wall of happiness, creates the illusion of height and space because it draws the eye up to the tallest parts of the room.
Hanging your items in vertical columns, rather than in random places also helps to give the feeling of height as the items make their way up to the higher portions of the wall.
Don't forget the Doors!
So, I know I've mentioned doors a few times throughout this post, but there is something I haven't yet talked about and that is how the doors you choose can make a huge difference to the space being used in your narrow hallway!
Pocket Doors are fantastic! If you're renovating a house and are starting from scratch, these are a great option if you are limited for space; pocket doors work in a similar way to sliding doors, only they slot into the wall! This means you haven't got to worry about the swing room a door needs to open. They give you more options for furniture placement and, because they slot into the wall, they don't need the extra room behind your furniture to slide along. They can also remain open without ever getting in the way! They're brilliant!
And that's it! We're at the end of my blog (thank goodness, I hear you cry!). If you've stuck with me to the end - well done and thank you so much! You have far more patience than me for reading information!
I hope these tips have helped you to feel more confident at tackling your hallway design; but don't forget, I'm always here if you want to check something with me before you make a decision!
I look forward to seeing what you come up with and hope to work with some of you, soon!