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17 September 2014
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Hall and stairs

"The first impressions are the most important. The hallway is your sense of arrival," says Nina Campbell of this often neglected area. Follow her steps below and make yours a grand entrance.

Unless your front door opens directly onto your living area or another room you can and should make something of the entrance to your home. A well-presented hallway gives a visitor their first impression, welcomes you home every time you've been out, and can even help to sell a property.

Make an impact

As the one area that people pass through rather than spend time in, the hallway is the perfect place to give visitors a glimpse into your personality. Use the hall as somewhere to set the tone for the rest of your house. Display photographs, paintings, a favourite rug and anything else that represents you and your family.

The hallway also offers an opportunity for colour, particularly as white can often be stark and uninviting. Colour can be introduced via wallpaper, fabric (such as curtains, a rug or table linen on a console), a painting or a plant.

Patterned wallpaper works particularly well in a long, narrow hallway or stairwell as it draws the eye away from the length and creates the illusion of width. Not only will it add drama, but you also won't have to worry about it clashing with sofas.

Candle style light fitting, flocked wallpaper and candles on a table

Pay attention to detail

If possible, try to think of the hallway as a room in its own right. As such, treat it with the same care and attention to detail as you would any other room. If there's space, put a chair or a small table there.

It is also an area prone to wear and tear - keep skirting boards painted and keep your walls clean of mucky hand prints on the walls.

Halls also tend to be rich in wall space. Take advantage of this to display photographs, prints and paintings, or hang a large mirror to give the illusion of space.

Also, think classic. Touches such as an umbrella stand or that 20th century hall accessory, the "gossip" bench (a seat and table in one, designed with comfortably using the telephone in mind) will help to give your hall a sense of purpose.

Keep it light

Wall-lights work very well in a hallway. Nina suggests using tall candle-stick stems with your own choice of lampshade (modern or traditional) for a stylish look. Mirrors will also help available light to go further.

If your hallway has a window, and if space allows, make a feature of this by placing a chair or table underneath. Also, instead of net curtains, consider privet hedges or high window boxes to cover the lower half of the window. This will retain privacy without compromising on aesthetics.

Moulded cornice, fireplace in a hallway, and banisters with an ivy design

Nina's hints for a heavenly hallway

  • Never use your hallway as a dumping ground. This is the first thing you see when you open the door so keep the hall and stairs tidy and free of clutter at all times.
  • If this is where you keep coats and bags, invest in some appropriate storage. There are so many storage options for halls and lobbies now that you will definitely find something to suit your needs. Choose from free-standing coat-racks, fixed individual or a rail of hooks, a shoe rack or high level shelving for hats and bags.
  • If doors to other rooms lead off from the hallway, think carefully about the colour scheme to ensure that the eye is easily drawn from one space to the next. One way of seamlessly linking rooms is to keep the wall colours similar, while having different floor coverings to divide the rooms. For example, tiles or wooden flooring in the hall and carpet in the adjoining room.
  • Whatever the size or shape of your hallway, your prime concern should be to make it as welcoming as possible. Stand in the doorway and imagine you're walking in for the first time. What needs to change? The colour? Lighting? Flooring'? Or does it simply need to be de-cluttered?
  • Use the space under your stairs wisely. Under-stair cupboards are a useful storage option. Or if there's enough headroom, why not convert the space into a downstairs loo? Apart from the toilet, you only need a small handbasin, a mirror and a towel rail. Ask a plumber for advice and a quote.

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