The Multi-Functional Hallway: Uses Can Vary with the Season

While hallways in some homes may be too narrow to do more than display photographs, in much older and in newer homes they are often wide enough to display floral arrangements, store off-season clothes, or places an unruly child for a time out. If you have a two-story house, upstairs hallways, which may evade the eyes of visitors, may have more options.

Below are some of my favorite uses, and a couple tongue-in-cheek ideas…though they could be useful, of course.

1) Even a narrow hallway has options. The first photograph shows the traditional use — rogue’s gallery for family photos and other displays that can be placed on the walls. In this hallway picture, the right side has family members in varied poses while the left side has a button collection mounted on bulletin boards.

2) The second photo gives the first example of making use of space behind the hallway walls. This hallway is adjacent to the bathroom, so it was relatively easy to place a stackable washer and dryer in what used to be the back end of a closet. A bit less closet space, but no laundry to haul up and down the steps.

3) A good carpenter can find open space for cabinets and drawers, as the third photo shows. These cabinets function as storage for towels and bed linens, while the drawers hold tablecloths, heating pads, holiday decorations, and lot of other items that would otherwise have to be stored in the basement.

4) Underbed boxes are good for off-season clothes storage, but why not a cedar chest at the end of the hall? It does not need to be such a fancy chest. Get one at an unfinished furniture store and paint it to match the hallway colors.

5)If you don’t have a basement or garage, you need a spot for sports items such as bicycles, skis, and such. A wide upstairs hallway could be a place to store these, using the fixtures normally placed on walls in a garage. (If you have small children, make sure they are up high.)

6) It’s time to hem a skirt or try on a new sports jacket. A mirror at the end of the hallway gives a full view of your outfit.

7) Ah yes, books. There are always dozens we plan to read or are sure someone else will want to read later. Bookshelves would probably need to be fairly narrow, and make sure they are anchored well so they cannot tip over.

8) Tiled or vinyl floors can be an indoor play area any day, but especially when the weather outside is crummy. Kids can ride a small toy or just plain run to work off energy.

9) Then there are the awkward wedding presents that you need to keep because Aunt Clara or your best friend from high school might visit, so you can’t throw them away. Maybe Uncle Albert went through a phase – after retirement of course – in which he made ceramic owls more than one foot high. Pretend it’s a bust and put it on a stand in the corner, a dark corner.

10) You thought I was kidding about the time-out spot, right? Where else can you put a child for time to think without a lot of other distractions? No longer the center of attention as they fuss, they might just calm down faster, too. (This was my sister’s idea, so I cannot claim credit for it.)

With a house built in the 1950s, my one-and-only hallway is pretty narrow, yet you can see it has had many uses. In the newer, larger homes, some are wide enough for a couple of chairs at one end, and a friend once had her sewing machine set up at the end of her hallway. House and Garden may not feature your ideas, but if they work for you, go for it.

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