Karl Lohnes' Q and A on decorating a long, narrow hallway
I've moved into a new condo which has a very long and narrow entrance. I like warm colours and have a contemporary style. Any suggestions on how to decorate? K. MacDonald
Paint the shorter (left-side) wall a punchy accent colour. Paint the closet door and its frame the same punchy colour to blend it away. The long wall (on right) and its return should be a warm neutral colour that continues into the entire space. My favorite new accent colour is a brick colour called Fiery Opal from Benjamin Moore Paints. Looks great with all the golden brown tones in wood, yet warms up all the new grey colours that are all the trend right now. As a warm neutral, try Lighthouse, also by Benjamin Moore for the main walls throughout.
The very dark wood floors are chic but show the perimeter of the long, narrow entrance, making the hallway look like a bowling alley. Break up the long hall with a colourful carpet runner. Center the runner in the middle of the hall; this will visually shorten the hall by chopping up the dark wood floor. If you want a boot tray near your front door choose one that is exactly the same dark brown as the flooring in order to keep the eye focused on the runner as a go-to accent. A multi-coloured, loose-pattern carpet is great for narrow spaces as it spreads the eye from side to side.
Hang three floor-standing mirrors on the long wall; spaced about 16 inches apart with the middle mirror being opposite to the closet door. This will help visually widen the hallway; especially in the middle where it feels narrowest and tight. Hang the mirrors rather than leaning them on the floor; this will make the hallway feel lofty in height and not crowd the valuable floor space. Place one punchy piece of art at the end of the hallway to create a destination point for the eye. Large, colourful and modern art will help set the tone for a contemporary yet welcoming entrance. As this is a focal point from the front door, make sure the size of the print is substantial; a grouping of small prints will not have the draw that one larger, colourful print will have.
I suggest investing in three matching pendant lights; they will add more light to the hallway space and have more presence than the small ceiling lights. Semi-flushmount fixtures drop slightly into the space and help stop the eye every so often; tricking the eye that the hallway is divided into sections and therefore shorter. The MIddlebury pendant from Hudson Valley Lighting ($900) gives the illusion of a modern art deco light fixture that would have welcomed guests in a hotel lobby for years. Be sure to install a dimmer switch on the pendant lights in order to create ambience once guests have arrived.
Since the hallway is so narrow, I suggest a small pedestal table or chair in the corner (if there is room) and a slim table in front of the middle wall-hung mirror. Make sure the table is less than 12 inches deep in order to create good flow. The Echelon console ($599) from Crate and Barrel has a hand-made, artisan look and is only 8 inches deep; perfect for small foyers and hallways.
Karl's decor sources
- Paint: www.benjaminmoore.ca
- Large affordable mirrors: www.homedepot.ca
- Framed modern art: www.westelm.com
- Carpet runner and slim console: www.crateandbarrel.ca
- Reproduction Light Pendants: www.hudsonvalleylighting.com
METRO nights at the LCBO: Learn all the tricks to decorating and entertaining this fall with Canada AM's decor guru Karl Lohnes, Sterling Vitner's Collection wine, Benjamin Moore and the LCBO. A special 'Changing Seasons' style and entertaining class will be held Thursday, September 29th, 6:30-8:30pm at the LCBO Summerhill. Go to: www.LCBO.COM for more information and to purchase tickets. Tickets are limited for this one-time, special event!