Today we’re going to tackle something that plagues every house and every home decor lover: awkward space. Sometimes the space is a long, narrow hallway, sometimes it’s a forgotten corner by the doorway, or maybe even the gap between the sofa and the wall. We’ve all had those moments of standing perplexed in front of an area in the home, thinking “What on Earth am I going to put here?

With narrow hallways, design up, not out. Focusing on the floors, walls and ceilings gives you a ton of decorating surface area without cramping the space. Hallways are a fantastic place to show personality. I think of them as the red carpet lead-up to the grand show of your bedrooms. A colorful rug, a showstopping light fixture and an art display can change the entire atmosphere of your home and carry your theme throughout. A wall display I love, especially in kitchen hallways and nooks, is a collection of antique plates and platters instead of traditional art, to add depth and interest. Using wallpaper in narrow areas brings color and texture to your space without overwhelming it (it’s OK to use a large-scale pattern in a small space). If you still find your space to be claustrophobic or overly busy, switch out your art for mirrors. This will reflect light to give the illusion of a larger space, on top of being a gorgeous accent.

What about other nooks and crannies throughout your home? You can use a lot of the same techniques in these areas. However, not all awkward spaces are equal. Sometimes they pop up in places you need to use. This is where we can really get creative. Transform an otherwise unused space into a wine nook, displaying those well-designed labels (am I the only one who often appreciates the labels more than the contents of the bottle?). For particularly tricky and small areas, look for functional furniture like drop-leaf tables that can be moved around and adjusted to fit your space.

Not all awkward spaces are small, either. In an open-concept home with some dead space around the edges, bringing in functional furniture is a great way to create more purpose in an otherwise unused space. Turn an area by a garage or side entrance into a mudroom with a built-in bench and cubbies. This keeps the space compact but is still a productive use of square footage.

These are just a few ways to help you make the most of awkward spaces. As is true with most design work, challenges are simply opportunities in disguise.


Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s.