7 hallway design mistakes we're making – and expert tips on how to solve them

Which ones could you fix quickly?

Hallway mistakes
(Image credit: Future)

Are you making hallway design mistakes you could fix easily? The hallway is often overlooked when we are designing our homes, but it's vital they work decoratively – after all, when guests enter our homes, the hallway is the first thing they see – and practically, because they tend to be the family's dumping ground.

First impressions count, and while your hallway doesn't have to be perfect or decorated along one particular theme, there are many hallway design mistakes you can make in this small but powerful area of the home that can be easily solved.

See: Hallway ideas – to create a stylish first impression

We’ve highlighted the five most common decorating mistakes people make when decorating their hallway and enlisted the help of Emily Dunstan of Heal's to reveal how to avoid making them yourself.

5 hallway design mistakes we all make

From dimly lit spaces to lack of storage for coats and shoes, Emily solves our top entranceway issues, and has put together 10 clever interior design tricks to make the most of this under-valued space.

1. Using light-colored flooring

hallway design mistakes

(Image credit: Heal's)

Even with a strict ‘shoes off’ policy, there’s no escaping the fact that the hallways floor is where dirt arrives and can be easily trodden in. Depending on how much traffic your hallway gets, there are a few different things you can do.

Forget light coloured tiles and opt for patterned tiles or dark wood floors instead. They won’t show marks as easily and are simple to sweep, mop and vacuum.

Don’t forget to add a hard-wearing but good looking hallway runner and doormat to finish off the look.

2. A lack of storage space

hallway design mistakes

Not only are disorganized shoes unsightly, they can also be a trip hazard. Ensure you have enough storage for everyone in the home to have a couple of pairs of shoes in the hallway, plus room for guests to leave theirs when they arrive.

Add bench seating as a further incentive for shoes to be left at the door. Why not opt for an option where the bench is also the storage?

Hallway design mistakes

(Image credit: Future)

Rather than letting coats pile up in the hallway, add as many hooks as you can so you can comfortably hang and retrieve coats. If you have little ones in the house, why not create a special coat hook just for them? Then they get into the habit of hanging their coat up neatly in the hallway.

3. Thinking small equals dull

Hallway ideas

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore.)

A small hallway doesn’t have to mean a dull hallway. Nor do you have to stick to white paint to make it feel brighter and bigger.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour, especially in a light-starved space. Confident use of a bright color such as yellow creates a welcoming and vibrant space.

If you don’t want to go all out and paint your walls bright yellow, try adding a few bold accessories such as hooks or benches to get a similar feel.

4. Poor hallway lighting

hallway design mistakes

(Image credit: Heal's)

Transform a dark and dingy hallway with carefully positioned lighting. Directional wall lights can highlight a beautiful ceiling, and pendant lighting can be really effective in making a small space feel much bigger.

A single pendant light can have the opposite effect, leaving too many shadows and patches of darkness. Instead, opt for multiple pendant lights running the length of your hall. This will draw the eye into the space and feel much warmer and inviting.

5. Using hard to clean matte paint in hallways

Hallway ideas

(Image credit: Pooky)

In this high-traffic area, it’s worth investing in a quality scrubbable or wipeable paint or even a durable hallway wallpaper. This way, any muddy splashes or little fingerprints can be easily wiped away.

Alternatively, wood panelling can help to keep your walls in good condition. Try to opt for panelling that suits the age and history of your property.

See: Smart panelling ideas for walls that bring warmth and interest

6. A lack of cohesive decor

Gallery wall

(Image credit: Carley Page Summers)

A hallway doesn't need to have a strong theme – often this busy space is best left plainly decorated so that it remains neat-looking despite all the elements you need to squeeze into it. However, there's always a good case for committing to at least one stand-out decorative element. That could be anything from a gallery wall, such as the one above, a console table with stunning table lamps, to stand-out seating or just a beautiful wallpaper.

7. Not making the front door a feature

hallway design mistakes

(Image credit: Future)

We spend a lot of time considering how our entranceways will look from the outside, but often neglect to do anything interesting with the interior of the front door. A simple coat of paint that picks out another color in the hallway – perhaps the floor tiles or wallpaper – is enough to make it shine. 

For a cozy feel, add a curtain that can be pulled across it at night.

See: Front door ideas – colours, materials and looks for exterior doors for the perfect entrance

Contributing Editor

Ruth Doherty is an experienced digital writer and editor specializing in interiors, travel and lifestyle. With 20 years of writing for national sites under her belt, she’s worked for the likes of Livingetc.com, Standard, Ideal Home, Stylist and Marie Claire as well as Homes & Gardens.