Suzanne’s Strategies: For a Long Hallway

The award-winning Chicago-based designer Suzanne Lovell reveals how to transform the humble hallway into the highlight of your home.


As we trek from room to room, we rarely consider the spaces in-between. Oftentimes narrow and vacant, long hallways can pose a challenge when it comes to furnishings and decor. However, with just a little imagination and ingenuity, you can transform your hallway into a versatile space that carries the weight of any room. Whether it’s a locus for entertaining or a brief retreat from your everyday, here are some ways to make the journey to your destination worthwhile.

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 Curate a miniature gallery

Create a gallery-inspired ambiance with a series of artwork going down the length of the wall. We were able to find a wonderful portfolio of photographs by photographer Lee Friedlander for this art collecting client, and install them eye-level down this hallway. You can also craft a more whimsical display by arranging a diverse assortment of art into a composed wall cluster, or painting your frames one color for a bold, monochromatic statement.


 Tell a story

By repeating motifs to create a unified theme, you can create a dynamic narrative that transforms your hallway into a seamless, artful experience. These antiqued Japanese screens represent the history of Japanese fans. By using the fan as a central design element, we are able to mix and match older and newer pieces to create a captivating story while showcasing one-of-a-kind decor.

Make sure to use subtle and strategically placed lighting to both illuminate your hallway and highlight art pieces–here, we directed the overhead spots to light the pathway while catching the luminous quality of the screens’ silver and gold leaf detailing.


 Make a statement

While the length of the hallway can allow you to display a series of art pieces, the end offers the perfect opportunity to showcase a bold art piece while introducing a visual cue for an upcoming transition. This work by Olafur Eliasson captivates the eye as it draws the viewer down the hallway. By placing a bench below the piece, you can create a gallery-like ambiance. Here, we chose a sleek bench with a clean and classic silhouette to provide functional seating while spotlighting the art. Be sure to hang the art high enough so that both the work and sitter remain undisturbed.


 Create the perfect pit stop…

Long hallways can offer a temporary escape from life’s day-to-day. Take advantage of a niche in your wall by installing a cushioned window seat adorned with plush pillows and your favorite throw. You can also consider installing a desktop for your computer and on-the-go essentials. Paired with a comfortable chair, this versatile nook acts as a miniature office and impromptu vanity to check morning e-mails or squeeze in last-minute touch-ups. And remember to personalize your space with artwork and objects that you love.


 …or a wonderful watering hole

If you love to host, the hallway can be the perfect place to pause and pick up your drink before joining the party. By installing a bar, guests effortlessly transition from entry to entertaining space. You can also extend the hallway by using a runner with linear striping to lead you from one space to another. Here, we use a reversible wool runner with a neutral palette and contrasting stripes that runs the entire length of the hallway.


Interior designer Suzanne Lovell, Principal of Suzanne Lovell, Inc., is a contributing writer for Plume. Her Curator’s Collection, “Luxe Retreat,” appeared on Joss & Main in January. Look for more of her professional design advice in the coming months.