With the cost of every square foot of house space today, you can't afford to throw away your hallway.

Halls, for example, make wonderful galleries -- with the proper lighting, an essential element for any hall. If you have any wall space at all in your hall, build a narrow ledge 4 1/2 feet above the floor and use it for a changing exhibit of posters and art objects.

The same kind of space is much better for family photography than the top of the piano or end tables. A family portrait gallery can be arranged chronologically; if photos are in a variety of frames, grouping them on the wall can do a lot to organize the space.

A hall can be a collector's paradise because it's so easy to see close details without furniture obstructing the view. In one home I worked on, a long hall from the front door to a larger entrance foyer provided a setting for the owner's collection of elegant Meissen plates.

The plates are hung from the kind of ordinary plate bracket that is virtually invisible and can be purchased in almost any picture framing store or fine china department. I arranged these in clumps that were predetermined by their owner to conform to their size and age, but geared to the available wall space in the hall.

To brighten the scene, I installed two lighting tracks parallel to the two walls, and had both tracks hitched up to a dimmer switch, in order to control the lighting level according to the occasion.

Halls can often be converted into libraries as well. If the doors in your hallway are placed to leave a couple of decent size walls, fill them with shallow shelving. Six-inches is a perfect shelf depth for paperbacks. A deeper shelf, perhaps 12-inches, for larger books or baskets can be built over the doors to tie into other shelves.

A hall can also be treated simply as an elegant way to get from one place to another. In one home I worked on, where there were many places for books, art, photography and storage, I used the hall for a soft transition. After lining the walls from ceiling to floor with rose-colored carpet like the floor, I used recessed down lights with small bulbs to cast a rosy, muted glow.