9 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Hallway and Foyer Lighting

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett
Updated January 14, 2022
A large hallway with a pendant light
Photo: John Keeble / Moment / Getty Images

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The right lighting in a hallway or foyer sets the mood, reinforces style, and adds interest to interior spaces. Although not considered rooms in your home, foyers and hallways play an essential role in interior design: the former serves as an introduction to your home, while the latter connect rooms and facilitate traffic flow. 

If you’re at a loss for how to light these essential spaces, check out some of our hallway and foyer lighting tips.

1. Follow a Lighting Plan 

Perhaps you’re planning to replace your light fixtures, or you are installing lights in a new home or renovated space. In these cases, you should incorporate foyer and hallway lights into your overall lighting and decorating scheme. 

Aim to coordinate hall or foyer lighting with the color schemes and themes featured in the rest of the house. Choose similar shapes or even the same fixtures for these spaces as you do for other rooms in your home to ensure a consistent feel. 

While you’re planning, consider whether you’ll need task lighting and where you want light switches or panels located. It’s much easier to include dimmers, wireless automation, and other light features pre-drywall.

2. Measure Foyer, Hallway, and Light Fixtures 

Interior designers follow a few rules regarding the right size light fixture to use in a hallway or foyer. 

Diameter

A chandelier or large light fixture in a foyer needs to be at least 18 inches in diameter. One rule of thumb is to measure the length and width of the foyers in feet. Then, add the numbers and convert that to inches. For example, a 12-by-10-foot room would give you 24 square feet, and you would choose a chandelier 24 inches in diameter. 

Height and Length

Hang chandeliers and pendants at least 7 feet from the floor, even if you plan to place a table underneath. Multiply your ceiling height by three and convert that to inches to determine the height of the light fixture. 

For example, if the ceiling in your foyer is 10 feet tall, the height of your light fixture should be 30 inches. If you have a two-story foyer, try to hang the light fixture low enough to be visible from both stories but higher than the ceiling height of the first level. 

Number of Lights

You can get away with one ceiling-mounted light fixture in a small hallway of less than 150 square feet. Consider hanging two to three ceiling-mounted light fixtures in a larger or longer hallway. A vast hall complements overhead lighting with two to three sconces or table lamps on a bookshelf or credenza. Avoid home lighting mistakes, such as installing recessed lighting everywhere.

3. Treat the Foyer as Opening Act

A foyer with a luxurious crystal chandelier
Photo: moodboard / Image Source / Getty Images

The foyer is the grand entrance of the home, the first chance to make a lasting impression. Treat it as the opening act, a scene that sets the tone for the rest of the house. If your home is grand and filled with antiques, choose a light fixture for the foyer with old-world styling. Accordion, orbs, or starburst pendants are hallmarks of mid-century modern lighting and are sure-fire ways to wow your guests. 

4. Select the Appropriate Lighting Style 

Most homes have a dominant style that describes the decor of the entire home. This style could be French country, mid-century modern, contemporary, rustic, Hollywood glam, minimalist, or anything in between. 

Whatever the style, choose hallway or foyer light that reinforces or complements the decor. A mid-century modern cylinder pendant can work in the foyer of a home with contemporary furnishings. However, a contemporary space-age light fixture might clash in a foyer drenched in farmhouse features. 

5. Layer Lighting  

There are four types of lighting in your home: ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting. Use at least two types in every room, including the hallway or foyer. 

Begin with ceiling-mounted lights. For these types of spaces, you’ll generally want to start with mounted lights that are flush to the ceiling. If you have a two-story or vaulted ceiling, pick a grand chandelier. You can also mount sconces on the walls in styles similar to the ceiling lights. You can even point task lighting at the artwork, such as track lighting. Recessed lighting along the hall baseboards is a subtle yet helpful safety feature. 

6. Incorporate Mirrors and Reflective Accessories 

Mirrors in a foyer or at the end of a hallway reflect light, adding drama and interest to a space. Hang the hall light fixtures so that the mirror reflects the lighting, whether lit or unlit. Play with the length of pendant lights to see how the mirror disburses the light. Unless a mirror runs from floor to ceiling, avoid hanging light fixtures below the top frame of the mirror. The goal is to reflect light, not obstruct the mirror’s frame, itself a design element. 

7. Layer Textures in a Monochromatic Color Scheme

Add interest to the foyer or hallway by blending different textures in different shades of one color. For example, opt for a large chandelier with mahogany beads or burnished bronze iron in an entrance with traditional cherry wood furnishings. The different elements in various shades of one color create a cohesive look. 

Another example: A white-iron large lantern works in a foyer with cream-colored sconces and ivory-stemmed buffet lamps topped with white lantern-shaped shades. 

8. Bring Big Luxury into Small Spaces

A narrow foyer with a light fixture
Photo: John Keeble / Moment / Getty Images

There’s no need for narrow hallways to lack style—select hallway light fixtures with geometric shapes in bold colors that create drama. Narrow hallways are usually free of furniture, so a unique light fixture that creates interesting shadows might be the most decorative element in that space. 

A small foyer, such as an apartment entrance, is a good place to splurge on a luxurious light fixture.

9. Maximize Pendant Power 

Too often, people add pendants in small groups of three to six, positioned in a straight line. Instead, up the pendant power by grouping pendants in different sizes, colors and lengths. You create the illusion of a mobile by mounting pendants in a circle, square, diamond or zig-zag formation for an eclectic aesthetic.

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