Stairway wall decor ideas: stylish ways to improve staircase walls

Give your staircase a stylish update to make the most of valuable wall space
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  • Create a space to pass by with interest, rather than letting the decor go unnoticed. Because most stairway wall decors are crying out for attention – welcoming the right stairway wall idea to enhance the pass-through space.

    Decorative staircase 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 decor 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.

    ‘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

    monochrome toile wallpaper

    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

    Wite and black stiarcase with black framed photographs

    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


    Image credit: 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 and plan a staggered display that subconsciously guides the eye up and down the stairs, in line with the angles of the stairs.

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

    4. Get creative with a painted wall mural

    Finished painted staircase mural with colourful abstract shapes on white background

    image credit: Rust-Oleum

    Add a fun element to a blank space with the introduction of a playful wall mural. Whether you stick to a stencilled design or decide to go freestyle a painted mural is a great way to add unique interest to walls in a stairwell.

    5. Inject personality with prints


    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. Use this idea 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.

    6. Keep styling simple and practical

    Staircase with round mirror and picture ledge

    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, 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 as so 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

    landing with black bird print wallpaper feature wall above stairs

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    Enhance a stairways decor in an instant by adding a show-stopping wallpaper design 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, ensuring 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 – a wallpapering job we’d recommend leaving to a professional.

    8. Hang a curated feature gallery wall

    picture wall in hallway derbyshire detached house tour

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    9. Create an alternative home office

    landing home office with wall shelving

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Amanda Turner

    Use the space on the landing 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. Setting up a home office in the area above a stairway not only maximises otherwise unused space, it prevents you having to set up in a ‘social’ room.

    10. Use the space for coats and shoe storage

    Staircase with coat hoooks and shoe cubby holes

    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 and shelving for shoes 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

    Stairway with 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, which is all this space really needs to make more of an impact.

    While thoughtful staircase lighting ideas can aid with illuminating the space, 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. ‘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

    landing with grey fox print wallpaper and mirrors

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme

    Enliven the area at the top of the stairs with a feature wall of decorative wallpaper with 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 for that the glass seamlessly edges into the design behind – a frame runs the risk of jarring with the flow.

    13. Elevate storage

    patterend carpet on stairs

    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 this idea and turn that theory on its head by choosing to use the space more efficiently by hanging wall-mounted storage units.

    14. Contrast colours to give the space depth


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Take an alternative approach to painting your stairwell by highlighting the stairs in a bold accent colour, such as this jolly yellow example, 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

    landing with mirrors

    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

    staircase gallery wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    When creating a feature wall of frames in a small stairway invite a mix of materials matching those that surround the space, to create 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 sheme. 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

    Hallway with wall-mounted handheld mirrors

    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 space 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

    landing with toy storage and book shelves

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Jonathan Gooch

    Use the walls at the top of your stairway to provide surprising storage ideas, 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

    Library print wallpaper on staircase

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    Add depth 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.

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