Visually enlarge a narrow hallway: Tips and tricks when using wallpaper

All of us know what a narrow hallway looks like, many of us live with one and wish for more space and light. A narrow hall can be long or short, the ceiling might be high or low.

By using the right pattern or structure wallpapers, unfavourable layouts can be corrected to a degree, and the dull cave can be turned into an attractive passage area. Who knows - it might even be cosy enough to have a long chat with friends and neighbours... Our Guide Blog reveals which pattern and design wallpapers give your hallway the lift it needs and will provide valuable hints and tips as to its general design.

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The first step: Analysis of your hallway

Grab a pen and a notebook and analyse your corridor the way an interior decorator would. Don't worry, you can do it! The following short check-list with important questions will help you:

What is the actual shape of the hallway? Is it a long "hose" shape? Or more like a short and narrow shape? Are the ceilings high or low? Are there any corners in your corridor? Measure the width (from wall to wall) and the ceiling. These measurements will come in handy later on.

  • Is there direct or indirect daylight, for instance via a window or glass insets in the door?
  • Does a window along the stairway also let some light into the hallway?
  • Is the floor light or dark? Could it easily be changed or covered with different flooring (e.g. rugs and carpets)?
  • At first sight, what do you dislike about the existing design and furnishings in your hall?
  • Think about the functional aspects of the design, for example: Do you need storage for shoes, scarves and hats etc. and a coat rack, or would you like to keep it simple and just add a few decorative items?

This first analysis will doubtlessly provide you with various great ideas and inspire certain colour or pattern preferences. Don't forget to write these ideas down in your notebook. That way, you won't forget anything.

Even the narrowest of hallways is your private zone which you should design according to your personal wishes. This important space is like the calling card of your home and should represent and reflect your individual taste and personality. When designing the best solutions for a narrow hallway, there is no need to stick to specific norms or traditional concepts. The aim should be to find a pleasing combination of self-expression and some basic characteristics of colour and pattern design for small spaces. You can do it, we just know it.

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Colour concepts realised with design wallpapers

A long narrow hallway needs light colours - that much is obvious. This basic principle is certainly not without merits, but it can be used in small doses. This is where the question regarding daylight in the hall or adjacent areas comes into play. If there are windows and light is coming into the hallway directly or indirectly, the pattern in the wallpaper can have slightly darker or more intense colours.

After all, the term "light colours" covers a multitude of hues. We are not referring to sterile white, however, as that can look cold and impersonal. Choose creamy or silvery hues of white, ivory, pastel yellow, a delicate rosé, pearl grey, baby blue, beige-brown or light purple - to name but a few of the suitable shades - when selecting the right design structure or pattern wallpaper. There are some exceptions to this rule, but more about that later.

Patterned wallpapers for hallways? Yes please!

Wood-chip, painted white or in other colours, or glass fibre wallpaper in the hallway is simply not good enough. What you need are striking patterns and these are by no means limited to printed motifs. Patterns are also created by exclusive material structures, embossing, special finishes and unique effects.

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Motif patterns - what to watch out for in narrow hallways

You can find a plethora of motif pattern wallpapers in our exclusive Wallpaper Shop. As you will learn when reading our category Hallway Wallpapers, there is an enormous pattern variety. There are flowers, geometric shapes, Baroque and Art Noveau styles, typographic or nostalgic patterns and life-like depictions of animals and objects as well as material imitations (stone, wood, ceramics, tiles). Many of these stunning patterned wallpapers are suitable for small corridors, just as long as a few rules are followed.

All walls of a narrow hallway can be adorned with a motif or pattern wallpaper, if the base and pattern colours are light or subtly shaded, or if the pattern colours provide a gentle contrast. Black and white is a great combination, but the type and scale of the pattern needs to be taken into consideration. Feature walls or areas provide a much greater freedom in terms of pattern choice.

Below is a list of the most suitable patterns and design options for small corridors.

Using motif/patterned wallpapers on all hallway walls

Small geometric patterns with triangular or diamond shapes are extremely attractive, as long as they are in the right colours. Some examples in our on-line Shop: Alice, Lenus, Pelias, Satis, Tamesis and Tomoko.

Alice-A_38908559d50f0aac89b   Lenus-B_61031359d50f103d0a2

Pelias-A_10633159d50f16f00e7   Satis-A_61025259d50f1950fca

Tamesis_25061159d50f1a00c97   Tomoko-A_38911359d50f1aa28a8

Striped wallpapers are multi-taskers that can enliven a small narrow corridor, as long as the stripes are delicate lines and arranged vertically. They make the walls appear higher even if the ceiling is low. Special metallic or gloss-matt effects that play with the light provide an additional brightening effect. Material imitations in a wood look, for instance as vertical narrow planks or boards in white or cream hues create a very natural, rustic ambience. We have a number of striking striped wallpaper models in our Shop which will make a narrow hallway appear wider, e.g. Orthos, Mariza, Velda and Mareget.

orthos_46084359d50f158cee4   Mariza-B_82104159d50f1349f18

Velda_82098259d50f1b39ab7   Mareget-A_82153159d50f12a3fb3

Horizontal stripes make surfaces look wider (as we know from clothing!). Whether it is a long or a short hallway, you can visually change its layout with stripe wallpapers. In short corridors, wallpapers with a white background and colourful, narrow horizontal lines can be used to add some lightness to the ambience.

Flowery or damask patterns are not too suitable for narrow hallways as they can be somewhat overwhelming and claustrophobic. More delicate patterns and subtle colours are more appropriate. Generally speaking, light and pastel base and pattern colours with subtle contrast are preferable. If choosing baroque patterns, they should be unobtrusive and the silhouettes should only be accentuated by shimmer effects. Our models Aramas, Astoria, Leandra and Perun, and many more, are the perfect baroque wallpapers for large-scale wall treatments. 

aramas_82067159d50f0c4635f   Astoria-A_18107259d50f0e6272f

Leandra_25054359d50f0f9ca10   Perun-A_46115559d50f1897549

Here are some good examples of flowery wallpapers that will make your narrow corridor come to life without being overwhelming: Amitola, Lioba, Macha and Wanda.

Amitola-A_10637159d50f0b9af34   Lioba-A_82137259d50f10e9227

macha_461104   Wanda-A_82101259d50f1bf418f

Stunning feature walls with motif and pattern wallpapers

Even the narrowest of hallways can be beautified with intense, bright, dazzling and unusual colours as well as extravagant pattern wallpapers, and the pattern size and type doesn't necessarily play a huge role when using it on just a feature wall. For instance, the area with the coat-hanger, perhaps a storage bench and a mirror can be adorned with just a few strips of wallpaper. On a feature wall, the colours can be fairly dark, too, but they should simply be a pleasing contract to the rest of the space. In terms of pattern motifs, there is no limit to your choice: baroque ornaments, leaves, petals, flowers, graphic elements, objects, animals. people and abstract images are all possible.

Another variation that is increasingly popular is putting up a patterned wallpaper on just one wall, whilst using a one-coloured type on the other walls (or just painting them). This method distracts the eye from the narrowness of the hallway and lends it more depth and structure. But some thought is required to make this concept a success. Should it be the left or the right wall of the hall? Don't rely on the principle of chance. The feature wall should not have a door and some daylight would be beneficial. A wall that goes around a corner or has some angles shouldn't present a problem.

Tapete-schmaler-Flur

Here are some wallpaper patterns and colours that are particularly suitable in terms of providing contrast:

  • Material imitations of wood, stone, marble, ceramics or tiles in warm matching colours of subtle shading of brown, red, grey and white hues
  • Abstract patterns, modern ornaments, retro patterns, stylised flowers which turn the feature wall into a mural; bright colours are also great
  • Patterned wallpapers with printed picture frames to add your own photos or drawings etc.; various interesting objects
  • Landscapes and romantic motifs, e.g. abstract tree shapes or a magic forest, in light or dark colours that contrast with the other walls

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Add some zing to your walls: Stunning material and effect structures

Wallpapers with unique surfaces characterised by specific materials or stunning structural processes and with light base colours are particularly appropriate for homogeneous wall design in hallways. The create a sense of gentle movement and do away with monotony in corridors. Structure or effect patterns, as they are also know, have a very haptic, 3D feel to them.

Nature wallpapers with surfaces made from grass, bamboo, natural paper or mica stones create bright hallway concepts with a wow factor. These structures provide a very subtle, gentle surprise effect and the light colours complement them beautifully. Find a large number of gorgeous examples in our Shop, for instance: Mystic Weave in pastel colour combinations, or the striking Paper Weave.

Mystic-Weave-A_82112259d50f14f1b55   Paper-Weave-02-A_25057259d50f164cc14

Due to their velvety soft structure, textile wallpapers lend warmth to a room; in addition, they actually have some insulating properties. Their surfaces consist of synthetic or natural fibres which are applied to the backing paper as a type of mesh or as longitudinal warp threads. Narrow corridors, which by their very nature tend to be cooler and darker than the rest of the home, benefit greatly from these single-coloured structure wallpapers. With their light natural colours and the textile structure, they are the perfect fit for many different interior design ideas. Longitudinal warp threads with tiny glittering metal fibres create a fine stripe pattern which plays with the light.

Many flock wallpaper models with their typical high-low structure can be used for feature walls or for the entire hallway.

Crush wallpapers are characterised by their ingenuous crease and crinkle structures which are created via special manufacturing processes. Natural tree branch or twig structures, enchanting gossamer or avant-garde folds are true eye-catchers and a welcome distraction from straight lines. Metal-look and striking accents in the shape of shimmering crinkles exude sheer opulence and elegance. We offer a huge number of light colour combinations perfect for narrow corridors.

Leather-look wallpapers with leather imitation surfaces or a detailed croc pattern in a light cream-beige lend an air of exotic luxury to the hallway and can be used for all walls.

Effect foil wallpapers with iridescent colours, stunning reflections, hologram or three-dimensional effects are extremely well suited for the ceiling of a narrow corridor. Darker colours are best used on high ceilings, whereas lighter hues are better for low ceilings. The walls should be kept in a neutral fashion. But effect foil wallpapers are also the perfect solution for feature areas or walls in a narrow hallway. The impact that effect foil wall treatments have is largely dependent on the light and the viewing angle. This should be considered when choosing the right pattern.

Glass bead wallpapers provide pure glamour for your hallway; the glittering and sparkling beads are used to create a pattern or to frame it. A fabulous play with the light that can make narrow halls look bigger. Warm colours should have preference, patterns should be small rather than large-scale. Geometric shapes, stripes and delicate elements are most suitable. Find the perfect model in our Wallpaper Shop, e.g. Artemis, Christella, Merkur, Persephone, Xander or Yamuna.

Artemis_82114459d50f0d82168   Christella_82115259d50f0f03829

Merkur-A_46157259d50f1434a93   Persephone-C_82151359d50f17c591e

Xander-B_61039259d50f1cab04d   Yamuna-A_82074159d50f1d616bf

Cleaning characteristics for hallway wallpapers

As the hall is a an area that every person who lives in the house passes through, it is by its very nature prone to attract dirt and damage. Of course it always depends on individual circumstances - do you have children? Dogs? Are you a keen rambler? (etc...) Many pattern and structure/effect wallpapers are washable and can be cleaned with a damp cloth. But that doesn't mean that wallpapers that are not washable cannot be used in hallways. At the end, what counts are your own personal taste, style preferences and (with non-washable wallpapers) the potential presence of dirt and risk of damages, i.e. the specific use of the hallway.

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Additional tips to make a narrow corridor look larger

In addition to applying design pattern wallpaper to walls and ceilings, there are a few other factors that will make a narrow hall looks larger and make it feel cosier:

  • Light-coloured flooring - the choice of flooring is of course up to you, but it would be preferable to select lighter shades and avoid dark colours or strong patterns in carpets etc. If the flooring is dark and cannot be removed very easily, a long runner rug in light single colours can provide some visual interest. Modern, dirt-repellent and easy-care rugs and runners allow you to choose light colours, even for a busy area like the hall.
  • In terms of furnishings, less is more. It's never a good idea to squeeze in too many chests-of-drawers, coat-hangers and other bits of furniture. Instead, choose some practical storage solutions, preferably not too deep, in order to avoid making the hallway even narrower. Open wardrobes with a chaotic array of coats and jackets take up too much room; a wardrobe with doors will solve this problem and make the hallway look tidy.
  • Long and high mirrors add visual space to the hallway - and they obviously have a very practical use, too!
  • Large decorative objects or pictures aren't advisable additions. Avoid dust traps, large pictures and paintings as they can't be seen properly in narrow corridors due to a lack of viewing distance. Instead, hang a number of medium-sized pictures in straight lines. Make sure they don't clash with the wallpaper colour and pattern.
  • Optimum lighting - a windowless hallway needs appropriate light even during the day. Long, straight or wave-shaped ceiling lights or spotlights built into the ceiling, slim wall lights or halogen lamps along the walls are all suitable. A geometric form design with clear lines should take preference over large chandeliers.
  • Dark wooden doors, often found in old buildings, can be overpowering and make narrow corridors look even smaller. If the doors are in a reasonable state, they can be painted in fresh new colours and become a nice addition to the hallway space. If the old doors have to be replaced, glass doors are the obvious solution as they let some light into the hallway.
  • And finally: make sure the hallway is always tidy, as clutter and mess makes any space looks smaller and narrower.

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