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Reclaim Your Home: How to Dress Up a Drab Hallway


Walk down most hallways and you'll feel like you're, well, walking down a hallway. But think of all that potential. All that under-utilized real estate.

If you're ready for a hallway that wows, these tips are for you.


Just because the hallway is connected to the the living room and the kitchen doesn't mean the floor has to be totally consistent throughout. Because you are dealing with a relatively small space, you can often have a little fun, making a statement that is unique but not over-overpowering.

I'm a big fan of carpet tiles, like those offered by Flor. They have great patterns and a bunch of interesting design layouts. What I really love about carpet tiles? Simply swap out a single tile in the event of a stubborn stain. No more tolerating ink-blot carpet for years until it's finally grubby enough to replace the whole thing!

This staggered tile layout adds visual interest and, on the practical side, softens footfalls to help keep a little peace outside of bedrooms or in high-traffic zones.



Photo source: Flor

If you're looking for even more design impact and are willing to take a slightly bigger risk, consider the options provided by Marmoleum. Available in both sheets and tiles, this easy-to-install flooring clicks into place and is made with renewable ingredients. Similar to Flor, there are a lot colors and patterns to choose from. Consider making a hallway, especially one near the front door, a focal point rather than an after-thought.



Photo source: Houzz

You can achieve a similar look with wood floors that may have seen better days. Painting or staining just a small section won't break the bank or your back, but will certainly liven up hallway space. Best of all, the sky's the limit in terms of style and design. Whether you choose a repeating pattern, a special text, or to simply outline the space in a bright color, you will have a hallway that truly represents your sense of style.



Photo source: Alisa Burke



Hallways are a perfect spot to display galleries of any kind. Consider the size of the space as well as if it is public or private. You may choose to reserve certain photos or mementos for family-only areas or you may want to show them off to friends and company. The point is, just be intentional with your strategy so you don't regret it when you're done!

I love the layering of picture frames here:



Photo source: Houzz - Spinnaker Development



Photo source: Houzz - Mary Prince

Wainscoting is another great option that gives the hallway a clean but still interesting appeal. White is the traditional choice for wainscoting, but don't let that deter you from breaking the "rules."



Photo source: Young House Love



Photo Source: Houzz

If you know much about me, you know that I'm all about using vertical space. Hallways are no exception. If you have a nice, wide hallway, I love the idea of adding practical, attractive built-ins for display and storage. Talk about maximizing space!



Photo source: Houzz - White Picket Fence, Inc.

Last, but certainly not least, there is my reliable favorite - paint! There are few better ways to easily and affordably update your space. Just like with flooring, consider having some fun with stripes or a bright pop of color that might be too much or feel too risky in a larger room.



Photo Source: Houzz



Photo Source: House of Turquoise



Hallways aren't known for being the brightest spots in the home. Why not let there be light! Adding lighting to a hallway really lifts up the space and adds a fun, interesting element of design. The long, narrow space of hallways is an ideal place to play with bold fixtures or highlight repetition in design.



Photo Source: Apartment Therapy

High ceilings are great for oversized light fixtures, staggered or in a row.


Photo source: Gather & Build

Rustic candelabra fixtures and wood paneling create a clean yet eclectic aesthetic here:



Photo Source: nestegg

POr how about a simple message:



Photo Source: The Gadget Flow

Or a cute, contrasting coat of paint:



Photo Source: Involving Color

When you think about it, some of the hallways in your home may see more action than many of the rooms. As such a crucial part of your home's flow, don't let them be an after-thought when it comes to design. With a little, or a lot, of attention and creativity you can maximize style and/or functionality of this once-forgotten space.


Sara Eizen is a Seattle-based interior designer and home organizer with a passion for helping busy families reclaim style and space in their homes on any budget. In a bi-weekly column for Seattle's Child, Sara shares creative, fun, affordable tips and tricks for clearing clutter, sprucing up rooms with minimal effort, creating systems that simplify family life, and much more.

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