Painted stairs can be a real feature in a hallway. While big design decisions are made around hallway flooring, walls, wall art and lighting, steps and staircases can often get forgotten. But they are a great untapped resource, offering the possibility to do something fabulously decorative that doesn’t cost the earth.
Painting a staircase involves a bit of prep, but is generally a straightforward business. Remove any stair carpet and pads and brush down then vacuum thoroughly. Repair any damaged treads or risers and tighten up screws or knock in nails if you have any squeaks.
There are a few options with staircase design. Keep things simple with Brilliant White and do not add a stair runner. This is an inexpensive update that can have as much impact in a small narrow hallway as it does in a grand entrance hall. The beauty of plain white stairs is that you can add a second paint colour elsewhere: on other areas of the staircase, such as the hand rail, balusters or string (staircase skirting), or on an adjacent wall.
Painted stair treads in white can also be combined with wallpapered risers to introduce a touch of pattern. Look for toning or contrasting wallpaper designs and alternate with brightly painted risers.
Another option is to fit painted stairs with a stair runner. Because a runner doesn’t cover the entire width of the stair tread, it allows you to enjoy the beauty of the paintwork while still having the warmth and noise-masking benefits of carpet.
Painted stairs with patterned inserts (pictured)
Paint a staircase in Brilliant White and then choose a mix of bright paint colours and patterned wallpapers, one for each of the risers. Here, yellow and blue paint has been teamed with floral and abstract designs in pink and blue. Apply a coat or two of hardwearing clear varnish to protect against knocks and scuff marks.
Use a black-and-white decorating scheme to emphasise the dramatic lines of a painted, curving staircase. Here large-format tiles laid in diagonal chequerboard style set the scene for the upwards sweep of darkwood hand rails. A smart grey runner with black edging echoes the movement. One benefit of a runner is that it cuts down on some of the work – the middle section of the staircase can be left unpainted. This is a smart, glamorous scheme topped with a fun primary-bright coatstand that makes a fitting finishing touch.
If you like to keep your stairs neutral, this doesn’t mean you can’t bring in colour elsewhere. This modern hallway features a pastel yellow banister and panelling and a show-stopping zingy yellow feature wall, sure to stop all visitors in their tracks. Add a piece of oversized statement artwork to up those contemporary credentials even further.
Pick a contrasting colour to make a feature of your staircase. The stairs in this country cottage feature built-in cupboards and wood panelling, which have both been painted in off-white to match the walls. By contrast, balusters, hand rail, newel post and string or staircase skirting have been given a coat of on-trend charcoal grey. It’s a combination that makes an instant stand-out feature of the staircase – and the smart runner in bright red seals the deal.
Somerset Willow Company
Keep hallway stairs stripped and painted white, then bring in a selection of wallpaper designs. Here, vibrant blue in a mix of Moorish, striped and geometric patterns makes for an exceptional hallway. The designs have been hung in such a way that they trick the eye, making the path of the staircase intriguing. A seating area with traditional-style floor lamp adds another quirky touch.
Make the banister the star in a white hallway with painted stairs. This fabulous space uses graduated shades of green and blue to create a kaleidoscope of colour that rises, shade by shade, to the floor above. A darkwood hand rail adds definition to the design, with a series of ornate white picture frames introducing a touch of glamour.
Choose a feature paint shade that will make your staircase sing out. In this semi open-plan hall and living room, sunny yellow is the colour of choice for walls and understairs panelling. The plum shade of the staircase and skirting is in keeping with the glossy darkwood floor, but it is the stark contrast to the yellow that turns it into a feature. A soft pink and purple stair runner is a nice touch.
A white painted staircase is a glorious thing indeed, but if you also want white painted walls, think about ways to avoid bright white overload. This smart hallway has a stripped wood floor, which helps to balance out the scheme. Another way to do this is to look at any sections of wall and woodwork that may be able to carry off an alternate shade. Here, the hand rails have been picked out in grey, while the wall area below the staircase dado looks a treat in steely blue/grey.
Similar picture frames
Contrast white treads with coloured and wallpapered risers. Keep the colour scheme tight – this mix of greens and blues couldn’t be prettier – and think about repeating one of the wallpaper designs on the wall at the turn of the stairs. If your children have their rooms in a converted loft space, this kind of treatment is just perfect – get them to choose their favourite colours and patterns.
This charming cottage staircase is a compact design that’s full of character. To open up what would otherwise be a dark hallway, it has been painted off-white to contrast with the darkwood beams and oak-plank floor. Large heart motifs have been hung on the tongue-and-groove panelled and beamed walls, while smaller motifs in pretty patterned fabrics decorate the closed string section of the staircase, creating a pretty, folk-art feel.