Treat Halls Like Every Other Room
Halls should be treated as rooms. Granted, few spend much time in them, but they are there and necessary. So make them look good.
Enliven the area to make passage through the halls an enjoyable trip. Lighting is the first way to make this a more pleasant area. Natural light is best either by means of a window on the wall or a skylight overhead. If the hall is in the middle of a house without accessibility to put a window in, then open the doors to the rooms along this passageway to let the light from those areas filter in.
The next best thing is artificial light. A dimly lit hallway is depressing, but just as bad is a lighting pattern that is long, uniform and boring. The key is to highlight areas such as pictures along the wall or a chair that might be there, a bookcase and other items along the way.
Actually, if space permits, a bookcase in the hall is an excellent idea. Bookcases are always good to have for books, of course, as well as other items, but space in the living areas isn't always available for this furniture. The hall might be just the answer. Besides providing a place for the books, this functional place adds interest to an otherwise humdrum area. Bookcases only need to be 8 to 10 inches deep, so they really don't take up much space.
A shelf attached to the wall takes up little space, yet provides decoration, particularly if topped with a mirror or interesting artwork. If space permits, use a tall, narrow table such as a sofa table or a narrow breakfront.
Alcoves in hallways provide great space for creativity. Try mirrors, paintings, shelving, custom art or a combination thereof. Whatever is done, be sure it is properly and attractively lit.
Of course, the hallway's main purpose is that of passage from one area to another, so clutter should be avoided. The above suggestions work only if the hallway is wide enough. Placing family pictures on the wall provides the interest without intruding in the space.
Being a high traffic area, this space needs to have sturdy flooring that will not show wear, or at least wear gracefully. Hard floors such as tile, marble or wood are best, though, if chosen with traffic in mind, a good carpet will work, too.
Walls should be treated with something washable. If painted, be sure it is washable paint. If it is to be wallpapered, it should also be washable. Even if a mural or such art is painted right on the wall, it can and should be sealed so it becomes washable.
If the passageway is narrow, don't put anything too expensive on the walls because it is bound to get rubbed. It is probably one of Murphy's Laws: The more expensive the wall treatment, the more effortlessly it will become damaged.