House and Home

Decorating Hallways and Entryways


Hallways and entryways can be tricky to decorate. These "transitional spaces" are used for a variety of purposes and tend to lack personality. Interior Designer Rebecca Short is here to tell us how to make the most of them.

Consider Your Lifestyle and Needs

"Ask yourself what you need from your entry space and how it isn't working for you," Short says. "From there, you will be able to better understand where to make changes."  Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Is this where a wet dog is dried off after a rainy walk and the walls are now spattered?
  • Is this a good place to leave shoes, or ?
  • Is there an easy and natural place for your umbrella, coat and keys?
  • Is this entry a good place to welcome guests? 

Lighten Up

If your transitional space gets little or no natural light, Short suggests using small or overhead ambient lighting along with light, reflective paint. "Think through your lighting and paint scheme in tandem," she advises.

For example, "Painting your front door a pale and soft butter yellow like Benjamin Moore's 'Palace White' in high gloss might be very beautiful with a black and white checked tile floor."

However, she also warns against overusing reflective surfaces to make a small space feel bigger, as they are are hard to clean and may draw even more attention to the clutter you are trying to detract from.

"Typically a good sized and well-placed mirror for reviewing your reflection is enough," she advises.

Understanding Pattern and Bold Color

When it comes to using patterns and bold colors to decorate, Short says there isn't a simple rule. "You really have to understand your limits and comfort level with both. The case for color and pattern is very personal and relative to the space you're designing."

However, if you do want to bring pattern to your entryway,  consider these tips:

  • Choose a durable option. Vinyl wall-covering comes in many beautiful styles and can mimic anything from natural fibers to hand-blocked prints.
  • Opt for stenciling or tile. Both can be scrubbed clean if necessary.
  • Don't neglect your floor. Consider a painted floor or a beautiful runner or entry rug.

Furniture Do's and Don'ts

Short believes every entry should have somewhere to sit. But before splurging on that plush sofa, she suggests circling back to asking yourself how the space is used. Then, consider the following:

  • Do buy pieces to address the deficiencies in your entry.
  • Do consider durability, scale and purpose.
  • Do invest in furniture pieces that are appropriate for your needs and the size of the space.
  • Don't buy an antique settee with a woven seat if your entryway regularly hosts the pee-wee soccer team.
  • Don't buy a very deep and very tall entry bench with coat storage cubbies if your entry is a long, very narrow hall. You'll feel dwarfed and cramped along side it.

In the end, Short says, "You may need better storage or a grand entry table, but you'll also need space around each for movement."