How to design your hallway

Designing your hallway should be a fun project, especially because it’s the first thing guests in your house see. It should be beautiful and functional at the same time, show your personality, impress visitors…so many things on the list for the perfect hallway.

Many people feel pressure to get it “perfect”. Let me take some of that pressure off by telling you that “perfect” doesn’t exist in the interior design world. And it doesn’t have to, either! But there are ways to design a hallway that functions well for you and your lifestyle, and that looks and feels like home at the same time.

What you’ll find here

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Hi, I’m Nadine

Interior design expert, globetrotter and the creative mind behind this blog and NH.DESIGN.

I’m originally from Germany but have been living abroad for over 10 years, from Canada and the UK to Sweden.

So I ask myself the question what “home” means every day.
I have made it my mission to help as many people as possible to find their own answer to this.

Join my creative world on Instagram @nhdotdesign or find out more about me

Analyse your space and needs before diving into designing your hallway

You won’t know what you need until you analyse your space and write it all down. Imagine doing all the daily things you do in your hallway and write them down, even the really small ones. It’s easy to say “I need storage for shoes”, but what kind of shoes? How many pairs? Are the shoes different sizes because they’re for different people? What if the shoes are dirty or wet? Do you also need a space to take the shoes off or put them on, like a bench or chair? You see, just the simple function of “storing shoes” has many different levels.

Use this list for different activities and needs in a hallway and pick the ones that are relevant for you.

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    Create a Mood Board and visualise your ideas before jumping into your hallway design

    The next step when designing your hallway is to create a Mood Board.
    If you don’t know what that is, a Mood Board is a collection of images to visualise the style, design elements, colours, materials and the feeling you want to create in a space. Without it you’ll go blindly into purchasing furniture and decoration, painting walls and putting things together that at the end don’t work well together. You’ll spend time and money on something that doesn’t turn out the way you imagined. To avoid that, creating a Mood Board is key.

    You can find tons of already made Mood Boards on Pinterest or you can make your own using the free online design tool Canva. 

    Set (and stick to) a budget for your hallway design

    When designing your hallway, just like any other room, make sure you set yourself a budget. It’s easy to get side-tracked by all the beautiful inspiration out there and get your heart set on something only to find out it’s way out of your budget.

    It’s also important to track your spendings during your hallway project; I use this Google Sheets Budget Planner I created.
    I set the overall project budget and then allocate different amounts to different areas of the project (like furniture, lighting, construction etc).
    It’s up to you to decide where to splurge and where to save when designing your hallway.

    I personally like to spend a little more on statement lighting and less on storage because I often get IKEA kitchen cabinets:
    they’re great quality at an affordable price but I can change and personalise the fronts, interiors, hardware etc as much as I want.

    Read this post to find out how much to budget for your renovations.

    Getting the layout right for your hallway design

    The layout is important in any space but especially in the hallway where everyone passes through and many different activities happen.
    Depending on how you’re using the space there are a few key things to consider when designing your hallway layout. Go back to your list from the beginning and see what you decided you needed in the space. Also think about special occasions like Christmas or birthdays; you might have more people over during those times and need more shoe and jacket storage.

    Always choose a focal point in the room, to create a welcoming feeling right from the start when people enter your home. That could be a console table with a mirror or artwork above, an interesting architectural feature like a staircase or special materials like a herringbone floor.

    Make sure you leave enough space for walkways and access to doors or storage cabinets; the rule of thumb is 90-100 cm (35-40”).

    Choose the right colours and materials when designing your hallway

    The right colours and materials are important when designing your hallway. Now the word “right” doesn’t mean there’s a wrong choice, it just means it should be right for you and your lifestyle.
    To decide the best colour scheme and materials for your hallway, ask yourself how you use the space. Look at your needs-analysis from the beginning, consult your Mood Board and based on those make your decisions for function and look.

    Durable and easy to clean flooring for your hallway

    When it comes to choosing the type of materials for floors it’s a good idea to go with something durable, like wood or tile.

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    Pro Tip

    Make sure the flooring material you want to use is rated for high traffic areas and does well with dirt, mud or wetness.

    Wall colours for your hallway design

    It’s completely up to you what wall colour you choose for your hallway. But generally speaking, lighter colours make the space look bigger but also show scuffs and scrapes more easily. While darker colours create a more cosy, intimate feeling but can also make a room look small. If you want to go with a nice light, clean look, white is the way to go. Now choosing the perfect white isn’t easy, but luckily I’ve got a guide for you.

    Either way, the sheen or finish of your paint is super important to make your hallway walls easy maintenance.

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    Pro Tip

    For best durability and look, use a semi-gloss finish for your hallway walls.

    When you’re creating the colour scheme for your hallway design, the rule of thumb is 60:30:10. That means that your main colour should take up 60% of the space, a secondary colour 30% and an accent colour 10%.

    The White Guide by NH.DESIGN is a helpful resource to choose the right white paint colour.

    The White Guide

    Not every white is the same, and choosing the right one isn’t easy.

    Learn everything about undertones and how to pick the perfect white paint colour for any room in your home with my White Guide.

    The right lighting for your hallway

    A key element when designing your hallway is the right lighting. There are 3 types: general, functional and mood lighting. General lighting should give the space an even, bright light level. You can imagine it like this: the light switch you flip when entering a room, that’s your general lighting. Functional lighting is, as the name suggests, meant to support specific functions or activities, like reading, working or cooking. Last but not least you have mood lighting, which is used to set the mood and create a cosy atmosphere. Choose the different kinds based on the activities you wrote down in your needs-analysis in the beginning.

    I like to choose a statement ceiling lamp to create a focal point in the room. Other lighting entirely depends on where you need it, and what for. I’m also a big fan of dimmable lights or Smart Home systems because one light can have multiple different functions.

    Also read my complete lighting guide for your home.

    Styling tips for the perfect hallway design

    Styling your hallway is the final touch, the cherry on the top. Even though it’s a very functional space it should also look inviting. After all, it’s the first impression of your home.
    Going into detail of all the ways you can style your hallway would go too far so I’ve created simple, step-by-step styling guides you can easily implement in a couple of hours.

    Styling Secrets guide by NH.DESIGN

    Styling Secrets

    Learn how to style any room in your home like a pro with my Styling Secrets guide.

    With these design tips it’s easy to design a hallway that’s both functional and stylish.

    Thanks for reading!
    If you enjoyed this post, follow along for more interior design tips and inspiration on my Instagram @nhdotdesign and sign up for my Welcome Home Letter.

    Take care, Nadine

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