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Maximise Your Small Hallway with These Simple Decorating Tricks

Embrace the phrase 'small is beautiful' with these welcoming ways with tiny hallways

Julie Butterworth

Julie Butterworth

Interiors Writer

Love a runner

Look to the stairs to help open up an internal staircase. Hallways with steps that have a solid wall rather than open balusters can be among the trickiest of spaces to decorate. Make the most of this tiniest of spaces by making a feature of the stairs. This stripped back oak staircase is a thing of beauty and it provides a visual contrast to the grey painted wall panelling either side. Fit a smart stair runner with a strong linear stripe that draws the eye upwards to the light-filled landing above.

Revel in the practical

Don’t hide the purpose of your hallway - decorate to showcase it. If yours functions as a storage hub for dog walking and fishing paraphernalia, make it show. Have coats hooks and stands out on display rather than hidden away in cupboards that will only take up more space. Choose open wire shelving and leave it where its contents - scarves and gloves - will be nice and handy. Here the floor is also a home to walking books and fishing baskets. Reflect your interests in the decorating choices you make. Here oak-themed wallpaper, a tweed door curtain and seagrass floor runner are in perfect keeping with the country theme.

 
White Modern Hallway with Console Table and Yellow Rug
Photo credit: Paul Raeside for Livingetc

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Stop them in their tracks

If you have space for a table - even the narrowest of consoles - you’ve got space to make an impression. Look for a traditional table with a marble or marble-look top and use it as the springboard for your display. Choose pieces that will make an unforgettable display. Team a modern planter (this one is an amazing geometric head) with standout sculpture and eye-catching vases, all in a monochrome palette. Set atop a bright and zingy rug for extra impact. A compact coat stand and eclectic planting scheme add the finishing touches.

 
Modern Blue Hallway with Artwork and Statement Chairs
Photo credit: Logan Irvine-MacDougall for Living Etc

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Add a picture

Hang a showstopping picture to make a feature wall. Choose well and a single picture on a single coloured wall can be all you need to make a small hallway fabulous. This print is a captivating image and its importance is reflected in the beautiful mid-grey tone of the painted wall. In this space, unusual paired wall lights, opulent upholstered stools and a soft-pile runner complete the picture. 

 
White Traditional Hallway with Floral Cushions
Photo credit: Katya De Grunwald for Homes & Gardens

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Decorate with cushions

In the smallest, simplest hallway, let fabrics take on the role of décor. In this space where walls and woodwork are plain white, a slimline bench provides the perfect perch for a wonderful collection of floral cushions. While a heady mix of tea roses, peonies, hydrangeas, ivy and wildflowers would overwhelm walls or curtains, reduced to small-scale cushions they shine. Look for designs in different shades, shapes and sizes; and try those with piping or frills for extra little details.

 
White Panelled Hallway with Potted Plant Display
Photo credit: Catherine Gratwicke for Homes & Gardens

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Realise the potential of plants

If your hallway is too small to house large pieces of statement furniture, you may still have the space to fit a narrow console, ledge or shelf – or make use of a windowsill if you have one. Think about the decorative possibilities of potted plants. Select them according to their sculptural shape and size and use pots and planters for the colour elements. Create a line of jolly specimens that will be as pretty as any picture. What’s more, you can swap and change individual plants or pots when the mood takes you.

 
Modern Blue Hallway with Mid-century Furniture
Photo credit: Sarah Maingot for Homes & Gardens

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Get moody with blue

Use strong colour in a small space for instant personality. In this hallway a backdrop of the palest of blue washes is the precursor to a dazzling mix of cobalt, ultramarine and cerulean blues in furniture and accessories. Go for furniture in a signature style, like this mid-century style console, and bring it to the foreground by hanging a cluster of pendant lights above. Reflect these shades in unframed artwork tacked up above the table.

 
White hallway with painted stairs
Photo credit: Claire Lloyd Davies for Style at Home

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Step up with colour

Liven up a space-poor hallway with painted stairs. Less is so much more in this modern scheme. Go for a striking blue paint on staircase risers and draw attention to them with brilliant white treads and backdrop. Bring in a contrasting accent shade and use in just two places: a single riser at the top of the stairs and a feature pendant light. This works particularly well in vibrant, life-giving yellow. Finish with a large gilt mirror. Perfect.

 
White Country Hallway with Small Seating Area
Photo credit: David Giles for Ideal Home

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Work every inch

Use the dead space at the end of a narrow hallway to house an inviting bench. This clever idea makes great use of otherwise unused space. Build a straight bench, or take the opportunity to use the space for storage by adding a hinged lid. It's perfect for hiding away unsightly shoes and also visually elongates the small space. Cover a cushion pad in a subtle patten to blend in with the neutral scheme.

 
Grey Country Hallway with Wooden Bench and Storage Shelf
Photo credit: Rachel Whiting for Country Homes & Interiors

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Turn small into cosy

Maximise the 'snug' factor in a narrow hallway. For a country feel, bring furniture and storage together for a look that suggests relaxed rather than cluttered. Separate two tones of soft blue on walls with a classic unpainted dado rail that picks up on the natural wood finish of a bench for a rustic edge. Soften with textured cushions and hang traditional hooks for coats and hats so they can be seen rather than hidden. Use the space under the bench to display authentic accessories to complete the intimate scheme.

 
Neutral Hallway with Statement Mirrors
Photo credit: Lizzie Orme for Style at Home

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Lighten up

Reflect light with a display of interesting mirrors. Small hallways often lack windows and mirrors are the classic light-enhancing solution. Rather than hanging them, give an everyday hallway lunar appeal with a futuristic cut-out radiator cover and display your mirrors along it. Go for a mix of designs and shapes that will counterbalance the space-age vibe with a retro touch. Complete your scheme with a 'moon-dust' colour carpet throughout.

 
Modern Hallway Storage with Grey Geometric Wallpaper
Photo credit: Dominic Blackmore for Ideal Home

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Make features of coats and boots

Maximise the decorative potential of storage by choosing open units instead of those with doors. Place against a wallpapered wall - here, a grey geometric pattern not only makes a fresh backdrop, but turns each section of the storage unit into an attractive separate storage zone. Introduce a zingy secondary colour for added up-to-date style and why not get the children involved with low level hooks just for them? Alongside signature yellow, use black and white accessories to make the space homely.

 

 
Country hallway with yellow feature wallpaper
Photo credit: David Brittain for Country Homes & Interiors

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Single out a wall for pattern

Add a summery feel to your hallway with a splash of sunshine. The area under these stairs would be a dark, uninteresting space if it wasn't for the uplifting flash of yellow wallpaper that cheers the room up no end. A yellow bin, cleverly used as shoe storage, adds a modern twist.  Mix the tones from sunflower to sand with a standalone bench and coat hook in warming beech wood.

 
Eclectic hallway with mismatched frames
Photo credit: Colin Poole for Style at Home

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Go arty

Make a plain staircase interesting by creating your very own gallery display. Paint the area immediately behind the stairs in a strong, rich red that is sure to draw the eye, then hang your chosen collection of framed prints and artwork. Choose a mixture of gilt and black frames to reflect the diversity of your collection and keep banisters and stairs pale for a clean, uncluttered look that doesn't distract from your gallery.

 
Pale green hallway with silver floral chandelier
Photo credit: Simon Whitmore for Style at Home

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Aim for easy elegance

Initiate a warm welcome with a stylishly simple decorating scheme. Create an inviting hallway with a backdrop of soothing green walls and tasteful cream woodwork. Pick out typical hallway furniture,  like the mirror, console and decorative light shown here, to work in unison to create a familiar and homely vibe. Continue the co-ordinated scheme with cream accessories, such as a jug and lantern. 

 
Blue modern hallway with patterned wallpaper
Photo credit: Simon Bevan for Livingetc

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Be brave; be bold

Set up a hip preparation zone with vibrant colours and mismatched patterns. Look out for funky geometric and floral wallpapers to give an understairs space a personality all its own. The single Perspex chair and strong red wall light make an artistic statement in this hallway. Cement the unconventional style with a sea of electric-blue carpet and add a dip-painted reed basket for a delicate Moroccan vibe.

 
White hallway with tongue and groove panelling
Photo credit: David Brittain for Country Homes & Interiors

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Tap into cherished country 

Combine three wood finishes to give a hallway simple yet elegant style. Line walls with white painted tongue-and-groove panelling to keep the space bright and open, then bring in an easy-on-the-eye oak chest of drawers and a classic black painted coat stand for vintage charm. Give the space personality with personal accessories and a pretty jug of colourful flowers.