Monday, March 25, 2013

6 Ways to Liven up Your Hallways

If Family Feud asked 100 people "What is the most boring room in your house?", I'm pretty sure the top answer would be "hallway".  SHOW ME "HALLWAY":

There are a few reasons why hallways are traditionally classified as bland, boring, or drab.  For one, they're small.  It's easy to add furniture or throw pillows to a room and instantly spice it up, but hallways are just too tiny to fill it with such frivolities.  Another decorating roadblock is wall color; it's tricky to paint a hallway an amusing color when it's the meeting center for most of the rooms in your house (which already have color palates of their own).  So how do you liven up a hallway without disturbing the decorative flow and color palate of the rest of your house?  Here are six ways to transform an ordinary hallway into a decorative dream:

Note: When we refinished the floors, we had to remove the shoe molding around the baseboards.  We've yet to replace them.  Please ignore our laziness.

1.  Select a neutral foundation.
One of the dilemmas of hallway decorating is choosing the right color for the walls.  To be honest, you should really choose a neutral shade that compliments all of the converging rooms in your home.  A good way to do this is to gather the paint chips from each of your rooms, lay them out on a table, and introduce a neutral paint chip until you find something that works with most or all of the existing colors in your home.  Since hallways are small and are usually limited on natural light, try to steer clear of darker shades and opt for something lighter.  Consider a sandy tan, a creamy ivory, or a calming gray.  Though it may seem boring, just remember that it's just the undertone for embellishments that you'll add later on.  Like the next five suggestions...

2.  Two words: WALL ART.
Hallways have an abundance of wall space, so you need to utilize them to their full potential.  Wall art is A fantastic way to introduce color and personality to your neutral wall hue.  A big trend right now are gallery collages.  For our hallway, we chose to frame bright 'n colorful art in an assortment of white frames.  Part of the fun is choosing frames that aren't necessarily alike, and unifying them by painting them the same color.  This doesn't have to be expensive either!  For our hallway, I've only spent $17 on our current collage -- $10 for a white shadowbox frame from Target, and $7 for the mirror at a local flea market.  The rest of the frames I already had on hand, and I've either made or printed the art myself.  FYI, Ikea and the Dollar Store are great sources for cheap frames.

Art doesn't have to cost much - this was a clearance frame from TJMaxx and silhouette art that I created 'n printed myself.
Some vintage birdie busts, and my Dry Tortugas window art.

3.  Invest in an eye-catching runner.
The perfect rug can speak for itself, so investing in a fun runner is a great way to introduce personality and interest into a small space.  It can be somewhat difficult to find an attractive runner, especially at a decent price.  Keep your eyes peeled for a runner you like on quick deal sites like Joss and Main, The Foundary, and One Kings Lane -- we've purchased three rugs for our house at hugely discounted prices!  Another fabulous place to find great rugs and runners is West Elm, which is where our current hallway runner is from.  Word to the wise - West Elm occasionally has rug sales, which is how we purchased our runner at a great deal.  I've also found that discount retailers like Home Goods and TJMaxx have a great selection of oddly-shaped rugs (i.e. runners) in an assortment of stylish patterns and textures.  And when all else fails, there's always Target!  Since hallways are high-traffic spaces, be sure to stick a non-slip mat under your runner to keep it in place.

4.  Paint your doors anything but white.
If you really want to make your hallway unique, paint your doors something other than white!  I cannot even begin to express how drastic of a change something this simple can make to a small space.  It's unexpected, which makes it exciting.  You can find my feature post on painting hallway doors here.

5.  Change your hardware.
Don't let brass control the hardware world (unless it's your jam).  Doorknobs come in a wide variety of finishes, shapes, and designs.  Common finishes include oil-rubbed bronze, chrome, nickel, glass, or porcelain knobs.  For a few more bucks you can even purchase new knobs with vintage appeal like oblong knobs or fun mounting plates (Home Depot and Lowes offer these options).  Anthropologie also has a stellar collection of knobs and hardware.  You can also find unique hardware at flea markets and antique stores, so keep your eyes peeled the next time you're shopping vintage finds.  Need something more budget friendly?  Spray paint is your friend.  Our basement door had a really fun glass doorknob and the daintiest deadbolt I've ever seen, and we definitely wanted to keep them to preserve character.  Me and brass aren't friends, so I updated our basement door hardware with some oil-rubbed bronze spray paint (flashback to this post for the deets).  If done correctly, the finish lasts!  For the rest of the doors, we opted for some simple oil-rubbed bronze doorknobs, which ran us about $8 per door at Lowes.

Original glass knob that I cleaned and spray painted to match the other knobs.

6.  Upgrade your lighting.
Who says hallways can't have awesome lighting fixtures?  Nobody, that's who.  Most hallways are equipped with basic, humdrum fixtures, with the sole intention of simply lighting your hallway.  Do your house a solid and get something that's both decorative and gets the lighting job done.  There's no reason not to!  Flush mount or semi-flush mount fixtures are ideal for most hallway spaces, but depending on your ceiling height you may also be able to go with a pendant fixture.  Check out Shades of Light and Barn Light Electric for unique finds.  Lowes' Allen Roth collection also offers a super attractive collection of lighting at affordable prices -- we installed this awesome Allen Roth semi-flush mount fixture in our hallway:

We usually have an Edison bulb in this light, which compliments the fixture far more than this CFL.
So voila - those are the 6 ways that I transformed our downstairs hallway from blah to exciting.  Do you have any other suggestions that might camp up hallway decor?  Leave your ideas in the comment box!

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