It doesn’t matter if you live in a city apartment or a spacious place in the suburbs, the entryway is often one of the most underutilized rooms in a home either way. Sure, your entry or hallway might provide a transitional space from outdoors to inside, but it’s usually not large enough to fit a full scheme of furniture and accessories.
Believe it or not though, your entry or hallway still has a lot of design potential. You just need to learn how to style this small space to your advantage. To help you in that endeavor, I’ve rounded up the smartest hallway decorating ideas I’ve ever seen—that’s right, ever. From paint and plants to everything in between, you’re bound to find an idea here that can work for your space.
1. Make a statement with mirrors
Want to fake your way to a more spacious hallway? All you need is a reflective surface. “Adding a mirror at the end of a narrow hallway will make a typically dark space feel lighter and larger,” says Liana Thomson, an accessories product developer at home decor retailer EQ3. Take a cue from this suburban retreat by adding a small, circular mirror to your mix. This option makes a pretty, sculptural statement without overwhelming the rest of the space.
Recreate the look of this modern Louisiana farmhouse in your home by covering your hall walls in shiplap. “Not only does shiplap make a space look more important and special, but it also adds durability,” says designer Michelle Gerson. “Adding shiplap to the walls is a cool way to make the hallway feel like an extension of the design of the house.” A practical, pretty, and space-efficient way to pack on the style? Chip and Joanna Gaines would definitely approve.
3. Repeat your light fixtures
If you want to give a slim entry some pizazz, choose your light fixtures with care. “The addition of sconces provide repetition and visual interest while also setting the tone upon entering,” says designer Lauren Nelson. “Sconces offer ambient lighting, which is much more inviting than recessed cans (much like the effect of candles in the old days).” A sconce can give your place plenty of personality. In this New York City rental, the stacked geometric fixture oozes of old school, Art Deco glamour and gives guests a hint of what decor is to come in the rest of the home.
Speaking of lighting, you can always wow visitors by adding a single statement pendant to your foyer. In this charming English home, a rattan pendant lends the formal-looking hallway a cool, coastal edge.
If you have a few extra hats and bags on hand, borrow some “style” from your closet by hanging a few pieces in your entry, as seen in this Orange County-based crib. Not only will this option add some texture to your walls, but you’ll also be less likely to leave without these key pieces as you head out the door!
When in doubt, invest in a few rolls of wallpaper for this typically small space. “Whether you opt for a bold, tiled look or you are searching for a subtle, barely-there design, removable wallpaper is a great way to add big impact in a small space such without overwhelming it,” says Elizabeth Rees, founder of wall coverings company Chasing Paper. Interior designer Isabel Muller gave the hallway of her Los Angeles rental a dramatic flair with a wild tiger pattern, but you can certainly choose something neutral, if that’s more your style.
7. Create storage with a console
Just because entries are notoriously small doesn’t mean you can’t fit in some furniture. “I always use the hallway as a landing place,” says designer Sarah Wilson, owner of Chansaerae Designs. “Set up a table where you can unload as you come in.” A slim console, like the one seen in this Barcelona home, offers some extra storage and keeps the space from feeling too sterile—that’s a win-win in my book.
8. Keep your console clear
While a slim console table can amp up an entry, there’s always the risk that it’ll make your small space feel cluttered. Get the best of both worlds with a transparent table. “If you have a hallway that seems wide enough for a console table, opt for a thin, acrylic one,” says Alessandra Wood, interior design expert at Modsy, an e-design company. This will allow light to pass through and keep your hallway feeling open and accessible while still giving you a spot to drop keys.” This Brooklyn Heights home takes this clear storage to the max by slipping a woven basket underneath the table.
Turn your unassuming hall or entry into a museum-worthy masterpiece by creating a gallery wall. “I love when I see hallways used to display a full collection of art,” Wood shares. “This seemingly small space can house a ton of art and become a passageway for inspiration.” With art as far as the eye can see, Kate Beebe’s maximalist hall proves this point—and is an anything but boring way to set the tone when you enter her home.
Give your hallway some appeal underfoot with a great rug. While a single runner will pack a punch, I loved how this New Orleans home utilizes a set of two vintage rugs. The varying patterns offer visual interest, but the similar color palettes keep the look cohesive. Even if you don’t have a lot of room for furniture, you can certainly pull off a small rug.
11. Prioritize pops of color
Sometimes a little bit of color is just what the design doctor ordered. “Painting the ceiling is a fun way to add dimension into a hallway,” says designer Ginny Macdonald. “It will draw the eye up and elongate the space.” Instead of using one shade, consider creating a cool, ombré effect with multiple hues as seen in this Barcelona space above. The result? A hallway you’ll actually want to stay in and look around—and not just pass through.
Turns out painting with dark colors does have its perks—especially when decorating your entry or hall. “You could also paint the ceiling and the walls in a moody color and play with the fact that the hallway is dark,” Macdonald says. “Painting it white, especially if it has no natural light, could actually make it feel more gloomy, as the white has nothing to bounce off. Playing into the darkness will make it feel cozy.” In Lori LaMont and Monte Weiss’s Long Beach apartment, you can see this principle at play, where they embraced a deep blue wall color for their windowless hallway but punctuated that darkness with orange pendant lights and crisp, white trim.
13. Try the tonal treatment
If your style skews more maximal, you can turn up the volume on a small hallway with your favorite, energetic hue applied everywhere but the floor. “We are really loving monochromatic hallways right now, and they do not have to be boring,” says designers Janelle Hughes and Kim R. Williams, co-owners of KJ Design & Mortar Styling. “Not only do they provide opportunities to play with texture, when done right, they can replace the need to invest funds in wall art, which can get pricey.” In her Scottish space, Amy Shirlaw doubled down by covering her hall in one shade of statement teal—painting the ceiling, trim, walls, and door to create a cocoon-like, enveloping effect right when you first enter the home.
14. Finish it off with floating shelves
Looking for somewhere to keep your mail or apartment keys? Add some wall storage to your hall. “Floating shelves can be a good option if you have a wider hallway that could use some much-needed depth and pizazz,” says designer Breegan Jane. “They can be functional without taking up any floor space.” Not only is this trick space-efficient, but this is one DIY project that can be done in an hour. Use Amber Guyton’s tiny bungalow above as your inspiration.
15. Layer in a storage ladder
If the mere thought of drilling holes into your wall makes you nervous that you’ll lose your security deposit, lean a ladder-like shelving unit against your wall instead. Not only is the ladder in this Barcelona house tour equal parts pretty and practical, but it’s also from IKEA!
Small space dwellers, take note! If you want to carve out an “entryway” from the rest of your home, fake its footprint by laying down some tiles. This Scandinavian sanctuary nails this idea with a fun patchwork of designs that stick to a cohesive color palette. Living in a rental? You can get the look with peel-and-stick tile decals or temporary vinyl tiles.
Have a hallway with charming nooks or niches? Put those built-ins to good use by creating a shelfie brimming with personality. With a cactus, colorful books, and a seriously impressive matchbook collection, I can’t help but smile whenever I look at this Scandi-inspired space.
Take a cue from this Ontario-based oasis and add a bench to your hall. Not only does a piece like this take up minimal space, but is also offers a convenient place to put on your shoes or drop your bag.
Aspiring plant parents will find a lot to love about “Plant Doctor” Hilton Carter’s Baltimore abode. His 1,000-square-foot home features over 200 plants—including a hallway with a propagation wall. Go ahead and embrace your green thumb by copying this look.
If you want to give your walls some love but aren’t ready to commit to a full gallery wall, add a few tapestries. I love the simple pair hanging in this Philadelphia pad. Not only can this trick give your walls some much-needed texture and visual interest, tapestries can also strike a balance between subtle and statement if you select them carefully.
The key to a design-savvy entry or hallway is making the most of the architecture you have. This Swedish space doesn’t have statement light fixtures of whimsical wallpaper, but the addition of a few plants and pottery pieces to the windowsill makes turns up the charm on an otherwise fairly quiet room.
22. Embrace an accent wall
Adding an accent wall might one of the oldest tricks in the design book; however, it’s a still a solid way to spruce up your hallway or entryway. Convinced accent walls are played out? Check out the cool alternative from this Spanish home above. The stark contrast between the pink and black hues makes a big statement without the need for excess ornamentation.
If you’re looking for an easy way to make the end of a slim hall feel less, well, abrupt, add a compact vanity table. In this pretty Philadelphia pad, a small table and faux fur stool give this otherwise sterile space a fun, cozy feel. Plus, this kind of setup can double as a desk when you work from home.
Calling all bookworms: If you’re looking for a new way to store your favorite reads, add some square shelves to your entryway. The low-slung cubbies seen in this North Carolina home can hold a lot without making the space appear cluttered. You can always sub in some baskets and bins, too, if you want some covered storage here, too.
The quickest and easiest way to spruce up your entry? Paint the inside of your front door a bold hue. When one couple used this trick in their New York City apartment, they ended up with an unapologetically stylish moment—whether they’re coming or going.