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.
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  • 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.

    Not only does your staircase lighting need to be bright so that you and your family can use the stairs safely, but 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 stairway 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

    stairway lighting black painted hallway and stairs

    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 staircase and will give the space a focal point. A large single pendant will work in a large, square-shaped hallway, or try two smaller pendants if the space is long and narrow.

    3. Light up your hallway and staircase

    Stella pendant on a staircase with wood banisters from the hallway - pooky

    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 £153, come in three different sizes, so pick three 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

    stairway lighting red walls and white pompom lights

    Image credit: Sweetpea & Willow

    Wall lights can be tricky in a narrow staircase as anything too bulky could impede the journey 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

    stairway lighting wooden staircase with built-in stair lights

    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 the stairs. 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 are 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

    stairway lighting white hallway with picture gallery

    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.

    7. Add layers of light

    stairway lighting black hallway with wooden console and lamp

    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 hallway. 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

    stairway lighting white hallway with striped stair runner and wall lights

    Image credit: Davey Lighting

    For a long narrow hallway, upstairs landing or staircase idea, 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.

    9. Add impact in a stairwell

    stairway lighting white hallway with 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

    stairway lighting grey wall and door with gold wall light

    Image credit: B&Q

    Create a guiding light on a small 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

    stairway lighting neutral landing with glass chandelier

    Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith

    Make a dramatic impact with a chandelier situated directly above a staircase. If you have multiple floors, with a winding staircase, an elegant chandelier will look stunning in a central atrium down to a white hallway idea. Look up and you’ll see its glimmering crystals and look down from the top stairs and the bottom landings will be lit with its glow.

    12. Light the staircase from underneath

    lighting on an open staircase with Contour HD27 from John Cullen Lighting

    Image credit: John Cullen Lighting

    If you have a modern staircase with open backs, why not light the steps from underneath. These multifunctional 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 wall lights on wallpaper - pooky

    Image credit: Pooky

    Looking for wall sconces with a little more pizazz? These gold aluminium round Helix wall lights from Pooky, £81 each, 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 striking 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 walls of staircase - lighting direct

    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 - boco do lobo

    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 and 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

    buster and punch wall light on staircase - nest

    Image credit: Nest

    In a small modern home, it’s worth playing with lighting to double up as art. In this industrial style one plan living room, the staircase is lit with Buster and Punch caged wall light, £455. With exposed filament bulbs and marble effect backing, these wall lights adds drama, picking up the metal finishes of the staircase railing.

    17. Use fairy lights to light the way

    Fairy lights on a banister in a hallway - lights 4 fun

    Image credit: Lights 4 Fun

    During the festive season (and beyond) opt for fairy lights strung up 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 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.

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