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Hallways might not be the most exciting spot in your house, but we all know they're one of the most hardworking — ferrying guests from room to room isn't glamorous, but it's important nonetheless. So why is it that the most functional element — lighting — in the most functional area of your home often gets overlooked? Anyone who has ever made a brave attempt to locate the bathroom in a friend's house at 2 a.m. in the pitch dark will understand the importance of good hallway lighting. Not only is a well-lit hallway a practical issue, but it's an easy upgrade that can lend tons of style to this oft-ignored area, too.
From unobtrusive flush mounts to trendy pendants and the always-appropriate sconce, our favorite hallway lighting ideas bring form and function together in equal parts to transform your hallway into a space you can be proud of. Who knows — with one of these simple light fixture swaps, you might even find yourself going out of your way to walk its corridors.
1. Show off your artistic side.
Hallways are prime real estate for those art fair and flea market finds you framed up ... but if they're hanging in a dark corridor, they're not getting the star treatment they deserve. Put them in the spotlight with a well-placed picture light to illuminate your favorite artworks (and add a bit of brightness to your hallway to boot).
Get the Look: McGee & Co. Dean Picture Light, $670
2. Keep it simple.
Sometimes the best solution to hallway lighting is also the simplest: table lamps and a nice console table. While table lamps have fallen out of favor for side tables in the living room and bedroom (have you ever tried to read a book with a drum shade in your face?), they're perfect for providing easy, atmospheric lighting in a hallway or entryway.
Get the Look: CB2 Largo Speckled Ceramic Table Lamp, $149
3. Flank your favorite features.
Architectural features in a hallway feel just a bit more special when they're highlighted (get it?) by a pair of midcentury sconces. And even if you don't have a chic alcove like the one shown here, you can create a similar "moment" by anchoring a gallery wall or mirror with your sconces.
Get the Look: Lulu & Georgia Solano Sconce, $98
4. Keep it understated.
Sometimes less is more. For apartment entryways or hallways that are more like a landing pad than a long, elegant corridor, a single unique-looking sconce can provide just the right amount of light without overwhelming the space. Pick an exposed bulb style for a more modern, funky feel, or go with a classic shaded one if your decor is more traditional.
Get the Look: Schoolhouse Electric Astrid Sconce, $159
5. Layer your lighting.
A well-lit hallway or entryway sometimes requires more than a simple one-size-fits-all solution. If your hallway turns a corner or has a more angular shape (common with older houses or spaces where walls have been moved), feel free to combine different types of lighting to make sure you're reaching every area. A pair of sconces and an overhead pendant can work well together, as can a table lamp and a flush mount — play with different placements to see what works best for your space, and don't be afraid to mix finishes and styles to create a custom combination that's distinctly you.
6. Make it multitask.
Short on space? One of the cleverest hallway lighting ideas we've come across is multitasking light fixtures that incorporate a shelf or even a mirror. These two-fers can save the day in even the smallest hallways, creating a space to drop your keys, keep your lipstick on hand for one final swipe before you head out the door, or just post a note to not forget your lunch (again).
Get the Look: Human Home Highlight Catch-All, $279
7. Put it on repeat.
The quickest, most impactful hallway lighting idea (in our humble opinion)? Repeat yourself. Particularly long hallways need more than one light source, and installing two to three of the same pendant lamp packs quite a design punch, providing a cohesive look. There's strength in numbers, you know.
Get the Look: Lulu & Georgia Beehive Pendant, $201
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.