Yes, a dado rail hallway is still very much an on-trend look in 2023 for the right interior design look. If you’re wondering how to make it look good without it feeling like your grandma’s house, you’re in the right place.
The evolution of the purpose of a dado rail has somewhat changed over the years. It can also be known as a chair rail, and is designed to divide the wall into distinct sections and protect it from furniture or other potential sources of wear and tear.
Nowadays, a dado rail in a hallway is primarily used for aesthetic value alone. It can be used for colour blocking, additional definition and to pay homage to the original architectural details of the property.
19 Dado Rail Hallway Ideas That Are On-trend For 2023
1.Half Wall Bold Wallpapering
The main purpose of a dado rail is to provide a divide, and this lends itself to colour blocking and adding a fun addition like wallpaper on the upper half.
To keep the hallway feeling cohesive, just make sure that whatever wallpaper choice you make on the upper half it at least features the same colour in the pattern of the wallpaper.
Paint the dado rail hallway in a completely contrasting colour for even more visual interest.
2. Lower Half Colour Blocking With Textured Wallpaper
Switch things up, and add textured wallpaper on the lower half instead.
A textured wallpaper adds more visual interest and depth than a classic painted wall, whilst your eyes are drawn in and will dart around the perfectly curated gallery wall.
3. Keep It Light & White
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with a dado rail.
Sometimes simplicity wins and simply keeping things light and white all over still adds a divide and definition in the space.
If you have a heavy traffic household, always opt for an off-white rather than bright white as they are generally more forgiving against scuffs and dirt. If you have a dark narrow hallway, opt for a white with yellow or pink undertones to bring warmth into the equation.
4. Add Definition With Grey
Grey is a popular choice for hallways, and placed on the lower half of a dado rail it brings definition and a grounding effect to the hallway.
Elevate past the dado rail with a bright white, it will instantly draw the eye up as you enter the hallway, giving the illusion of a bigger space.
5. Dado Rail Hallway With Half Wall Panelling
A dado rail can provide the perfect border for lower half wall panelling. This is a classic and traditional look that is synonymous in period style hallways like this.
It adds uniformity and it can be a good way to integrate a dado rail into your hallway.
6. Colourful Colour Blocking
As a dado rail provides that perfect divide, it is just open and ready for some fun colour blocking.
Instead of painting up to the dado rail, why not take it slightly higher like this, it tricks the eye drawing it up, making the ceiling appear taller than it actually is.
Colour block with the same colour on an adjacent wall for a cohesive pull through the space.
7. Neutral Separation
I absolutely adore this dado rail hallway idea. If you want a neutral hallway but don’t want to inject too much colour, a gentle separation with a neutral colour is a great idea. It brings softness and warmth without overpowering the space.
Add a continuation of that colour onto the doors and architraves to tie the hallway space together. It’s effective and intentional.
8. MDF Panelling & Dado Rail Hallway
If classic half wall panelling isn’t your thing, add some MDF panelling or shiplap panels for another classic twist. Paint in the same colour or inject a separate colour for instant interest and warmth.
The dado rail adds uniform and a border to the overall design. A perfect look for traditional, cottages and farmhouse style properties.
9. Mix Wallpaper Patterns For Depth & Character
Why settle for one half of wallpaper when you can have two?
For an eclectic and maximalist look, combine two completely different wallpaper designs for total visual interest. The key to avoid this look going wrong is to ensure that one colour is synonymous in both of the wallpaper patterns.
As pictured here, you can see that the dark blue shade is featured on the lower half too in one of the stripes, it makes it look intentional and cohesive.
10. Playful Colour
Painting the dado rail a different colour to both the lower and upper half of a wall is a great way to add definition and visual interest.
Dare to be different by adding another perfectly bordered line above in a completely contrast colour. It adds instant visual interest, and an unusual look as you ascend the stairs.
11. Moody Florals With Defining Black Dado Rail Hallway
For a classic, traditional hallway, this look is a beautiful encompassing style.
Add a moody floral pattern on the lower half with a defining black dado rail, it will ground and clearly separate the lower divide.
Add a light and bright shade above to help draw the eye up. If you have a dark maximalist style you may choose to go all black on the upper half for serious presence in the space.
12. Built In Hooks & Seating Area
Use a dado rail to provide form and function to a hallway. A dado rail is ultimately a border, and it can really look perfect when lower half panelling is used with hooks and a bench propped underneath.
This is typically a classic, traditional look, perfect for traditional and cottage style properties. It provides ultimate function to a hallway too, a place to perch coats and dog leads, and a place to put on and take off shoes as you arrive home.
13. Redefine A Dado Rail Hallway
Dado rails are typically placed at around one-third of the total wall height, but rules and interpretations are made to broken when it comes to interior design.
Instead, add a dado rail 15-30cm up from the skirting boards for subtle definition that can actually result in drawing the eye up and giving the illusion of a larger space.
14. Bright White & Neutral Contrast
A bright white lower half beneath a dado rail against a neutral colour can provide the most crisp and clean contrast.
It adds strong visual interest, yet ties in with the white ceiling, another trick to help draw the eye up as you enter the hallway.
15. Balance With Baby Blue
Baby blue is a restorative and calming colour for a hallway, yet one which isn’t overly seen in interiors.
Pairing with a white lower half creates a well balanced, crisp and coastal feel to a property. Add some well placed black accents throughout for a touch of modernity and well needed definition.
16. Add Definition With Navy Blue
A navy blue hallway brings presence and bold impact to a space, but it can feel oppressive if not executed correctly. Add navy blue to the lower half and carry it through to architraves for a cohesive feel.
It will add a beautiful grounding effect on the hallway, yet the upper white half keeps the space feeling light and bright.
17. Candy Coloured Pastels
A dado rail divide is just the perfect opportunity to play with well segmented colour in a hallway.
Introduce delightful candy coloured pastels on the lower half and in other areas such as the bannister for a cohesive and well balanced space.
18. Dark Maximalist Design
If you are a dark maximalist lover, there is no better example of a hallway to suit your design taste buds.
An all black hallway can be defining and beautiful in equal measures. The addition of the dado rail here simply adds some much needed definition and character, breaking up the monotony of an all black wall.
19. Add Verticality With Divided Stripes
I am a huge lover of a green hallway. If you’re looking for a relaxing and restorative space, you can’t go wrong with differing hues of green for a layered look.
Add striped wallpaper above a dado rail for verticality, it adds interest yet is a clever wall to draw the eye up.
Which of these dado rail hallway ideas is your favourite?
Are Dado Rails In Fashion 2023?
Firstly, let’s answer the big elephant in the room. Yes, dado rails are still on-trend for 2023. However, they are not suitable for every interior design scheme, if you are sympathetic to this, they can look effective in an interior. Generally speaking, dado rails are best in traditional, period properties and classic design schemes. Although, they can work in transitional spaces too which blend traditional and modern design styles.
At What Height Is A Dado Rail In A Hallway?
As a general rule of thumb, dado rails are typically positioned at around one-third of the total wall height. This placement not only provides an appealing visual break but also ensures that the rail serves its protective function effectively.
However, keep in mind that this is a flexible guideline, and you have the freedom to adjust it based on your specific circumstances.
Before You Go…
If you like the look of a dado rail hallway, you might be looking for other panelling inspiration too. From country style square panelling to traditional wainscoting, I’ve pulled together a stack of inspiration that’s suitable for modern to traditional interior design schemes on the below blog…