Bring (Inexpensive) Love Into Your Home’s Forgotten Hallway with Paint

My home’s dark and narrow hallway needed help.

“Where is this? An old office building?”

I had shown the man at the paint counter our house’s hallway and stairs that desperately needed attention. We’ve lived in this 50 year old house for almost ten years, and it was the last untouched area.

And it showed.

Welcome to my office building. I mean, home.
Nothing inviting going up the stairs.
See the blue paint swatch? I was considering going dark before going light.

The Plan

While we had allocated money to other hotspots in the house, like the kitchen, there was little left for the hallway that most guests never see.

The lack of funds didn’t temper my high expectations. My goal was to add brightness to my dull hallway with fresh paint, light fixtures, and styling. 


One of the reasons why the hallway was the last thing I worked on was because I knew it would be tedious. And a bit overwhelming. Painting the dated wood trim is time consuming. First I lightly sanded, then wood filled the nail holes, then primed twice, caulked gaps, and then painted it. Twice. Yes, that’s four coats to completely cover up the wood. 

Painting the trim and baseboard was done before any wall painting was completed. 

Baseboard Paint Trick

And speaking of baseboard, I was able to paint it without pulling up the existing carpet. Or getting paint on it. Using Frog Tape and my well used 5-in-1 tool, I push the tape down into the crevice where the carpet and baseboard met. 

The result? Although there’s some spots where it didn’t go down deep enough because the original wood peeks through, it’s by far the best paint trick I’ve used in a long time. 

The toughest place to work the tape down is on the stairs – so many angles! I’ll have to go back and touch up those areas originally missed.

Paint Color and Sheen

I fell in love with Polar Bear by Behr when we used it for my daughter’s room two years ago. 

PSA – If you’re nervous about decorating, playing around with kid’s rooms is a great way to dip your toe in the water. It’s fun, low risk, and you know it’ll change anyway in a couple of years once kids want to make it truly their own.

Knowing my love of Polar Bear, I bought it in two sheens: satin and matte. The plan was to paint the all the trim and the lower wall section satin. While the walls aren’t in the best of shape to handle a glossier sheen, the trade off was the cleanability with inevitable hand prints. The upper wall and ceiling got painted with the creamy matte that I love.

Now that it’s finished, I don’t LOVE the satin. It shows more imperfections than I like, but time will tell if I change my mind.

How Long It Took

While I would love to say this was completed in a weekend, I would be lying. This was mostly a solo project, during Covid, and fit in between the needs of the family. Truthfully, it took about two weeks. 

In the beginning, I worked a bit frantically, just trying to get it done. In every design show it feels like painting is just glossed over, at a 4x time lapse. But the details of the six doorways and the stairs demanded attention to detail. After a while, I just leaned into the process, as slow as it was. 

The biggest time consumer was the wood trim. Had that been already painted, this paint job could have been crunched down to a long weekend or stretched out a full week.

So if your project is taking you awhile, I give you permission to give yourself grace and time to get it done.

Next Up: The Doors

Mentally, I had to handle the doors separately from the hallway project. They’re the original hollow core slab doors and are now the biggest eyesore in the hallway. 

The plan is to take them off the hinges, add paneling, paint, and new handles. 

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. I love how well this is written, your complete transparency, and your seeming ability to give yourself GRACE with house projects! Keep writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *