Home Design Guide: Hall Lighting Ideas

As most hallways don’t have any windows bringing in natural light, they can be quite dark and dull areas of the home. Just having one light in the middle of the hallway, will usually result in dark areas – as seen in the before and after picture below. The hall lighting ideas below play an important role in creating a comfortable and spacious part of a home.

hall lighting

The Two Types of Hall Lighting

There will be two types of hall lighting fixtures. The first and most important is ambient lighting – which is lighting that makes an area visible, comfortable, and allows people to navigate easily. The other type is accent lighting. This is used for more decorative purposes and adds a luxurious touch to a hallway. The purpose of accent lighting is to highlight certain objects or areas (creating focal points), such as gallery lights pointed towards art pieces, or other lights pointed towards a vase of flowers, or other décor pieces.

The Size of The Hallway

The size of the hall will have an impact on the amount of lighting that is needed to make the space look pleasant – the length, width and height all play a role. There should be a light fixture every 6 – 10 feet, depending on the type and brightness. The following picture from witandwhistle.com hallway makeover shows that one light in a long hallway is not enough.

Multiple lights are needed to fill up a hallway space


Hall Lighting Ideas

Ceiling Lighting

Recessed lighting is one of the more common lighting styles in newly built homes. The lights are hidden within the ceiling, providing a clean, minimalist, and modern hallway lighting style. When used in a hallway, they will make the space look taller. If you do go with recessed lighting, make sure they are well spaced out to prevent creating an office look. There are also directional recessed lights (also known as ‘down lights’), where the angle of the lights can be adjusted. They can be pointed towards walls and act as accent lighting to highlight framed pictures, or other décor pieces. These light fixtures are usually installed closer to the walls than normal recessed lights.

Recessed lights can be used with other hallway lighting ideas to provide multiple lighting effects – adding to the visual appeal of the space.

An example of a reccesed light and a directional down light in a hallway

Spotlight recessed lights installed close to the wall to provide accent lighting

Directional spotlights can be adjusted to point to certain areas in a hallway

Directional spotlights: If you have a small, compact hallway, more in the shape of a square than a rectangle, directional spotlights would be a good choice of lighting. These are 3 lights grouped together on a circular base, but are pointed outwards. You can change the angles of the lights, and have them point towards the different walls and corners of the hall.

Track lighting: A simple lighting solution for narrow hallways are track lights. As seen above in the Wit and Whistle before and after picture, track lights easily fill a space with light. The great thing about them is that they only use one outlet – so you can upgrade a single ceiling light into multiple hallway lights, relatively easily.

Track lights can also be adjusted

Track lights help fill a long narrow hallway with light

For tall hallways you will want to have light fixtures that bring the light closer down to the floor. Short or long pendant lights are ideal for taller hallways as seen below in the hallway makeover done by The Old White Cottage. A mini chandelier hung in the middle of the hall will act as a décor feature, and will scatter light around the hallway. Hanging ceiling lanterns are another example of pendant lighting. Flush mount lights are another way of adding ceiling light to a hallway.

Elegant pendant lighting

Cove lighting: If you are looking to do some serious remodeling, then cove lighting could come into play. This is when a false ceiling is installed and lights are hidden in a cutaway. The light bounces on the ceiling and walls to create an elegant and soft glow of light. Cove lighting works well in addition with recessed hallway lights.

Sun Tubes / Sun Pipes / Skylight: Sun pipes are pipes or tubes that come down from the roof, letting natural light stream down into a hallway on the top floor of a house. They do require slight constructional work, but they add solar lighting in the day, and a view to the night sky. The same goes for the larger skylights.

A hallway bathing in natural light from a skylight

Wall Lights

Wide and much longer halls will need to have wall lights added. Here are a few ideas for different types of wall light fixtures for hallways:

Horizontal sconces can be attached to walls to add lighting to a hallway. You will want to space them apart 6-8 feet and have them 60” off the ground, the same applies to wall washers.

If you have a light colored ceiling, you can light it up to make the space feel larger. This can be done with wall washers, which diffuse light upwards onto the walls and ceiling.

Be careful with using downlights placed low down on the walls, as this can create a tunnel like effect.

Gallery or goose neck lights can be fitted over paintings or framed pictures to add accent lighting to a hallway. There are even battery operated picture lights that simply attach to a frame, eliminating the need for wiring and electrical work.

More pictures of hall lighting design:

A recessed skylight provides lighting in the day while a pendant light is used at night

Large hallways require ceiling and wall lights

A much much larger hallway using uplights at the top of the columns to wash the ceiling with light and create a grand setting

Using multiple hanging lanterns

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