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How To Brighten & Decorate A Dark Hallway

Are you guilty of putting all of your effort into decorating your living room, kitchen, and bedrooms, but neglecting to put any real thought into the design of your home's hallways? This is quite common: hallways are transitional spaces that we only really use to move from one room to another, after all.

But, because hallways are often windowless and relatively cramped, putting little thought into how yours is decorated could result in your space feeling quite dark and dingy. If this is something you're struggling with, you're probably looking for some ways to brighten up your dark hallway, and we're going to outline how you can do that here. We'll be talking you through choosing a colour scheme, selecting the flooring, and working out what kind of lighting is going to maximise the space you have available to you.

Choosing a colour scheme to brighten your dark hallway

When you're trying to brighten your hallways, one of the most important decisions you'll have to make is what colour you're going to paint the walls. It's possible to choose hues that will encourage more light into your hallway whether it has windows or not, and this in turn will maximise the amount of space you have available to you. Here, we'll outline some of the most popular and effective colours that will work well on the walls of your hallway.


When you're thinking of ways to brighten a space, painting the walls white might seem a bit too obvious. But it works! It's the best colour for reflecting light, which will automatically make your hallways seem brighter, larger, and airier. So, if you're tired of your transitional spaces feeling cramped and dingy, painting the walls white is one the simplest was to change that.

Some people prefer not to paint their walls white because they think it can have a clinical look. However, you can counteract this with the likes of warm lighting, artwork and other decorative features. If you're not convinced, there are similar colours, such as cream, that will have a similar brightening effect, without the sterile feel some people report white creates.


Although darker shades of grey might cause your hallways to look dull and boring, lighter hues can have a similar brightening effect as white paint.

There are so many different grey paints out there, meaning you'll have to think carefully about which hue will suit your hallway. Dulux has a guide to choosing the right grey for your space, which explains everything you need to know about choosing the right paint for the aesthetic you're trying to achieve.

If your hallway has no windows or isn't blessed with a lot of natural light, we would recommend opting for warm grey hues, or greyed neutrals that have pink, gold, or yellow undertones. This will warm up the feel of your hallway, while brightening it up.


If you're looking for a calming colour to lighten a dark and narrow hallway, blue is the perfect choice. Just make sure to choose a lighter hue if you want to brighten your hallways. If you opt for a cobalt or navy blue, you'll run the risk of making your space feel closed in, but lighter shades with just a hint of colour will do the best job of helping everything to feel airier.

If you would like to make more of a statement with your paint, you could use two different tones: one brighter or slightly darker shade on the bottom half of your walls, and another subtler shade on top. This will still help to create the illusion of more light and space without you having to sacrifice your sense of style and love of colour.

Of course, when you're painting your home's walls, the decision is ultimately yours, and you could go with something entirely different. But, if you are trying to brighten a dull and cramped space, opting for lighter shades that reflect plenty of light will give you the best chance of achieving the look you're going for.

What type of flooring will brighten up a dark hallway?

The flooring you choose will also have a huge effect on how bright your hallways look — it's going to be the largest surface after your walls, so choosing the right material and colour is incredibly important.

A light-coloured wooden flooring is likely to be the most effective and practical choice. It will do a fantastic job of reflecting light — especially if it has a gloss finish. And, it is likely to complement any colour scheme you decide to go with. While a light-coloured carpet will have a similar effect, it will be quite difficult to keep clean, which can be a huge disadvantage.

Choosing hardwood or laminate flooring and then adding a carpet runner can help you get the best of both worlds. It also gives you a chance to inject some colour and personality into your décor. Consider picking one out in a bright colour, or with a bold pattern. You can tie this into the style of your home too with our selection of plain, contemporary, and traditional stair runners.

If you are thinking about investing in a beautiful runner, you could match the design to one of the main rooms of your home, or take the runner down the stairs and secure it with some stair rods. We have a huge range that includes blacksmithcountrycrystal, and premier designs, so you should have no trouble finding the perfect stair rods to complement your chosen flooring and carpet runner. We have some great guides that cover how to measure and fit stair rods, if you are looking for some simple instructions to help you on your next DIY project.

What kind of lighting will do the best job of brightening your hallway?

Just like with any room of your home, you'll have some decisions to make when it comes to how you want to light your hallway. Here, we're going to outline your options, to help you to work out what'll be best for your available space.

Ceiling light

Ceiling lights are important to ensuring your dark hallway is lit up as and when you go up and down it. This is because wall lights don't always offer enough illumination, and you won't want to fiddle with a lamp switch whenever you're running from one room to the next. There are plenty of options out there when it comes to ceiling lights but, to make your space feel as airy as possible, we would recommend opting for one that doesn't hang too far from the ceiling. This is because having something that's too low hanging can cut off the hallway and make it feel even smaller.

The more space there is between your floor and hanging light, the bigger your space is going to feel, so spotlights and shallow ceiling lamps are likely to make the perfect choices.

Wall lights

Wall lights can help to create a cosy feeling in a room, so they're perfect for when you're having guests round or are just spending a day at home. As we've previously mentioned, they don't always offer enough light for everyday use, but they can be nice to have — especially in the autumn and winter when you want to brighten you hallway a little bit but don't necessarily want the harshness of a ceiling light.

There are lots of different wall lights out there and most can be categorised by whether they shine up- or downwards. In cramped spaces, those that shine up towards the ceiling are great, because they create the illusion of height, which should help your space to feel even bigger and airier. Similarly, those that shine downwards can mimic a stream of natural light from the sun, which is particularly useful for brightening a hallway with no windows.


If your hallway is big enough to accommodate a table or sideboard, this will provide you with the perfect opportunity to incorporate some light into a dark hallway. Again, much like wall lights, these won't necessarily provide you with enough light for everyday use, but they can help to create a homely atmosphere, so they're worth having on hand for when your friends and family visit, or you want to have a cosy quiet night in. While they won't necessarily help your space to feel much bigger or brighter, they can help you to create the feel you're going for, which is often just as important!

Add colour and personality with decorative accessories
While you might want to focus heavily on brightening your space and making it appear larger, you'll also want to add some colour and personality — just like you have with the rest of your home. Of course, you won't want this to have a detrimental effect on the brightness of your hallway, so it's important that you're quite restrained. But this doesn't mean you can't have some fun. Here are some ways in which you can inject dashes of interest into your space.

Use artwork

Hanging pieces of art in your hallway will show that you've thought about the design of the space, and it also gives you a chance to inject some of your personality, as well as a nod to your interests.

While you may have concerns about displaying artwork in a small space, it can actually help to open up the space. In this sense, you need to be able to play to your art's strengths. So, if your hallway is quite closed in, an intricate piece that works best when looked at up close is likely to work best, as you might struggle to truly appreciate a big bold piece of art that looks its best from a few paces away. Similarly, something large can look overpowering and shrink your space, making it feel dimmer rather than brightening your hallway.

Add some decorative pieces to jazz things us

You might have been hesitant to add decorative pieces to your hallway in case it looks cluttered but, by adding some carefully selected bits and bobs, you can help the space to feel homelier. If your hallway isn't too narrow, you could hang some shelves and then use these to display some of your favourite books, ornaments, and mementos.

If you don't have any room to spare, you could make the most of the space you're already using by choosing quirky lampshades, painting your skirting boards or even your doors a nice (but light) colour, or installing a carpet runner in a hue that you love.

We've already touched upon this, but having a carpet runner that leads through your hall and down your staircase can help your space to appear bigger, and should help things to flow much better, too. Just make sure that everything is properly secured with the right underlay and carpet studs to prevent any accidents, and ensure your carpet stays exactly where you want it to be. Our stair rods and brackets are ideal for this and, whether you're going for a VictorianTudor, or country look, we'll have the perfect styles to suit your home.

We all want our homes to be bright and cosy places that we love every corner of and, if you've gotten all of your living spaces to the point where they suit your needs and style perfectly, it's time to look at your hallways. Take all of the tips we've outlined here onboard, and you'll be able to make a small, awkward space feel far bigger and airier. Plus, you'll be able to inject plenty of colour and personality into it, too!

If you're planning on getting stuck in with a bigger DIY hallway project, we recommend reading our staircase decorating guide which is packed full of advice for making the most of your entranceway. We also have plenty of other helpful guides for you to read, including how to measure and fit stair runners, plus an introduction to door bars.