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Ask Casa: Color For a Dark Hallway

Hi Casa,

My roommate and I live in a typical San Francisco apartment where the rooms build off of one side of a long hallway. We don't have good natural light in that hallway, and the ceilings are probably 18 ft. (that's a guess).
My question is, what is a good color to paint the hallway? We both agree it needs something to spice it up. I'm not afraid of bold color (the walls in my last room were coral and pink!), but I don't know if maybe a darker color would be better to make the ceilings seem less tall and the hallway less long. I'm just concerned with the lack of natural lighting.

To see my answer, just


Hi Melyshka,

I, too, once lived in an old Victorian apartment that had a long, boring hall that ran the length of the space. I hated traversing the length of it when I first moved in, since it just seemed so stark and dark and dull. Here's what I did to spice it up. I think that these solutions might work for you as well.

First, I'd suggest painting the hall ceiling white, which will bring instant brightness to the hall. While I'm a fan of bold colors myself (my bedroom is a bright blue), darker bold colors may make the room look a bit dreary. Instead, consider light and bright colors on the walls, such as a goldenrod yellow or a tangerine orange. Any warm color that isn't too heavily pigmented will bring life to the walls. Also, make sure to use either an eggshell or semigloss finish, which will both resist dirt and bounce light off its surface.

Finally, don't stop once the paint is dry! To distract from those statuesque ceilings, hang framed art prints or beloved photographs at eye level down the length of the hall. Finally, dress up the floors with a long runner rug that complements the color of your walls.

Good luck, and I hope this helps you improve that dreary hallway.



Samantha675 Samantha675 9 years
I have a long hallway in my home as well, 36 feet of it actually. I painted the wall a really really really soft grey, it is almost white. Then I hung a great damask grey on grey wallpaper on the ceiling. I love the visual drama it gives. I will soon be hanging vintage mirrors along the wall to help bounce light along.
melyshka melyshka 9 years
city girl: i love the peach idea as well as painting the bottom to mid molding white. i'm looking at the bottom walls now and see that it def could use a simple redo to make it pop. however, i think i'm going to stick to casa's suggested eggshell finish. i also think the identical simple black frames is good suggestion. i'm partial strong linear things, and that would fit right in. casa suggested hanging at eye level, but both my roommate and i are rather short. where did you hang yours?
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
I have the exact same setup: long San Francisco hall, and I painted it a glossy white on the lower part up the the mid-molding, as well as a glossy white on the top molding, then a matte white on the ceiling. The walls I painted in a really gorgeous warm pale yellow, almost peachy. Then we hung tons of art in simple black frames with white mattes but with bold art inside for a cohesive yet popping look. We get tons of compliments now!
JovianSkies JovianSkies 9 years
Hmm...maybe a muted gold, or copper tone (light), being that you have that turqoise door, and wood flooring...?
melyshka melyshka 9 years
oh, another question, paint both above and below the molding or just paint below the molding?
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Great advice!
books-and-shoes books-and-shoes 9 years
Great suggestions, Casa. I was just thinking about ways to spruce up my own hallway today.
KatieDearest KatieDearest 9 years
Some advise from experience.. If your walls aren't smooth, don't use a semi-gloss! I have an old brownstone apartment in brooklyn, and the walls looked crap when I used semigloss..
melyshka melyshka 9 years
i love the tangerine orange color suggestion. i think this weekend is hardware store time. thanks casa :)
tiabia tiabia 9 years
Casa, I love your suggestions!!! Especially about the lighter colors!!!
KatieDearest KatieDearest 9 years
How cool would it be to paint the walls a rad neutral color and POP the ceiling with a dark dramatic color? Your walls would kind of blend and not seem so narrow, while your ceiling might look like it dropped a few inches and not emphasize the tall narrow-ness of the space.
chancleta chancleta 9 years
good advice i kinda like the color in the picture
azduring13 azduring13 9 years
Very good suggestions. I also have a long and very dark hall... I think I'll start with some paint!
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