Stairway wall ideas – stylish ways to improve staircase walls

These smart stairway wall ideas will help you give your stairs a stylish update whilst making the most of valuable wall space

 

These smart staircase wall ideas will help you create a space to pass by with interest, rather than letting the decor go unnoticed. Most stairway walls are crying out for attention so welcoming the right wall decor will enhance the pass-through space.

Decorative staircase ideas and hallway ideas range from classic gallery walls of framed artwork to imaginative paint ideas to make a design statement. Wall panelling and decorative wallpapers also create statement decor elements, both worth considering for injecting maximum style impact into a small space.

Stairway wall ideas

'The wall at the top of the stairs can lend itself to many different types of art or mirror installations,' says Jenny Allan, founder of Jenny Allan Design, on Instagram at @jennyallandesign (opens in new tab).

'It is important to measure out all the proportions given the double height in a stairwell, so a standard size piece of art may well not be suitable. Gallery walls of art can work very well and are often popular in staircases, as well as sculptural pieces or a large statement canvas.'

'Landing spaces are tricky and can often be overlooked with the focus being on the main living spaces. But by adding suitable items to these areas it helps the overall scheme of a house feel cohesive and well thought through.'

1. Add elegance with wall panelling

Flowery light pink wall paper with carpeted stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

An elegant wall panelling idea is fabulous for any space, particularly a staircase where you can add maximum impact where minimal space is available. Decorative wall panels add a sense of grandeur to a staircase wall, creating a subtle yet sophisticated decor to frame the stairs.

Make even more of style statement with this idea by adding colour to the panelling or pattern to the wall above, with a characterful wallpaper.

2. Cover walls with coordinated framed artwork

Carpeted staircase with black and white photos on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Mark Luscombe-Whyte)

Why be subtle when you can make a statement? In an already narrow stairwell you can't be worried about making the space feel enclosed. You're almost better off owning it by decorating every inch of wall space to celebrate what you have to work with.

In this captivating staircase idea the decorating theme is striking monochrome, with gallery-like white walls to make the dramatic black and white prints in black frames stand out.

3. Stagger wall art to guide direction down a stairway

View of the stairway from a bedroom, with different size photo frames on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Use the direction of the stairs to dictate the layout of your chosen wall art running alongside the staircase. Carefully measure the space. Then plan a staggered display that subconsciously guides the eye up and down the stairs. This should be in line with the angles of the stairs.

Run a slither of contrasting colour paint below to go one step further for framing both the stairs and your chosen wall display.

4. Get creative with a painted wall mural

Bright mural painted staircase

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

Add a fun element to a blank space with the introduction of a playful wall mural. You might stick to a stencilled design or decide to go freestyle. Whichever you choose, painted stairway wall ideas, such as this mural, are a great way to add unique interest to walls.

5. Inject personality with prints

Dark black wood staircase with black framed photos on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

For a less formal feel mix and match frames and prints to create a less structured gallery wall idea that shows some personality. Simple and affordable stairway wall ideas, such as this one, allow you to add flashes of bold accent colours to contrast the decor surrounding the prints.

In this primarily monochrome scheme pops of pink and red go a long way to gain attention in the decorative space.

This homeowner has also opted to use the open space under the stairs to store a laundry basket, giving the space a more homely feel.

6. Keep styling simple and practical

white walled stairway with a small shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Kasia Fizer)

To keep things simple in a small hallway stick to minimal decoration on the walls. Keep the decorating in a bright neutral. Look out for the best white paint for the light aspect in the space will do the job perfectly.

Add purely functional and paired back accessories to the walls so as not to distract from the tranquil, clutter-free vibes.

This white hallway space consists of an on-trend round mirror and a slim shelf for keys, a few knick knacks and a potted plant.

7. Make a statement with wallpaper

White stairway with bird wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

Enhance a stairway's decor in an instant by adding a show-stopping wallpaper idea on the most dominant wall. That quite often will be either the wall running alongside the stairs or the wall above, depending on the layout of the staircase. Choose the wall that will welcome the most impact. Remember to ensure the paper is most-seen and given full attention.

Wallpapering a hallway or landing space requires great care and long ladders to reach the top. This is a wallpapering job we'd recommend leaving to a professional.

White stairway with different size photo frames on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

9. Create an alternative home office

Study desk with a lamp and photo frames above it

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Amanda Turner)

A smart landing idea if you're pushed for room is to use the space above the stairway to set up a smart alternative small home office idea. Use the walls within that space to mount motivational artwork and storage cubes to make it feel more like an office.

A space out on a landing might not seem like the most obvious place for an office. But when space is tight it provides the perfect solution. Some stairway wall ideas are all about maximising unused space. Setting up a home office in the area above a stairway does just that. But it also prevents you having to set up in a 'social' room.

10. Use the space for coats and shoe storage

Hallway which has storage spaces for clothes and shoes

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Make more of the limited space by giving it a purpose. This compact area on the landing features hanging space for coats. It also houses a clever hallway shoe storage idea in the form of open shelving with cupboards above. The space would otherwise be unused, making it a valuable zone to utilise for such a functional purpose.

11. Welcome a slice of light by adding a window

White stairway with a tall narrow window

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Claire Lloyd Davies)

In a dark stairway, adding a window can be totally transformative. In this light-deprived stairwell a narrow window has been added to welcome a slither of light to the setting. This is all the space really needs to make more of an impact.

Thoughtful stairway lighting ideas can aid with illuminating the space. But natural light will effortlessly flood the stairwell with light all day long.

'When adding a window to a stairwell you need to appoint a qualified builder who will be able to check the building regulations for your property,' explains Ryan Schofield, Director, Thames Valley Window Company (opens in new tab). 'It’s important to note that you will require planning approval for any windows above the ground floor, whether your property is listed or not.'

'Your builder will need to remove existing brickwork and install a Calculated lintel for structural support. You will then need to appoint a FENSA registered window installer to fit the window.

'The cost of installing a stairwell window will vary depending on the size, material and glazing option. The minimum cost for this work before the cost of the window would range between £1000-£2000.'

12. Pair wallpaper with mirrors for a feature wall

Wallpapered staircase with several mirrors on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

Enliven the area at the top of the stairs with a feature hallway wallpaper idea. Mirrors laid over the top to ensure all eyes are on that wall. The mirrors will help to reflect light around the space, making it feel airy and brighter – both by daylight and overhead lighting.

Frameless mirrors, such as these vintage style designs, work best so that the glass seamlessly edges into the design behind. A frame runs the risk of jarring with the flow.

13. Elevate storage

Staircase with patterned carpet and storages on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jo Bridges)

The higher level of a stairway is mostly redundant space, not easily reached and therefore not regarded as valuable space. Try turning that theory on its head by using the space more efficiently with wall-mounted storage units.

14. Contrast colours to give the space depth

Ombre staircase with a white marble table in the hallway

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

Take an alternative approach to painting a staircase by highlighting the stairs in a bold accent colour, such as this jolly yellow example. It is contrasted beautifully by a serene grey shade on the top half of the wall.

15. Introduce a wall of mirrors to make a landing light and airy

White landing with various sized mirrors on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Using the same principal of using mirrors to add light and decoration to a stairway, try hanging a selection of mirrors to fill an entire wall on a landing.

Ornate mirrors add a touch of on-trend Cottagcore charm to the look. Visit charity shops and boot sales to pick up a selection of traditional mirror treasures.

16. Compliment surrounding materials

Photo frames on the wall of a stair case, with blinded windows

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Creating a feature wall of frames in a small staircase invites a mix of materials matching those that surround the space. This creates a flow throughout the overall decor.

In this compact hallway scene the wooden banister idea and wooden Venetian blinds are echoed through the choices for frames, to create cohesion for the scheme. Rather than it all being matchy mathcy and too overpowering the wooden touches are balanced with white, grey and gilded accents.

17. Think outside the box for a mirror display

Circular mirrors on the wall line the stair case

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Brent Darby)

Hang mirrors to reflect light and add interest, but do it with a difference – hanging handheld designs to make a real impression. This stairway wall idea is given a quirky feel with the addition of a cluster of different mirror designs all hung to create an alternative gallery wall of sorts.

18. Utilise the wall for smart storage solutions

Carpeted landing with toy storage boxes

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jonathan Gooch)

Stairway wall ideas can be extremely practical. Use the walls at the top of your stairway to provide surprising storage, as overspill from the rooms beyond. Simple book ledges on this landing provides the perfect place to store books to avoid over crowding a small kids room.

19. Fake a sense of space with a clever wallpaper

Wood banister leading to a wallpapered wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

Add depth to your stairway wall ideas with a tromp l'oeil wallpaper that makes the wall appear to be a series of bookshelves. Although the look is busy it adds a depth to the layout because the right paper can be convincing enough to think there's an added layer of storage.

How do you decorate the wall at the top of the stairs?

'A staircase and landing space should be an area which is designed to keep the design flowing around the home. So any items placed there should tie in with the rest of the scheme,' says Jenny.

'It’s important not to overcrowd a landing and make it feel small, so a narrow console table can make an ideal choice. If space allows, an occasional chair or even a stylish chaise can give the area a cosy and put together feel. Landings can sometimes be dark spaces so having a table lamp or mirrors on the walls can make the area feel brighter and more welcoming.'

Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.