10 festive hallway decorating ideas

Don’t dread a knock at the door this festive season! From carol singers to gangs of relatives, ’tis the season to be opening up your home and ushering people in. As the very first space that people walk into, your hallway sets the tone for the rest of your house – whether it is in terms of decor style, festive frou-frou or plain practicality. That’s why we’ve got 10 decorating ideas for your hallway to make it into a warm, welcoming reception space that reflects your personal style, whether you’re going for a new paint job, adding some useful accessories, or just a Christmassy restyle.


Image by Alexander James for House & Garden

A rush of visitors can be just the time you realise that your hallway could do with an extra layer of practicality, especially in winter when guests tend to come wrapped up warm. Think about adding some useful storage features to your space, from coat hooks to a pot for storing walking sticks and umbrellas. Hampers or traditional baskets for scarves and hats are another useful way of dealing with the winter woolies mountain. And if you have the space, why not add an elegant little chair, giving visitors a comfy place to change from their wellies into party shoes (or slippers, depending on your vibe).

hallway table

Image by Peter Hone for Easy Living

Bottles of sherry, secret Santa gifts, bowls of nuts, or just somewhere to leave the car keys. Adding a console table to your hallway is practical at any time of year but at Christmas will help you keep all those extra bits close to hand when you are rushing out of the door, or welcoming guests in. It’s also the perfect place to create a little taste of the decorations in the rest of the house. A single branch of foliage in a vase, a pretty pile of wrapped presents, a bowl filled with fairy lights and vintage tree baubles… just a hint of Christmas will entice your friends further inside, and cheer you up every time you pass through.


Rectory Red hallway by Farrow & Ball

Got an appetite for a project? Painting your hallway will give a lift to your whole home, and as halls tend to be small, you can afford to take a risk. Here this red hallway creates an instant sense of warmth and drama and is proof that a colour that would overwhelm your sitting room can be just the right note in a space you spend less time in. Whether its an all-black makeover lit by twinkling fairy lights, or just a fresh coat of a crisp neutral, a simple paint job in so small a space is quick – and easy to change too!

hallway ideas

Image Sarah Hogan for House & Garden

The same reasoning applies to adding wallpaper to your hallway. The confines of the space make it perfect for the dramatic impact of a bold wallpaper, where a print that might overwhelm a standard room is ideal for a more limited space (and more affordable too). Obviously, you need to be careful not to give guests a headache, so consider limiting your wallpaper either to one wall (great for a wall-mural style design) or to just above or below the dado rail, giving the rest of the hallway room to breath. Adding a mirror on top of the wallpaper will also give the scheme a bit of extra light and life.

hallway ideas

Image by Simon Upton for House & Garden

If your appetite for decorating doesn’t quite extend to a full overhaul, then adding art to your space will give a great decorative impact with minimal effort. A punchy way to make an impact is to hang collection of images in matching frames, working symmetrically if you want to create a grand, formal style. For a more relaxed feel then a care-free arrangement of mismatched frames, arranged floor to ceiling is a good bet. Dark hallway? Replace the pictures with framed vintage mirrors instead.

Christmas staircase

Image from Farrow & Ball

Don’t forget the foliage when you’re decorating for Christmas, and there is no better place for it than wrapped around the bannisters. Strings of Christmas leaf garlands, fairy lights or coloured ribbon look great snaking up a staircase, a bit of the home that usually doesn’t figure in decorating beyond a bit of paint. Not only will foliage on the stairs make your home look like it’s full-to-bursting with festive cheer, but the smell will also be wonderful, welcoming in visitors from the moment you open the door.

Christmas hallway

Image by Rachel Whiting fro House & Garden

Use the full height of the ceiling. Hopefully, the kids with their new drones are released into the garden, and relatives with a particularly lively charades-style confined to the living room, meaning the hallway is a safe space for over-head decorations. Hang decorations from the ceiling – whether that is delicate baubles on gold threads, bushels of mistletoe or retro-style paper lanterns – in a cluster and at slightly different heights to create a focal point that doesn’t use up precious floor space.


Image by Farrow & Ball

Take a tip from a number of historic houses who know just how to create that special Christmas atmosphere – use candlelight in your hallway. Giving a warm, flickering glow, there is something about the softness and romance of candlelight that summons up images of Christmas past. Candles close to a mirror will create a lovely feel to your hallway, but of course keep safety uppermost in your mind. If the hallway is narrow, for example, perhaps get the same effect with – dare we say it – electronic candles or fairy lights stuffed into glass vases.

christmas hallway

Image from House & Garden

If you have the space, why not go all Downton and squeeze in a tree? From a cute potted tree on the hallway table to a big beast tucked into the space at the bottom of the stairs, a tree in your hallway makes an undeniably exciting centrepiece for your whole home.

Christmas door

Image from House & Garden

And lastly, don’t forget that the outside of the house sends as strong a message of welcome and good cheer as the inside. A wreath on the door, lights strung through the bushes, or even two live trees decorated and placed at either side of the front door will show guests you mean business in the celebration stakes.

Ros Anderson


Ros Anderson is an interiors journalist and blogger who has worked for The Guardian, Elle Decoration, Ideal Home and many more. In 2009 she co-founded cult interiors blog My Friend's House with Jill Macnair, as a place to write about design in a more honest, spontaneous and humorous way.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

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