Staircase ideas – 22 ways to give your steps a stylish revamp and turn them into a statement feature

Greet your guests with a stylish and memorable statement as soon as they walk through the door

Floral wallpaper-covered teal stairs in a hallway with matching doors
(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

If you’re lucky enough to have a staircase in your home - as it suggests you have more than one floor of living space - it tends to be a neglected area as far as decorating goes. And yet this compact area is full of potential with endless possibilities and staircase ideas out there to try out.

Despite the fact that staircases and hallways in general are what you and your guests see as soon as they enter, this area is often forgotten or put off when decorating a home. But as it is a space that sets the tone for the rest of the house - you know what they say about first impressions - we’re rounded up 22 hallway ideas and our favourite ways to make your hallway staircase into an elevated and show-stopping feature of your home.

From gallery wall displays to paint ideas, there is something for everyone. Ready to make a stylish statement?

A staircase with a large wall mural of a countryside sceneryassignmen

(Image credit: Future PLC/Caroline Mardon)

Staircase ideas to inspire all homes

‘The hallway is often one of the first spaces in your home that guests see, but it can often be one of the last spaces to be decorated,’ confirms Esme Amberg, head of design at The Roost. ‘It's important for several reasons: decorating this space makes an impact and sets the tone for the rest of the home and in smaller homes, a well-designed hallway can make the entire living space feel larger and more open.’

And staircases are a big part of that. So without further ado, let’s dive in.

1. Add strategic lighting

A white staircase with a small gallery wall with varied frames

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

A good stairway lighting idea can really elevate the space and also make it look and feel cosier, despite being just a passage from point A to point B in your home. And there are several lighting options to choose from here.

‘A lovely way of adding a contemporary touch to a staircase is by adding recessed spot lights into the wall just above the treads; this will cast a wash of light horizontally across the treads,’ says interior designer Benji Lewis.

Olga Alexeeva, creative director of interior design studio Black & Milk, agrees, ‘To make a staircase stand out, you might install striking light fixtures or LED strips to highlight the staircase.’

But more traditional pendant lights or wall sconces also work, especially if you’re going for a comforting atmosphere.

‘Incorporating atmospheric lighting into a stylish wooden staircase is an excellent way to showcase the natural charm of the wood and make your stairs the star of the show,’ says Ian Tomlinson, managing director at Chaunceys Timber Flooring.

2. Choose the right paint finish for you

A hallway with star-patterned tiles and a black and white painted staircase

(Image credit: Future PLC/Philip Lauterbach)

If you’ve decided to give the area an update with a lick of paint and have learnt how to paint a staircase, then you’ll probably be aware that the paint you’ve chosen for the job is suitable for this purpose. And the finish of the paint plays a large role in this.

‘When choosing paint, it’s important to be mindful that staircases are high traffic areas, so we recommend a durable eggshell or gloss paint that will be sympathetic to any scuffs over time,’ Esme at The Roost says.

Olga at Black & Milk adds, ‘For the finish, a matte finish is recommended for a contemporary, understated look. It offers a modern, sophisticated appearance. A gloss finish, on the other hand, adds a polished, reflective quality, ideal for traditional settings.’

3. Adorn with a patterned runner

A grey staircase with a patterned black and white runner rug in a hallway

(Image credit: Future PLC/Malcolm Menzies)

Runners make for the perfect addition to a staircase as they add a level of texture and contrast. And a patterned design is an especially effective stair runner idea to inject your staircase with some pattern and colour.

‘To make a staircase look more interesting or stand out, consider choosing a stair runner with a unique pattern or a contrasting border,’ says Claire Garner, director of Claire Garner Interiors. ‘This choice immediately draws attention and adds character to the staircase.’

Benji Lewis continues, ‘Stair runners have been around forever and there are fantastic ways of adapting these to suit the feel you’re after. A striped flatweave runner is a safe bet. Alternatively go for something more bold. The addition of stair rods makes the look extra special; if I was after a trad feel I’d do these in antique brass or bronze, nickel or chrome is more contemporary.’

4. Choose a striking monochrome effect

Black stair case with gallery wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

Teaming black and white together never fails to look good. Choosing a rich black paint for the stairs is guaranteed to make a striking statement. Especially when set against white walls and charcoal-painted stripe in the hallway. 

If your home is a busy one, be mindful that while it is easy to learn how to paint a staircase for a quick update, it will scuff more easily than carpet. You can create a similar look with a black carpet, however, be aware that a solid dark colour may show every fleck. So a mixed tone may be more suitable if you don't want to have the vacuum out every day. 

'Carpets here have to be durable, practical – and beautiful,' says Rupert Anton at The Carpet Foundation. 'Staircases are probably the most heavily used areas, particularly in a busy, family home. 

'So a hard-wearing carpet is essential. For busy areas, I would suggest an 80% wool composition (or 50% at least). Remember, that carpet also insulates against noise.'

5. Go for glamour with brass

brass stairs

(Image credit: Future / James French)

It's hard to believe this glamorous staircase once had traditional spindles, a newel post and carpet. 

The owners, who run interior design and build firm @oakappledecor, replaced the old balustrade with this striking black slatted timber version. Then added sheets of mdf and brass strips to the stair risers, which has totally transformed the staircase. 

'I love the hint of glamour it brings, the stairs look spectacular when the light hits them,' says Marisa Lumley-Holmes, co-founder, @oakappledecor

6. Get colour-drenching

Hallway with charcoal grey staircase and door into downstairs toilet.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Colour drenching is having a serious moment right now, and one place this decorating trick works especially well is in hallway colour schemes.

Paint the stairs, walls, radiator and even ceiling and/or floor in one shade to create a serious statement. To slightly adapt the trend, choose tonal colours for impact but without focusing entirely on one shade.

'As bannisters can also really show wear and tear, consider going for a darker colour wood, or painting the bannister to match the darker colours used on the floor,' recommends Sophie Smith, founder of Zhoosh Paints

'This will prove a much more durable choice and also works really well to bring the lighter wall and patterned floor together, naturally drawing the eye up the staircase and furthering that feeling of spaciousness.'

7. Add a Mediterranean touch

Green hallway with tiled staircase and green chair next to stairs.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Looking for a slice of Mediterranean sun in the comfort of your own home? Tiling up the stairs will achieve the aura of a Spanish villa and add a flash of character with every step. 

Whether you choose to bring back mementoes from your latest summer trip or you find a style you love on the high street, this stair decorating idea is a great way to spruce up a staircase and add plenty of personality. Plus, they're easy to wipe down should any muddy shoes find their way upstairs.

8. Create a half-height look

Staircase with blue wall panelling half height on wall.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Wall panelling is a great way of making a staircase look well-considered and like an extension of the rest of your home, especially if you extend the same panelling through a hallway and landing. 

Adding a stair panelling idea in a half-height style makes it feel more spacious too, as it leads the eye to the top half of the wall. For added interest, learn how to wallpaper your stairs so that guests (and yourself) are greeted with a striking conversation piece.

9. Opt for an abstract bannister

Wooden panelled staircase with empty slats between.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Who says banisters have to be a traditional spindle style? There are so many unique banister ideas out there to try, depending on the style of your home and of course your own personal taste. 

A contemporary light oak design will make a hallway look brand new, and it even acts as a form of art in an open-plan entryway. More abstract-style banisters might be a bigger investment, but they're bound to give the entrance to your home the wow-factor. 

10. Bring the outdoors in

Hallway with green stair runner on painted white stairs.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

 A staircase and hallway form the joining of two spaces and are closely associated with leaving or entering the home. With this in mind, tying the outdoor environment into this area will make it feel bright, energetic and full of life. 

'Hallways are the first space that greets us when we come home, and they can set the tone for the rest of our day. That's why it's important to create a hallway that is both welcoming and calming,' says Michael Rolland, managing director at The Paint Shed. 'One way to do this is to use shades of green to create a seamless transition from the outside in.' 

We love this green stair runner idea that brings the on-trend shade to life up a staircase, and the darker shade is great at hiding muddy footprints too. 

11. Add natural materials

Curved staircase showing white stairs and a jute stair runner.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The best stairway carpet ideas are practical, durable and easy to clean. Jute ticks all of these boxes, so whether you choose to carpet your entire staircase in it, or opt for a stair runner, it's hard to go wrong. 

Natural materials have been increasingly popular for rugs around the home and they're relatively affordable to pick up at retailers such as IKEA. So, you don't need to worry about it becoming damaged by heavy footfall or dirty-pawed pets and you can instead enjoy the style it adds to a stairwell.

12. Work in red

Red wall panelling up the stairs.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Red paint is officially making a comeback as a paint trend, so if you're looking for a statement update to make to your stairway, then this is the route to follow. It might feel like a big commitment to make, but with a smaller space, there is so much scope to go as bold as possible. 

A more muted red offers a warm and homely feel which is perfect for trundling up the stairs to bed. Hallway paint ideas are also a quick way to update the space if you only have a weekend to spare for a project. 

13. Create a kids' zone

yellow wall with coat rack under staircase

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Keeping hallways neat and tidy in a family home is, well, something of a challenge. When settling on your staircase ideas, make sure you think about how your design could make your life a bit easier. The inclusion of a low-level coat rack, a bench, and individual baskets for shoes and outdoor paraphernalia will make good use of the space under the stairs.

Keep things design-led by painting the backdrop in a contrasting colour to that of the stairs themselves. This will also help visually zone off the area.

14. Boost light levels

hallway with stairs having glass banister

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jonathan Gooch)

One thing which isn't considered as often as it should be is how much light a staircase can block off. Keep things light and bright with a few simple tricks. A glass bannister will allow sunlight to pass through, and keeping the treads in a pale wood or paint will encourage available light to bounce around.

If natural light isn't enough, then Inbuilt footlights will work as a clever stairway lighting idea on darker days, and into the evenings.

15. Welcome pattern on the stairs

stairs with white banisters

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jo Bridges)

Not only will a pattern inject instant personality to a hallway colour scheme, but it's also highly practical. 'Patterns are perfect for high-traffic areas like hallways and staircases, where dust and dirt are repeatedly trodden into the carpet' says Jodie Hatton, residential designer at Brintons.

'We need little moments of joy throughout the home, so hallway decoration should be equally as smile-inducing as your living room or bedroom. It is the first space you see when returning from your daily walk, so why not make it special?'. We couldn't agree more.

16. Create a gallery wall display

A staircase with a gallery wall display and a rattan mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

The stairway is the ideal place to make the most of gallery wall ideas. Not only does it act as an eye-catching feature from the hallway, but it's also an everyday mood booster to see inspiring photos as you walk upstairs. 

'Complete the look with a gallery wall of artwork which spans the length of the staircase. Mix and match your frames for an eclectic look and incorporate colour from the space within the artwork to really tie the look together for an enviable entrance,' Esme at The Roost says.

We advise choosing matching frames and pictures with a theme. White is every gallery's preferred blank canvas, but a wooden bench and handrail add a little warmth to balance the look – check out the latest home decor discount codes to see if you can find similar pieces for less.

17. Keep the style simple

hallway with wooden stairs and white banisters

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Kasia Fizer)

Often a hallway can feel limiting on the style front, due to a lack of space – in which case, less is more. Using natural wood in a hallway can promote a Scandi aesthetic that leaves you breathing a sigh of relief as you walk through the door after a manic day.

Adding a potted plant or two can also enhance that calming sensation. Try to keep accessories to a minimum so that the overall effect is uncluttered and fresh. Opting for white painted stairs is also a great way to simplify the look even further.

18. Carpet for comfort

hallway with stairs having wool blend carpet

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Georgia Burns)

Carpet is a great choice for stairs – not only does it cushion your steps and absorb some of the noise as you and your family bound up and down the staircase, it's also durable. Given the stairs are one of the busiest thoroughfares in your home, that's key.

We'd recommend a tough wool or wool-blend carpet for a staircase, and ideally in a lighter colour. A stairwell can often be poorly lit, and choosing a darker shade will make the space look all the more gloomy and narrow. This needed make the space dull – here, palm print wallpaper adds vibrancy.

19. Make a statement with your spindles

hallway with stairs having colourful banisters

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Everard)

Bring your staircase to life by creating a fresh ombre effect. Paint each spindle a different shade using tester pots, but leave the handrail a natural wood. Not only is it an affordable and quick update, but it will transform the space. 

Finish the rest of the stairway in white to keep the space light and show off your handiwork. We promise that once you've learned how to paint a staircase, the rest is easy. 

20. Wallpaper your treads with a bold pattern

Floral wallpaper-covered teal stairs in a hallway with matching doors

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The trick here is to go bold and graphic, but to keep things neutral elsewhere. Here, white walls are a backdrop to a bright red. You could also use pops of primary colours, such as yellow green or the blue chair seen here.

21. Go for simple saturated white

white staircase

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Ok, so you may need to love cleaning, have someone who does it for you, or be exceptionally disciplined about taking shoes off at the door to pull this look off. 

However, white walls and a white painted staircase lends a calm elegance to a home. The wooden flooring and handrail stops it looking starck and keeps it the right side of serene and soothing.

22. Paint panels for a splash of colour

A staircase with painted steps in different bright colours with a neighbouring yellow hallway wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Dixon)

An easy and effective way to add colour and interest to a neutral hallway is to paint the stair risers in an invigorating shade.

We especially love the trend of rainbow staircase makeovers going around Instagram which is beautifully recreated in this image here.

FAQs

How to make a staircase look modern?

There are several different ways to make a staircase look modern but going down the minimalist route is a safe bet.

‘To make a staircase look modern, consider incorporating clean lines and simple, sleek designs with minimal ornamentation,’ advises Olga Alexeeva, creative director of Black & Milk. ‘Glass railings can replace traditional ones to create an open, airy feel with unobstructed views, while metal accents like stainless steel or iron add a sophisticated, industrial touch. Floating stairs, where the steps are secured to the wall with hidden supports, also enhance the modern aesthetic by creating a floating effect.’

A modern plain wood staircase with grey wall panelling and black railing

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

What is the latest staircase trend?

This year, there are a few both new and recurring home decor trends concerning stairways.

‘Current staircase trends include open risers, which are popular for their light, spacious look and are suitable for modern, open-concept homes,’ says Olga Alexeeva, creative director of Black & Milk.

Claire Garner, director of Claire Garner Interiors, continues, ‘Current staircase trends include the use of bold stair runners featuring vibrant colours and striking patterns. These can add a dynamic element to traditional homes, providing a modern twist that refreshes the space. Another enduring trend is using natural fibre runners made from materials like sisal or jute. These runners are popular for their eco-friendly appeal and suit both modern and classic homes looking to incorporate sustainable design elements.’

A staircase with black railing, a patterned runner and a teal-coloured built-in storage underneath

(Image credit: Chaunceys Timber Flooring)

How can I make my stairs look better?

How to make your stairs look better depends on the style of your home, and your own design preferences. That said, there are a few small but important additions which can seriously upgrade your staircase ideas.

'By updating and fitting new bannisters, treads, newels, and spindles, the whole staircase area can be completely transformed,' says staircase designer James Murray. 'Those all-important decorative touches, such as wrought iron spindles, can be used to introduce a touch of traditional elegance.'

Your choice of wood, and even glass, can also make all the difference. 'Oak creates an impression of warmth, quality and a sophistication,' advises James. 'Whilst Ash offers a lighter finish and a wilder grain for more visual variation.'

'The combination of oak paired with glass has become a very popular choice for hallway and staircase designs in recent years, particularly for more contemporary schemes,' James continues. 'Smoked oak helps to create a modern, stylish feel, and the addition of glass really opens up the space, allowing light to flood through, creating the impression of a bigger hallway area.'

Incorporating one or more ideas from this list into your staircase decor is pretty much guaranteed to transform the space and make you smile everytime you pass through.

Amy Cutmore
Contributor

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike. 

With contributions from