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Hallways - A waste of space...or wasted opportunity?

While most would agree that a well-designed home will keep hallway space to a minimum, it is important to understand that hallways are often a necessary space that are simply under-utilized.

Most homes have a front entrance, back or side entrance, and hallways to their bedrooms.  In larger or older homes it is even likely that there are additional hallways in the design. So, if you are in the planning stages of a custom build or considering a renovation to your existing home you may want to give serious consideration to minimizing the use of hallways or designing them to be more than just a traffic way.  Keep in mind that while they may be vital for access, they don’t just have to be a dark corridor to somewhere. 

In planning stages, perhaps consider some of the following:

  1. Choosing a design that favours more of a square or possibly rounded hallway/entrance than a confined corridor not only sets the tone for your home but it can be easier to utilize. A larger entranceway is not necessarily a waste of space…it can incorporate much needed storage for outdoor and guest’s belongings and accommodate numerous people that arrive or depart at the same time.
  1. Form and function marry well when combining the back entrance with a mudroom/laundry room - eliminating a hallway altogether. Open concept house plans can also minimize hallway space.
  1. The statement your front hall should make is one that is welcoming to your family and its guests while still being practical. Non-slip, durable flooring and easy to clean choices that will accommodate wet or muddy shoes are a must at front or rear entranceways and hallways to utility rooms. Ultimately, these are high traffic areas that must also buffer the cold, wet, and noise from the remaining living areas of the home. Consider the area’s entire function as well as form when making your décor choices. 
  1. Many people overlook the need to decorate a hallway. Like the other rooms in your home this area is an opportunity to showcase your individual style. Whether you prefer organic materials (natural stones, wood, metals, etc.) that turn your actual walls or floors into understated elegant art or a dramatic combination of colour, textures, mirrors, art, lighting, etc. this space should reflect you. Choices for materials, textures, colours, sight lines, etc. affect the impact of hallways greatly and must be chosen carefully. They can appear warm, inviting, impressive, large and more spacious than they are…or quite the opposite.
  1. For long hallways, creating a ceiling treatment or design in the floor may take the eye’s focus off the length of the corridor. Inverted/recessed with unique finishes may give it a less confined atmosphere while establishing or continuing the character or style of the rest of the home. There is a fine balance between ceiling height, treatments and the width of a hallway though that needs to be considered.
  1. If width of a hallway allows, add a built-in window seat or bench for those that may want to take advantage of the space or need assistance while taking outdoor clothing on or off. Don’t let the hallway be a dumping ground! Storage solutions are everything in an entrance way and by its natural beauty, custom cabinetry can almost make one forget that it was put there for its function. 
  1. Lighting matters in a hallway.  Incorporate as much natural light as possible. Extra light sources can come from recessed lighting, an inspiring ceiling fixture, and even wall sconces, depending on the dimensions of the hallway.  Adding strategically placed or large windows (floor to ceiling) or French doors to an existing hallway runs along an exterior wall may change the entire ambiance and/or function of the space. The natural light and/or views may be extraordinary and take the ‘confined’ aspect away. Natural light can also minimize electrical energy use.
  1. If the room off the hallway doesn’t need to be private removing the solid door, changing it to glass, or enlarging the opening can make a long corridor feel less confined.
  1. Remember strategic placement of electrical outlets can assist in placement of statement pieces, lighting or other essentials in a hallway. 

Where a long hallway is your only option, try to ensure that you add width to the space and utilize it for more than just a walkway. Hallways can be a hot commodity…that extra room that you always wanted.

  1. Consider shelving for books – create your own library in this hallway space. Don’t encroach on traffic space, but you can incorporate shelving and seating where it will fit. Incorporating a bookcase style ‘hidden’ door can give you more than added storage; it provides a little mystery just for you. 
  1. Don’t always reserve your best art for the rooms you sit in…turn that hallway into your own ‘art gallery’. Combine your works of art or exquisitely framed family photos with proper lighting to show off your masterpieces and create a room to impress.
  1. Incorporate niches within the interior walls to display your travel treasures or collectibles or even a narrow furniture piece to provide added storage.

Hallways are everywhere…in our homes, offices, and most buildings. They are such a common element that we often give them less thought than the space they allow us to access. Space in any home is a commodity so don’t forget the hallway in your design or décor, it doesn’t have to be a passageway alone…it can be extra living space too.

Most importantly though, think to the future and keep in mind that life happens - hallways should never be narrow for reasons of accessibility.  

If you are considering a renovation or a custom home build, call Joe van der Zalm at Vanderzalm Construction Inc., he understands just what custom building and renovating entails. You can contact us at (905) 562-4463 or (905) 684-5823.  

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