Image by Norio Nakayama

Decorating a new house, or redecorating the home you already live in, is a lot of fun. When you have every room in the house to decorate, your imagination can run wild. You can work on your bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen. Then there’s the bathroom, kids’ rooms, conservatory and even the garage or attic room. But what about the spaces in between? Often you neglect to think about the connecting parts of your home, like the hallways and stairs. These spaces should look just as good as the rest of your home, and help the designs in your rooms to transition from one room to another.

The entrance as you come in the front door is especially important because it’s the first thing people see when they enter your home. It can be difficult to decorate these spaces though. After all, they don’t do anything. Your other rooms are functional, but hallways and staircases are mostly used as throughways. But if you think about it, you’ll realise that you and your family to a lot more living in these spaces than you think. Whether it’s standing in the hallway putting on coats or the kids bumping down the stairs on their bottoms, you get a lot of use out of those spaces. So you should care for them just as much as the rest of your home.

The Changing Area

Hallways and other smaller spaces by your front and back doors are often used for getting dressed and undressed. That doesn’t mean that you’re changing into your pyjamas. But families tend to use hallways and utility rooms to put on shoes, coats and hats, especially if it’s wet or cold outside. You can make the best use of your hallway space by using multi-functional furniture for storage and seating.

Storage benches are perfect for keeping winter garments and shoes out of the way. And they provide the perfect place for little bottoms to sit while they put their shoes on. Coat stands and hooks are always useful too. Although, if you have the space and enough clothes to fill it, a wardrobe can really help to keep everything organised. Shelves might be best if you have limited space, and you can then place storage boxes on top of them. But if you have kids, make sure they can reach their things so they can dress themselves.

The Reception Room

Since your entrance is the first thing people see when they come in through your front door, you obviously want it to look clean and tidy. You can keep the hallway smart by keeping any coats and various paraphernalia somewhere else. If you have space when you come in through the door, and not just a long and narrow hallway, you could even begin to entertain guests before taking them through to another room. A nest of Multiyork side tables will provide somewhere to put canapes or snack bowls. If you’re having a party, you have a good place for guests to mill around and pass through. If you like the idea of a traditional looking space, keep your telephone on a side table by the stairs and add a few decorative touches like a vase of flowers.

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Walls and Floors

When you make changes to the walls and floors or your staircases and hallways, think about the practicality of your choices. If you have children or pets, will your hallway constantly have people and animals going in and out? Make sure that your choices are appropriate to potential dirt and marks to the walls or floors. Choosing colours will depend largely on how big your space is, and how much light it receives. A small space will look even smaller if the colours are all too dark. Try to get small spaces, which most halls and staircases are, as light as possible to open them up. You can use darker accents, but dark colours all around will be stifling. Try not to go overboard with patterns either, as that can also make a space seem smaller than it is. Choose smaller patterns and use them sparingly.

As for floors, carpets aren’t ideal when people are just coming in from inside. But with a strict “no shoes” policy or a good mat for people to wipe their shoes, carpets and rugs can be a nice touch.

Caring for the Stairs

It’s difficult to do too much with a staircase, as it’s obviously meant for moving on, rather than standing still. You can’t have anything blocking the stairs, and there’s nowhere to put any decorations, except on the wall. Your staircase should flow up from the hallway, connecting the two floors in style. The main staircase decision is whether to have carpets or not. Staircases will see a lot of traffic, so you may choose to protect the wood with carpets, or you might decide that carpets will only get dirty. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it doesn’t starkly contrast with your downstairs and upstairs decor.

One other major factor on your staircase is the banister or railings. Some people might like to have them replaced altogether when they move into a new house, but that can be a drastic move. If your wooden banister is looking a bit tatty, sand it down and give it a lick of gloss or paint. It will look much smarter and greatly improve the look of your staircase. Finally, the question of art on the walls. Many families choose to display family photos for both them and guests to look at as they ascend and descend. But they’re not compulsory, and you might decide you prefer paintings, or nothing at all. Too many picture frames can make the staircase look narrow or crowded, so be careful not to overdo it.

The key to decorating such small spaces is to make sure you don’t overcrowd them. Decorate sparingly and focus on statement pieces and small touches to create a beautiful space.