It provides the first impression for guests and can set the ambience for you and your family as you return home. With a well-designed hallway, you should be able to step through your front door into a relaxed atmosphere and leave the stress of the day behind.
Yet all too often, this is a neglected area: a dumping ground for shoes, jackets and general clutter that is used simply as a corridor to other rooms. The space may be narrow and natural light may be limited. With a little creativity, however, these practical challenges can be overcome to create a welcoming hallway that is brimming with style and character.
Since hallways are used during the day and evening, you need varied lighting to suit the different uses. In a narrow hallway, there may not be room for key furniture pieces, so feature ceiling lights can help add decoration. Choose something that will work with the room's scale and don't be too cautious: it's all too easy to select a piece that looks lost once it is up, so go for as big a ceiling light as possible (picture 4). In the evening, lamps create a warm, cosy and welcoming light but again, go for statement pieces. Whether you want your space to be quirky, minimalist or oozing period decadence, a beautiful lamp can be the centre of attention, so choose well.
And don't forget about maximising the available natural light. I advised one of my clients to change their front entrance from a heavy-looking dark wood design to a glass panelled door which transformed the lower hallway. This client's house was set back from the road so privacy was not an issue, however frosted or satin finished glass would give privacy while allowing light to penetrate the area.
First you need to de-clutter. Be ruthless and try to find clever storage solutions that will keep the room tidy and organised. Baskets for shoes will stop you tripping on them as you come in the door (picture 3) and nice quirky coat hooks will be a feature in themselves, but even so don't have too many coats out at once: it's springtime, so banish heavy winter coats to the back of the wardrobe. Sideboards and consoles with drawers are great for storing the post and keys so they don't mess up the surfaces which can be kept clear for decorative items. One common complaint I hear from my clients is the pile of "stuff' that ends up being dumped on the stairs by their kids/partner. I recommend nice baskets, one for each member of the family, that can be taken up to their rooms and emptied at the end of the day.
An easy way to create some impact in this area is through colour (picture 1). A lot of people are afraid to do this in a small, narrow or dark space, however, this is one place where you need to be brave. As many hallways have limited space and smaller windows, you are not always able to use soft furnishings and lots of accessories to dress this room so utilise colour to create the atmosphere you want. A dark hallway will never be bright and light so instead of choosing a light neutral shade, which will just look bland, I recommend a stronger tone to create some interest and depth. It needn't be bright and dazzling but pick a colour that will give the room some identity. Farrow and Ball have some lovely shades as do some of the period paint ranges from other suppliers. I would contrast these deeper tones with fresh white ceilings and woodwork. Wallpaper is another great option for the walls; from a subtle texture to a quirky pattern, it is a quick way to transform an area in need of some TLC (pictures 6&7).
Practicality really has to be the first priority. If you decide on a carpet I would recommend a hard-wearing twist pile in a medium neutral tone as anything too light or dark will show up every bit of fluff. If the room has stairs, an effective combination is a wood floor at entry level with a feature stair carpet, perhaps with stripes or a herringbone design (picture 2).
l Every hallway deserves a beautiful mirror, as well as reflecting the natural light or glow from a lamp it can be a major focal point when used above a console (picture 5).
l If the room is dark use reflective surfaces such as mirrored or glass furniture
l A collection of artwork on the wall can help the room seem less like a passageway. Be bold and make a statement.
l Scented oil diffusers are great for making the room smell gorgeous all day long
l Group your accessories to make them look like organised clutter.
l If you have a large wall that looks empty try an oversized clock.
Lisa McLaughlin, Ollaberry, 146 Busby Road, Clarkston, G76 8BH.www.ollaberry.com