Published on April 5, 2020

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

We’ll admit it: Hallways are a design lover’s kryptonite. With a daunting amount of wall space and narrow square footage, these corridors can be awkward, poorly lit, and just plain difficult to decorate. However, that doesn’t mean you should let them cramp your style. 

The pros tackle them like any other challenge—by surveying the floor plan, checking natural light, choosing a color scheme, and adding decor details that guide the eye. With the right runner, artwork, and accents, a ho-hum corridor can become a dedicated focal point of your home. These architects and interior decorators show you how to do it right.

Create a Simple, Slim-Profile Vignette

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Photography by Sarah Elliott for Elizabeth Roberts Architects

The temptation is to line a walkway with a gallery wall’s worth of family photos, but one single artwork vignette can make a bigger impact. Take notes from Elizabeth Roberts and Eye Swoon’s Athena Calderone, who went with an oversize abstract painting flanked by wall sconces and ceramic vessels. 

Exaggerate Dimensions With a Tapestry and Runner Rug

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Photography by Tessa Neustadt for Emily Henderson Design

A long and narrow hallway might seem like an impossible decorating feat (what is there to design around, anyway?), but it’s actually an opportunity to play with dimension. Emily Henderson’s photographer, Sarah Tramp, added a navy runner rug to elongate the walkway and a Block Shop scarf-turned-tapestry to emphasize the ceiling’s height. The result? A layered, light-filled room that looks more spacious than it really is. 

Guide the Eye With a Minimalist Gallery Wall

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Photography by Studio McGee

This sleek thoroughfare by Studio McGee is living proof that uncluttered gallery walls do exist. Skip the tedium of crafting the perfect photo layout and hang a single row of monochromatic frames that guide your gaze through the space. Anchor the look with a focal point, like a console, houseplant, floor mirror, or shelving unit. 

Add a Lick of Jewel-Toned Paint

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

If your corridor is relatively short, create a statement enclave with a vibrant spot of paint, minimal accessories, and whitewashed flooring. This teal coat acts as the ultimate statement—no greenery or decorative accessories needed. 

Make Every Inch Count With a Built-In Bookcase

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Photography by Sarah Elliott for Elizabeth Roberts Architects

Don’t let large blank walls intimidate you—look at them as untapped sources of storage. Consider investing in a bookcase or storage unit if you have a wellspring of novels and decorative knickknacks in need of a home. Then take a cue from Elizabeth Roberts, Josh Lekwa, and Jessica Gould and add oxidized brass sconces to cast a warm glow on your favorite reads.

Replace a Wall With Paneling

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Photography by Studio McGee

If you live in a small house or apartment, consider replacing a wall with transparent wood paneling to create the illusion of space. Not only does this installation add visual interest sans decorative clutter, it mimics the bones of a hallway while maintaining the look and feel of an open floor plan. 

Invest in a Low Bench

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

A low-slung bench is perfectly suited to a wide hallway—especially if you’re looking to make the area somewhat functional. Take notes from this bright oasis and complete the look with Moroccan throw pillows and layered Oushak runners. 

Install Statement Lighting

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

A hallway ceiling offers just as much decorative real estate as the walls. If you’d rather forgo framed photography and tapestries altogether, consider statement lighting—like these bamboo lanterns, which guide your eye upward. 

See more hallway inspiration:
Bright and Unexpected Wallpaper Ideas for the Hallway
How a Designer Turned an Empty Hallway Into a Library
Anatomy of a Great Entryway: 7 Things No One Tells You

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