Creating a welcoming hallway .jpg

Creating a welcoming hallway


Teresa Azevedo Coutinho runs her own interior design consultancy in Lisbon and found her niche in designing holiday homes for UK and Irish clients. Her company is expanding with the undertaking of international projects and the opening of a new office in Lagos.

WHY IS it that we spend hours pouring over books and magazines, conjuring up colour schemes for our living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms yet we barely spare a thought for the first room in the house – the hallway?

Skinny, narrow, short or square – hallways come in all shapes and sizes which sometimes appears to be a problem. They’re the first impression anyone has of your home, but their decoration is often an afterthought and they become dumping grounds for clutter.

Set the scene for your home by putting your own unique mark on the hallway. Treat it imaginatively. They are no longer just somewhere to hang your hat. They are your personal statement to visitors about what you value. They should be warm, welcoming and in keeping with what is behind the doors leading off them.

Companies are now producing a wealth of furniture, flooring and accessories specifically designed to turn this bleak space into a welcoming area. Whether your taste is traditional or contemporary, there’s a style to suit everyone.

A fresh lick of paint can instantly transform your hallway and a light, neutral colour will do wonders to brighten up a space that doesn’t have much natural light. Acrylic paint is water-based, quick drying, and tougher than standard emulsion, meaning that walls are washable.

If your hallway is small, keep it light and bright by painting in soft shades. Wallpaper can be another option to brighten a small hallway but avoid overly dark colours.

If it gets lots of light, then carry the colour scheme from the adjoining room into the hallway and maintain your home’s design continuity.


In narrow halls distract attention by adding a dramatic colour or painting on one of the shorter walls. Choose a colour such as red or orange, which will make longer walls appear shorter. Do avoid lining longer walls with coat rails. On a short wall, paint both the door and surround the same colour as the wall as if you are ‘hiding’ the door. Avoid huge patterns on wallpaper as they’ll overwhelm small spaces.

Use up lighters for low ceilings as they make the ceiling appear further away. Accentuate the vertical with floor to ceiling paper on walls, perhaps using a vertical stripe pattern.

For dark halls you can use shiny and reflective surfaces to bounce light around with gloss paint.  Don’t use red or orange or receding shades that are pale. Opt for a middle ground that makes dark rooms warmer and less gloomy. You can even boost daylight levels with halogen bulbs.

If the area is large enough, use it to display a collection of pictures or photographs which could be hung so they ascend the stairs to lead the eye upwards; this will help to create a feeling of space.  Using frames in a single style is effective. Try plain black or simple silver.

Large hallways can be dressed like an art gallery with treasured objects which will set the mood for the rest of the house. Take inspiration for colour from a painting, pick out one or two shades and echo them in wall and woodwork colours.

You can also opt to hang a designer rug on the wall or material stretched over canvas. These are very effective for large walls.

A mirror is an easy way to add light and can also make the hall appear larger. Try to use one piece of furniture to give focus but ensure it is practical as well as decorative.

As well as looking great, your hall still needs to withstand a great deal of wear and tear, especially in family homes, and provide a practical space for you. One thing you mustn’t do is dump all the clutter there. Make sure there is adequate storage. Hidden cupboards in corridors and landings will encourage a feeling of space, whereas open bookshelves and cupboards will have the opposite effect but add interest. Somewhere to hide shoes and coats, along with a handy place to throw car keys and the day’s post are also things to consider. You could also put up an extra cupboard under the stairs, as it is often un-used space that would be perfect for a cloakroom.


Hallways are often starved of natural light so fitting a new front door with glass panels can be a great help. Artificial lighting is also essential and bright central lighting will give a welcoming feel to any hallway. As well as up lighters on the walls for an evening glow, add in a stylish lamp on the hall table. It’s a nice touch and makes the home look warm and inviting. Choose light fittings that flatter your space and emit enough light for you to read the post and check your appearance before dashing out the door. Striking light fittings will add a bit of character and help stop the hallway feeling like a transit area.

Hallway lights can often be left burning for long periods, so make sure you use energy-saving bulbs which will last longer and use less electricity.

Even the most ordinary entrance can be turned into a hall of distinction with just a few changes and will ensure your visitors are impressed from the second they walk through the door. If you are having a hard time planning your space, contact an interior designer to help you make your choices.

For more information, please contact Teresa Azevedo Coutinho on 262 909 822, email