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Hallway lighting: types of light and how to use them

Hallway lighting: types of light and how to use them

Hallways are often the first area of the home people step into. It is a high-traffic area, meaning it gets a lot of footfall and usage— connecting the various rooms of the house. The lighting in the hallway sets the tone for the rest of the home, so it needs to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

This guide will offer practical advice on the types of hallway lighting and how to choose them.

In this guide

What to look for in hallway lighting

Warm colour temperature

Colour temperature describes the appearance of the light emitted from different types of bulbs. Different colour temperatures are appropriate for different environments.

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin (K) and can range from cool (6000k) to warm (2700k). The warmer the light, the lower the number of Kelvin.

For hallways, you should look for a warmer colour temperate ranging from 3000k–2700k. This will create a warm and welcoming feeling when entering the home.

Combine ambient and accent lighting

Hallway lighting should create a warm, welcoming tone. You can do this by combining ambient and accent lighting with warm colour temperatures.

Ambient lighting is standard lighting whether natural or artificial. It simply exists to illuminate the room.

Accent lighting focuses light on a particular area or object. It is often used to showcase objects like art or decoration.

Wall lights 

Wall lights are an excellent addition to almost any hallway, but particularly if your hallway has a low ceiling. You can add wall lights at regular intervals to illuminate your entire hallway.

Uplighters and upward facing sconce (wall) lights will bounce light towards the ceiling, which creates a soft, diffused look. Combine these with ceiling lights to create an interesting and layered effect in your hallway.

How many lights do you need in a hallway?

The number of lights you need varies according to the type of lighting you have chosen. However, in this section, you will find some tips on placing your lights:

  • Place standard wattage lights every 2.5 metres— smaller lights with lower wattages should be placed more frequently
  • Draw the eye down the hallway—place lights close to either end of the halls, this will also help stop any dark corners.
  • Keep sconce lights above eye-level—this draws the eye up and makes the space feel open. It also reduces the risk of glare.
  • Check for dark spots—shadows can make a hallway feel smaller and unwelcoming. Check for dark spots by standing at either end of the hallway. Make sure that the light doesn’t dip between the lights.

Types of hallway lighting

There are three main areas for which lights are suited in a hallway. In this section, we will look at each area, the types of lights suitable and the best lights available.

The three main locations for hallway lighting are:

  • ceiling
  • wall
  • on furniture

Ceiling fixtures

The benefit of ceiling fixtures is versatility. There are several types of ceiling fixtures available that will suit any style or budget.

Recessed

Recessed lights (also known as downlights) are a very common type of ceiling light fixture. Recessed lights are fitted inside the ceiling. They are incredibly discreet, with only the trip of the light visible below the ceiling.

You can find out more about recessed/downlights by visiting our guide: how to specify, select and purchase the correct LED downlights for your home or business

Recommended for:
  • low ceilings
  • minimalist homes
  • modern hallways
Best recessed light for the hallways:
SOLO Tilt All In One 10w LED Dimmable Downlight

The SOLO tilt downlight is one of the most popular downlights from Lampshoponline. It offers flexibility in all of its aspects—from types of finish to colour temperature, to beam angle.

The SOLO tile downlight offers affordable lighting with a no-quibble 5-year warranty.

Key benefits
  • 3 fascia finishes—brushed steel, white and chrome
  • 3 colour temperatures—3000k, 4000k and 6000k
  • 25o beam angle adjustment
  • 90-minute fire rating
  • 5-year warranty
  • Price: from £12

Pendant

Pendant lighting is a stylish choice for any room in the home. It is similar to chandeliers in that it hangs from the ceiling, but usually, it only has one source of light (but not always).

Pendant lighting hangs low from the ceiling, so only suitable for hallways with high ceilings— as this will avoid any injury or damage. You will likely need to install several pendants, or combine them with other types of lights, in order to fully light a room.

Recommended for:
  • hallways with taller ceilings
  • those looking for a quirky-style of light
  • both modern and traditional homes
Best pendant for the hallway:
Osram LEDVANCE pipe pendants

Pipe pendants are one of the most unique-looking pendants available. Unlike standard pendants that hang from a cable, the pipe fitting pendant is encased in steel pipes. This creates an industrial look that is very popular at the moment.

The Osram LEDVANCE pendant pipe fittings start from £35 and come in a range of designs:

Key benefits
  • Can be fitted with up to six E27 screw lamp holders
  • Uses modern energy-saving technology
  • Can be used with LED, halogen or filament
  • Can be used with dimmable bulbs
  • Price: from £42

Chandeliers

Chandeliers are a very decadent style of lighting. It will be the centrepiece of your room and draw a lot of attention from your guests. You will need to choose the style of chandelier carefully to ensure it matches the décor of the rest of your house.

Chandeliers will only fit in hallways with high ceilings and wide width.

Recommended for
  • large hallways
  • traditional style homes

Flush/semi-flush lights

Flush mount lighting is a common ceiling lighting fixture. It is directly mounted closely to the ceiling, meaning it is excellent for low-roof hallways. It is designed not to be flashy or draw attention.

Semi-flush lights hang around 10 – 20 cm from the roof, either by cable or metal fixture. They should only be used in homes with high ceiling.

Recommended for:
  • most heights of ceilings
  • practical homes

Spot bar/track lights

Spot bars (also known as track fixtures) are a modern style of ceiling lighting. Several spotlights sit on a bar/track which can then be fitted to the ceiling. The spotlights can be used as ambient or task lighting. Most spot bars allow you to adjust the direction of individual lights, meaning you can adjust to your preference.

Recommended for
  • modern homes
  • wider hallways
Best spot bar light for the hallway:
Powermaster Indoor 3 Spot Bar

Powermaster spot bars are designed for durability and value for money. The chrome design suits any modern hallway and the lights provide angled spotlights.

Key benefits
  • Adjustable lights
  • Affordable
  • Stylish
  • Price: from £8

Wall fixtures

We don’t recommend you only light a hallway with wall fixtures. Wall lights can benefit hallways by adding an extra layer of lighting.

Sconce

Scone lights are simply a lamp fixture on a wall. There are dozens of styles and finishes to choose from including:

  • flush-mounted
  • lantern style
  • candle sconce
  • picture lights
  • LED wall light

Sconce lighting can be faced upwards to lighten the ceiling, making the room feel larger. Alternatively, a downlight sconce makes rooms feel smaller and cosier.

Nightlights

Nightlights can be useful for older people or families with young children. They provide just enough light to be able to navigate a hallway. They are mostly used in case people need to use the bathroom during the night.

Many modern nightlights are fitted with the latest technology. They are often able to be set on a timer so they only swith on at night. Also, many nightlights are fitted with motion sensors, meaning they will only switch on when movement is registered. 

On furniture

Smaller lights are an excellent way to add another layer of lights to your hallway. They can be used to add more ambient lighting or accent lighting. These smaller lights can completely change the style of the room.

Strip lights

Strip lights (also known as ribbon lighting) is a popular light for many rooms of the home. While they do not provide as much luminosity as other lights, they offer style. They should be used as a secondary or third layer light—highlighting certain aspects of the room.

Strip lights are incredibly versatile, with the ability to be fitted almost anywhere. Some common locations in which strip lights are found include:

  • inside/around a cupboard
  • where the wall meets the ceiling
  • along the skirting boards
  • around mirrors
Recommended for
  • stylish homes
  • hallways with something to showcase (eg. awards, mirrors)
Best strip lights:
LED Strip Light Ribbon

The LED Strip Light Ribbon is a waterproof 5-metre real of ultra-bright LEDs. The strip light is cuttable every 3 LEDs and has a 3M adhesive back for easy fitting.

Available colours include:

Key benefits
  • easy fit
  • adhesive backing
  • cuttable every 3 LEDs
  • waterproof
  • price: from £9

Lamps

Lamps offer practical illumination that can be used for reading or other tasks. Alternatively, they can be used as another layer of ambient lighting or accent lighting. For example, you can use desk lamps to highlight certain objects on a table such as artworks or rare stones.

Recommended for
  • any hallways
  • as highlights
Best lamps for the hallway:
Powermaster adjustable desk lamp

Both practical and aesthetically pleasing. The Powermaster adjustable desk lamp comes with an in-line rocker switch for ease of use, 1.6m of cable and adjustable height and angle.

Key benefits
  • adjustable
  • affordable
  • practical
  • Price: from £11.99

Lighting ideas for different types of hallways

Different hallways require different types of lighting. Much of the choice comes down to personal taste and specific requirements. However, in this section, you will find some common types of hallway and some ideas on how to light them.

Types of hallways:

  • Modern/contemporary hallways
  • Victorian style hallways
  • Narrow hallways
  • Hallways with low ceilings
  • Dark hallways

Modern/contemporary hallways

Modern/contemporary hallways tend to fall into the minimalist category. With minimalism, you want to ensure everything serves a purpose without drawing attention itself. Try to avoid cluttering your hallway with unnecessary items/lights.

Downlights can be installed into the ceiling and remain practically invisible. Alternatively, spot bar lighting in a chrome finish can add a stylish metallic finish to the hallway. The benefit of spot bar lighting is that is allows you to adjust the angle when aiming your spotlights. If you want to add a bit of sleekness, try including a piece of artwork in your hallway and showcasing that with your lighting.

Victorian hallways

Victorian hallways should be lit in a way that harks back to the era they were built. Modern lights will look out of place in Victorian homes and should be avoided.

Chandeliers and pendant fittings will suit almost any Victorian hallway.

Wall lights with retro designs will also suit Victorian hallways. You should check with a professional if the wiring is suitable for wall lights.

Narrow hallways

For narrow hallways, you want to ensure you use the space as economically as possible. You should look for lighting that takes up the least amount of space. Pendant and chandeliers will not work in these types of hallway.

Downlights are built into the ceiling and therefore take up the least amount of space. Fitting a row of downlights into your ceiling will fill most narrow hallways with lights.

Wall lamps may work, but they are likely to take up unnecessary space. Instead, you can utilise mirrors to reflect the light from the downlights. In the example on the right, you will see a hallway that uses two mirrors to brighten the entire hallway.

Low ceilings

Hallways with low ceilings reduce the types of lights that are suitable for your room. Pendants and chandeliers will hang too low and may get in the way or even cause injuries to guests.

Downlights and GU10s take up a minimal amount of room in the ceiling. This means you can still light your dining room from most angles.

Wall lamps are also good alternatives if you don’t want to fit lights into the ceiling.

Strip lights can also be fitted to add an extra layer of luminosity. Fit strip lights around the top of the walls to make the room feel bigger.

Dark hallways

Hallways with little or no natural light will require extra lighting options to stop the space from feeling dark and oppressive.

Layered lighting offers the best chance at creating a bright, and open feeling hallway, without the use of natural lights. It can be adapted to fit almost any hallway.

Try using standard GU10s in the ceiling, combined with a stylish pendant fitting, to become the centrepiece of the room. You could also include a lamp or two to add a third and fourth layer of lighting.

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