What does your hallway design say about you? Is it a calm, organised space or more of a dumping ground for shoes, prams and unopened post? While it isn’t a room as such, the hallway is a busy spot that performs multiple functions, so it’s worth giving it the design attention it deserves. The hallway should be functional, easy to navigate and inviting, so think smart storage, hardy finishes, and a few personal touches that give guests a little insight into what your family loves.
Not sure what sort of first impression your hallway design makes? Step outside and come into the hallway as though for the first time. What do you see? If it’s bland, characterless walls and chipped paint on the front door, it might be time to get out the paint brushes and rollers. Next turn your attention to the hallway layout – is it easy to move through? Is there somewhere to put coats, bags and incoming post? Keep furniture to a minimum so that you can move through the hallway comfortably, such as a slimline console for keys and post, a small bench or armchair where the kids can sit and pull on their gumboots, and built-in or wall-mounted storage for coats and shoes.
Making a few small changes to your hallway design can make a big difference to the morning or evening rush, so don’t forget to factor in all the little things you do there.
Do you need a mirror where you can check your makeup before you dash out the door? A hook on the wall to keep car keys out of reach of little fingers? A lamp on the console table so that you can sift through the post on your way in?
Dark, narrow or awkwardly shaped hallways call for some smart interior design tricks. Mirrors are a great decorating tool – consider lining both walls of a poky, poorly lit hallway with mirrors to visually double the sense of space, and make it feel lighter and brighter.
Maximise floor space in a small hallway by opting for wall-mounted furniture in place of freestanding pieces – think a floating wall shelf and wall-mounted coat hooks and shoe boxes. If your ceilings are low, use uplighters on the wall or vertically striped wallpaper to draw the eye upwards and increase the sense of height.
You can detract attention from an unsightly hallway with a show stopping piece such as a dramatic chandelier or a modern work of art.
A busy family hallway is a magnet for dirt and mess, so go for tough, washable finishes. Keep as much dirt as possible from entering your home by laying a sturdy doormat outside the front door, and allocate a dedicated spot for muddy boots and wet weather gear so they don’t end up being dragged into the living room or bedrooms.
Tiles are a great choice for hallway flooring as they’re tough and easy to clean, but make sure they are specially rated for high traffic areas and have a skid-resistant finish to reduce the chance of falls. Contemporary design choices include natural stone, ceramic and concrete.
Timber flooring is timeless and robust, and can be brightened up with a striped or patterned rug or runner. If you’ve got your heart set your heart on carpet, go for a low level loop pile that won’t show every footprint. Make sure it’s stain resistant, and remember that darker shades such as charcoal and chocolate brown are more forgiving than pale ones.
Choose a wipeable paint or wallpaper for walls so that it’s easy to clean off scuffs and marks. Or consider tongue and groove paneling, which is tough enough to withstand bumps and scrapes.
Good storage is essential in any family hallway – it keeps the area clutter free and allows you to move through comfortably. Whatever storage you choose, make sure it’s easy for the kids to reach and consider labeling cubbies or hooks with each child’s name so there’s no confusion about who owns what.
First think about what you need to store, and look around for storage opportunities. If you have the space, a built in cupboard is the perfect spot to store shoes, coats and sports gear. It should offer a combination of hanging space for coats, a rack for shoes, and hooks or shelves for bags and rackets.
If you’re short on hallway space, consider a mix of freestanding and wall-mounted storage, such as a coatstand, pegs on the wall, wall-mounted cubbies, or a slimline chest of drawers with baskets for small items such as gloves and hats. Store shoes in a dedicated shoe rack, floor-level cubbies, or a generous basket by the front door.
The front door is the first thing guests see when they come to your home, so make sure it’s up to the job. Update an existing door with a fresh coat of paint and some new handles, or replace it with a brand new, contemporary design. The latest design trend is for pivoting front doors, which open smoothly to create an extra-wide entrance. But be aware that pivoting doors are heavy, and might require extra support.
Keep the hallway decor bright and uplifting by painting walls a light or neutral shade. Consider adding decorative interest with wall stickers, a feature wall of patterned wallpaper, or tongue and groove paneling.
Give guests a hint into your family’s passions and interests with a wall of family photographs, a narrow display shelf to showcase collectibles or Christmas cards, or a series of blown up photo canvases (you can order prints and canvases online at the Huggies Photo Centre – you’ll even receive 50 free prints just for registering!)
Good hallway lighting creates a warm, welcoming vibe and gives you enough light for fiddly jobs such as tying the children’s shoelaces. Maximise natural light in the day by removing curtains or blinds from the windows (if you’re worried about privacy consider adding frosted privacy glass). If you’re renovating, think about installing a skylight in the ceiling to maximise natural daylight.
You’ll need a mix of ambient lighting, feature and task lighting for night. This could include a generous ceiling light or chandelier, feature lighting trained on paintings or displays, and a lamp on the console or recessed floor lights so that guests can navigate their way through the hallway.
Image thanks to Howards Storage World (www.hsw.com.au).