Halls and landings are often overlooked when revitalising the home. There’s a logical reason for that. They’re just thoroughfares, and we’re inclined to devote more energy to the rooms we spend most of our time in. But they’re also important creative spaces in the home, providing a welcome home to you, and a wow factor to guests. Lighting is always going to play a part in that story, and here, we’re going to deal with making the most out of the lights to help create that warm buzz that comes from a cosy, welcoming home.

Assess the situation

First things first – have a look at what you’re playing with. A wide-open hallway will need more lighting in the middle than around the edges. A narrow one tends to benefit by lighting up the walls and ceiling.

How much natural light is there? A hall and landing with their own windows can mean minimal daytime lighting is needed, and it’s nice to have the evening lighting that copies the windows’ illumination to some extent. If you live in a mid-terrace, it’s another picture altogether. You might only have the light from the door window in the hall, and you could well be 100% artificial upstairs. 

Also have a think about the mechanics of the lighting, such as where you need two-way switching or regular switches. With this in mind, you can now move on to the specifics, and that’s where we’re going now.

A bold statement

The most stunning option is always to go big. That can mean an elaborate chandelier or an oversized ball shade – anything that announces that you’ve arrived. These work well in older Victorian properties where the ceilings tended to be higher, but anywhere where you’ve got plenty of room will do. Where you have lower ceilings, just put a table underneath the lighting and you’ll create an island of opulence. 

Subtle uplighting and spots

For a narrow hall and landing, lighting the walls and ceilings creates an illusion of width. The perfect way to monopolise on that effect is to use wall-mounted up-lights or ceiling-mounted spots that are angled towards the walls and ceilings. The light fittings themselves can almost become invisible, with only their illumination being apparent.

Table lighting

If you’ve got a small table in the hallway in the traditional manner, why not pop a table lamp on it? You can go for a traditional shaded type, or choose a movable desk lamp and angle it where you feel it needs to point. Take advantage of the placement to light up walls and ceilings around the table for a welcoming glow.

Sconce lighting

Wall-mounted lights are great for saving floor space and can leave your hall and landing with smooth, uncluttered ceilings. They work beautifully in modern homes with sleek lines, but if you have decorative coving in a traditional home, you can really enhance the overall appearance by using elaborate sconces. A neat idea is to have sconces that point up and down at the same time, lighting the floor and ceiling, but don’t spread the light directly into the room. It has a subtle ambience that’s always welcome in the hallway.

Period lighting

If you have a period home which didn’t have its classic styling ripped out in the 1970s and 80s, you can recreate the classic vibe with your lighting. Whether you scour the reclamation yards or go for modern interpretations of classic looks is up to you. But there’s something perfectly fitting about recreating the sense of proportion and decoration of a Victorian, Edwardian or Georgian home with appropriate lighting. We’re not talking about a living museum here – just mirroring the aims of the original designers by lighting the space how they would have done. Go for simple, single source lighting that’s in keeping with the period and everything will fall into place.

Use mirrors

Mirrors are a godsend for smaller hallways. Without the need for any electrical work, you can use them to bounce light into places it wouldn’t ordinarily reach, and add character to the space while you’re at it. Of course, the style of frame can follow the decor, be it decorative or minimalistic. But it’s a quick trick that all interior designers appreciate, so take advantage.

Emphasise the architecture

Take a good look at the overall shape of the hallway. Is it long and skinny? Square and bold? L-shaped? Tall? Irregular? Now think about how you can use the lighting as an enhancement for the shape. Tall rooms, for example, can benefit from long pendant lighting, perhaps with several fittings at different heights. A long hall looks great with small dots of light along the ceiling. You don’t always have to have one feature light in the hall, and some shapes don’t suit it anyway.

Small but powerful

Small lights, such as recessed downlights or bright globe lights in the ceiling, can set off a room with a vibrancy and power that more subtle options can’t achieve. They work well in a modern setup, especially if you like your hallway bright. You can continue the trend into the landing, perhaps using less bright bulbs or going from daylight to warm.

Purely functional

Whether you want to see what you’re doing when you tie your laces or just need more light because your eyesight isn’t so good, lighting can come to the rescue. Many people like bright spotlights around the front door, to get organised when they’re entering and leaving. Some things are more important than the look and feel of the room, so remember to include lighting that keeps you safe and comfortable.

Guide the way

Lighting can play a part in gently guiding you and your guests in the right direction. That can mean small spots of light along the length of the ceiling, or floor-mounted lighting along the skirting boards. At doors and other openings, intensify the lighting a little to illustrate the way to go. It can be an effective and helpful addition.

Antique shop chic

Finally, you can go all in and have a hotch-potch of different lighting styles throughout the hall, stairs and landing. Antiques from different periods, a mix of ceiling and sconce lighting, a table and light at the top of the stairs … it all adds up to a journey of discovery – even if you’re the one who lives there!