Stairway lighting ideas – 17 stylish ways to light up your staircase

In need of lighting up a dark staircase? These stairway lighting ideas will brighten your stairs and create a real focal point to boot

If you're looking to brighten up a dark staircase, our stellar stairway lighting ideas will not only illuminate your stairs but will make them a focal point.

Your staircase lighting needs to be bright so that you and your family can use the stairs safely. Also hallway stairs are on an incline in probably the narrowest spot in your home meaning a lot of lighting ideas just won’t work in the space.

Jamie Moxey, Design Consultant at Dusk Lighting says, 'A stairway has the potential to become a beautiful focal feature as you enter a house. And lighting is one of the methods you can use to achieve this.'

'Lighting does not serve a purely practical function in the home, it can easily add striking design features and focal points for desired spaces. Therefore, it is worth considering if you can use your stairway lighting to enhance the overall look of the entryway.'

So without further ado, we show you how to light up your staircase ideas both practically and stylishly.

Stairway lighting ideas

1. Make a statement in a stairwell

stairway lighting black staircase with droplet pendant light

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Stairwells offer a great opportunity for something a bit more ‘showy’ when it comes to lighting. Make use of the extra height and space by choosing a multi-drop pendant or waterfall chandelier that will add wow in an entrance hall but add visual interest on levels going upstairs too.

2. Start with a well-lit hallway

Foyer with a black painted staircase & front door with a round pendant light

(Image credit: Original BTC)

Hallway lighting ideas and stairway lighting ideas differ to other areas of the home. Hallways tend to have few or no windows, so often there isn’t much natural light. And the size of the hallway can make it tricky to light too, if it’s small and poky or long and narrow.

An overhead pendant is a good starting point. It will provide general background light for the hall and light the foot of the staircase, giving the space a focal point. A large single pendant will work in a spacious, square-shaped hallway. Or try two smaller pendants if the space is long and narrow.

3. Light up your hallway and staircase

Star pendant lighting next to grey carpeted staircase with wooden banister

(Image credit: Pooky)

If you've got a fairly open hallway with a winding staircase, why not light the two areas with a pendant scheme? Pooky's Stella pendant lights, from £190, come in two different sizes, so pick one of each to create a statement cluster arrangement.

Pooky’s founder Rohan Blacker explains, 'No one dwells here so you can be daring with size and colour without disrupting the space beyond. Chandeliers or clusters of pendants are a nice way to add statement and grandeur to a hallway or base of a staircase.'

4. Have fun with fancy wall lights

White staircase with red walls and white pompom lights

(Image credit: Sweetpea & Willow)

Wall lights can be tricky in a narrow hallway or staircase as anything too bulky could impede the journey through the entrance or up the stairs. Choose a semi-flush design rather than a wall light with a sconce so that it doesn’t cause an obstacle.

Pooky’s founder Rohan Blacker explains more. 'The hallway is often the entry point to set the tone for the rest of your décor; the big reveal. So allow your personality to show with fun or unique lighting. Of course, whilst you should keep perspective in mind, you can afford to be quite bold in this space.'

5. Fit in-stair lighting

A wooden staircase with built-in stair lights and a white mirror on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

If you have a low ceiling height on your staircase, you could light up the stairs themselves instead to safely guide you up. Choose in-built low level lighting like in this wooden stairway.

'The best options for a practical consideration would be recessed low level lighting, which is often used on the stairs to focus light directly on the step and increase visibility,' says James Moxey, Design Consultant at Dusk Lighting.

6. Add wow with an oversized pendant

A white hallway with a picture gallery going up the staircase next to white door and pendant light

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

In a high-ceilinged hallway, opt for a large overhead pendant to give the space a focal point. Make sure that hall and stairway lights are controlled separately so you can switch them on and off whether upstairs or down.

Ensure that switches are positioned near doorways and at each level of the stairway so you won’t have to walk up or downstairs in darkness.

The stark white of this hallway and stairs is broken up by the soft grey stairway carpet and black picture frames on the wall.

7. Add layers of light

A black hallway with white staircase, wooden console and white lamp on a striped carpet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Boost lighting levels by working in extra layers of light in key places. Additional wall lights or a lamp near the foot of a staircase will cast extra light going upstairs, which can be useful in a dimly-lit entrance like the grey hallway shown above. Do the same on landings too. Just be sure that any cables and flexes are secured so that there’s no trip hazard.

8. Line up lights in a corridor

A white hallway with staircase with striped runner and lights and wooden coat hanger on the wall

(Image credit: Davey Lighting)

For a long narrow hallway, upstairs landing or staircase, try adding a row of wall lights. They’ll provide even and consistent lighting and will draw the eye along the space. Position in a strategic place, such as over a console table or near a coat rack. The traditional style lamps shown above complement the stair runner.

9. Add impact in a stairwell

A white hallway with staircase and blue glass pendant light

(Image credit: Fritz Fryer)

Choose a light fitting that suits the scale of your space. This smoky glass pendant sits perfectly above this low ceiling staircase with an L shape. Its stylish design picks up the slimline, metal detail bannister and adds a slick focal point.

10. Install a wall sconce on a landing

A grey wall and white door with gold wall light

(Image credit: B&Q)

Create a guiding light on a small hallway or staircase landing with a bright wall sconce. This wall light from B&Q, £25, is extra bright due to the exposed LED bulb which is will adequately light the way. Pair with a decorative filament bulb to create a contemporary industrial look.

11. Finish off with a 'wow' chandelier upstairs

A neutral landing with a glass chandelier and three doors

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

Make a dramatic impact with a chandelier situated directly above a staircase as shown in the landing idea above. If you have multiple floors, with a winding staircase, an elegant chandelier will look stunning in a central atrium down to a white hallway.

Look up and you'll see its glimmering crystals. Look down from the top stairs and you'll see the bottom landings lit with its glow.

12. Light the staircase from underneath

A modern wooden staircase with underlights in hallway with brown rug and sliding doors

(Image credit: John Cullen Lighting)

If you have a modern staircase with open backs, why not light the steps from underneath. These multi functional stair strip lights from John Cullen Lighting sit under each stair tread and uplight the wall in the courtyard beyond, creating a slick, modern finish to this minimalist stairway.

13. Guide guests upstairs with atmospheric wall lighting

Gold round wall lights on zig-zag wallpaper

(Image credit: Pooky)

Looking for wall sconces with a little more pizazz? These gold aluminium round Helix wall lights from Pooky, in a brushed finish are backlit to create a subtle, moody atmosphere, when lit up in the evening. Dependent on your hallway colour scheme, you could feature a striking stairway wall idea using wallpaper with them to really make then pack a punch.

Pooky's Founder, Rohan Blacker says, 'There's something slightly galactic or even ethereal about these wall sconces. The embedded, non-dimmable LED components shine back on the wall to create a lovely gentle glow that will add lovely warm dimension.'

14. Low level recessed wall lights

Recessed wall lights on grey wall next to wooden staircase

(Image credit: Lighting Direct)

Choose recessed lighting along the wall to light the way, like these Astro Leros Trimless LED Wall Light, £62 from Dusk Lighting. The recessed wall luminaire offers a special form of indirect lighting, giving the impression that the light comes from inside the wall itself.

15. Go for a dramatic light installation

Lighting installation over hallway and staircase in an open plan living area with fireplace

(Image credit: Boco do Lobo)

Create the ultimate statement at a staircase by installing a floor to ceiling light installation that hangs from the top of the stairs to the very bottom. During the day this celestial lighting design looks like art. Once on at night, it turns into a stunning, ethereal way to light up the stairway. This is a winning open plan living room idea.

16. Light up a small landing with industrial feature lights

A buster and punch wall light on staircase

(Image credit: Nest)

In a small modern home, it's worth playing with lighting to double up as art. In this industrial style open plan space, the staircase is lit with Buster and Punch caged wall light, £431. With exposed filament bulbs and marble effect backing, this wall light adds drama, picking up the metal finishes of the staircase railing.

17. Use fairy lights to light the way

Fairy lights on staircase banister in a hallway

(Image credit: Lights 4 Fun)

During the festive season (and beyond), a simple but effective bannister idea is to string fairy lights around the staircase spindles. They'll look stunning both during the day and at night, and will add a welcome twinkle to your hallway too.

Here's a great fairy light idea: if you have more than one staircase, you could continue up the next flight of stairs – perfect for guests when they pop to the loo in the middle of the night.

How do you light up a staircase?

There are lots of ways to light up a staircase. If you have an open staircase, you could opt for a pendant light on the landing. Light can reach down the flight of stairs and can have just the same effect as wall lights when chosen just right.

As staircases often have a lack of natural light, you could create an efficient lighting scheme on the landing to remedy this issue. Multiple pendant lights, either installed individually above the staircase or as part of one cluster design, is a modern look that will complement any contemporary home decor.

Suited to a more traditional style of home, a chandelier can be installed in an open hallway and also on the landing for a coordinated look that can expertly light up your staircase with a lavish touch.

Xander Shreenan, interior designer at home décor brand Dowsing & Reynolds says, 'Most staircases have walls facing each other so using wall-mounted lighting is great for creating a softer ambience in the space. Up and down lighting will emphasise the length of the walls and create a sense of grandeur.'

'Step lighting is a great way to enhance the architecture of your home whilst also making the stairs safer.'

'Your stairway is a great place to add a statement lighting piece. Although not your typical ‘room’, hanging a beautiful chandelier or pendant that speaks to your individuality can make all the difference to how you feel when you walk up and down the stairs each day.'

Where should lights be placed on a stairwell?

One of the most popular is hanging a ceiling light to keep your stairs well lit. Some prefer to light up the stairway on a low level to guide you up the stairs from the steps themselves. Or with recessed wall lights directly by the steps.

This unobtrusive lighting choice will not only look brilliant, but wired separately, these stair lights can be left on as nightlights to safely light up the stairs at night. Plus, choosing LED lights make this option energy efficient too.

Another savvy place to add staircase lighting is on walls. Downlighters or uplighters will work wonders. Just make sure you choose an option that gives off a bright light.

Jamie Moxey, Design Consultant at Dusk Lighting explains, 'The appropriate lighting is always imperative for a staircase due to the health and safety aspect. So dimly lit lights may not work well in this area unless they are being supplemented with additional light.'

Additional words by Lisa Fazzani.

Jenny McFarlane
Senior Digital Editor

Jenny is Senior Digital Editor and joined the team in 2021, working across Ideal Home, Real Homes, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc and Gardeningetc. Since getting on the property ladder, her passion for interior design and gardening has taken on a new lease of life. She loves collecting and salvaging unique items (much to her other half's despair) but sniffing out stylish home bargains is her one true love. When she has a spare minute, she loves crafting, having studied textiles at university – although she hardly gets the chance with her daughters keeping her permanently on her toes.