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Is Elephants Breath too dark for a hallway?

Choosing the right paint color for a hallway can be a challenging task. The hallway is often the first space you see when entering a home, so you want it to create a good first impression. At the same time, it’s not a room where people spend a lot of time, so you don’t want the color to be overpowering. Elephant’s Breath is a popular neutral paint color by Farrow & Ball, but is it too dark for a hallway? Let’s take a look at some of the factors to consider.

The Pros of Using Elephant’s Breath in a Hallway

Here are some potential benefits of using Elephant’s Breath in a hallway:

  • Sets a stylish tone – Elephant’s Breath is a sophisticated greige (mixture of gray and beige) that can help set a stately and elegant tone in an entry space.
  • Provides a subtle focal point – The complex, muddy undertones of Elephant’s Breath make it more interesting than plain white or beige, subtly drawing the eye.
  • Goes with anything – This greige hue is endlessly versatile and pairs well with many color schemes, making it a safe choice if you’re unsure of the overall decor approach.
  • Lightens and brightens – While darker than white or light beige, Elephant’s Breath still reflects and bounces light nicely in a hallway, keeping it from feeling too dark and enclosed.

So if you want a hallway with a bit of personality and character, Elephant’s Breath is an intriguing neutral option to consider. The saturated color prevents it from reading as plain or boring, but it’s still restrained enough for a passage space.

The Cons of Elephant’s Breath for Hallways

On the other hand, here are some of the potential drawbacks of using Elephant’s Breath in a hallway:

  • Can feel too dark – With muted, earthy undertones, Elephant’s Breath may read as overly dark and dreary in a long, narrow hallway that doesn’t get much natural light.
  • Shows imperfections – This complex neutral doesn’t hide flaws. Any nicks, scuffs, or imperfections in your wall surfaces will likely show up more against this color.
  • Requires more upkeep – Darker colors like Elephant’s Breath tend to show dust, dirt, and fingerprints much more than lighter shades. Be prepared to clean walls more often.
  • Makes space feel smaller – Elephant’s Breath can advance visually and make hallways feel more closed in compared to lighter colors like Swiss Coffee or White Dove.

So if your hallway is already cramped or lacking light, going with a moody color like Elephant’s Breath could make the problems worse. The saturated greige may create too much visual weight and close off the space.

Lighting Considerations

The type and amount of lighting in your hallway is an important factor when selecting a paint color. Here are some lighting tips to keep in mind:

  • Opt for plenty of overhead lighting – Hallways usually only have artificial light, so installing sufficient ceiling lights is key. Space them closely together.
  • Add wall sconces – Wall-mounted fixtures throw more direct light onto the walls, brightening up any color you choose.
  • Use warm light bulbs – Warm 2700-3000K light bulbs pair best with the earthy tan undertones of Elephant’s Breath.
  • Increase natural light if possible – Skylights, transom windows over doors, etc. can make hallways feel brighter.

With sufficient lighting in place, you have more flexibility in going for a moodier color like Elephant’s Breath without making the hallway feel dark and enclosed. Bring as much brightness into the space as possible.

Hallway Color Factors

Here are some other factors to help you decide if Elephant’s Breath is a good fit for your particular hallway:

  • Hallway size & layout – Long or narrow hallways call for lighter colors to counteract claustrophobia. Shorter and wider spaces can handle deeper tones without feeling oppressive.
  • Ceiling height – Tall, two-story ceilings make a hallway feel more open and expansive, allowing you to get away with darker colors. Low ceilings benefit from lighter paint.
  • Hallway function – Formal foyers and entryways can lean sophisticated with Elephant’s Breath, while busy family hallways may want a more durable light color.
  • Connecting rooms – If your hallway flows into rooms full of light colors, keep it light as well for cohesion. Darker hallway colors work best with darker room schemes.

Take all these factors into consideration before committing to putting a dramatic color like Elephant’s Breath on your walls.

Paint Sheen Recommendations

Another important paint decision for hallways is sheen. Here are some tips on paint finishes for high-traffic spaces:

Sheen Pros Cons
  • Minimizes surface imperfections
  • Easy touch-ups
  • Not durable or washable
  • Shows scuffs and marks
  • Adds subtle sheen and depth
  • Washable and durable
  • Hides imperfections
  • Higher reflectivity magnifies flaws
  • Withstands frequent cleaning
  • Appealing mid-sheen luster
  • Reflective surface shows more imperfections

A versatile mid-sheen like eggshell is a great choice for high-traffic hallways. It resists scuffs and cleans easily while still offering some surface interest. Satin is even more durable for household spaces that get a ton of wear and tear.

Test Samples

Before taking the full plunge with Elephant’s Breath or any bold hallway color, get some test pots and create samples on your walls. Paint 2-3′ square swatches and view at different times of day. Live with the samples for a few days to get a true sense of how the color works in the space. Some guidelines on testing potential colors:

  • Paint samples on multiple walls – Colors look different on walls with and without windows.
  • Check color in natural and artificial light – The two light sources affect color perception.
  • View samples from far away and up close – Both perspectives matter.
  • See color next to trim/floor colors – They impact the overall look.
  • Paint large samples – Small swatches don’t reveal enough.

Checking potential colors thoroughly before committing allows you to preview your options and makes the final selection process much easier.

Complementary Colors

One way to make a bold hallway color like Elephant’s Breath work is pairing it with compatible accent colors that enhance the overall scheme. Here are some complementary colors to consider:

Color Why It Works
Crisp white Brightens up the space and enhances the grey undertones
Pale blue Feels fresh and airy against the tan base
Sage green Earthy yet vibrant tone
Rust orange Warm accent that picks up the earthiness
Rich navy Bold dynamic contrast

Accenting Elephant’s Breath walls with trims, tiles, furnishings, art, and accessories in these harmonizing hues creates a polished, complete look. The secondary colors balance out the dominating neutral.

Best Trim Colors

One of the key complementary elements to consider is trim and molding. Here are some recommended trim colors if using Elephant’s Breath on hallway walls:

  • Snowy white – Brightens up the space and makes the walls the focus
  • Crisp black – Striking contrast and definition
  • Bright white with dark black accents – Combines the light and dark for an eye-catching combo
  • Palest grey – Subtle tonal play up to dove grey works nicely
  • Golden oak – Warm wood tone complements the greige

Avoid matching the walls and trim too closely. Go for enough contrast between them to add visual interest but not so much that it looks mismatched.

Floors That Work With Elephant’s Breath

Don’t overlook your flooring when designing a cohesive hallway color scheme. Floors get a lot of square footage, so they have a big impact. Some great flooring options to pair with Elephant’s Breath walls include:

  • White oak – Gorgeous natural wood with tan undertones
  • Herringbone pattern – Visually appealing grey and brown stripes
  • Marble or limestone – Elegant whites and greys swirled with tan
  • Concrete – Modern minimalist vibe
  • Slate tile – Earthy muted grey-browns

Avoid flooring with strong warm red or orange undertones, as these can clash with the Elephant’s Breath walls. Keep floors neutral or on the cooler grey spectrum.


Elephant’s Breath can be a beautiful and sophisticated paint color for a hallway if done right. Key considerations are having adequate lighting, choosing the right complementary colors, and paying attention to details like trim and floors. Lighter, brighter hallways can handle the drama of Elephant’s Breath, while darker, narrower spaces are best painted in lighter neutrals. Test out samples carefully and inspect at all times of day before fully committing. With proper prep work and planning, Elephant’s Breath can give your hallway a stately dose of personality and visual interest.