Small hallway ideas – 10 tips to make your entrance hall look bigger

A few subtle but impactful tweaks with clever small hallway ideas can ring the changes in a small entrance space

Small hallway ideas with wood floor and white walls with black and white photographs on them.
(Image credit: Davide Lovatti / Future)

Small hallway ideas are often overlooked, despite setting the decorative tone for the rest of your home. But a combination of practical storage and design know-how can turn this traditionally transitional space into a welcoming place to linger, no matter the size.

Think of your hallway as a room in its own right and not just as an interim space. Once you’ve made the most of its natural features, consider how to personalize it from a decorative point of view with the best hallway ideas and decorative tips for small spaces.

Small hallway ideas – maximize your hall with clever interior design tricks

Hallways are where first impressions are made and the scene is set for what lies beyond. It’s important to appreciate the significance these spaces give to the overall feel of a home, so do remember that first impressions count.

1. Consider scale, light and color in a small hallway

Small hallway ideas, with herringbone floor and pale gray wood panelled walls looking towards a living space.

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Remember that lighter colors give the appearance of more space – ideal for small or narrow hallway ideas – while darker tones will bring the room in, resulting in a cozier, more intimate feeling that can help you play with proportions.

‘Hard-wearing paints or tough, wipeable wall covering are best for particularly busy areas,' advises Claire Vallis, design director of the Harlequin Design Group. ‘This is more important in family homes.’ 

2. Decorate with your favorite color

Small hallway ideas with a textured turquoise wall and blue console.

(Image credit: Future / Sarah Maingot)

Give this often-overlooked small hallway ideas a little bit of love with the addition of color.

Here, saturated shades of cobalt, malachite and verdigris combine with botanical motifs to bring natural depth and earthiness. A low-hung pendant is a great way to add emphasis to the furniture below.

‘When introducing color, it’s best to avoid too many different shades; the choice of one hue for wall and floor treatments can be very effective,’ advises interior designer Tara Bernerd

3. Tone it down and opt for sophistication 

Dark blue paintwork in a small hallway with console table and herringbone flooring.

(Image credit: Ted Todd)

If you love idea of painting your woodwork in a color, just not as bright as above, you can opt for darker hallway paint ideas like this navy. It still creates a bold design feature in your hall as Robert Walsh, founder and owner of Ted Todd Fine Wood Floors explains:

‘Hallways should be just as beautiful as any other room and should take you on a journey through the home. To keep the hallway light and airy, choosing a paler wood floor will not only bring the great outdoors in, but will keep the space feeling bright. Introducing a pattern such as a chevron or herringbone will help to draw your eye through the space making it feel bigger, too. 

'What's more, lighter floors offer a contemporary feel and will add a subtle statement allowing you to use bolder color elsewhere – why not opt for dark blue, gray or green for your doors, frames and other woodwork to add contrast and balance to the space?’

4. Add a standout pattern for impact

Small hallway ideas with a leopard print carpet running up the stairs, black flooring and pale lilac walls.

(Image credit: Future / Catherine Gratwicke)

Pack a punch with a well-chosen stair runner that reflects your personality. 

Areas of the home that that we pass through rather than live in, such as a cloakroom or hallway, can be the perfect opportunity for the more tame among us to try out bolder trends. Setting a print carpet against a backdrop of low-key décor can also have a rather pretty, boho look, as seen here. 

Everything else in this hallway scheme has been left neutral so that the carpet is the focus as you walk into the house. This is a look that's effective, but simple to achieve, as it doesn't involve elaborate decorating everywhere else. 

It's worth noting that the stairs have been painted white, compared with the dark-wood floors, to let the pattern stand out.

5. Decorate with an accent color for impact

Hallway with green paintwork on cabinets, brick flooring and sisal runner towards door.

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Small hallway ideas needn’t be dull; in fact, they can be quite the opposite. But that doesn’t mean they need to be full of bright colors. 

We love the contrast here between the hallway storage ideas, painted in Little Greene’s Dark Brunswick Green, and the use of Portland Stone Light on the walls and Portland Stone on the dado rail, door and trim. Don't forget to organize your hallway closet so it looks as good on the inside too.

The green here is enough to create a statement, but when balanced with the neutrals, including the terracotta tiles and coir runner, it works perfectly as a strong accent shade.

6. Use symmetry as a design feature

Small hallway ideas illustrated by a console table with symmetrical lamps either side of a gilt mirror.

(Image credit: KDLoves)

‘A hallway is the first part of your home that anyone will see when they enter, so it's important to make sure it's a true reflection of your personality and style,’ explains Emma Deterding, founder and creative director of Kelling Designs.

‘To keep a brighter feel, opt for neutral tones on the walls ,as they'll keep the small hall fresh, and use a large mirror to help reflect light whilst giving the illusion of space. 

'A console table will not only allow you to display personal touches and prized possessions, but will also be practical to drop bags, keys and mail as you go in and out of the house. 

'Here, a pair of matching table lamps help to create entry table decor ideas with symmetry and balance. Opting for lampshades and upholstery in bright colors and bold patterns will allow you to bring your personality into the space, whilst setting the mood for the rest of your home.’

7. Lead the eye with a runner

A purple and pink patterned runner and wall art in a neutral small hallway idea.

(Image credit: Future / Catherine Gratwicke)

Whatever the size of your entrance hall, there is always a way to make an impact. 

Traditional hallways in period homes are often narrow, so look at ways of deceiving the eye. Consider using a floor runner to lead the eye towards a vista and try leaving internal doors leading off of the hall open to increase a sense of space. 

Small hallway ideas also offer the opportunity to be brave with color, particularly with soft furnishings that can be easily changed. Here, an eye-catching runner and wall decor ideas lend vibrancy without overwhelming.

8. Create interest with objects

An entryway with yellow wallpaper, botanical artwork and a collection of African baskets on a table.

(Image credit: Future / Tom Leighton)

Set the tone the moment you walk through the door with a strong symmetrical arrangement, such as this collection of woven African baskets displayed on a French bistro table. 

The earthy colors of the baskets harmonize with the frames of the botanical prints and the amber-colored walls; statement hallway lighting ideas in the form of a modern chandelier complete the effect.

9. Use architectural details to your advantage

A yellow painted small hallway idea with archway through to the living room and gallery wall.

(Image credit: M. Lavender Interiors / Chris Bradley)

When faced with interesting curves and beautiful detailing, it seems a shame not to make a feature of them. We love the way this small hallway has been decorated with a deep turmeric color on the inside that gives it a cocoon-like feel, whilst also incorporating sophisticated gallery wall ideas.

The dark wood flooring contrasts with the color scheme, whilst at the same time creating a continuity from the hallway to the living room beyond. 

10. Create a cohesive color scheme 

Small hallway ideas shown with green floral wallpaper, a red striped rug and green bench.

(Image credit: Future / Chris Everard)

When creating a scheme, view your hallway as an integral part of your home. 

Try to ensure the decoration is in harmony with your living room ideas and any other rooms leading off it, as well as with the stairway, balustrades and landing (if visible), and also that your paint colors and hallway wallpaper ideas do not clash. 

How do you make a small hallway look good?

It’s worth making the most of the bones of your hallway – if you live in a period property, consider keeping things simple and exposing original features such as cornicing, ceiling roses, encaustic flooring and handrails. 

In contemporary spaces, aim for a central feature, such as a striking glass staircase, a frameless picture window or statement lighting. 

Smaller tweaks such as adjusting your lighting scheme can be just as impactful. Choose a layered approach, adding subtle dimmable recess uplighters and ceiling lights combined with the warm yellow glow of table lamps. 

Don’t forget to consider your staircase too, and be sure to incorporate enough storage to keep it clutter free – particularly hallway shoe storage solutions.

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.