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  • Stephanie Donnelly

How to: Transform Your Dark Hallway

Hallways provide connection within your home and are one of the most important transitional spaces, as well as being one of the most high traffic areas. If your hallway is particularly dark and dull, it can be easy to overlook its renovation in favor of main living areas, but transforming your hallway into a welcoming and purposeful space is easier than you think.

The hallway can often be the most neglected area of the home, overlooked when it comes to design and decoration in favor of those rooms we use most often. It may feel like an insignificant space that's only use is to be functional at times, but the hallway should still be treated as if it were a room. Everything from the color on your walls to the lighting and materials can create a warm welcome home for you and your guests. Keep reading to learn how to transform your space!

Hallway ideas:


Transform a dark hallway with strategically placed lights. The perfect light fixtures can make all the difference when it comes to creating a welcoming atmosphere in your home by drawing the eye into the space and making it feel much warmer and inviting. Lighting is one of the easiest ways to brighten your hallway, and there are so many options for creating a look that best suits your style. Directional wall lights can highlight a beautiful ceiling, and semi-flush pendant lighting can be a really great way to incorporate a statement piece.

Add Art

Just because a hallway is a transitional space, doesn't mean it should be ignored or forgotten when it comes to incorporating art or decor. If you have enough wall space in your hallway, this is a fantastic place to display a beautiful family gallery or an oversized art piece.


Create the illusion of space and bring your hallway to life by incorporating mirrors into your design. You might be tempted to keep decor to a minimum in your hallway in order to maximize the amount of space, but mirrored features are worth the investment here. Mirrors reflect light, which is especially beneficial in naturally dark hallways, and in turn make the appearance of the space seem bigger and brighter. Don't miss out on taking advantage of this space creating opportunity!

Natural Lighting

If your hallway is totally devoid of natural light, consider utilizing your adjacent rooms to brighten the space. Replacing internal hallway doors with a glass option can help to stream light into a naturally darker hallway. A door with clear or translucent glass is a fantastic way of flooding your hallway with light, and therefore makes it seem bigger and brighter. If you have open doorways that lead into your hallway instead, keep your window treatments in these adjacent rooms light and semi-sheer to ensure as much natural light as possible is entering your home.


While tile and wooden floors are an easy-to-clean option for a high-traffic hallway, adding a rug to your space is a fantastic way to incorporate a pattern or color to your hallway. Rugs can offer warmth and comfort to your home and also be the final touch that brings all of the design elements of your hallway together. Choose from a variety of colors, patterns, and textures, and think about whether you want to make a statement with your rug, or if your flooring is the centerpiece. If it's the latter, a more muted rug, such as natural jute, might work better. Don't forget to add an anti-slip mat underneath!

Wall Colors and Ideas

Clever painting techniques can help make a narrow hallway seem bigger. Some of the best colors are whites and soft, light neutrals, and you can never go wrong painting the space in a very simple bright white, too!

We usually advise against dark paint in a narrow hallway as it can make it feel even smaller and longer and end up having the opposite affect you're trying to achieve. You can still incorporate black accents and even a black door or trim with white walls to really make them POP. There is one exception to painting your hallway dark and that is if there are a lot of doors to brighten up the space and less wall space to paint.

Wall moulding is a great way to add interest to a hallway, but if it is too ornate it can feel intrusive. We suggest adding a simple chair rail and using a lighter color at the top of the wall and a contrasting color below the chair rail.

In order to make your hallway more inviting, there needs to be a focal point. This can be a rug, artwork, pictures, etc. You can also choose a wallpaper with a pattern to give it more of an inviting, funky feel. You can do this in almost any color with the right pattern if the hallway has a wall at the end. Another option is to create a statement by incorporating a contrasting paint color, dresser, or console table!

When designing your hallway, the best thing to do is to keep it simple in its design but provide enough visual interest to make it inviting. We can't wait to see what you do in your homes, and if you have any questions, reach out to Stephanie and start a conversation about your home!

~This blog was brought to you by S. Donnelly Interiors. Learn more about the interior design project process by following Stephanie Donnelly and her interior design services in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the surrounding areas!


S.Donnelly Interiors
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