How We Brightened Our Dark Hallway (Before and After)

When we first moved into our 1970s tri-level home, one of the first things I noticed was the dark and dreary upstairs hallway. The drab paint color and lack of natural light made the space feel narrow and boring. The adjacent rooms all have plenty of natural light, but there are no windows in the dark hallway, and the ceiling lights only give a little light. 

The dark hallway- before the transformation.

Its easy to overlook hallways.  However, given that they are a high-traffic area and often one of the first impressions to a house, they’re the perfect place to update- many of our guests use this hallway to reach our guest bathroom and it can be seen well from our living room and kitchen.

I knew I had to give this hallway a much-needed makeover to brighten it up and make it feel more inviting. If you’re looking for dark hallway ideas to update a hallway in your home, read on.

Paint White Walls

In the process of painting the walls White Dove by Benjamin Moore.

The first step in transforming the hallway was to paint the walls a bright white color. While dark colors can create a cozy atmosphere, I was going for a bright hallway and therefore considered several lighter colors. 

I chose Benjamin Moore’s White Dove to instantly brighten up the space and make it feel more open and airy. White Dove is a great light color for spaces that don’t get much light. It is a classic white with creamy undertones, so it doesn’t look stark or sterile in dark spaces.

So much lighter and brighter already!

The fresh coat of paint made a huge difference and instantly transformed the hallway from dark and outdated to light and modern.

Looking for more ideas like “How We Brightened Our Dark Hallway”? You may like these posts: Beginner’s Guide To Board and Batten and DIY Basement Makeover

Create a Focal Point

Wallpaper- NuWallpaper Breezy Peel and Stick

Next, I decided to add a neutral wallpaper to the end of the hallway to add some interest and texture to the space. The subtle pattern of the wallpaper added a focal point without overwhelming the small space. I like that it ties in the cooler grey floors, but warms up the space and gives a somewhat “‘vintage” vibe to our “vintage” house!

Hang A Large Mirror

To make the hallway feel larger, I added a large mirror over the wallpaper to reflect light and create the illusion of more space. I’m forever trying to warm up our grey floors, so I went with this French Country brown mirror from Target.

Install Lighting Fixtures

Light Fixture (Pack of 3)


To improve the lighting in the hallway without having to do any electrical work, I added a battery-operated sconce on the hall landing wall. The sconce not only provided much-needed light but also added a little decor to the space.

It is battery operated, and adds enough light to give a warm glow in this otherwise dark corner. There are plenty of options for battery operated pendants and sconces- we have a few and although they aren’t especially bright, I really like them for how easy they are to hang.

Add Wall Hangings

Along with the mirror and the sconce and family photo, I looked for other ways to decorate the long hallway.

To cover up some of the old switches and outlets that no longer worked (old house probz!), I added artwork to the walls. I found this long picture on Facebook marketplace for a great deal.

Finishing Touches

Finally, I added a runner rug to the hallway to tie everything together and add a pop of color. The rug added warmth and texture to the space and helped to bring the whole look together. I also added a bench which, as my daughter says, is the perfect place to sit while waiting to use the bathroom! Yes, I suppose it is quite functional as well as looking cute.

Dark Hallway Transformation Complete!

Overall, the transformation of the upstairs hallway in our 1970s tri-level home was a huge success. By painting the walls white, adding wallpaper, a mirror, sconce, artwork, and a runner rug, I was able to completely transform the space and make it feel bright, modern, and inviting. White Dove was the perfect choice to make this long narrow hallway appear brighter and wider, and the additional lighting, muted wallpaper and artwork completed the design.

A gallery wall would look great on the long wall, so that may be in the future- as well as giving our staircase a makeover with painted stair risers and some additional wall sconces!

Similar Posts