The best narrow hallway ideas to transform tight spaces

narrow hallway with wall lights and metal wall panels
Narrow hallway ideas are worth considering when trying to make a space feel more inviting (Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Brilliant, and often creative, narrow hallway ideas are vital for those living with a cramped entrance hall and struggling to work out how to make the most of it.

Hallway ideas as a whole are massively important — the key role this room plays in the home and in every day life should never be underestimated. This is the space into which guests are welcomed, the spot that greets us on returning after a long day and the bustling area that acts as a buffer between inside and out. 

Hallways need to be able to handle shoes being kicked off and coats being shed, they need to provide an organised space for keys and post and must somehow remain looking great even after being rushed through by children home from school or wet dogs. Of course all this is well and good if you have a great big spacious hallway for all these day-to-day events — but what if your hallway is nothing more than a sliver running down the side of other rooms?

Fear not, we have rounded up some brilliant inspiration to ensure that no matter how wafer thin your hallway might be, it can still meet all your needs at the same time as looking super stylish. 

Narrow hallway ideas: Top considerations

To avoid feeling as though you are stepping into a tunnel or a squeezed space when you walk through the front door, there are several design considerations to take into account.

Although the space needs to be addressed as a whole, it can also be useful to break the room up into individual elements in order to come up with the best hallway decor ideas for your home — there is no one-size-fits-all solution here.

Take time to think about:

  • Furniture choices
  • Your colour scheme
  • Natural light sources
  • Artificial lighting
  • Flooring
  • Storage

Each of the above will have an important role to play in developing the most suitable narrow hallway ideas for you — and luckily we have covered them all in our round-up of inspiration. 

1. Stick to a neutral colour palette 

narrow hallway with exposed beams and limestone flooring

Paler shades can help open up a narrow hallway (Image credit: Simon Burt)

Although it may seem obvious, when it comes to hallway paint ideas, sticking to shades that lie towards the paler end of the colour scale tends to be a better idea than saturating a small hallway in an all-over deep, rich shade such as charcoal or burgundy. Colours like this can seem oppressive in small spaces and make the area feel even smaller than it really is. 

If you are a huge fan of all things bright and bold and have been left feeling slightly disappointed here, fret not. You can still use darker colours, but just use them more sparingly — picture and dado rails, staircase balustrade, skirting and decorative items such as lamp shades, blinds and the like are all perfect spots to exercise your love of colour. 

2. Sneak in a cosy spot to sit

entrance to a contemporary house with built in seating alcove

Fitted storage in a narrow hallway can not only be smart but also practical (Image credit: Lu Jeffery)

When dealing with any kind of smaller space in the home, thinking creatively is key to ensuring you get the very most out of every inch of the room you are working with. 

Built-in storage ideas are one of the best ways to ensure you maximise what you have as they will be tailored exactly to the dimensions of your hallway. Look at alcoves, nooks and crannies and think about how you could possibly make use of stud walls which can make the perfect spot to build in shelving or similar. 

Here, a cosy little seating and storage nook has been carved out — sitting directly opposite the front door. 

3. Keep it fresh and light

white hallway with herringbone flooring

White walls and ceilings open the space up while the herringbone gives a feeling of extra width (Image credit: DelightFULL)

All-white schemes are timeless and have the added benefit of making small spaces feel bigger than they really are. Even if you decide to go for an off-white rather than a dazzling bright white, sticking to the same shade for the walls, mouldings and ceiling will have a really dramatic effect on how big the space looks and feels. 

In this beautifully minimalist hallway, take note of the hallway lighting ideas that have been deployed. A poker straight row of recessed downlighters, from DelightFULL, draws the eyes forward and detracts from the narrow proportions of the space, while the diagonal nature of the herringbone flooring also widens the area visually. 

4. Don't stop the garden at the front door

hallway with botanical wallpaper with flagstone floors

Botanical wallpaper can add personality to a narrow hallway while bringing the outdoors in to make the space feel larger (Image credit: Little Greene)

At the point at which we make the transition from the outside into the home, it makes sense to reflect your garden within your hallway decor. 

"Hallways are the literal transition from outdoors to indoors, so are a wonderful space for extending the beauty and atmosphere of the natural environment by bringing leafy florals, foliage motifs and forest green hues into in our homes," says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene. "Here, delicate and airy trailing floral Broadwick Street wallpaper adds a welcoming design detail, whilst deep green paint,  Jewel Beetle, on the ceiling, woodwork and doors offers a cocooning and cohesive finish that transitions into the exterior beyond."

5. Try to include lots of natural light

narrow hallway with large picture window and slate floor

Eliminating shadows with daylight will help in a narrow hallway (Image credit: David Barbour)

Find ways to bring in as much natural light as possible into your hallway in order to ensure that no matter how narrow it might be, it still feels bright and airy. This is key to injecting a sense of calm and wellbeing into a space that needs to make you and guests feel good in the morning and happy to come home at the end of the day.

The large picture windows in this hallway are ideal, but if this isn't a practical idea for you, how about a roof lantern, a bank of rooflights or clerestory windows instead? 

6. Build in staircase storage

split level kitchen and hallway

Removing clutter from a narrow hallway with built-in storage can help make the space feel wider (Image credit: Fraser Marr)

Brilliant hallway storage ideas are absolutely vital in order for the space to feel clutter-free and tranquil. Space under staircases can often be wasted and standard off-the-shelf furniture will not always slot in as seamlessly as it could. Built-in staircase storage comes in many guises, from handy cupboards to pull out drawers.

Here, the understairs cupboards have been fitted with doors that tie in well with the original period details elsewhere in the space. 

7. Swap standard doors for sliding 

pale grey internal sliding door

Sliding doors are ideal for narrow spaces (Image credit: Norsu Interiors)

Not only do sliding doors look really stylish, they are also ideal in narrow hallways as they require no out-swing space. 

If you want to close your hallway off from other rooms, do consider using a sliding door — there are many options, from barn-style sliding doors, such as the one shown here, to pocket sliding doors that disappear completely into the walls when open. If your hallway is small as well as narrow, it might be worth looking at some small hallway ideas too.

8. Bring out the architectural details with decor

hallway with fully glazed wall and bold botanical wallpaper

A sloping ceiling can draw the eye (Image credit: Little Greene)

Making the most of any interesting architectural details within your narrow hallway will help turn it into a space full of character – detracting away from its proportions. 

If you have a sloping ceiling, such as in this example, ensure it stands out by creating contrast with your walls. If there is a view beyond your hallway wall, then include as much glass as is practical. If you have intricate period mouldings, then make sure they are noticeable. 

9. Build bespoke wall shelves to stay organised

narrow hallway with exposed brick walls and wall shelves

Shelving can be a simple storage solution in a narrow space (Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Don't discount the humble wall shelf when it comes to hallway storage — it is a simple, easy and cost-effective way to provide a space for all those hallway essentials  and can easily be designed to suit individual needs. 

Here, a selection of chunky wooden wall shelves provide a spot for everything the household needs to hand, including footwear.

10. Keep hallway furniture elegant and slimline

small hallway with slimline hallway bench seating

Choose slimline furniture if you have space (Image credit: ILIV)

There is no reason you have to avoid hallway furniture in a narrow space, providing you choose slimline designs that won't encroach on the floor space too much. 

All kinds of items of furniture suitable for this area come in sizes that are narrower than standard, from benches and consoles to coat stands and cupboards. Take the time to seek out furniture that is multi-purpose too — chairs and benches with lift up seats hiding space to store items, for example, are a great idea. 

11. Choose a simple staircase design

hallway in Victorian house with green wall panelling and wooden staircase

Go for simple designs when it comes to a narrow hallway (Image credit: David Barbour)

Small, narrow hallways really do benefit from a simple, pared-back approach to design — particularly when it comes to larger features, such as the staircase. 

Staircase design always needs to be tailored to the proportions of a space and if you are working with a renovation project you may well be retaining the original flight of stairs. Ensuring the handrail is simple and elegant, perhaps mirroring other design elements in the hall, such as has been done here with the coordinating shade used for the balustrade and wall panelling, will really ensure the space feels as big as it can.

12. Use colour to draw the eye

grey and white hallway with pale wooden floor

A lighter shade at the end of a narrow hallway can trick the eye into thinking the space is bigger than it is (Image credit: Little Greene)

"Hallways are often narrow spaces with little natural light," explains Little Greene's Ruth Mottershead. "You can embrace the size and go for sumptuous dark colours and patterned wallpapers that you love, or, as has been done here, opt for a trick of the eye and elongate a long narrow space by using a lighter shade at the end of a narrow corridor alongside darker walls to draw the eye and create depth."

In this example, Grey Moss has been combined with Cool Arbour, both from Little Greene, to create a neutral, spacious finish that is perfectly complemented with natural wood furnishings for a contemporary finish. 

Take a look at our piece on modern hallway ideas for other contemporary design inspiration.

13. Distract with bold decorative objects

luxury hallway with sparkling floor tiles and mirrored furniture

These floor tiles draw the eye into the hallway (Image credit: Baked Tile Co.)

Although we have talked a lot about keeping things simple and subtle in a narrow hallway, that does not mean you can't flex your inner wild child a little bit in order to distract the eye from the tight proportions of a space. 

Use decorative items such as lamps, wall art and lighting to make a design statement. You could also use hallway flooring ideas to add an eye-catching final flourish. In this beautiful example, Water Lily encaustic-effect tiles from Baked Tile Co. , lead the eye forwards towards the rest of the house beyond.  

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.