Belfast Telegraph

Make a grand entrance

First impressions are crucial, so make sure you welcome guests into a calm hallway. Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to do it

You're not alone if you walk into your home and your spirits wilt as you're greeted by a jumble of coats, shoes and bags, as the hallway is generally the most neglected area in the home.

All too often it's an afterthought when it comes to decor, and yet the hall should be the star of the show because it presents the first impression of your style to visitors.

Here's the experts' advice on transforming a hallway.

Wonder walls

A hallway is usually such a small area in a home that you can let loose and try a bold pattern paper or a colour you might be too inhibited to use in a main living area.

Alternatively, add impact by removing carpet and painting an entire staircase, and stencil decorative or amusing words on each riser to bring instant character to the space. Be aware this will make stairs noisier though.

  • Bring a magical atmosphere to a hall with Goddess paper, where feminine faces nestle amongt a design of tree branches. £69 per roll, from the Spellbound wallpaper collection, Graham & Brown.
  •  Crown Paints has a variety of stunning shades that can be combined to revamp a dull hallway. Bang on trend are its Blue Mid and Yellow Mid from Crown Paints Matt & Silk range, £20.98 for 2.5 litres, from Homebase.
  •  Little Greene London's Wallpapers III collection starts from £49 a roll. Harlequin Folia wallpapers, from £39 a roll, also have interesting designs and extensive colour combinations.

Walk the floor

It's essential to have hard-wearing flooring in a hall — a high-traffic area. “Floor tiles come in such a wide range of colours, textures and finishes these days that they're becoming increasingly popular for halls,”

says Claire O'Brien, trend manager for British Ceramic Tile.

“Natural stone tiles are an ideal way to create a timeless, opulent-looking hall.

“Alternatively, choose a rustic-looking floor tile that can flow through the entire downstairs to achieve a sense of bringing the outdoors in. A muted, organic colour scheme with moulded borders and wood cladding will create a hallway full of warmth and character.” Tiles start from around £22 per square metre.

Carpet, provided it's high-quality and hard-wearing, is a good choice and can bring warmth and colour to a hall area, as well as minimising noise.

“Stripes are hugely popular in halls and work particularly well on stairs and for runners,” says Roger Oates, founder of the company of the same name, which specialises in floors and fabrics.

“Striped designs are timeless but have a contemporary edge in the colour combinations used — and can look stunning against old oak or even on stone staircases.

“For halls, a stair runner with underlay will soften the noise of feet resonating up and down stairs.”

  •  Roger Oates carpeting and stair runners start from £112 per linear metre.
  •  Mohawk Carpets has a SmartStrand Sheer Ecstasy carpet, £61 per square metre, which claims to offer inherent stain and soil resistance for a truly worry-free look.

Window dressing

Curtains can be unsuitable for windows in halls, which are often narrow passageways, and blinds may be a neater solution.

“Hallways tend to be draughty places so consider a thermal window dressing,” says Sarah Quilliam, head of product design at Hillarys blind company.

“An interlined roman blind still gives a sleek, uncluttered feel but has extra padding between the face fabric and the lining to give extra insulation.”

  • Hillarys lined romans start from £104, plus £30 for interlining.

Starry stairs

Staircases are a key feature in a hallway and nowadays their potential is being realised with revamps of bannisters, bespoke staircases, or lighting.

“Revamping a staircase can breathe new life into a hallway and turn your stairs into a real style statement,” says Simon Meyrick, designer at Neville Johnson.

The company offers a bespoke staircase renovation service that can transform dull, tired staircases with classic wood to more contemporary designs that can incorporate sleek glass.

Adding light to a staircase can dramatically change its aesthetics, says Richard McLane, design director at Bisca, which specialise in bespoke staircases.

“A well-lit staircase, particularly one in an open-plan space, can maximise the illusion of space,” he says. “Spotlights can be recessed into the wall alongside the stair to provide effect more than illumination of the staircase.

To ensure safety, it's essential to consult a specialist about lighting effects.

  • Neville Johnson bespoke staircases start from £2,000; Bisca bespoke staircases start from £15,000.

Store solutions

If members of the family discard their possessions haphazardly as soon as they're through the front door, there's an urgent need for storage that's so easy to use they can't ignore it.

“Stopping a trail of belongings littering a hallway can be a thankless task, so the space needs to be equipped so it's user-friendly,” says Clotilde Passalacqua at Ikea.

“A cupboard for shoes, a generous amount of hooks or a coat rack, as well as a slim storage unit for hiding away seasonal items such as Wellingtons, hats and gloves as well as sports kit can transform a space.”

  •  A Bissa shoe cabinet, with two compartments, £20, and a Malm chest of six drawers, £85, Ikea.
  •  An uber-chic Montana white birch storage unit, £469, Fashion For Home, cleverly incorporates a coat stand.
  •  Six Basket Console Unit, £345, The Holding Company.

Shine a light

Effective lighting is essential in a hall, which is a functional space where guests are greeted and you make last-minute preparations before leaving the house.

“Wall lights are great space savers and perfect for hallways,” says Laura Pagan, co-founder and buying director of lighting specialists Pagazzi.

“They generate a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and, spaced apart correctly, they can also create the illusion of a lit pathway.”

Make a small hallway appear larger by using uplighter wall brackets, she suggests. These will bounce light onto the ceiling and walls, in turn creating the illusion of a bigger space.

A glow of light at the end of a hallway, she advises, will pull the eye towards it and make a space appear longer. This can be done with a statement floor lamp, while table lamps work well on slim console tables.

  • An Aruba wall light, £35, in polished chrome and glass, Pagazzi.

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