How to Visually Widen a Narrow Hallway

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Layer in interesting details to visually widen your narrow hallway.
Layer in interesting details to visually widen your narrow hallway. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Halls are passageways to other rooms and are often ignored in the overall decorating scheme. Include your narrow hallway in your decorating plans to achieve continuity and visually expand the space. The skillful use of design elements such as lighting, paint colors and architectural accents can distract your eye from the narrow space while providing a gallery to display some of your personal treasures. Avoid placing furniture in a narrow hallway unless it has a small scale and practical purpose, such as a bench or bookcase.

Paint Options

Use creative paint applications to visually widen the rectangular features of your narrow hallway, such as a tone-on-tone faux-glazed finish applied to your ceiling and walls. Light paint colors with a satin finish work best to brighten long side walls and expand the space visually. Consider applying an accent color on the ceiling and the back wall to visually expand the width of your hallway. Apply white or off-white semigloss enamel paint to moldings, frames and doors to brighten the space.

Light the Way

Light sources visually expand your narrow hallway. Leave windows in the hallway exposed or install window coverings with directional controls, such as horizontal blinds, to flood your hallway with natural light during the day. Consider wall-mounted sconces for appealing eye-level accents, and ceiling fixtures that extend the light source, such as a semiflush pendant light with short tripod arms. Contemporary lighting options include multidirectional track lighting. Measure your hallway dimensions and follow the manufacturer’s suggested size guidelines to ensure that your light fixtures are proportional to your space.

Eye Appeal

Display dimensional accents to make the common area extraordinary, such as a colorful wall tapestry or a series of wall-mounted shadow boxes filled with collectables. Avoid the minimalist approach in your narrow hallway by layering in several vignettes of related artwork and family photos on alternating wall sections. Keep your eyes engaged with details on the side walls instead of focusing on the end of your hallway. Place a large mirror facing into an open doorway, such as a family room, to reflect the space. Keep doors at the end of the hallway closed to avoid visually elongating the narrow space.

Top and Bottom

Floors and ceilings are useful tools in expanding the visual width of your narrow hallway. Include architectural features such as a skylight or crown molding with recessed lighting at the ceiling to draw the eyes up. Use light-colored floor coverings in your hallway with a defined horizontal pattern, such as a pastel-striped carpet runner, or install natural wood plank flooring horizontally. Avoid placing large objects on the hallway floors that restrict movement and can physically narrow the space. Strive for clear pathways with emphasis focused on the side walls.

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