interiors & styling

Room 101 : Hallway

Surprise! You’re not time traveling, I promise. I didn’t get today’s blog post finalized because I had a great idea for a new series (which I’m wrapping up and will post tomorrow)… long story short- I swapped post ideas at the last minute (my intended fall planter post felt boring in comparison). I thought it would be fun to resurrect a post from the past to fill today’s empty slot in the blog calendar. I shared this informative post on hallway design exactly two years ago… on September 17, 2018. It had me thinking maybe I should also resurrect the Room 101 series? It’s fun to see both Peggi and Karen’s comments at the bottom of the post (from a couple years ago)– I can’t tell you how much fun I have talking with you all each week. Anyway- happy Thursday friends! Be sure to check back tomorrow because I think you’re really going to like the first post in my new series (it was a shower idea, go figure)

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted to the Room 101 series, so I thought I’d jump back in with one of my favorite “rooms” in the house… the hallway. I posted on Instagram last week that I feel the hallway is one of the most underrated rooms in a home. Think about it… you can see the hallway from pretty much every other room in the house. It’s the one space that connects every single room and the one that arguably gets the most foot traffic. Luckily, it’s also a really east spot in a home to transform- even on a budget. It doesn’t take much to create an impactful hallway. As I’m wrapping up my own hallway reno, I thought this would be the perfect time to share some inspiration and design info for the hall!

KEY QUESTIONS to ask yourself prior to updating a hallway:

  • What is my style or aesthetic preference (minimal, modern, eclectic, etc.)?
  • Will this space be used for anything other than foot traffic to and from other rooms (storage, seating, art gallery, etc.)?
  • What is my budget for this space?
  • What are my needs for this space (storage, traffic, etc.)?
  • What would be a BONUS this space might include if budget allows (built-ins, seating area, wallpaper, millwork, etc.)?
  • Is the space architecturally interesting? If not, how could I enhance the look (millwork, mouldings, update doors, etc.)?
  • What type of flooring could I envision in the space? Consider traction when choosing runners, tile, etc.
  • What could I add to the hall to make it more interesting or something that would make me happy when walking through?
  • If you could guess… how might you feel about this room in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?

Your answers should help you determine what your hallway makeover will entail and help you hone in on a starting point. Whether you’re gutting and completely renovating, or just tweaking what you already have, above all- consider function (traction for walking, storage, lighting, etc). 

FURNITURE + DECOR TO CONSIDER:

Hallways can be tricky spaces to design and get creative with… to give you some ideas that are anything but boring, you might consider some of the following:

on the walls…

  • wallpaper (pattern or textural)
  • paint (monochromatic, color blocking, traditional, etc.)
  • millwork (think wainscoting, baseboards, or panel moulding)
  • sconces
  • artwork (gallery wall, large scale, art, tapestry, etc.)
  • gallery or art lighting
  • built-ins / storage / recessed niche or nook for a piece of furniture
  • unique hardware

on the ceiling…

  • wallpaper (pattern or textural)
  • beams
  • flush mount light fixtures
  • crown moulding
  • interesting paint color

on the floor…

  • tile
  • hardwood
  • painted floor (pattern, border, etc)
  • rug / runner

furniture…

  • bench
  • console table
  • chest of drawers
  • small side table
  • plant / plant stand
  • ottoman

Much of what goes into your hallway depends primarily on the width. If you have a super spacious hallway, you’d probably have room for a bench, console table, or large sconces. On the contrary, if your hall is on the narrow side (like mine), it’s best to keep it simple. Wall mounted lighting wouldn’t be the best option, instead- opt for flush mount ceiling fixtures and an interesting floor or wall treatment.

source : studio mcgee

In case you’re wondering about the finer details and finishes, check out the handy graphic below…

Again, what you can do with the space is all about the width of your hallway. Someday I dream of having a spacious hallway that would accommodate a vintage dresser, built-in bench area, or something that is more functional than just a traffic path, but the point of this entire post is to show that any hall, no matter the size, can be beautiful!

The hall pictured above is on the narrow side, but the addition of sliding doors, bead board, lantern pendants, and a gorgeous runner make it feel pretty special. When it comes to hallway design, it’s all about thinking outside the box! Keep it true to your home’s architecture, your personal aesthetic, and get creative… you’ll be happy you did.

As always, leave me your comments below. I’m interested to hear what type of hallway design trends you guys are into or are seeing lately.

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  • Reply
    Peggi
    September 17, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Whoa. So much helpful information here; it’s like a hallway encyclopedia! My 1940s Cape has kind of a square hallway (is that even called a hallway?). It’s in the center of the house and has 4 doors, an archway and 2 massive built-ins. I’ve done pretty colors, a small gallery wall, and I style the old-school telephone niche with a flashlight and dog leash. Snort. What I really need to tackle are the built-ins… I also think a hallway with room for a bench or dresser be lovely.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 17, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      I love Cape Cod architecture!! Your square hallway sounds beautiful- especially with the oversized built-ins. Hey, the dog stuff is functional. I can only dream of having a real space for that stuff!! Would love to see photos sometime. xo

  • Reply
    Karen
    September 17, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Great post – and I’ve had hallway on my mind lately, so the timing is awesome! Our hallway is very long, with 9 doors (one pocket door). I’m one of those people who don’t like turning on lights (a few years ago I learned my paternal grandma was like this too), I don’t know if it’s the motion of hitting the switch, or the instant “brightness” of the light (though 90% of our renovated house has dimmers). Anyways, we have some gorgeous black PB Caleb lanterns on our hearth, and there are flameless candles inside them – with timers! The glow of the light is really nice, and it softly flickers. I’ve been on a mad hunt for some candle wall sconces so I can line the hallway walls. I kinda want to go in a wrought iron/gothic/medieval route, but nothing TOO dramatic – I figure it’s a way to have some fun without committing too much. I did recently have an empty shipping box in the hallway (it needed to be moved, obviously), and found it was “nice” to have a little piece of furniture there, but then I realized it mostly just ended up with (kids!) stuff piled on it……

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 17, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      Yay!! So glad the timing is lining up. That’s A LOT of doors… and I thought we had a bunch. Haha! So interesting about the lights. I’m kind of the opposite- I’m all about flipping lights on once the sun goes down. My grandma used to say, “we don’t live in a cave” ha. So she was always flipping all the switches. I love the idea of the wrought iron / gothic look- that would be really eclectic and moody! Can’t wait to hear how it turns out :)

  • Reply
    Peggi
    September 17, 2020 at 4:52 am

    Haha. I’m still a styling genius. And those built-ins have yet to be tackled… I’m excited for a new series that you seem SO psyched about! Maybe you should cheekily call it “The Shower Series.”🤣
    Thank you, as always, for giving me so much to look forward to!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 18, 2020 at 8:55 pm

      Haha!! Someday you’ll tackle them :) I have zero doubts. Did you like the new series?! I should’ve named it ‘The Shower Series’… what a missed opportunity. lol!

  • Reply
    Lexie
    September 17, 2020 at 5:58 am

    The only hallway we’ll really have in our new house is in our master bedroom… a hallway with a walk-in closet on each side, leading to the bathroom. Our builder kept making suggestions on ways to eliminate the hallway (we could just have one GIANT closet lol), which made me think hallways are unpopular these days? But no! I really liked that layout and there was no way I was changing it. I never really thought about decorating it, since it’s in our bedroom, but this gives me some ideas.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 18, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      This is fascinating, Lexie! I have strong opinions on this topic. Haha! I think many builders encourage open concept homes (which can be really beautiful), but I think we’ll be seeing more designated rooms in new builds- including hallways that link them… especially after this year. Everyone has had to envision their home in a new way that serves multiple purposes, and open concept spaces are tough when it comes to privacy. I am SO thrilled to hear you followed your heart and opted for the hallway in your master… I’ve always loved a beautiful hall. They feel timeless! Amazing job. Have a wonderful weekend :) xo

  • Reply
    Danna F
    September 17, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Your color block and wallpapered hallways are some of my favorite! I’m making note of the helpful tips for decorating a hallway. Sconce height and clearance are very helpful.
    I like the McGee hallway because it draws you in and welcomes you to go into the kitchen. I have to agree with Lexie, builders aren’t really incorporating hallways into homes unless they are big (5 bedrooms, plus). My husband’s grandmother had an old home with a telephone niche. I wanted to take it out and put into our home someday but did not. I hope the lady who bought it, kept it!
    Enjoyed this post and on your fall planting. Have a great Thursday!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 18, 2020 at 8:49 pm

      Really?! Thank you Danna! I think people either loved our previous hallway or wasn’t into it at all. Haha! Obviously I liked it, and I’m so glad you did, too. I also think the McGee hallway example is beautiful and functional- it makes great sense of the space and feels welcoming. I think we’re going to see more hallways from builders and segmented spaces (like historic homes), instead of open concept everything in new builds… especially after how homes have been used this year! I LOVE hearing about your husband’s grandmother’s telephone niche. I definitely would’ve kept it! So special. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend :) xo

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