How to Banish the Boring Hallway Blahs

Simplicity in the South/HometalkQuick! What's the most neglected area of the typical American home? If you answered "the hallway," you are spot on. This is a space which, all too often, can best be described as dreary. Halls tend to be long, narrow, and boring. Even worse, they seldom come equipped with windows, making them dark and claustrophobic too. Doorways don't do much to dispel the dismal atmosphere; too many of them and you'll feel like you've been teleported straight to the corridor of some bland anonymous motel. Okay, enough gloom and doom. How do you cope? Let us count the ways.

1. Brighten up the walls by painting them a cheerful light color that won't overwhelm the skinny space. If you're going for white, choose a tint that has a touch of warmth, such as a sunny hint of peach or egg yolk. (Yes, there really is such a paint color!) Doors can be matched or contrasted to the base color -- whatever floats your boat.

2. Go a tad bolder with paint and stripe up the hall ... or create a fashionable accent wall. (Who says living rooms get to have all the fun?) Alternatively, use your latex to write a wise and witty saying directly on the wall or a door.

3. Stencil a subtle or splashy design for an even more colorful effect, and a touch of interesting texture as well. Select the style signature that coordinates with the rest of your home: classic tone-on-tone or exuberant contrast.

4. Try patterned wallpaper for a fresh new look. Though you might not really consider yourself a wallpaper person, your hallway can provide a relatively small canvas to experiment on. The good news is that today's wallpapers are easier than ever to apply -- and to remove when you're ready to change up the look.

5. Install eye-catching carpentry details. Woodwork trims such as crown moldings, wainscotings, chair rails, or cornices are very much in style. They are a great way to inject a note of architectural interest to your hall without adding unwanted bulk.

6. Show off your favorite wall art. Oversized posters in shallow frames are fun. Another idea is a picture ledge, which will allow for an ever-changing display of family photos and kids' artwork ... all without forcing you to hammer holes in the wall.

7. Transform your corridor into a mini-library, if it happens to be wide enough, by building in some bookshelves and perhaps a narrow bench for bookworms to perch on with an engrossing novel. However, do be sure to leave sufficient clear passageway space. (That works out to 42-48" according to universal access standards for livable homes.)

8. Hang mirrors on one or both of the walls. These will reflect any available light, whether it's a bit of sunshine peeking in or simply the illumination from your electrical fixtures. (Choose all hallway lighting fixtures carefully; you're looking for a gentle glow as opposed to a harsh glare.) As a result, your hallway will feel more open and spacious.

9. Don't stop at the walls now that you're on a hallway decorating roll. Use the corridor floors and ceilings as your decorating canvas too. Try carpet, whether lush wall-to-wall or a vintage Oriental runner. Doll up the ceiling with pretty paint, giant stickers, or maybe a full scale mural a la Michelangelo.

Laura Firszt writes for

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