How to light an entrance hall


Looking for expert advice on lighting an entrance hall? Here are Pooky’s top tips for making sure your hallway makes a serious impression...

The entrance hall creates the first impression of your home, so you want it to make the right kind of statement. However, hallways can pose a challenge when it comes to creating that wow factor - especially as they’re often long, narrow and on the darkish side. The good news is that with the right lighting you can really lift the space, making it feel lighter, brighter and more welcoming.

How much light do you need in an entrance hall?

It’s important to make sure you have the right amount of light in your hallway. Today’s energy-efficient LED lights are measured in lumens (lm), and there’s a handy formula you can use to help work out the basic amount of lumens you need.

First, multiply the length and width of the hallway to get the square footage (e.g. a hallway measuring 12 x 4 feet will have a total area of 48 square feet.) Next, determine the ‘foot candle’, which refers to how many lumens are required per square foot. As a general guide, a hallway will require around 5-10 foot candles. Now simply multiply the square footage of the room by the foot candle to get the number of lumns you will need to light the hall.

So in our example, the total number of lumens required will be 48 x 5-10 = 240-480 lumens. (Find out more in our blog post, How much light do you need in a room?) Of course, this is only a baseline - as well as the basic number of lumens, you need to consider other factors when lighting a hallway, including the height and proportions of the space, the decor, and the kind of atmosphere you’re looking to create. You want your hallway to feel as open and inviting as possible, and some beautiful and strategically placed lighting can make all the difference to the sense of space. The style of lighting you choose will also help to determine the overall feeling of the space.

Image: Jessica Buckley

Create a focal point with a pendant light

Pendant lights are a popular choice for lighting a hallway, especially where the ceilings are high - and with good reason. A pendant offers practical light while also providing a stylish focal point, and helping to maximise floor space. Pendants come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials - from art deco-style glass domes to classic brass and glass lanterns - all of which affect the way they diffuse and disperse the light. When choosing your pendants, bear in mind the size and proportions of the space. As a general rule of thumb, hallways generally require an overhead light at least every 8 feet, along the length of the hallway. For larger spaces, large pendants can make a real statement, while smaller fittings and translucent shades work well in a smaller hallway, while still making an impact. Our Luxor Lantern adds a touch of class to this beautiful hallway, at The Old White House School, a Grade II listed Georgian town house (below, left); and we love how our Stella pendant shines, in the entrance hall of this beautifully transformed property, as featured in Channel 4’s Old House New Home (below right):

A row of pendants is also perfect for lighting a long, narrow hallway, helping to provide even and consistent lighting and drawing the eye along the hallway. View our range of beautiful hall pendants.

Make a statement with a chandelier

Your hallway is the first thing people will see, and it’s your chance to really make a statement. When it comes to wow factor, nothing quite beats a chandelier. Whether you have a period home or a more modern pad, these days there are plenty of affordable styles to choose from, from a classic crystal number such as the Rita chandelier, with its beautiful blown glass droplets which elegantly reflect the light, to the cool retro orb chandelier, with its gorgeous frosted and bubbled glass orbs. See our range of affordable chandeliers here.

Use wall lights to add atmosphere

Wall lights offer a beautiful alternative to overhead ceiling lights in a hallway, especially where the ceilings are lower. While providing excellent task lighting, a set of matching wall lights will also wash the light across the wall and ceiling, adding extra warmth and emphasising the space. Wall lights are available in a whole host of different styles, from traditional candle sconces and lanterns, to vertical torchiere style lights, and modern flush-mounted sconces which sit neatly against the wall. For more compact spaces, it’s best to avoid overly large or heavy designs. A set of matching wall lights with translucent shades will cast a nice diffuse light along the hallway. Or for added interest, try a shade with cutouts, such as the perforated Stanley in brass, which gives out a lovely soft light through its delicate perforations. Meanwhile, running a series of wall lights along the hall and up the stairs or onto the landing can help to extend the space. As a general rule of thumb, wall lights should be positioned around 8-10 feet apart. To help break up the symmetry and make your hallway feel more open, try staggering your wall lights along the hallway. Browse our range of wall lights.

Mix and match your lighting

The general lack of floor space means that ceiling and wall-mounted lights are popular choices for lighting a hallway. However, you can mix and match a range of different light sources to help open up the space. By combining different types of lighting - known as ‘layering’ lighting - you can create a sense of depth and atmosphere. There are three main types of lighting: ambient lighting, which refers to the general illumination in a space, including the main light (such as a pendant light); task lighting, which is a more concentrated form of light, allowing you to carry out particular tasks (such as checking your reflection in the hall mirror before you leave); and accent lighting, which allows you to draw attention to particular features or area within a space (such as architectural features or artwork). To get the maximum effect from your hall lighting scheme, try combining a stylish pendant light with a set of wall lights, to create a space that’s both well-lit and inviting. For some extra ambience, add in a table lamp or two (or a floor lamp, if you have enough space). It’s also worth investing in a dimmer, so you can vary the light levels within your hallway.

Use mirrors to reflect the light and open a hallway

Mirrors are a very effective way of opening up a narrow hallway and maximising the available light. Try placing a series of mirrors along one wall, to bounce the light along and increase the sense of space. A group of multiple mirrors can also make a lovely feature in their own right. Placing a large mirror at the end of the hallway can instantly make it seem twice as long, while hanging a mirror opposite a doorway can reflect additional light into the hall from other rooms.

Add character with a console table and lamp

In narrow hallways where space is at a premium, a console table is ideal as it won’t take up too much room. As well as being a handy place to keep the keys, and perhaps a favourite photo or plant, a console table will provide a lovely focal point. (If you have a larger entrance hall, a desk or bureau can make a lovely feature.) A console table also gives you another opportunity to bring different light-enhancing elements together in your hallway. Try hanging a mirror over the console table, and placing a wall sconce on either side of the mirror. The sconces will look not only look beautiful but will provide great task lighting. The sconces should be positioned so their centres sit at around eye level. Alternatively, a table lamp will add a lovely soft, welcoming light. A pair of matching table lamps placed at each end of the console will add balance and symmetry. Or for a more dramatic effect, opt for a single shade with a striking lampshade, such as the Orange ikat.


Think about the rest of your decor

If you want to make your hallway feel brighter and more open, it’s a good idea to use lighter colours. Think whites, creams or soft pastels. Choosing reflective paint, wallpaper and accessories can also help to brighten up the space. Or if you’re going for a bolder look, opt for a pop of colour, such as sage green, blue, ochre or grey on the walls. Using a colour trim against a more neutral wall colour will add depth and drama to the space. Laying down a colourful runner will also help to define the space and add vibrancy.

Highlight your favourite artwork

The hallway can be a great place to hang some favourite paintings or photographs, for that personal touch. A few choice pieces of artwork can add character and interest, and help to emphasise the space. For narrower hallways, it’s best to hang works on just one side of the wall, to help emphasise the length of the space and avoid any feeling of confinement. You can make a real feature of your artwork by adding in a picture light. (Read our guide to illuminating your paintings and artworks here. )


At Pooky, we create affordable designer lighting for beautiful homes. Browse our range of lighting here.