Hallway ideas: decor and storage tips for a stunning first impression

Make an entrance with these expert tips on hallway decor and clever storage solutions

Matt emulsion in Creme de la Rose, from £14 for 2.5l; Feature wall paint in Rebel, from £14.50 for 1.25l, Crown

Hallways can be a tricky area when it comes to decor – we all need room to carry in bags of shopping and storage for shoes and coats, and it can be difficult to find ways to style up the space without compromising on functionality.

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But, with a few clever tricks and multipurpose storage ideas you’ll be on your way to making a stunning first impression. Here’s how to create a hardworking hallway in your home!

Add fitted cabinets

Do away with the dingy cupboard under the stairs and transform the space with fitted cabinets. Sliding drawers give you quick access to all the items you’ve stored and push back for a seamless finish.

Six-drawer fitted under stair unit, price on application, Clever Closet
Six-drawer fitted under stair unit, price on application, Clever Closet

They’re perfect for items, like wellingtons, that you don’t want to clutter up the floor. So, you can get ready for a winter walk without negotiating with the spiders first.

Buy a coat stand

They’ve fallen out of fashion to coat hooks, but it’s amazing how many coats, scarves and hats you can fit onto a coat stand. They provide 360 degree storage and make efficient use of even the smallest corners.

Wooden coat stand, £75, Next
Wooden coat stand, £75, Next

Drilling hooks into the wall isn’t always practical, or possible, for renters, so coat stands can be taken away with you to your next home, along with your deposit.

Invest in new storage solutions

Efficient storage should be your first priority in a hallway; it doesn’t matter how beautifully you decorate the space if clutter begins to pile up around it.

Home makeover: 'We’ve proved that small is beautiful!'
Niamh has made the most of the area under the stairs in her home makeover – it houses a fridge and freezer, pull-out pantry units and practical drawers. On the side facing the garden, open shelving and a broom cupboard provide further storage. The units were built by her builder, Ciocan Construction, and the stair carpet is from Glen O’Callaghan Carpets

Put the items you need to store into categories; things you need every day, every week, every month and seasonally. Things you need every day can be placed in easy access areas and items you need less often can be stored away.

Utilise overhead space

Use the space above a line of hooks for storing off-season accessories. Your hats and gloves will be tucked neatly away for summer, but you can easily pull them out if you start to feel a nip in the air.

Winchester wall shelf and coat hook in cream, £40, Argos

Having a seasonal storage switch-over is a great opportunity to re-assess items of clothing you haven’t used over the year, which prevents build up in the long term.

Paint the woodwork

Don’t just think about the walls – a fresh coat of paint on skirting boards, stair risers and spindles really helps to brighten up a hallway. Tones of white are suitable for an airier hallway and can look very stylish, especially if you think about painting the woodwork in a different shade, such as a pale grey, to give definition.

Non-drip gloss in Duck Egg Blue, £16 for 750ml, Crown
Non-drip gloss in Duck Egg Blue, £16 for 750ml, Crown

Speaking of woodwork, another way of making the hallway appear larger is to paint doors, door frames, skirting boards and even radiators in the same tone, preferably a light shade. This will give the space a continuous and uniform look, giving the illusion of a much bigger space.

Consider adding a stair runner

Choose a stair runner with strong vertical lines to give your staircase a dramatic look. The lines draw your eye upwards to create the illusion of a higher ceiling and a larger hallway.

Morocco stair runner in Casablanca, £59.99 per m, Kersaint Cobb
Morocco stair runner in Casablanca, £59.99 per m, Kersaint Cobb

This trick also works with rugs; your hallway will look longer if you lay a striped runner along the floor.

Use pattern

If you’re not a fan of striped stair runners, continue patterns you’re using on the floor up the staircase for a sense of flow. If your hallway is carpeted, simply use the same or similar carpet on the stairs.

Condo Wilton carpet in mineral polka dot and teal polka dot, £39.99 per sq m, Carpetright
Condo Wilton carpet in mineral polka dot and teal polka dot, £39.99 per sq m, Carpetright

If you’re using tiles, mimic the tile pattern using a runner. You could even paint the stair risers with the same designs as your tiles for a uniform look.

Paint a faux dado rail

Create the elegant look of a dado rail by simply painting halfway up the wall. This modern alternative to the traditional feature is much easier to install and requires no dusting!

GoodHome paint in Hempstead, £16 for 2.5l; GoodHome paint in Pimlico, £16 for 2.5l; konkrete anthracite porcelain floor tile, £15.20 per sq m; GoodHome kensal vertical anthracite radiator, £180; GoodHome brushed chrome recessed downlights, £23 for three, all B&Q
GoodHome paint in Pimlico, £16 for 2.5l, B&Q

Use a complementary colour for a striking look or choose a tone slightly darker than your wall colour for a softer backdrop that will blend with your existing décor. For colour ideas that are bang on-trend, get inspired with our guide to the paint shades to watch in 2021.

Choose gloss finishes

Being smaller rooms, hallways benefit from half-tiled walls to give the appearance of a taller, open space, and a gloss tile will help light bounce around the room to give the illusion of a larger, brighter area. Gloss finishes are easy to clean and low maintenance – perfect for muddy encounters and high traffic.

Scintilla sapphire star pattern tiles, £24.95 per sq m; Victorian melado metro tiles, £25.95 per sq m, Walls and Floors
Victorian melado metro tiles, £25.95 per sq m, Walls and Floors

For the floors, a durable porcelain-bodied tile would be a great option for the extra footfall, to really maximise longevity. Victorian-inspired tiles are very much on-trend right now, and can be incorporated to create a bold hallway space. Pair rich hues with striking patterns for the ultimate ‘wow’ factor!

Install low-level hooks

Encourage children to keep themselves organised by including a couple of low-level hooks that they can easily reach. They’ll be able to hang their own coats up and will always know where their scarves are. One less thing to worry about!

Kelston peg rail, £50 for five pegs, £30 for three pegs, Garden Trading
Kelston peg rail, £50 for five pegs, £30 for three pegs, Garden Trading

Opt for radiator covers

Make the most of the space you have by turning your radiator into a stylish console table using a radiator cover. Paint your cover to match the colour of your walls and it will blend seamlessly into the background.

Beryl radiator cover, £170, Wayfair
Beryl radiator cover, £170, Wayfair

The top of the cover is the perfect place to keep keys, just pop them in a statement bowl to keep things neat.

Add hard-wearing doormats

Stop dirt in its tracks with a hard-wearing doormat. Turtle mats were originally manufactured for use on oil rigs, so they can stand up to rigorous use!

Foliage seedhead doormat, £49.95, Turtle Mat
Foliage seedhead doormat,£49.95, Turtle Mat

Absorbent fibres suck up muddy footprints to leave your hallway clean and bright.

Buy a stair basket

As it’s a transitional space, a bit of clutter always finds its way to the bottom of the stairs. Help it on its way to its proper place with a stair basket.

Stair basket with hoop handle, £29.95, Nordic House
Stair basket with hoop handle, £29.95, Nordic House

Pile in the abandoned items and they can be taken upstairs by the next person to take the trip, just make sure to choose a basket that is narrow enough to prevent a tripping hazard.

Add water resistance

Consider adding water resistance to areas where you’ll hang wet coats as this will protect the paintwork and help to prevent damp.

LYSEKIL double sided wall panel, £35; NIKKEBY clothes rack, £45, both IKEA
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Paint that’s specially formulated for bathrooms will do a good job of this, and you can buy it to match the colour used in the rest of the room. We also love this IKEA hack that uses a kitchen splashback to cover the wall.

‘I’m inspired by Palm Springs and Moroccan design, and as our hallway is quite long and dark, I knew it could take a bold look. The terracotta on the walls makes me happy as soon as I walk downstairs for my morning coffee or get in from a rubbish day. The gold leaf up the stairs was a project I won’t be repeating again any time soon as it took me a while to do. However, I love the finished result – the way the terracotta reflects the gold makes me feel like I’m on a beach at sunset’