Don’t ignore your hallway. Just don’t.
I know it’s not a sexy room, but it’s important nonetheless.
It’s probably a space through which you travel quite a bit and somewhere your guests see first when they come visiting.
Take another look at your hallway and ask yourself if it could do with some improvement. This is a very important question to ask if you are renovating or building a new house, as now is the chance to do something about it.
Do you really need a hallway?
When deciding on your new home plan, take a closer look at the hallways. Is having one really necessary, or perhaps you could shorten it? If there is no way of avoiding one in your home, apply the following rules to it.
- Minimum width of 36in/91cm. But 42-60in/107-152cm is better. TIP: 60in/152cm will allow two wheelchairs to pass each other.
- Avoid turns. Or if you must have a turn, can you angle the corner to make it wider where is it most needed?
- Place doorways across the hall from each other to make travelling between rooms much easier with fewer steps.
Doors off hallways
Doors that open into the rooms rather than into the hallway will ensure a clear and safe path of travel, and won’t take up valuable hallway floor space. If a door opens into the hallway can you make it smaller by changing it to a bi-fold, pocket, or barn-door style? Or if you find that your bi-fold closet doors that open into the hallway are an obstacle, can you remove them altogether?
Ensure you have bright overhead lighting on a dimmer switch for during the day. Locate these switches at a maximum of 48in/122cm off the floor and place them at each end of the hallway.
- Install low-level lighting along the base of the wall for night time navigation. This type of lighting can automatically switch on when it’s dark or use a motion sensor.
- Doors with glass will let the light through into the hall. Frost the glass to maintain privacy if needed, or consider using glass transom windows above the doors instead.
- Using skylights will illuminate your hallway in a more environmentally friendly way. Consider solar tubes as an alternative if you have a complicated ceiling or roof.
- Paint your hallways a light color to help reflect the light around and feel more spacious.
Making a hallway more interesting
Mirrors will help to make the space feel bigger than it is and bounce light around. You could use framed mirrors for a gallery feel or frameless for a more contemporary look.
- Add some built-in book shelves and include a few areas to display some of your treasures.
- A well-curated series of a few select pieces of art will add some drama.
- Place a well-lit interesting piece of furniture, art or sculpture at the end of your hallway as a focal point.
- Add some texture like wood or brick on one side of the hallway for visual interest. A robust material will also help protect drywall walls from being nicked by bicycles, wheelchairs and luggage. TIP: A 9in/23cm high baseboard will also help protect against damage.
Improving hallway safety
- Flooring levels should not vary more than .5in/13mm between the different surfaces. Use bevels or adjust carpet underlay for better transitions. TIP: Install carpets flush with the floor for a custom look.
- Install hand rails if you have a long hallway that you can’t avoid. TIP: Remember to install blocking in the walls during the construction for hand rails and grab-bars.
- To keep paths of travel clear and safe, avoid tripping hazards like area rugs and furniture that protrude into this space.
Have a discussion with your architect or designer about eliminating the hallways in your building plans and instead think about giving them a new purpose in your home altogether. Is there a way to make the ‘hallway’ space into a cozy reading area with bookshelves or a picture window? Or maybe even an area with a desk for studying or crafting?
We would love to hear how you improved the safety of your hallway.