How to Fix Narrow and Boring Hallways

How to Fix Narrow and Boring Hallways

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Some hallways, especially long ones, can feel terribly narrow (mostly because they ARE narrow). This is especially notable in some newly constructed high-rise apartments where the obsession to maximize dollars-per-square-foot is at a premium. The minimum width for a hallway is three feet, but if the hallway is long this can feel narrower, especially if it does not widen near the entry.

Being space- and energy-efficient is admirable, but when a narrow hallway greets you, it can feel claustrophobic, especially matched with lower ceiling heights that even appear in homes with tall ceilings as they house mechanicals and ductwork. It feels especially unsettling when you consider the price-tags on some of these properties. There are certain design 'tricks' that can be deployed to make a narrow hallway feel wider:

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  1. Mirrors work. Optically they expand a room. A carefully placed mirror or two can make a huge difference.

  2. Install an alcove of sorts, maybe one that inclludes a shelf. Even a very shallow alcove can break the monotony of a long narrow hallway.

  3. Decorate the hallway as if it was a room. Sometimes making one side of the hall darker and the other lighter can trick the eye. Avoid dark-colored gloomy hallways: most say lighter colors work well. Some say painting the walls and ceiling all the same color works well too.

  4. Art can give a narrow hallway some depth. Photographs that extend the eye work well and are inexpensive.

  5. Patterned wallpaper can be effective too if it extends the eye.

  6. Often the biggest mistake happens with lighting that is uniformly 'washed' to illuminate. Use more spotted lighting moments. Angle ceiling lights to artwork.

  7. Use glossy or lacquered paint that will have a similar effect to mirrors by reflecting light.

  8. An interesting carpet or runner can help.

  9. Paint doors a contrasting color to 'break' the look visually.

  10. Separate the entry from the hallway with a sort of defining element.

So, when you are staging a home for sale, don't forget the hallways. They are the transition moments from the entry to the rest of the house and from room to room. These moments matter.

Source: Leonard Steinberg

Michael Maughan