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Make an entrance: How to create the perfect hallway

You could argue that the hallway is the most important ‘room’ in your home. It’s the space that makes that all-important first impression when your guests arrive. And it’s also the first thing you see when you return home, ready to shut the door on the world and enjoy time in your own, special sanctuary.

luxury entrance hallway with architectural details

Here at RWD, the hallways we’ve created for our clients have become some of our most treasured portfolio projects. A variety of bold, visually exciting spaces that reflect the true range of our design teams’ creativity. The key thing when designing a hallway is to get the balance right with a combination of carefully-chosen materials, accessories and lighting solutions. Here, we explore some of the ways in which we’ve approached hallway design in our recent projects, and share our top tips on how to create the warmest of welcomes.

Create a focal point

Whether it’s a console table, sofa or dramatic piece of artwork, it’s important for every hallway to have a clear focal point. A classic console table placed against the wall is the obvious choice here, and brings with it an aspect of functionality as well as aesthetic appeal. It can provide the perfect surface for placing everyday items such as keys or post, and is also the ideal place to showcase favourite family photos and treasured objets.

In our Broad Walk project, we broke from the traditional console route by placing a circular table in the centre of this large hallway. This elegant table from Davidson London draws the eye through to the dining area beyond and prevents this large space from feeling too clinical.

luxury entrance hallway with round table and spider pendant chandelier

A bench can also be used to create an effective hallway focal point, and in the case of our Carlton Hill scheme the client had a carved gilt bench which lent itself perfectly to the light-filled entrance hall. The carved patterns on the bench work well with the period details in this space, and the rich gold finish contrasts beautifully with the pale grey colour palette. The look is completed with a pair of gold leaf side tables from Nicholas Haslam placed on either side of the bench.

entrance hallway with decorative bench and gold leaf side table

Celebrate symmetry

There’s something about symmetry that works particularly well in a hallway setting. It gives a sense of harmony and calm as you enter a property, creating a pleasing aesthetic and a grounded welcome.

You can create symmetry with artwork, objets or lighting, but one of our favourite approaches is to use a matching pair of lamps placed on a console table. In our Bromptons project, the hallway was actually quite narrow so we wanted to create drama with the use of symmetry and luxurious materials. The client already had a lovely pair of ornate urns, so with their permission we commissioned our lighting manufacturer to turn them into a set of beautiful, bespoke table lamps. Placed on the elegant console table, the symmetrical lamps provide a link with the striking details of the interior architecture while introducing rich layers of colour and texture.

luxury entrance hallway with elegant console table and ornate table lamps

Let there be light

Lighting is vital to all interior schemes, but it really comes into its own in the hallway because this space conventionally contains less furniture than other areas of the home. Because of this, it gives you the opportunity to be more adventurous with your lighting and to highlight any artwork or architectural details.

For the hallway of our Holland Park project, the client was particularly keen to incorporate statement lighting into this classic, black-and-white scheme with its original chequered flooring. So we selected a dramatic glass pendant light (The Hope Light from Luceplan) which provides a contemporary contrast to the timeless feel of the rest of this space. Black contemporary Foglio wall lights from Flos flank the mirror and tie in with the slimline, ebony-coloured console table.

black and white entrance hallway with chequered floor and pendant light

A staircase can also provide a great opportunity to be inventive with lighting options. For the contemporary staircase in our Eaton Mews North project, we added discreet, low level light fittings which cast a wash of light across each alternating step. A practical and visually appealing lighting solution which enhances the clean lines of this pared-back space.

luxury entrance hallway with staircase lighting

The art of reflection

Bringing in reflective surfaces is a great way to add visual interest to a hallway, especially when space is at a premium. We particularly love to use antique mirror finishes in our designs because of the character and texture they introduce.

Over in Buckingham Street in central London, our international client was keen for us to create a glamorous, cocoon-like feel for her lower ground floor apartment. To meet this brief, we used an antique mirror finish with a blue effect in the hallway to create glamour and the illusion of extra space. This reflective surface was applied to the doors of the built-in storage units as well as to the adjacent wall. The ‘many legged’ effect of the console table when placed against the mirrored surface brings further visual interest and depth to this welcoming hallway.

luxury entrance hallway with antique mirror glass and metal console table

What lies beneath

Because the hallway is a high traffic area, it’s important to give consideration to the practicality and durability of the flooring you choose. The ideal flooring for a hallway is both easy to clean and extremely hard wearing. For these reasons, porcelain tiles feature in many of our hallway designs.

For our Carlton Hill project, we spent weeks searching for the perfect tile that would complement the pale and elegant scheme we had created for this well-proportioned hallway. A grey tile with veining to mimic natural stone turned out to be the answer, with the addition of bronze tramlines to reflect the fluting in the surrounding period architecture.

luxury entrance hallway flooring with bronze tramlines and pendant chandelier

In our more contemporary Broad Walk project, we selected a square monochromatic tile laid in a chequered pattern to create drama and impact. This bold flooring is then offset by reflective surfaces in the form of mirrors, a glass balustrade to the staircase and a large-scale resin artwork featuring a glitter finish.

luxury entrance hallway with staircase and chequered flooring

Accessorise your space

In terms of adding accessories to a hallway, the approach we often take is to let one ‘show stopper’ piece take centre stage and then add a layer of additional objets for visual interest. These items provide a great way to express your personality, but the key here is to avoid a cluttered look. The trick is to combine old and new pieces with interesting, organic shapes as well as greenery and favoured family photos. There’s a real art to selecting and placing accessories and we believe less is definitely more when it comes to that all-important hallway first impression.

For our client’s large property in Belsize Park, we created an ‘industrial chic’ feel which is signalled from the moment you step into the hallway. The skull sculpture on the console table gives an immediate nod to the ‘raw’ feel of the aesthetic here, and ties in well with the fluted panelling and the wall lights in antique brass and black metal. We chose not to clutter the console with further accessories so as to create a clean statement allowing the surrounding architectural features to shine.

contemporary industrial entrance hallway with skull sculpture

An artistic touch

When it comes to art in a hallway, our leaning is towards one dominant, over-sized piece to create significant visual impact. This can then be backed up by groupings of smaller artworks in other areas of the space. It’s also worth thinking about placing art against a dark wall if possible because it increases the intensity of the visual effect.

A great example of this is the pair of floral oil paintings grouped together in the hallway of our Bromptons project. They look so effective set against the dark tones of the wall painted in Farrow & Ball‘s Inchyra Blue. And the impact of these paintings is further enhanced by the wash of light cast down from the picture light above.

luxury entrance hallway artwork set against dark blue wall

Our 3 top tips for designing the perfect hallway

1) Make a statement

Don’t be afraid to be bold with your hallway design. To make a strong first impression, the hallway should really make an impact so our advice is to adopt strong colours and textures. It’s also worth remembering that artworks look amazing against a dark wall, so think about using a strong-toned colour or even a specialist finish such as polished or pitted plaster to add texture.

2) Get the lighting right

It’s absolutely crucial to get the lighting right in the hallway. This is the area which will set the tone for your entire home so it’s worth thinking about setting up a lighting scheme on multiple circuits so that variations can be achieved according to your mood or the time of day. Picture lighting can also be used really effectively in the hallway to highlight a particular piece of art to create a stunning focal point.

3) Don’t forget about storage

Make sure you think about function as well as aesthetics when you’re planning your hallway design. A console table provides a handy surface for placing items such as handbags or keys, and built-in storage works well for things like shoes, coats, gloves and hats. You could also consider commissioning a bespoke, freestanding piece of furniture which could become a visual focal point as well as providing useful storage.

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