I live in a 1908 Victorian just west of Chinatown in San Francisco. We're lucky that our landlord, and building owner, renovated the kitchen and bathrooms when they purchased the property 15 years ago, but saved some of the original charm. We're blessed with a large, by city standards, kitchen and living room, in-unit washer and dryer, and plenty of light in the living spaces. The stairway and hallway though are a different story.
The hallway is dark, narrow and long. It seems darker because it has only one small lightwell-facing window, and all four bedrooms (occupied by roommates) are located off the hallway. With the bedroom doors shut, the hallway has hardly any natural light. I decided that after living in the flat for the last two years, I couldn't stand coming home to the depressing, barren space any longer, and so I've made the hallway my project. I spent a few hours spread, out over the last month, cleaning the walls, heater vents, baseboards and floor. Previously, the walls were very dirty and scuffed up. We're not supposed to paint, (even though I'd love to go with a bright, pure white) and the existing paint is probably eight years old. It's survived many roommates moving in and out, and more than its share of parties. With some elbow grease, a Magic Eraser, and time, I was able to remove nearly all of the marks. I've also washed the walls, and now they're pretty much good as new.
I'm still trying to figure out what, exactly, to hang on the walls. Now that my boyfriend is on board with the project, I've started gathering inspiration and possible choices. I want something to help lighten up the space, and have been loving the modern boho look lately. The rest of our place has a Scandinavian-modern-warm but neutral-theme. I've been seriously considering a light sculpture or a mirror (or set of mirrors) to help bounce some light around. Another contender is a gallery wall, or some trendy textile art for the top of the stairs.
Above, I've pulled together some of what I'm currently craving, with sources. I love SF-themed art (especially easy to add to a shared space), and neutral (read: not too girly) pieces.
Below, you'll find pictures of the current super dark hallway. The one on the left shows how dark it is, the other two images are with the hideous overhead track lighting on.