When decorating room by room in a multi-level home, the stairs might ironically fall through the cracks. Rather than an afterthought, interior designers reveal that the staircase is actually a stellar spot with big design potential.
“Staircases make a big impact, whether positive or negative, so it’s definitely a design priority,” says interior designer Mimi Meacham.
“I call the staircase the spine of the home,” agrees fellow interior designer Susan Riddle. “It’s often the place where you can make a statement because staircases in the foyer are the first face that guests encounter. Make it fun and make it interesting.”
To rise to Riddle’s staircase occasion, we’ve compiled our most noteworthy design inspiration. These ideas offer an entryway stair style, simple but high-impact staircase updates, and ample scenes to inform your next refresh. When done right, a staircase can steal the spotlight from any room and welcome guests in style.
Stairways offer fantastic opportunity for a gallery wall. Hang an array of family photos, framed art, or any other medium to fill the space in a dynamic, artistic fashion.
The railing is someplace where subtle yet impactful design is not only possible, but encouraged. Choose an unexpected silhouette, different color finish, or another material altogether.
If a bold pattern like leopard print isn’t quite your speed, there’s no need to avoid a runner completely. A solid color can be lovely, as can a classic, geometric style pattern.
“Keep it simple to elevate the design,” recommends Meacham. “The simple elegance of a thin, iron staircase is timeless and elegant.”
The post at the end of the stairs, the newel, is an oft overlooked world of possibilities. A bold or detailed post can transform the entire case.
As much as we love a charming runner, something about a bare stair is so chic. Just make sure to apply a coat of anti-slip floor finish or incorporate adhesive grips so that wooden stairs aren’t a slippery hazard.
Remember that the stair case is prime real estate come the holidays. Still, this space can shine all year long.
Low Hanging Fruit
Just as the wall adjacent to the stairs is a wonderful spot to hang art, so to is the wall just below. Take advantage of all the wall space a staircase enables.
Shiplap is one of our favorite ways to seamlessly spruce up any space—and the staircase is no exception. Without any further adornments, this stairwell wall provides clean design, but can also be a foundation for more wall art.
If you’re lucky enough to have a window gracing your stairwell, then we envy your natural light. Boost the window’s design stronghold by adding a charming treatment.
Even if you tend to keep carpets throughout the house simple, the runner can break the mold. Add wow-factor to a simple space with a loud runner ascending the stairs.
A stunning chandelier or interesting set of sconces may be the finishing touches your stairwell is missing. Here, a coral-inspired fixture matches the effortlessly beachy entryway staircase.
Stylish open riser stairs all for light to pass right through the stairs. Instead of a heavy and prominent piece of the foyer, these open risers don’t stand out but still make a statement.
Here, these homeowners took advantage of the opportunity afforded by the staircase to bring a new color into the foyer. This pretty teal complements not only the foyer, but also surely makes an impression on the second floor at the top of the stairs.
A grand staircase often involves some twists and turns. If your stairwell can spare the space, make the most of available alcoves by adding pleasing furniture and decor.
This color-blocked stairwell is stylish and striking. Subtle intrigue is added by molding on the wall tracing the stairs.
“I love a beautiful runner and hand-forged iron,” says Riddle. “So, I love creating iron design on the staircase and I think that it makes a statement.”
A runner, wall art, and light fixtures aren’t the only potential decorative additions to the stairwell. If space allows, incorporate even more interest, like in this stairwell where blue and white vases tie together the foyer.
Deck out your stairway with wallpaper, vibrant art, and an eye-catching runner, or keep it simple. This staircase makes the most of wood, incorporating straightforward wood in multiple finishes, and matching wood furniture below and wicker wall art up high.
“I believe the staircase should blend in easily with the home’s design and surroundings,” says Meacham.
Here, the homeowner’s clear modern farmhouse style translates throughout the house and even on the stairs, where the railings are inspired by barn doors.
Matching Rug To Runner
In this stunning home, the stairway runner and the foyer rug are more like cousins than siblings. Their colors complement each other rather than being too matchy-matchy.
All the same decorating rules still apply on a non-average staircase. Whether it’s a spiral staircase or one that’s not in the foyer, a guiding path for elegant stairs is to consider a runner, art, and lighting.
A ladder is a cute and quirky addition to any home that instantly builds charm. Be sure to include deep-enough risers at not too steep intervals so that climbing the ladder is as easy as any other staircase.
“Simple, yet unique details enhance the surrounding spaces and blend beautifully with the rest of the house,” says Meacham. In this case, carvings in the wooden railing slats truly bring that simple yet stunning extra something-something.
In some cases, you may not want your staircase to be the focal point like you would in a foyer. Rather than making a bold statement, this staircase blends in to frame the home’s kitchen.
Black And White Base
If you’re one for bold seasonal decorating, establish your staircase as a place that’s able to support any festivities and its associated color scheme. Hardly a blank canvas and still interesting year-round, this black and white stairwell is sure to look lovely with warm-toned fall decor, Christmas color schemes, Easter adornments, or any other additions thrown its way.
“If you want to keep the budget down [on a stairway update], then you could paint the stairs a beautiful color, and then add a beautiful runner,” recommends Riddle. “Then later, add a great light and artwork.”
Carve out space below the stairs to establish the perfect reading nook. Pile up the space with pillows and padding for optimal coziness.
Vibrant colors are hardly the only way to decorate a visually interesting staircase. Here, intriguing patterns and textures—all in neutral colors—add up to a satisfying space that’s not wanting for more.
Because stairways are often in the foyer, they are a big part of guest’s first impressions of your home. This staircase certainly sets the tone for the rest of the home, in addition to literally forming a scene, thanks to non-repeating patterned wallpaper.