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Big ideas for small hallways

Melanie Whitehouse / 10 November 2016

Make the most of the limited space in a small entrance hall with these ideas for hallway furniture and décor.

Entrance hall
Opt for a calm colour, such as buttery yellow, with blocks of more vivid colour

Your hall is the first thing visitors see when they enter your home, so it pays to turn it into a showstopper that gives a fabulous first impression. 

Halls are often cramped and dark, multi-functional spaces full of shoes, wellies, coats and clutter, with stairs up one side and rooms running off a corridor along the other. Start by clearing all the clutter, throwing out old and tatty items, then focus on what’s left. 

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Tiles are practical, hard-wearing and easy to clean. Edwardian houses often feature encaustic-tiles with a border around the edge - buy similar at local tile shops. 

Limestone or pale ceramic tiles will lighten the area from the floor upwards. They can be cold underfoot and slippery when wet, so choose non-slip surfaces.

Wooden floorboards suit both authentic and modern properties. To make a narrow hall seem wider, lay boards widthways. 

On a budget? A hard-wearing laminate is a cost-effective option and many look very close to real wood. 

Vinyl or tough carpet is useful for flats, where noise needs to be dulled. A large rectangle of sisal fitted just inside the door will help keep the carpet clean.

Find out how to clean wooden floors

Multi-functional hallway furniture 

Add a narrow shelf unit or console table with an integral shelf for keys, hats, letters and a welcoming vase of flowers. 

A big mirror with integral hooks for coats will reflect light into the area. 

A tall, thin cupboard such as a recycled tin locker is ideal for hiding coats, brollies and scarves, or screw a slim coat rack to the wall. No room to spare? Fit a slim shelf over a radiator for vital bits and pieces. 

A shoe rack stacked with slippers is useful so guests can change wet shoes. 

A bench with storage below is perfect for stashing the grandchildren’s clutter. 

A stair basket is handy to fill with bits that accumulate during the day and need to be taken upstairs later. 

Read our tips for making the most of your space

Lighting a hallway

A single overhead pendant to brighten a long, dark corridor will not be enough, so add wall lights or halogen spots in the ceiling. 

Decide on what style you want to go for. A stunning chandelier will make a “wow” factor centrepiece, and a Moroccan-style lantern with coloured-glass panels will bring an exotic glow to a hall or porch. 

Read our tips for making a dark room feel lighter

Hallway décor

“Increase” the space in a narrow hallway by painting darker shades below a dado rail (around hip height) and lighter above. 

Vibrant colours can be striking but may make a small hall seem enclosed, so confine strong colour to pictures or accessories. 

A buttery yellow works well in a hall of any size, making it appear welcoming and cheerful. 

Wallpaper is fine in a wide hall but paint wears better in a narrow hall. 

Display pictures in structured groups - black-and-white prints in similar frames, or botanical art in groups, say. 

Stained glass around the front door is often a period feature - recreate the effect with glass paint (from craft shops) and let the sun shine in! 


Add halogen spots to the treads of wooden staircases.

A dado rail run along the hall and up the stairs will help those who are unsteady on their feet to balance, and prevents wear on wall surfaces. 

Extend your decorating theme to the landing and place something eye-catching there: a pretty plant, a striking picture or a mirror.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.