Creepy to Cosy: 10 Narrow Dark Hallway Decorating Ideas

It can be a challenge to make a narrow, dark hallway feel cosy without looking cluttered. However, through careful decorating, it is possible to make the space appear brighter and airier. Whether it's your upstairs hallway, the entryway to your flat, or the first thing you see when you walk through your front door, there are some visual tricks to use that will create the illusion of more space and light

What causes a hallway to feel cramped?

A narrow hallway in and of itself is not a problem, and there are many ways to accommodate this layout through decor. Knowing what issues to account for when decorating your space can help you make choices that will create the illusion of a more open space. Every detail matters when dealing with a tight area like this.

A narrow floor plan is just one factor contributing to a cramped hallway. Fortunately, many of the issues that make this area of your home feel unwelcoming are within your control:

  • Poor lighting
  • Harsh shadows
  • Sharp corners
  • Excess clutter
  • Lack of storage space
  • Light-absorbing colours and surfaces
  • Not making the most of windows 

10 Ways to make a narrow dark hallway look brighter

1) Keep Walls Smooth

As you can see in the image above, the walls in the hallway on the right feature a knockdown paint texture, meaning that the wall has a tactile finish. With minimal lighting from a single light source (the window), this textured paint creates incredibly harsh shadows. These harsh shadows make the room appear even narrower because they irregularly break up the wall and create a shadowy, cave-like effect.

Instead, opt for a flush, even wall like the image on the right. Keeping the paint texture smooth helps keep shadows at a minimum, which detracts attention away from the walls and towards the openness of the space. 

2) Layer your Lighting

One of the quickest fixes to a dark hallway is to adjust the lighting. Although natural lighting is ideal, it isn't always a possibility. When adding artificial light to a room, there's a balance to strike between overhead lighting that is clinical and bright and lower hanging lights, which don't add as much light but look warm and welcoming. 

 We recommend adding multiple light sources to your hallway to brighten all dark corners. Tiered lighting will add some visual interest that will draw the eye from the end point of your hallway, making it appear less narrow.

3) Create the Illusion of Windows Using Mirrors

A well-known trick for creating the illusion of more space in a room is to introduce mirrors. Reflective surfaces can visually extend the space you already have and bounce light around your hallway, making it feel wider and brighter.

You could opt for a panelled, window-style mirror like the one below to give the illusion of more openings in your space, or you could add a circular mirror to add softness to combat the angular corners of the doors/ walls in your hallway. 

4) Add Bright Rugs

 Another way to make a dark hallway feel more welcoming is to introduce lightly coloured rugs. Unlike dark carpets or rugs, which absorb light, lighter colours reflect light and make the room feel more spacious. Since they're easy to remove, rugs are a fantastic option for rented spaces where you can't change the flooring. Simply measure your floor and choose a rug that will cover the space, or use two smaller rugs evenly spaced if your hallway is long. 

5) Soften Sharp Corners with Plants and Greenery

Introducing natural shapes and textures to your hallway using plants is an excellent way to make your space feel more lively and inviting. These organic silhouettes can help soften the sharp corners in your hallway, making the room feel less harsh and confined. 

If you have a window in your hallway, opt for a potted plant that can thrive in the level of sunshine your hallway gets. Alternatively, if your hallway doesn't have a window or receives limited light, you could instead use artificial plants to achieve a similar effect. 

6) Hang Metallic or Reflective Artwork

Breaking up the walls of your hallway with artwork can prevent the eye from focusing on length, creating the illusion of greater width. Choosing art with metallic accents can enhance this effect by reflecting light around the room and holding the viewer's attention. 

7) Use Coat Hooks and Shoe Racks

Opting for storage solutions that require minimal space can help your hallway feel less like an obstacle course. For example, if you need to use your hallway to store outdoor clothing, you could hang your coats up high using a coat hook and place a shoe rack underneath to keep your shoes tidy and use as little space as possible.

8) Use Shelves or Elevated Furniture to Maximise Floor Space

Keeping furniture off of the floor can help your space feel more open and uncluttered. Floating shelves, for example, provide accessible storage space without covering up precious floorspace. Instead of adding a deep cabinet or chest of drawers, why not opt for a tiered set of shelves that hug the wall.

Alternatively, if you would like more storage and need a cabinet or console to keep your belongings in, opt for pieces in a modern decor style. Modern decor pieces tend to be raised on supporting legs, allowing the floor to be visible beneath them. This can give the illusion of more space. 

 9) Choose Pale Colours for Walls

Dark colours absorb light, making a space appear compact and dark. To brighten your hallway, choose wall paints in lighter shades like white, ivory, and cream. These colours reflect light and will help your hallway feel more spacious and airy. 

10) Add Glass Furniture and Accents

Ordinary glass is more subtle than a mirror, but it still has reflective qualities that can help distribute light more evenly across your hallway. When choosing console tables and cabinets, consider opting for pieces that include some glass. Since it is see-through, it can also provide functional surfaces while allowing much of the room around it to be visible.

Overall, there are many ways to make a dark, narrow hallway feel more inviting. Whether you use mirrors to reflect more light in the room or add pale, bright runner rugs on the floor, you can select items that complement your decor style and make the area look like more than just a passing place. We hope this post gave you some inspiration on how to make your hallway feel brighter and more spacious.