8 hallway decorating mistakes we're probably all making – how to solve them

large hallway iwth white walls and wooden furniture


They say first impressions count. On that basis the hallway should be the most important area of the house surely?! Yet often it’s the least considered.

That’s not to say it has to be the best decorated room by any means, it just has to make the right statement. There are many hallway decorating mistakes we’re probably all guilty of, that could leave our guests less than impressed. But fear not they are easy enough to avoid, when you know how.

Along with experts in design we reveal the most common hallway decorating mistakes we often make – and how best to avoid them.

Most common hallway decorating mistakes

1. Choosing the wrong flooring

large hallway iwth white walls and wooden furniture

Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

Look for a practical hallway flooring idea, to withstand the high traffic and footfall. ‘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’ warns Emily Dunstan at Heal’s.

‘Depending on how much traffic your hallway gets, there are a few different things you can do. Forget light coloured tiles or laminate and opt for patterned tiles or dark wood floors. They won’t show marks as easily and are simple to sweep, mop and vacuum.’ She advises before adding, ‘Don’t forget to add a hard-wearing hallway runner and doormat to finish off the look.’

2. Providing poor storage for shoes

white hallway with wall of elevated storage

Image credit: Future PLC/ Jo Henderson

‘Not only are unorganised 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,’ says Emily.

For a smart hallway shoe storage solution, she suggests: ‘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?

3. Underestimating how many coat hooks we need

Grey hallway ideas

Image credit: Future plc/ Max Attenborough

How many coats do you own? More than one we’ll bet, and how many of those are in your hallway right now. Not that we’re encouraging a pile up of coats, but we are saying be mindful of providing enough hooks. Plentiful hallway storage ideas for garments to avoids that look of one or two hooks overspilling with a mountain of coats.

Emily agrees, advising; ‘Rather than letting coats pile up in the hallway, add as many hooks as you can so you can comfortably hang and retrieve coats.’

4. Thinking small equals dull

Blue hallway with storage and mirror

Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

‘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’ is Emily’s advice. ‘Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour, especially in a light-starved space.’

‘Confident use of a bright colour such as yellow creates a welcoming and vibrant space.’ Adding,’ 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.’

5. Poor hallway lighting

hallway with yellow and black walls with dark wood flooring

Image credit: Future PLC/ James Merrell

The right hallway lighting ideas are key for making any hallway space bright and inviting. ‘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,’ she explains. ‘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.’

The soft wall lighting in this bold hallway colour scheme uses walls lights to create a beautiful accent glow, as well as a focal pendant light.

6. Using hard-to-clean matte paint

grey hallway with wood panelling

Image credit: Future PLC/ Rachael Smith

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

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

7. Not seeking smart ways to welcome light

hallway with rectangular mirrors

Image credit: Heal’s

If your hallway doesn’t already have a hall mirror idea you are missing a trick. This simple accessory could be all your small entranceway needs to be more impactful and well dressed.

‘As well as opening up smaller areas and serving decorative purposes, mirrors can have practical benefits too’ suggests Sabrina Miller at Heal’s. ‘Pieces such as the Brunel Lean Mirror With Hanging Space, double up as storage. Boasting a coat hook and shelves – perfect for keeping a decluttered look, whilst maximising light through the space.’

8. Thinking wallpaper is a no-go for hallways

Hallway colour scheme, plae blue woodwork and large scale print wallpaper

Image credit: Little Greene

Wallpaper is a way to wow with walls, and where could it be more important to wow than the hallway – impressing guests with your decor prowess as soon as they enter the house. While it can be a mistake to think wallpaper is off limits in a hallway, you do need to be mindful of the size of the space.

If your entranceway is generous then you have much more freedom with design choice. Smaller spaces need to be more considered.

Expert Alex Whitecroft, Head of Design at I Want Wallpaper has a solution! Alex suggests; ‘Reflective wallpaper is always an excellent choice. Not only is it a fantastic way to create a wonderfully dynamic feeling through patterning and texture, but it can reflect up to twice as much light!’

‘When it comes to your walls, wallpaper can add a whole new dimension to the way light interacts with your space’ Alex adds. ‘It can bring subtle yet powerful elements like texture, patterns, reflection and contrast into the mix, adding a whole new dynamic to consider and play with in a way that’s often lost with painted surfaces.’

Now you know the mistakes, you’re all set to redesign this small but powerfully impactful area of your home.

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