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In the Victorian era and even earlier, homes used to be designed with the hallways as a real focal point. It was central, usually looked towards a dramatic staircase and frequently had features such as parquet flooring and elegant leaded windows for guests to admire.
Unfortunately, the hall tends to be somewhat neglected these days. New homes aren't centred around them so much and even people living in older properties often think of the space as somewhere to quickly pass through, which can result in it being a dumping ground for coats and bags.
This is a shame though, as the hall is still the first thing guests see when they enter your home. And in the run-up to Christmas with the nights drawing in, you don't want a dated, dreary and dingy hall letting down the rest of your otherwise elegant home.
With time now at a premium, what can be done to rectify the situation? We've rounded up our top tips below in order to help you make your hallway a feature again, just in time for the festive season.
Use colour cleverly
If you've got dark walls in your hall, consider swapping them for lighter hues - although avoid white at all costs in this high-traffic area. Lemon yellow would look great in an entryway, as would a sage or mint green.
You don't have to ditch darker colours completely, though. For example, if you like red, opt for wallpaper that has scarlet blooms on a pale background. You'll still get the drama but without creating a cave-like ambience.
Bounce light around
Many hallways appear dark because there aren't many windows or they face the wrong way to maximise sunlight. There are a few things you can do to make the most of the light that does come in, though.
If you're willing to make some larger changes, how about changing your solid front door for one with glass in it, or getting a joiner to add a porthole window? Pale-coloured flooring will also boost light, as will using reflective surfaces such as ceramic tiles and gloss paint.
Alternatively, you can add some uplighters around pictures and place a big mirror opposite a window for a similar effect.
A place for everything
Storage can be a real issue in the hall, as it's tempting to put your coats and bags there as soon as you come in, as well as any post you need to act on. This can make the place look scruffy, though.
To avoid messiness, add clever storage solutions. For example, a line of coat pegs with a shelf for wicker baskets above will provide somewhere to put coats, scarves and gloves in one fell swoop, leaving banister posts and radiators free.
If you have wasted space under your stairs, if may be worth asking your joiner to make a bespoke storage area for things like shoes and vacuum cleaners that are better hidden from the immediate view of visitors.
Finally, a small piece of furniture such as a slim cupboard or miniature writing bureau will keep letters and magazines tidy until you need them.
Add accent pieces for admiration
You've got ornaments in your living room and pieces that liven up the decor in your bedroom, so why not treat the hall in the same way? A window bottom is the ideal place to put a vase of seasonal flowers, while a long radiator shelf would accommodate family photos in striking frames (be careful not to clutter them, though).
You can also use scent-creating pieces such as our ceramic oil burner to add ambience, although take care that any naked flames from candles are not left alone. A reed diffuser may be a better option if you can't see the hall from the living room.
Now could be the perfect time to take a fresh look at your hall and ensure that your visitors are wowed by your interior design prowess the next time they arrive.