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How to tackle dark hallways

The hall, the first space to greet us each time we return home, should ideally be a light-filled, welcoming room with conveniently located storage cleverly concealed from view. Sadly, however, our entrances are often narrow passages with little light and inadequate cupboard space. There is hope, however. Check out these 10 ways, from structural alterations to decorative touches, to improve how you can both capture and reflect light in a hall of any size.

Reflect a little

The simplest of solutions – a strategically placed mirror – will amplify your space and bounce around whatever light is available to best effect. Position the mirror so as to reflect both natural light and, if possible, another key feature in the space, perhaps a piece of art.

Find mirrors on Houzz

The Library Building - Clapham

This is a super-versatile idea that would work in period and contemporary properties alike.

See 10 brilliant ways to light up your staircase

Trinity road

Work that front door

The best way to deal with issues of darkness is to introduce more natural light. Even the smallest panes in the front door or side panels will help here. Use opal or frosted glass where there are privacy or security issues.

Brighten the balustrade….

A natural timber balustrade can appear to eat precious light. Painting the balusters white will both soften the overall effect of the stairs in the hall and enhance light reflection. For those reluctant to paint timber features, bear in mind that painted wood is still wood, with its own unique aesthetic.


…or go transparent

If you’re planning major work, replacing the traditional balustrade with one made of clear glass will offer an even greater flow of natural light.

Contemporary hallway and landing, London
Private House for TY Studio


Look up

Light from above is powerful and transforming: in fact, according to the UK’s <span>National Association of Rooflight Manufacturers roof lights can be three times more effective than regular windows. Investigate whether your roof profile allows the fitting of a roof light over your first floor landing. Combined with light-reflecting décor, this could allow your hall at ground level to be constantly flooded with natural light.

Steal light from the side

If your home is semi-detached, it may be possible to steal some light from the side passage between your house and your neighbour’s. Here, glass blocks positioned in slim, vertical columns either side of a console table – flanking a statement mirror would work just as well – strike a contemporary note and overcome any privacy issues. Opal glass would achieve the same result.

Arlington Gardens

Where that isn’t possible, consider this option: the owners of this house have fitted an internal window looking into the living room and stealing light from the window in there.

Borrow light from an adjacent room

I’ve already touched on this with the idea of an internal window, but for something less structural, use doors with clear or translucent glass between the hall and any adjacent rooms. This will allow natural light to flow through the whole of the ground floor. Single-panel glass doors work well in both period and contemporary homes. Again, opal or frosted glass will allow for privacy where appropriate.

Think Scandi

The Scandinavians are surely masters of the business of maximising light and show us how the simple act of painting timber floors can bring airiness to any space. Choose from a range of specialist floor paints available to achieve a quality finish that will even improve with age.

Pave palely

It’s essential to adopt a light palette when choosing colours and finishes for your dark hall. White floor tiles can work wonders here. In particular, tiles with a low sheen will reflect light beautifully. A recessed mat-well at the front door is vital for dirt management, and you could also add carefully selected runners to provide additional dirt management,  colour and texture as needed.

Alternatively, go dark in your hallway

Lighten up

A hardwood timber door will absorb light and add to the general sense of gloom. Paint the internal face of the door white to reflect light and transform the ambience of any hall. This works well even where the door has no glass. Choose a colour you cherish for the outside of the door to add to that important sense of welcome.

Eva Byrne, Houzz Contributor

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