15 staircase ideas to take your home to the next step of style

The only way is up with these creative and on-trend staircase ideas that will upgrade a functional space

Hallway with charcoal grey staircase and door into downstairs toilet.
(Image credit: Future PLC)

In more homes than not, the very first thing you will see upon entering are the stairs and hallway. The right staircase ideas can make all the difference in achieving the perfect first impression.

Of course, the staircase doesn't standalone, it needs to work with your hallway ideas to create cohesion. Really think about what you want your home to say when people enter it. The hallway and staircase will set the design tone for the rest of the house.

It's not all about just the structural wood that makes a difference. Make a statement with wallpaper, paint and textiles. Paint the risers in a descending or ascending rainbow of colours, or stick on decorative tiles for instant impact. The opportunities are endless, it's all about finding the right staircase idea that works for you. 

Staircase ideas to inspire all homes

Our staircase ideas will ensure you make the right impression first time. So whether it's to make yourself smile or to wow guests, it's worth taking the time to create a focal point to admire.

'A staircase can really impact a space,' says James Murray, Senior Staircase Designer, Neville Johnson. 'It can transform a hallway from the messy, cluttered area that it so often becomes, and into a bright and welcoming entrance to your home.'

'Think about what style you want and be sympathetic to the style and age of the house,' continues James. 'Consider other timbers in the home and tone in with these colours so the staircase can sit alongside other materials without clashing.'

1. 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 the hallway.

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 banisters can also really show wear and tear, consider going for a darker colour wood, or painting the banister 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.'

2. 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.

3. 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. And for added interest, let the eye meet a statement wallpaper so that guests (and yourself) are greeted with a striking conversation piece. Plus, learning how to wallpaper your stairs is simpler than it seems. 

4. 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. 

5. 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. 

6. 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.

7. Work in red

Red wall panelling up the stairs.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Red paint is officially making a comeback, 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. 

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Make it personal with curated photos

hallway with stairs white walls and bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Brent Darby)

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. 

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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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. 

15. Wallpaper your treads with a bold pattern

hallway staircase with floral patchwork

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jake Curtis)

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.

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.'

How do I make stairs more interesting?

There are many ways to make stairs more interesting. If on budget you can simply paint stairs to transform your hallway with little cost. You can be imaginative with wallpaper and tiles to add pattern to the risers, adding a slither of decoration with each step. Of course carpet is also a brilliant way to make your stairs more interesting, also more comforting underfoot.

Amy Cutmore

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