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Are Hallways in Design Plans Wasted Space?

Perk Up Your Hallways with Stylish Designs and Accents



Isn't it amazing how the little details in our memories are triggered -- and once again, relived and remembered?

But what do they have to do with hallways?

My grandparents' old home had a treasure trove of architectural details that keep resurfacing in my memories - there was the long winding staircase with the polished wood banister, the above-the-garage apartment, covered front porch, and the open floor layout.

And now, hallways. Or for that particular house, the single hallway through the side door. That short and wide hallway next to the stairs – going into the dining/living area - was the first thing that greeted us when we used the side door.

Open the door of this attractive two-story, three-bedroom Contemporary style home and walk into its amazing foyer featuring a beautifully built staircase. The hallway space is smartly utilized by positioning a small cabinet displaying photographs and other family trinkets. A framed picture on the wall pairs well with the photo cabinet. (Plan #161-1092)


Talk about smart use of space. First, there was a built-in storage area tucked under the stairs. Then, there was a wood bench that "filled" the empty space in the hallway.   

So, if you think hallways are wasted spaces, think again! In home design, hallways can play an important role in traffic patterns and as transitions from one space to another.

Let's stop and consider some of the design moments that are captured in many hallways. From wallpaper to storage ideas, vibrant colors and an array of interior design concepts, the simple hallway can be an inviting space that reflects your style and the rest of the house. 

Perk up a rather narrow and long hallway with good lighting and artwork as shown in this interior photo of a one-story Modern style home. A well-lit hallway that separates the bedrooms features artwork on one wall and at the very end of the corridor. The bold hues in the paintings jazz up the color palette of the space. The residence has a heated area of 3,665 square feet that includes three bedrooms, three full baths, a powder room, spacious Great Room with a fabulous main kitchen equipped with a huge island bar. (Plan #202-1027)


Hallways and their Uses

While hallways are now a conventional feature of many modern structures, they did not become common until the 17th century.

The first recorded construction of a hallway dates to 1597, when the English architect John Thorpe built a corridor for a house in London. The hallway allowed "independent access to individual rooms" to replace the arrangement of rooms that led to each other through connecting internal doors.”

Prior to Thorpe’s innovation, a hallway or corridor was built generally to serve a very mundane and boring purpose – that of circulation… meaning that it was a space where people moved from one place to another, without stopping or spending much time in the passageway.

Today, architects and builders are creating functional hallways that serve a purpose beyond that of a circulation pathway.

A narrow hallway in a one-story European style home is transformed into an interesting pathway between a bathroom and a bedroom at the end of the hall. A patterned rug cushions the sound of footsteps and conversation; and the wall has become a photo/art gallery. The 3,766-square-foot home features four bedrooms – in a split layout design – four baths, Great Room, a kitchen with a walk-in pantry and two islands, and a spacious outdoor grilling porch. (Plan #153-1095


Benefits of Hallways


No longer the long dark tunnel leading from the living area to the bedrooms, the modern hallway can be enhanced to make it a pleasing, functional space that can inspire design moments.


  1. Hallways provide opportunities to display artwork, built-ins, and lighting fixtures
  2. It’s a “destination” to an area of the home – not just a footpath. For example, the entry hall takes you from the foyer into the main living portion of the house. Or, as illustrated in the photo above, it takes you from the end of the hall to a bathroom or a bedroom.
  3. Having an entry hall makes it easier to meet and greet guests when entertaining. 
  4. A large hallway can incorporate extra storage space or closets for outdoor and guest belongings.
  5. Hallways can serve as buffers for the cold and wet weather as well as for the noise from other sections of the home.     

A hallway in a two-story Contemporary style home leads to the living room area. See how lighting fixtures and furnishings at the entrance point create an inviting and welcoming feel. The floor plan includes 3,374 square feet of living space, three bedrooms, 2.5 baths. a master suite with an adjoining office, master bath, his-and-hers closets, and Great Room, kitchen, hearth room, breakfast room, and dining room, which take up two-thirds of the main floor. (Plan #153-1808)


Drawbacks of Hallways

The big debate about hallways is the matter of wasted space. Just imagine – an area of the home with no other function but a way to go from Point A to Point B.

  1. It’s a wasted opportunity if homeowners do not take advantage of making use of its features to create a stylish space.
  2. An empty hallway can be a financial burden. Since the space needs to be maintained, cleaned, heated, and cooled, the upkeep costs money.     


What is optimal hallway design?

One of the most visible spaces in the home and the first area of the home that guests lay their eyes on, the hallway carries a lot of design potential. It is often neglected and under-utilized because people don’t spend a lot of time hanging out in their hallways. However, this space should be up there with the front porch and the courtyard entry, and set a welcoming, relaxed and inviting tone for family and friends.


Stop for a minute and think about how hallways can enhance the home. And try to transform them into artful and statement-making spaces. Whether your hallway is long and narrow or short and wide, there is a design plan that can make the space stylish and interesting – and complementary to the rest of the home.

Get ready to learn how to design the hallway space to your advantage – and according to your taste and style.


Ways to get the most of your hallway space

Some people may think of hallways as wasted space – blithely forgetting how much they are used each day. With creativity, attention, and a little bit of effort, these neglected spaces can become interesting, attractive, and stylish.   


How do we start?

1.  Lighting figures in every design plan – especially for hallways. There’s nothing better than natural light that can fill a room – through huge glass windows and doors. To complement natural light, use recessed ceiling lights. But to create drama, think of unique light fixtures and wall sconces.  

A hallway in a 1.5-story, three-bedroom Country Craftsman style home combines natural light and recessed ceiling lights to create a brightly lit and breezy pathway to the bedrooms. The well-designed area includes a table that can be used as a workstation. The 2,499-square-foot home features 10-foot ceiling heights, a Great Room, dining room, kitchen with a pantry and breakfast island, covered patio and grilling terrace, and optional space for a mother-in-law suite. (Plan # 106-1274)


2.  Pops of color brighten up the hallway, add more depth and character. While you can have fun and go with bold tones on the walls and doors, remember that the colors you choose for the hallway must complement the colors in other rooms. When choosing shades and hues, keep them soft with warm undertones. 

A mix of shades that complement each other – light and darker yellow, lime green, with splashes of orange make this hallway in a two-story, 4,121-square-foot European style home unconventional and bright. Wall sconces add a dramatic lighting effect around one of the bedrooms in the three-bedroom, 3.5-bath home. (Plan #153-1897)


3. Set up the hallway as an inviting and welcoming spot for you and your guests. Whether it’s an area rug, a bench for seating while you take off your shoes, or a plant, be sure that when someone steps into that space, there's a feeling of warmth and a desire to walk inside the home - or deeper into the corridor.  

With the bright runner, plant, mirror, and seating bench, this lovely entry hall in a one-story, four-bedroom, 2.5-bath Country home is a welcoming spot for family members as well as guests. The simple touches are ideal for the space and architectural style of the 2,686-square-foot home. (Plan #142-1169)


4.  Make your hallway an attention-grabber. Create a sense of anticipation of what’s inside the home with a unique and attractive entry hallway. This hallway is a guests' first look into your style and what they can expect when they walk inside. 

Quite different from traditional entry hallways, this one in a fabulous two-story Contemporary style home features two huge stone walls with cutout spaces for vases and curios. Step into the entryway and your eyes are drawn to the patterned black and white rug with squares that leads to a painted wooden door… and pulls you into opening the door to see what’s inside. The entry hall is not the only impressive feature of this 3,374-square foot residence. There’s a main floor master suite, Great Room, huge kitchen, hearth room and dining area, two bedrooms on the upper level, a bonus room, and a three-car garage. (Plan #153-1808)


5.  Add practical and simple furniture. Don’t think of it as cluttering the small hall, but as smart styling to an otherwise bare space in the home. You can squeeze in a long table, mirror, coat rack, or a standing lamp shade to give the hallway a “lived-in” atmosphere.  

Step into the entry foyer of an attractive 2,095-square-foot Transitional Ranch style home and feast your eyes on the wood flooring, the long, narrow table with a mirror, planter, and candles on top. The light fixture adds to the natural light and gives the white walls a soft shade of pink. The residence includes four bedrooms, two baths, a Great Room with a fireplace, and a kitchen with a large island and pantry storage. (Plan #142-1237)


6.  How about bench seating where you can relax? The cozy corner can be positioned at the entry hall foyer, adjacent to the stairs, under stairs, or on the first-floor landing area. If there’s enough room at the end of the long hallway, the bench can serve as a reading nook.   

Here’s another interesting entry hall foyer in a 3,071 square-foot luxury Ranch home with two bedrooms. This one features a unique light fixture to add ambiance to the space – and a cushioned bench with throw pillows for relaxation. (Plan #161-1139)


7.  Create a gallery wall where you can display your art collection and family photos. This informal exhibit breaks the monotony of a bare wall and becomes a point of conversation/discussion about the art or artists. 

Want to show your artwork and photographs to friends and guests? Use the bare walls of hallways to display pictures. As shown above, abstract art paintings line the bright yellow walls of a hallway leading to the bedrooms of a two-story, three-bedroom, 4,121-square-foot European-style home. (Plan #153-1897)


Another take on the gallery wall is seen in this hallway leading to the powder room in a stunning two-bedroom Ranch style home with a finished area of 2,422 square feet. This color palette of the gallery wall - which features plant life – complements the tones, fixtures, and wallpaper in the powder room. The house plan has a Great Room, Mud Room, walk-in pantry, and other amenities including a basement which, when finished, offers enough square footage that allows expansion to five bedrooms. (Plan #161-1097)


8.  Bring in the books for a built-in hallway library - Yes, it’s the digital age and people now buy and read e-books. However, there is still something to be said for good, old cloth-bound and paperbacks. Bring in the books. Perhaps there are forgotten classics that need to be revisited. Why not build a library on one run of the hallway or on the stairs landing that showcases all your delightful collection of books? 

A bright hallway library with a place for reading is a treat for family members and guests – and a smart use of the space. What a pleasure to have all these books at your fingertips. Browse through the collection, pick one and sit back and enjoy the reading adventure. (Photo Credit: Pickawood on Unsplash)


9.  Build extra storage space especially in the area near the stairs. Everyone wants plenty of storage in the home. Take advantage of a wide hallway and build wall shelves, cabinets, and drawers to store linens, towels, and miscellaneous household stuff. 

A stylish way of filling the space next to the stairs in a four-bedroom, 2,686-square-foot home is to build storage space on one run of the hallway. The white cabinets and drawers with the sleek pulls match the color scheme in the adjacent powder room. (Plan #142-1169)


10.  How about a makeover for a wide hallway? You can create another room that can serve as a home office, homework area, or getaway space.

A bright and light-filled space on the second-floor landing of a beautiful 1.5-story, 2,499-square-foot Country Craftsman home is made into a home office – secluded enough to provide privacy and a minimum of noise. While a home office is an ideal option, this space can also be turned into a kids’ hangout, a lounge/getaway area, or even a crafts room. The home also has all the square footage for three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a garage, and an optional mother-in-law suite. (Plan #106-1274)


11.  Design an accent wall as a focal point or to mark an intersection in the long hallway. 

An accent wall/photo gallery at the top of the steps of a two-story luxury Craftsman-style home transforms the long hallway into an interesting area. The symmetrically arranged frames on the green wall provide an inviting and cozy feel to the space. The well-designed home features six bedrooms including a large master suite with a spa-like master bath, a parlor, formal dining room, Great Room/family room, kitchen, and casual dining area. (Plan #161-1044)


Are you on the hallway bandwagon yet? Just think for a minute of all the exciting design moments you can experience in your hallway. Don’t miss these opportunities to perk up these high-traffic spaces.


Footnote:  The lead image in this article is the sun-filled entry hall of a three-bedroom, 3.5-bath Contemporary Ranch. With 3,832 square feet of living space, the home includes a split-bedroom layout, a huge Great Room, a kitchen with an oversized kitchen island, a spacious home office with its own private entrance, and other luxurious features. For details on this amazing residence, go to Plan #202-1014




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