First Impressions

First impressions count! As we all know, that first sight over the threshold of an unfamiliar house can create a lasting impression.

Many people spend a great deal of time and money decorating their main living areas stylishly and expensively. The hallway is often ignored and can unintentionally create a cold and unfriendly atmosphere. Any of you who are BAID students will know that there is an entire chapter in the course devoted to this much neglected area.


The starting block for the style you wish to create in your home begins here. A real and lasting impact can be made on those who arrive at your front door. Light and airy or dark and mysterious, fabulously luxurious and sophisticated, or cool and casual - the choice is yours. It can set the mood and even build the image, and because less time is actually spent there, we are able to incorporate more dramatic design aspects.

Hallways need to be welcoming. Good lighting, a wall mirror to check the lipstick and hair with a handy table or console for keys underneath, which can also hold a vase of flowers, a place for coats and umbrellas, and a convenient loo and washbasin are all essential.

As the entrance hall says so much about the rest of the house, it is a most important area and one that is often forgotten when designing the rooms leading off it. The halls and corridors are the areas which link these rooms together and are as much a part of the final picture as any room in the house. In fact, these areas are the linchpin - the whole knitting together of the interior design of the home.

The hall, stairs and landing areas must be decorated as part of the whole house, not as a separate and neglected part of it, deemed to be an unnecessary extra in the scheme of things. These areas are not just blank, soulless corridors to be ignored as you pass through, like hurrying through the area from an aeroplane to the baggage hall in an airport!

If your hall is large and square, it is most attractive to place a round table in the centre, with a big vase of flowers. This will create a very luxurious feeling to the home from the moment the front door is opened.

If you place furniture in your hall, look at it from the stairs to ensure that the proportion is correct when viewed from all angles. Your hall, landings and corridors are excellent places for bookcases. It is important to light them well. Don't forget the beauty of an Oriental rug can be used to wonderful effect if wood or tiles are the flooring of choice. It will help to improve acoustics and add a splash of colour to an otherwise bare floor.

A mirror could be placed over a radiator cover and your hall is furnished with very little effort. In addition, your hall is an excellent place to hang pictures. The same applies to landings and corridors.

The photographs here show a large hall I recently designed and refurbished. Galway House was great fun and very challenging. You will see by the "before" photo that it is a large area with no place for coats except for a coat rack. A difficult area to keep tidy, this hallway needed to be completely redesigned.

Galway House "Before":


Galway House "After":





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Written by: Orna O'Reilly (

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