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My hallway is dark. Should I paint it white?

My hallway is too dark...

People often say this as if everyone else's hallways are bathed in light. They're not. Hallways generally tend to have few or no actual windows which makes them dark spaces. And unless you are lucky enough to have a grand entrance vestibule, most of us have to make do with a space where it would be impossible to swing the proverbial cat.

Should I paint my hallway white?

In short: no! Painting a dark space white will not make it brighter. If anything it will only serve to make it dingier. If you are lucky enough to have a modern house with lots of windows in the entrance and stairwells then it will make it a lighter, airier space, but if you haven't then steer clear.

What colours are best for hallways?

This is a conundrum I often get asked by my clients. This is a thoroughfare that is used more than any space in the house, but because we rarely stop there, we tend not to pay any attention to it.

Your hallway sets the tone for what is to come in the rest of the house and as it goes right through the house it should be in a colour and a saturation of colour that matches the rest of the house.

The colours you choose for your hallway will also depend on what kind of atmosphere you are trying to create. Cooler colours (green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet) are receding and therefore great for hallways if you are looking to open up the space - particularly lighter versions. Conversely if you are trying to create a warmer, more inviting entrance then use warmer colours (yellow, orange, red).

Do I paint the same colour above and below the dado rail?

Personally, I'd say yes: go all in! But a lot of people don't feel that brave, so painting the bottom half of the wall can be a good compromise. If you live in a modern house you can still paint the bottom section of the wall in darker/bolder colour to add interest.

How do I make my hallway look bigger?

The key to making these spaces look bigger is by having less stuff in them.

If you have coat hooks then make sure you only keep coats there you use on a regular basis. Limit the number of shoes on shoe racks if possible. Baskets are handy for

gloves/hats etc. and can be kept out of the way on a high shelf, but be careful not to fill them with other random stuff.

In a hallway a mirror is a must. Not only is it useful for a final check of your person on your way out, but it will bounce light around and make the space feel bigger.

How do I light my hallway?

Good lighting in a hallway is essential. Wall lights are perfect for hallways but unless you're ready for the mess and expense of rewiring then it's just not practical - if you do go down this route make sure the fitting doesn't project too much into the space and is high enough so you don't walk into it.

Make sure that any ceiling light fitting is one that throws light out, not one that funnels it down to one spot on the floor. Ideally there should be a couple of ceiling lights down the length of the hallway. If you have a console table or shelf below your mirror then add a small table lamp. No socket? No problem: there are now some great options for battery operated cordless table lamps.

Should I have a console table in my hallway?

If there's room, then a console table/shelf is a useful place to keep keys etc., if there isn't then please don't bother. If you have to skirt round or dodge anything in your hallway then it shouldn't be there. Also beware that it will quickly become another dumping ground for junk mail etc.

If you haven't got room then a radiator shelf is a good compromise.

A few pictures at head height will add interest and personality and make it feel homely. As always, plants are also a must for me in a hallway. On a ledge, console table, or on the floor, a plant will instantly make your hallway welcoming and full of life. In any entryway space I would recommend artificial plants and flowers due to the lack of natural light.

Carpet or runner for the stairs?

Firstly, never ask a carpet salesman this question. There is a strong chance that they'll tell you that your stairs aren't wide enough. Don't listen to them. Nine times out of 10 a tradesperson will give you the answer that requires the least work. If you want a runner, have a runner. And stair-rods. Yes, even in a modern house. And yes, the sides of the stairs will get dusty, but so does the carpet - you just can't see it!

So there you go. Embrace the darkness, embrace colour, and make the most of your hallway.

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