A dark hallway is a design challenge for any home. Dark hallways do not have windows, which means they have little to zero natural light.
Due to a lack of natural light, you’ll need to rely on other light sources and apply a few design tricks. If a dark hallway is near the front door, you should make that your first priority.
Working With Dark Hallways
Hallways are heavy traffic areas, so you want them to be bright and easy to navigate for safety reasons. This doesn’t mean you’re limited to a plain, white, boring hallway.
Also, if the hallway that leads into the house from the front door is dark, you’ll want to pay special attention to this area. This is where you welcome friends and family into your home, so you don’t want it to be dim or boring.
Ready to take on your dark hallway makeover? Check out the following ideas.
Painting a Long Dark Hallway
Painting a dark hallway is a tried and true method for brightening the space. It’s also a budget-conscious way to make a huge difference.
Choosing a light color scheme to reflect natural light will make the hall brighter. Creamy white colors or light gray tones can brighten hallway walls and make them seem bigger and wider.
There are also a few painting tricks that can fool the eye as well: To make a space feel wider, paint horizontal stripes. To make it feel taller, use vertical stripes on the walls.
While you want to keep your hall light, don’t feel limited to white cream or pale gray as a paint colour for a hallway. There are lots of choices for the perfect paint color for your boring hallway walls.
Light Blues and Greens
Pale shades of blue or green are ideal for a hallway background. A paint color in either of these families can make the hall feel brighter and less closed in. Hues like place blue and sage green are calming.
Warm Blush Tones
These colors are light, but also warm and cheery. These make a great paint color for a scary dark hallway that is in serious need of a warmer feel.
Sunny Yellow Shades
Choosing a sunny yellow for a hallway is a quick ticket to the bright side of life. It reflects light and brightens things up and is a bold idea.
Paint Finish To Reflect Light
When you’re trying to reflect as much light as possible, it’s not the time for matte paint choices on the walls. The best finish in a dark hall is an eggshell, satin, or gloss.
Many an interior designer will poo-poo the rules on light colors and say that going dark is a great option. There are plenty of reasons to skip the light end of the spectrum and embrace deep, bold colors for the walls.
Opting for dark hues adds a wow factor to your home. Depending on the color, you can get a big dose of glamour, mystery or quirkiness.
A long narrow hall can look choppy and disjointed if it is painted a bold color but it still has white trim. The same goes for the doors to adjacent rooms.
If you’re pulling the trigger and painting the hallway walls a bold, deep color, paint everything in the hall the same color. That means trim, doors and any other elements.
Think Beyond Black
If you want to paint the hall a dark color, some people will choose black. Instead, skip black and go for a rich, deep hue from another color family.
A charcoal hue will do the trick but there are so many other options. Deep blue, hunter green, rich and bold teal or a lush brick colour.
Choose Bright Lighting
The quickest way to brighten up a hallway is to install bright lighting. Even in the hall, dimmer switches are a good idea. You don’t always want the lighting to be super bright, like at night. You want to achieve a warm glow.
When you’re looking at lighting a long, dark hallway, you have a number of options.
- Wall sconces are perfect because they provide diffused light. It illuminates the wall as well as the ceiling.
- Ceiling spotlights light up the hall without adding any obstacles from the sides or top. This is helpful if you have a long narrow hallway.
- If there is space in the hall or at the ends, add a table lamp. This can add another layer of lighting down a dim hallway.
- Avoid light fixtures that hang down from the ceiling. These can be a hazard and visual clutter. The exception will be hallways with high ceilings, which can accommodate pendants and other hanging fixtures.
Play up Natural Light From Adjacent Rooms
While the hall itself might not have windows, the adjoining rooms will. Anything you can do to bring light from the rooms to brighten the area will help.
Try using doors that have frosted glass instead of solid wood. This provides privacy but allows light to filter into the space.
Swap Clear or Translucent Glass on Doors
Depending on where the hallway is, it helps if the doors are made of clear or translucent glass to bring in more natural light.
Of course, clear glass is not an option for bedroom doors. Instead, maybe there is a door at the end of the hall that could include glass to reflect light into the hallway.
Paint the Doors
If the hall is lined with doors that are brown wood, they will absorb light. To solve this, paint the face of the door either a creamy white or the same color as the wall. Either of these techniques will help reflect the light.
Skylights are not an option everywhere, as in a dark apartment or condo hallway. But, if it works for you, it can be transformative.
The amount of natural light a skylight brings in will change the feel of the space. This is true in an entry hall.
Pay Attention to the Floor
If you have a wood floor, you can lighten things up by putting a light- or bright-colored runner down a dark hallway.
Focus on the Entryway
Many homes have a dark entryway and this is one space you’ll want to upgrade right away. This is where you welcome guests, so it should be bright and inviting.
This entryway would be quite dark and foreboding were it not for the creamy paint and great lights in the ceiling. The panes of glass in the front door also help bring in more natural light.
Moreover, the entry has enough room for a console table and further on, bookshelves.
Other ways to make the house entryway inviting include:
- Declutter and keep the space neat
- Adding wainscoting or two contrasting colors
- Installing a mirror to reflect more light
Decorating Dark Hallways
When it comes to livening up a creepy dark hallway, there are plenty of ways to use decor and design techniques to give some light and personality.
Look at these ideas for more inspiration for the hallways in your own home.
Soffits with a Transom
Break up the dark monotony of a hallway by adding soffits with transoms.
This will let in more natural light and help brighten a dark hallway. The added feature also creates more interest in the space.
Sure, you could add regular height wainscoting to a long narrow hallway, but taller is better.
Instead of chopping off the height of the wall, this example shows how taking the wainscoting higher creates a different look. It also makes the ceiling seem higher and artwork placed high adds to the effect.
Moreover, look at this example and you’ll see that it uses a few of the techniques we’ve mentioned here. A light neutral color covers the walls and the trim, shaped architectural features add interest and bright lighting makes it cheery.
Also, notice that end of the hall is a mirror.
A Glass Door to Nowhere
This wide hallway is lined with opaque glass doors that make it feel brighter. Don’t discount this option because you don’t have rooms along your hall. You can always fake it.
You can install a frosted glass-paneled door to nowhere along a hall to create an illusion. The glass makes it feel more open and with some concealed lighting, you can brighten up the space.
Of course, this is a high-ticket fix. In the end, however, it’s super stylish and unexpected.
This black and white hallway wall would be fine on their own, but the art adds more interest and draws the eye. If people admire the art, they’re not paying enough attention to the space.
Since this hall is wide, the homeowners added a row of artful stools. These are functional and decorative.
The hallway is the perfect place for a gallery wall display. You can do this in any hallway, but it’s great for jazzing up a long narrow hallway that doesn’t have room for much else.
Whether you choose to go for family photos, a collection of art prints or random works of art, be sure to plan your display.
For the cleanest lines, opt for matching frames if possible.
If your hall is wide enough, bookshelves are a fabulous addition. They are interesting and provide added display room and storage space.
The hallway in this remodeled Victorian home would be dark and boring without the light paint color and ceiling lights.
The bookshelves are wooded and have a modern cubby style, which is far more interesting than regular shelving. For a more monochromatic look, bookshelves like these can be painted to match the walls.
In a narrow hallway that doesn’t have room for anything on the floor, floating shelves and picture ledges are a brilliant idea. These break up the long expanse of wall surfaces and let you display special items.
This particular hallway happens to have both. The picture ledge runs along the top of the wainscoting, adding dimension to the space.
On the other hand, the floating shelves are positioned much higher. This is a good idea for safety. You don’t want anyone running into the corner of the floating shelf with their face.
In most cases, when you think about an accent wall it’s in a room. However, making an accent wall in the hallway is another way to make it feel wider.
As you can see in this hall, painting one side in a dark color gives the visual illusion of pushing the side outward.
Even though there is plenty of light in this hall, it feels even bigger with the addition of the accent wall.
This is also a great way to incorporate darker paint colors without going dark.
Adding mirrors is an efficient way to reflect light and brighten a dark hall. This unique version uses two types of mirrors for an interesting effect.
The large background mirror has a dark, smoky finish. The two central organic shapes are like secondary mirrors and are fully reflective. The golden design adds interest to the wall too.
This design brings life to a darker hallway corner that is painted a deep teal color.
Statement Wallpaper or Painting
Using statement wallpaper to jazz up a creepy dark hallway is a winning plan. This particular house uses custom painting along both sides of the stairs instead.
The vibrant jungle motif on both sides is combined with a bright green ceiling above the stairs. Along both sides, bold framed leaf prints add to the colorful vibe.
Unique lantern pendants light up the stairwell.
A Narrow Console
Decorating a long dark hall can be a challenge because there’s not a lot of space. If it’s not too narrow, adding a slim console table can make a huge design difference.
This super slim console gives you a display surface. It also helps create a focal point in what could be a rather boring space.
If you have wood floors throughout the house, it’s good to add a rug in the hallway. Not only does this add color and lightness, but it also helps dampen sound and create a softer surface.
However, an extra-long runner can get expensive. Instead, try using several smaller rugs. They can be multiples of the same one, as they are here. Or, you can mix and match complementary rugs to add some extra personality. Either way, the rugs prevent the wood floors from absorbing so much light.
Pops of Color
Sure, this hallway painted white is bright enough, but it would be boring without some color. This is the place in the house where you can add your favorite bold hue.
This house uses red to spice up the decor, both with a modern painting and a patterned rug. They have chosen a rug that includes lighter shades for extra contrast.
Adding a bench in a hallway serves more than one purpose. First, it breaks up the expanse of wall, and adds visual interest. It’s a great way to incorporate texture and patterns.
Second, a bench is functional. You can plop down to put on your socks or you can park a bag or two. Or, set out your gym bag for the next morning so you don’t forget it!
Among the cool ideas for hallways is creating an accent door. This is very simple to do.
One option is to install an artful statement door as in this house. Narrow double panels that are carved create an instant focal point.
If you can’t or don’t want to install a new door, you can paint an existing door. Moreover, you don’t need to paint both sides of the door if it doesn’t work with your color scheme. Just paint the internal face so that it accents the hallway.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
How to decorate a hallway
Make a plan for our hallway starting with the paint color. After that, assess the length and width to decide what you want to play up and what needs improvement. Do what you can to make it feel brighter and more spacious.
Larger fixes will be dependent on your budget. Otherwise, add rugs, the right lighting elements and artwork at a minimum.
How wide should a hallway be?
By law, a hallway must be 36 inches wide. But, that is the minimum and most houses now have one that is usually 42 inches wide.
Still, you might want a wider hallway for many reasons including accessibility.
But, beyond that a width of 48 to 72 inches give you a great deal of opportunity to add shelves, furniture and just have a wide and spacious hall.
How to decorate a narrow hallway?
The main aim is to make a narrow hallway look wider. You can do this in many ways, including painting your walls and ceiling a neutral color.
Also try incorporating vertical stripes for rugs, adding mirrors to visually expand the space, and keeping the decor clutter-free.
How long should a hallway runner be?
A typical hallway runner is two and three feet wide. For length, it should be between 6 and 14 feet long.
The runner should never be so long that it goes into the area of the room beyond.
You can also use several shorter rugs that are identical or complementary.
How to decorate a hallway wall
Whatever you do, you want the hallway to feel spacious. Add mirrors to reflect more light. Try repeating your light fixtures for decoration and illumination. Add some pops of color and if you have the room, incorporate shelving or a console.
Adding wallpaper of lots of artwork is also a great way to decorate a hallway wall.
Can you put two runners in a hallway?
Absolutely! If you have a long hallway, you might need a custom length, which is costly. Using multiple shorter rugs is just as effective and more budget-friendly.
What is the best colour for hallway?
Neutral paint colors will definitely make your hallway feel bright and airy. Think beyond white and cream to paler shades of blue, green, and yellow.
Gray is also a classic choice for hallways.
Dark Hallway Conclusion
Even if your house has a dark scary hallway, there are many ways to turn it into a bright and cheery space. Work with the hallway and budget that you have. Being creative will lead to a more welcoming space.
Whatever size and length it is, you can add lighting, repaint, and decorate using these techniques to create a spectacular hallway.