There’s definitely room for improvement in this routinely overlooked and rarely used space, writes Carol O’Callaghan

FUNNY how aspirations change with the generations. Time was our hallways were kept immaculate to create the best first impression, sometimes to the point where family came in through the back door and the front door was kept strictly for guests.

You’d be hard pressed nowadays to find a family hallway that isn’t a jumble sale of trainers the size of ocean-going liners and sports bags fragranced with eau-de-gymnasium. But you can’t blame all the unsightliness on the kiddies now can you, when the devilish duo of exposed electric meter and an under-stairs space stuffed with black bags that never made their way to the charity shop, are evidence of your own sins.

The urge to preach a homily of chastisements is tempered only by the guilt that I too need to transform my hall which is currently quite bare. Not fashionably minimal, mind you, but bare in the dullest way that I could only absolve myself of by spending the last couple of weeks reading and musing on the matter. And if nothing else, it has been revealed that when it comes to making the most of your hallway, the trinity of natural light, space and storage is indeed a blessing.

Remember the golden rule that darker hues decrease space and lighter colours expand it —if your hall is long and narrow opt for a darker colour on the shorter walls and neutral or very pale on the long ones. The level of wear and tear caused by traffic in and out or just the longing for a fashionably intense hue might tempt you towards darker colours, but they will drain the potential for natural light to be maximised. It’s your hall and your choice so consider how adequate the overhead light is, and if you don’t want its glare as soon as dusk falls, introduce a lamp on a hall table or a wall light.

Coats need to be hung, shoes stored and bags deposited, but if space is so limited that you have nowhere to site a coat stand, can you utilise the space under the stairs? Small ready- made, self-assembly shelving units will work very well as a place for hats, scarves, gloves and sports bags. Add some attractive baskets to keep pairs of shoes together, and finish by screwing a few coat hooks to the wall under the highest part of the stairs. In the tiniest of halls, consider an above-head height shelf for smaller items, and beneath it place some hooks for coats and handbags.

If there’s no room for furniture, and you want to get rid of the feel that the hall is just a walk- through area, try personalising it with photos or prints you love using the same design of frame which can be done with little expense. A mirror in the hall is an essential for many of us, often located above a console. As it happens, there’s a popular style for standing out-size mirrors with heavy frames, often in silver or gilt, against a wall. It helps to create a room feel and is large enough to reflect the space and make it seem bigger.

Next week the family room gets a revamp.


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