Best Paint Colors for a Dark Hallway (Designers Guide 2022)

Due to their very nature, hallways are important as they provide a traffic route through the home. Therefore, a dark hallway should get special attention to minimize the possibility of any accidental tripping or falling hazards.

Probably the most vital way to improve a dark hallway, of course, would be to add more lighting. However, if that’s not possible, some tricks can be played with the color and sheen of the paint you choose.

Let’s discuss some helpful guiding principles to consider when choosing paint colors and explore some excellent colors to brighten up your dark hallways.

Things to Remember While Choosing Paint Colors for Hallways

Paint colors can turn your always-dark hallway on its head! But you must remember some essential things like the LRV value of the colors, the differences in sheen, and possibly layering colors.

1. LRV Value: 

LRV, short for light reflectance value, is a helpful notation found on most paint color chips at your commercial paint center. The LRV is designated in number values from one to one hundred. 

The higher the number in the LRV, the more light reflectance you will get from that color. And the lower the LRV, the less light reflectance it will possess. So, a light, neutral tone with an LRV of at least 70 is perfect for lightening up your hallways.

Color LRV Value lable

2. Sheen:

When choosing paint, something can be said for sheen as well. In simple terms, the higher the sheen, the more specular reflectance you have, and the more light will enter the eye.

You can improve the light reflectance inside of the space by changing the sheen of the paint. For example, you will have more reflectance on a pearl sheen than you will on a matte or flat sheen.

There is a caveat with sheens; very high gloss (often noted as hi-gloss on paint cans) could look too commercial in a residential situation. So, something like an eggshell or pearl sheen would likely be a better choice for your home’s hallway.

3. Fifth Wall (also known as the Ceiling):

Another approach would be to consider the ceiling as your fifth wall in the hallway space. Using a color that contrasts your palette could help to brighten the space as well as allow in more light.

Not only could you choose a bright color for the ceiling, but you could also go for a glossy finish, thus doubling the existing light’s impact.

Best Paint Colors for a Dark Hallway

If you’re struggling with a narrow, dark hallway, brighter and light tones would be the right choice. But can you use other not-so-common colors as well? Let’s see!

1. Creamy Neutral with Golden Undertone

Creamy Neutral with Golden Undertone

A neutral cream color with soft golden and yellowish undertones will easily fill your house’s dark hallways with warmth and shine.

Behr Twinkling Lights, M280-1, with an LRV of 92.2, is an excellent shade to try for this color palette!

2. Peach-based Neutral

Peach-based Neutral

Another warm and soft neutral color to enlighten your corridor! A neutral cream color with peach undertones would add a refreshing finish to your space.

Try Behr Cotton Sheets, RD-W15U, with an LRV of 84.2.

3. Soft Gray with Green Undertone

Soft Gray with Green Undertone

Surprising, isn’t it? But a neutral gray with a green undertone would not only light up your hallway but also add a modern touch!

A gray like Benjamin Moore Horizon, OC-53 with an LRV of 73 is a perfect shade to try! 

4. Gray Neutral

Gray Neutral

Yes, another gray! A warmer and more neutral gray can also add sheen and light to the space.

Sherwin Williams Heron Plume SW 6070, with an LRV of 76, will do the perfect job here!

5. Soft Blue 

Soft Blue

Try a soft, pastel blue in your hallway and watch the magic happen! Not only will this shade brighten your space, but it will also add a lovely coastal touch.

A mild blue like Sherwin Williams Glimmer SW6476 with an LRV of 78 is your go-to shade.

6. Neutral with Mocha Undertone

Neutral with Mocha Undertone

Finally, try a neutral shade with mocha or dusty pink undertones to rejuvenate your space.

You can go for Benjamin Moore Wild Aster 1240 with an LRV of 71 here!

Other Ways to Light Up Your Dark Hallway

You don’t entirely need to change your hallway’s wall color to brighten it. There are some other quick and economical solutions you could try!

1. Use Wide Spectrum Light Bulbs:

Whatever the lighting situation in the hall, you still have the chance to increase the light without increasing the number of fixtures. How? By replacing the old bulbs with more efficient light bulbs.

Lumens, or the measure of the actual power of the light, is something to pay special attention to on the side of the bulb package when purchasing. Some lightbulbs also help with light distribution based on whether they are cool or warm bulbs.

The color-highlighting properties of the wide-spectrum bulbs will also affect the paint’s appearance. So, if you get a wider spectrum bulb, you’ll have more color reflected back to the eye. Thus, the space will seem brighter with simply the bulb change.

2. Add Architectural Embellishments:

If you intend to embrace the dark mood of your hallway, the good news is that you still have options! Consider adding architectural details such as wainscoting or heftier base trim and crown molding.

These architectural embellishments can offer visual interest as well as an opportunity for the woodwork to be painted in a contrasting color with a satin or semi-gloss sheen.

This approach would still allow for an elegant, transitional thoroughfare and better tie your hallway into the design scheme of adjoining rooms.

You could even pick a metallic paint to set off those details and really entice the imagination while making your space truly one-of-a-kind.

3. Use Artwork and Accessories:

Finally, one last economical way to enhance the paint of your hallways would be to add artwork, mirrors, or other glass-enclosed accessories to the walls. These pieces will help to reflect and multiply whatever light is present.

Even though many homes today are built with open-space plans, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be without hallways. As hallways are often subject to much traffic, be sure to find scuff, scratch-resilient, and washable paint so the finish can last for many years.

When planning your color palette and building your color story, do bring the hallways into consideration. As we’ve shown, hallways don’t necessarily have to be the same paint colors as the rooms they adjoin, and dark hallways don’t have to remain that way. Using these tips, your dark hallway can now shine!