How to create the perfect hallway

It's one of the most important rooms in the home, but it's too often overlooked. Kate Watson-Smyth presents the essential guide to making an entrance

The hallway is the first place that your visitors see, and, as such, it is arguably one of the most important rooms in the house as it sets the tone for what is to come. But the hall has to work hard as it's also, usually, the second smallest room in the house and has to find room for a lot of stuff. In small city homes, it's perfectly normal to find bikes and scooters cluttering up hallways. Not to mention the coats, boots and school bags. And that's before you bought a little table to collect the post and rest the keys.

In the 18th century, it was considered appropriate to make hallways as restful and tranquil as possible to soothe travellers after their long journeys – hence the cool restraint of black-and-white floor tiles.

But, says the interior designer Nina Campbell, there's always a case to be made for a bold and dramatic welcome. "This is where you can stamp your personality or reflect the history of the house with a flourish. It's a well-used room – people walk through it every hour of the day – but no one actually spends much time there, so you can afford to be daring.

LIGHTING

If your hall is long, narrow and dark – Victorian, in other words – then don't despair. You can inject some drama with clever lighting, says Sally Storey, design director of John Cullen and author of Lighting by Design.

"Try breaking up the symmetry by creating some contrast, by using recessed downlights to create a wall wash on one side and put some recessed floor washers on the other side. You should avoid central downlights as they won't break up the space at all. If you have space, then a table light will also provide a soft glow that introduces another layer of light," she says.

"Another trick is to light the far end of the hall, or the landing above, which will draw the eye into the house, making it feel bigger. Using mirrors on one side will also do this, and reflect the lights at the same time.

"I always advise the use of dimmers in a hall. It creates drama for evenings; but also, if you have rooms on either side that have been dimmed for a relaxing atmosphere, a glaringly bright hall can be a real shock."

WALLS

The temptation is to try and keep it light and bright, particularly if it's a small space – but Campbell says you can be more daring.

"The main thing to remember is that it has other rooms leading off it, so you must have a colour that will go with many others."

But you don't have to be neutral. You can have a darker, more dramatic, shade than that of the sitting room which will give a hint of what is to come.

A large mirror will bounce light around the hall, and the long walls can be a great place to hang a series of pictures, which will add personality without taking up space.

Interior designer Sara Bonfield (www.sarabonfield.com; 020-7619 3544) suggests using subtle blocks of colour for a clean, contemporary look.

"Colour plays a big part in creating mood. Try using neutrals with flashes of strong, bright citrus colours on doorknobs or the edge of shelves," she says.

"You could also paint the banisters different shades of the same colour, or, if monochrome is your thing, bring in some details in the textures and materials."

FLOORING

Carpet is hard to keep clean, given the amount of wear and tear it will get, advises Campbell. She suggests looking at wooden floors or choosing stone, which is much easier to maintain, and perhaps starting a carpet at the bottom of the stairs.

Again, you might be tempted for pale floors to lighten a traditionally dark space, but think of the muddy boots and bikes and restrain yourself. You don't want to be constantly cleaning it. Go for a darker, more practical colour and use clever lighting instead.

STORAGE

There probably isn't much room for furniture in the average hall. A pew for sitting on while you are putting on shoes, and for storing things, is great if you can fit it in. Otherwise, it's probably going to be no more than a narrow console table or a ledge.

"Try to keep the space as clear as possible," says Campbell. "If you can find a cupboard for coats that isn't right by the front door, that will stop everything looking a mess. A cupboard will also hide all manner of sins. But if you haven't go room, then think about some beautiful Victorian brass or china hooks and mount them on a board on the wall."

For a quirky coat hanger that won't take up much space, Bonfield suggests buying a coat stand wall sticker and screwing hooks on in the right place for a trompe l'oeil effect.

Hugo Tugman, an architectural expert and founder of Architect Your Home, suggests building clever storage to maximise the space. "You can be really creative in a small space, and getting the storage right can make all the difference," he says.

"Think about framing doorways with shelving. This can look really attractive and give you lots more storage space. And try to find multi-purpose furniture – a sturdy box can double up as a seat with the addition of a cushion."

But the main areas to work on are the cupboard under the stairs and even the stairs themselves, says Tugman. "That cupboard is often underused. You can install a downstairs toilet or create a home office.

"These days, there are all sorts of clever staircases that use the space under the steps. We had one client who had pull-out stairs to store all the shoes and was a really neat way not to clutter up the house."

This is an expensive option at up to £5,000 – but, then again, when each member of the family has his own drawer for shoes, gloves, hats and scarves, you might think it was money well spent.

Storage solutions

* For clever coat hooks, the Hidden Artshop is fantastic. Its shoe storage is well worth a look, and its ranges ideal if you haven't got much space but want to inject a little personality (www.hiddenartshop.com)

* Graham and Green offers a huge selection of stylish mirrors as well as some great lighting solutions (www.grahamandgreen.co.uk)

* The Holding Company has a good range of consoles, umbrella stands and storage boxes (www.theholdingcompany.co.uk)

* A Place For Everything is ideal for shoe and post racks (www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk).

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?