18 staircase design ideas

Want to up the style factor in your hallway by designing your staircase as more than just a transition from A to B? These stair design ideas will inspire you

Painted stairs by Little Greene
(Image credit: Little Greene)

If you're redesigning your hallway, making a feature of the stairs will give the space so much more character. Whether you choose a stylish runner, pick an unusual staircase design, give a period staircase a lick of paint or transform risers with stickers, it's a sure-fire, fast-track way to up the interest in an otherwise small space. Be inspired by these design ideas to make the right choice for your home, whatever its style or period.

1. Transform your risers with stickers

Whether you're on a tight budget, want a weekend project or are renting but looking to upscale your decor, updating risers with stair stickers is a great option. 

Wallpops' stickers are easy to apply – just peel and stick – and can be repositioned or removed without causing damage.

Find stunning stickers for walls in our design feature.

Stickers on stairs

(Image credit: Wallpops)

2. Use stickers to match hallway flooring

Want to match your stair risers to the floor tiles or wallpaper you’ve used in your hallway? Using a high resolution scanner, Purlfrost stickers can be created with a digital image of your chosen pattern by copying a tile sample of wallpaper swatch to create a co-ordinated look. 

Hallway with staircase decorated with stickers by Purlfrost

(Image credit: Purlfrost)

3. Paint a faux carpet runner on your stairs

Revamp your stairs by painting them with a colourful runner effect. Chances are that by the time you reach the top (or bottom depending where you started), you’ll be sorry you ever started this project, BUT the results are definitely worth the effort – and all you need is paint, brushes and masking tape.

Discover how to paint your stairs – and see more painted stair inspiration. 

Painted staircase in hallway by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

4. Create a contemporary effect with paint

We love the use of colour blocking here by Little Greene. The bright yellow stair risers really pop against the grey and black painted skirting boards (another decorative element not to overlook).

Find out more about creating the colour block look in our design feature.

Yellow painted risers by Little Greene

(Image credit: Little Greene)

5. Paint a traditional look with a contemporary twist

If yours is a period property and you want to give a contemporary nod to its history, painting the treads and risers but leaving where the runner might once have sat as varnished wood is one way to do so. It's a practical and durable option, too.

yellow finis staircase in period property

(Image credit: Richard Parsons )

6. Go all white for a light-filled hallway

Is your hallway starved of natural daylight? Painting the stairs all white to match the bannisters, walls and ceilings will make the space as bright as possible.

Find more ideas for lightening and brightening your hallway.

geometric print floor in hallway with white stiarcase

(Image credit: Lifestyle Floors)

7. Use lighting on treads to highlight your staircase

To create a contemporary feel, illuminate your steps by adding lighting at skirting level – or, as here, behind a panel on the wall. Hallway by MH Costa Construction.

Find more hallway lighting ideas in our design feature.

Hallway lighting on staircase by MH Costa Construction

(Image credit: MH Costa Construction)

8. Match tread lights with lit alcoves

Down-lit alcoves will give a staircase grandeur, make it feel taller (an ideal trick if it has a low ceiling) and provides display space, as well as practical lighting.

Find out how to light a hallway effectively in our advice-led feature. 

staircase with staircase lighting and recess lighting

(Image credit: James Simpson Lighting)

9. Build in staircase storage

Hallway storage is a must-have, and in small hallways you have to be particularly inventive. One creative solution for complete renovations where the staircase is being replaced is to create drawers within the steps themselves. This stair design is by Lipton Plant Architects

See more clever design ideas for making small hallways feel bigger.

Kelross Road Modern Staircase

(Image credit: Lipton Plant Architects)

10. Create storage under the stairs

That space under the stairs – who hasn't wondered how it could be better utilised? Time to make the most of  that cupboard under the stairs with under stair storage ideas. From practical, affordable shelving options to lavish wine rooms, you'll never underestimate the potential of this part of the house again. Mirror the cabinet fronts and you'll make it feel so much bigger, too.

Barbara Genda storage

(Image credit: Barbara Genda)

11. Pimp up your bannisters 

If banisters, banister posts, newel posts, spindles... or any other element is being replaced or created from scratch, why not do your best to make it a decorative element all of its own? Commissioning your own is, of course, the best way to get the look you want, but in period properties in particular, there's no reason not to opt for a salvage yard find or two to lift your staircase makeover. Try English Salvage.

ornate gilded staircase with dining chair

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

12. Paint bannisters a bold shade

If your banisters and spindles are in otherwise good condition and you want to create a contemporary appeal, one way to do so while maintaining your property's architectural integrity (and to show off shapely spindles) is to pick a paint colour for them and the banisters that contrasts with paintwork elsewhere in the hallway. 

50s style hallway with black floor, pink and patterned walls

(Image credit: Holly Jolliffe)

13. Up the light levels with an open-tread staircase

Whether you're replacing a staircase entirely or are designing a self build, open treads are a great idea for allowing as much light to flow through your hallway as possible. The downside? No storage space beneath.

industrial style hallway with lady and dog by front door

(Image credit: David Woolley)

14. Create a contemporary feel with open stairs

Love the open stair look? Painting them a bold colour will make them the hallway's focal feature. Be aware that building regulations around open stair treads are tight, so be informed before you start building or buying. Design by Van Ellen + Sheryn Architects.

And look no further for proper bike storage ideas.

Green stairs in hallway designed by Van Ellen + Sheryn Architects

(Image credit: Van Ellen + Sheryn Architects)

Stairways are a great place for creating a picture gallery. If space is tight, fix the pictures to the wall with Command Strips. This will prevent them from moving about every time you brush by them. Stair runner by Roger Oates.

For more gallery wall design ideas, see our feature.

Striped runner up stairs

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

Not sure where to start with your staircase gallery wall? Read our how to hang a gallery wall feature – and check out Instagrammer Lisa Dawson's expert tips in our video below.

17. Lay a bold runner to enhance your staircase

In hallways where you’ve chosen hard flooring, a runner like this one from Roger Oates on the stairs can help to reduce noise and feel soft and comfortable underfoot, too. Plus, picking bold stripes like this design will create a visual trick – that of lengthening the staircase, perfect in a small home.

Hallway with carpet runner up staircase by Roger Oates

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

18. Match your stair carpet to the hallway's

Got young kids, think patterned carpet's the best option but want a contemporary feel? Matching the carpet's colour to the bannisters and spindle and skirting is one way to go. As is choosing a dark-toned, patterned carpet that can disguise dirt and mess, and stand up to the wear and tear. Rossini carpet, Carpetright. 

Find advice and info on choosing a carpet in our buyer's guide.

Staircase and hallway with purple carpet by Carpetright

(Image credit: Carpetright)

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