Anything humans have built or created was out of necessity, and stairs were one of them. Practical and stylish stairs have been used since ancient times. The history of stairs dates back to hewn logs or flat rocks placed for easier access to huts or caves.
The first stairs were built in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. That’s probably because caves were high enough for humans, and they still managed to get into the upper part of them.
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A staircase is a structure made of steps and railings connecting two building floors internally or externally. These often-overlooked architectural marvels have the power to connect different levels of the house and also enhance the room aesthetically.
Interesting Facts About Stairs
Before getting into different types of stairs, stair designs, and stairway decorating ideas, let’s share a few interesting facts about stairs that we bet you didn’t know:
- Spiral staircases in castles are always built to travel clockwise (ascending).
- The longest stairway in the world is in Switzerland.
- During World War II, Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione staged a performance in which an elephant climbed one floor of the Eiffel Tower.
- Stairs have been the subject of several Guinness World Records for decades.
- Only individuals under 60 can climb the spiral stairs in the Taihang Mountains in China.
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15 Types of Stairs Based on Shape
Every piece of furniture completes a home design puzzle. However, only a few elements can make an impressive impact when someone walks into a house. One of them is an outstanding staircase design.
Whether you are planning the layout of your split-level or a two-story home or need a stairs renovation in your current dwelling, you will inevitably need stairs. And those stairs will likely be one of the types below:
A straight stairway is the most basic and common type. Simple linear stair design makes them the easiest to build and install handrails. Most importantly, straight stairs are the most affordable type.
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Stairs with Landing (Top & Intermediate Landings)
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The L-shaped stairs are another version of straight stairs with a landing. They take up less space and can even be placed in the corner of the room. That’s thanks to their main feature of a 90-degree turn. Technically speaking, the L-shaped stairs need a support structure for the turn. Thus, L-shaped stairs are more expensive to build. Another disadvantage is transporting large items because the turn makes it difficult.
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Two straight staircases with a 180-degree turn are known as the U-shaped stairs. A large landing area between the stairs is perfect when transporting large items. U-shaped stairs are fancy and visually appealing without taking up lots of linear space. But on the other hand, they are pricier and more challenging to build.
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In the contemporary setting, a stair tower embodies a staircase enveloped by one or more walls of windows, crafting a tower-esque ambiance. Diverse designs exist, but the stair tower’s primary purpose is to infuse more natural light, not only illuminating the staircase but also spilling into adjoining spaces. Moreover, stair towers often incorporate elements reminiscent of rooms rather than mere corridors. Envision comfy seating areas, opulent chandeliers, and other adornments.
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If you’ve exited an apartment building via the stairs, you’ve probably used scissor stairs. They look like a pair of scissors and save lots of space. Most importantly, they are cost-effective. However, scissor stairs are not the safest anymore. Both flights of stairs in one enclosure provide two ways out in case of an emergency. The two different directions (upwards and downwards) can easily make people clash.
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Winders are turning stairs in which the turning part is hexagonal, pie-shaped, or triangular. Winders are perfect for small and sustainable interior decor, so they’re also becoming popular in modern stair design. A winder stair takes less space, but it is challenging to transport items due to the edge-shaped turn.
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Ladders Design Stairs
Ladder stairs are the best for tight spaces. They’re built in different styles, like fixed wooden ladders between beds or ladders designed with wheels (often used in libraries). A ladder is affordable but less safe to use than other stairs.
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Glamorous Arched Stairs
A curved staircase is a bent flight of stairs that doesn’t form a circle or spiral. Arched stairs are considered a classy element in modern and traditional interior decor. Curved stairs can be used with contemporary designs and DIY ideas to add a personal touch.
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These turned stairs are named circular because of their single center of curvature and large radius, which visually seems to form a circle. It’s perfect for office buildings, residences, and commercial places. The only disadvantages are the ample required space to build circular stairs and the high costs of getting suitable materials and professional workers.
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A cantilever or a floating staircase is just a new straight stair with treads attached to the wall to imitate a floating look. These stairs are perfect for modern decor and open spaces. Because it creates an empty space underneath the staircase, a floating stair is less safe for old people and kids.
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In a spiral staircase, the central turn has soft, turned treads. It’s also easy to install because its landing and center pole support the stair structure. They’re typically built to create a dramatic look in interior decor. Spirals are preferred for beach houses, city lofts, or tight-space office buildings.
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These grandiose stairs are composed of two pairs of stairs with wide steps. Bifurcated stairs are mainly placed in the entryway of a house. They help create privacy points between the first and second floors. A potential drawback is that they require solid architectural support. Thus, it’s among the most expensive types of stairs.
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Alternating tread stairs are visually appealing and fun since they make you jump the steps from one side to the other. Homeowners use them mainly as an alternative staircase for reaching the attic, basement, or other spaces where a standard staircase wouldn’t fit. They’re comfortable, safer than ladders, easy to use, and affordable. Alternating stairs are uncommon, so you need some practice properly climbing them.
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Top 5 Trending Stairway Ideas for 2023 & 2024
Before getting classy and breaking down different staircase design ideas for homes, let’s spill the tea on the latest stair design trends. People are primarily looking for these ideas in 2023, but these are likely to continue into 2024.
The idea of climbing stairs with no railings on the sides gives the feeling of safely walking up in the air. In other floating stairs, the risers don’t rest on wall studs but are attached to a metal structure inside the walls.
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Spiral & Helical Staircases
Curvy, spiral, and helical stairs will always stay in style. They’re the best for a grandiose entrance or to turn a place into a charming, luxurious space.
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Metal & Glass Staircases
The trending combination of materials is metal banisters or railings with glass-made steps (probably with LED lights). This is a modern stairs design often used for penthouses and office buildings.
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LED Staircase Lighting
Yes, low lighting for cozy vibes won’t come from the antique lamps on the corners anymore. Installing LED lights on treads and stair walls is one of the rising trends in 2023. That’s because lighted stairs look modern and are helpful to safely move around the house. This type of stairs is best for families with young children and elderly people.
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Turquoise Is The New Hit Color
An all-white staircase design, or simple tone palette will always look spectacular. That’s because it can easily give the idea of a spacious staircase in your home. Another noteworthy element in modern stair design is the use of turquoise. This color hits every corner and entrance of homes in contemporary staircases.
But why the vibrant turquoise? That’s because it’s a contrasting color for indoor decor. It either blends in with the rest of the furnishing or softly breaks the pattern and elevates the space.
Whether you place a turquoise carpet or paint the stair walls, this is an eye-catching color that won’t go unnoticed. It will always give the impression that you just recently redesigned the hallway. A popular use of turquoise is in the stairs tiles design on the treads. So go ahead and add turquoise to your design plan, whether it’s a makeover, a stairs redesign, or a new placement!
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10 Staircase Decorating Ideas — DIY Modern Stairs Ideas
Now that we’ve defined the main types of stairs based on different shapes and listed five secrets on the ongoing trends, you probably have a semi-clear idea of your ideal staircase. To further support your staircase journey, we’ve compiled ten inspiring stair design ideas to help you settle on a design that best suits your home.
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Go Vintage with a Wooden Staircase Design
The stairway at your house takes you from one floor to another. But it can also take you back in time. Embrace a cottage-style home, or add an art-deco theme, and you will feel like the owner of a French house.
Picture the rustic charm of a wooden railing that curves gracefully at the entrance of your house. Feel classic with earthy tones and natural materials for steps, treads, railings, banisters, and landings.
Traditional stair runners are beneficial as a budget-friendly stair design. You can use vintage-inspired ornaments, repurposed furniture, and wood as durable and natural materials.
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Carefully Consider Staircase Wall Ideas
Your staircase wall, often an overlooked element, holds the potential to transform the entire stair design into a fantastic masterpiece. Finding the perfect wall design for your staircase is another piece of the puzzle of your house decor.
Whether you want to design the wall behind or on the side of a staircase, there’s a wide variety of patterns you can play with. From a blank white wall to wall panels, floral wallpapers, and vintage frames, there’s a lot of what your creativity can choose.
Most homeowners use light colors on their walls to brighten the room.
From enchanting floral motifs to geometric figures, wallpaper offers a unique chance to add personality to your home.
Another suggestion is to create a library staircase by building bookshelves on the walls.
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Be Daring with Stairs Railing Design
Besides wall painting, you can be daring with banisters and stair railings, too. We add them to a staircase for maximum protection. Still, they can become a unique decorative element to enhance the stairwell decor.
So, if you want to shape a space that is uniquely and unapologetically yours, choose from various stair railing designs. Every twist and curve of the railing contributes to the overall ambiance. You can apply wooden half-snake railings, roped banisters, marble, or metal structures.
Get unusual and abstract by creating optical illusions with mirrors in the walls or uniform steel handrails. Helical staircase railings are the most challenging yet the most beautiful to build.
Whether you’re drawn to the elegance of glass, the rustic charm of wood, or the lovely look of marble, the possibilities to decorate with stair railings are endless.
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Add Extra Storage and Transform Your Staircase
You’re probably looking for how to design stairs because you’re thinking of what to do with the spandrel (the extra storage under the stairs). That’s because your stairs can be more than just a passage between floors, and you know it.
You can turn the spandrel into a multi-functional masterpiece. Our picks for under stairs ideas focus on turning your under-stairs space into a functional place:
- Add a few drawers, a sideboard, or a buffet table
- Organize a nice and small library
- Create a mini-hall with a fancy mirror and a pantry area
- Add a coat rack and a few wall hooks
- Turn it into a small washroom
- Turn it into your pet’s cozy place
- Build a functional kitchenette with a countertop, a microwave, and a wine rack
- Add a built-in bench or balloon chair, also known as a porter’s chair
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Define How Elegant You Want to Be with Different Modern Staircase Ideas
Less is more in minimalist decor, which couldn’t be different for modern stair design. Our first suggestion is to take a leap at contrasting strong colors. Moreover, you can frame your memories on a gallery wall for a nostalgic entrance. Secondly, neutral, light colors, or plain models are best for a simple and spacious look. Thirdly, glass and marble are the best materials to give a sense of modernity to stairs.
Remember that most modern types of staircases are open at the entrance. The main types of contemporary stair design are double stair flights, stairways with landings, flowing, winding, sculptural, wrap-around staircases, and helical and spiral ones.
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LED Lights for a Cozy and Modern Look
Imagine walking into each step with a subtle, enchanting glow. LED lights in staircase designs are a new innovation in interior decor. They add glimpses of magic and a contemporary look to your space. LED lights on stairs are highly preferred for modern penthouses, residential buildings, and office headquarters.
The best thing about LED lights is they can easily blend in with every current style. Whether your style leans towards minimalist chic or a vintage brownish vibe, adding LED lights to your stairway is a smart move. They will impress your guests, enhance the overall decor, and make you feel more relaxed every time you walk into your house.
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Break the Ice with Decorative Elements
If there is something you certainly don’t want to happen, that’s to put in a lot of effort and end up with a horrible result. So, our best suggestion is to think outside the box.
A big mirror on the wall or a bookshelf on the other side can be a great adornment. No, it won’t look messy at all. It will look stylish and, most importantly, practical.
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Feel free to add different decorations to your stairs. It’s the right space in your house to get creative. For example:
- Create a gallery with photos on the wall
- Hang a large tapestry
- Add a colorful rug
- Create a cozy reading nook
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Abstract Patterns — DIY Painting
How creative can you get with stair railing painting and tiles? Hand-painting on railings, treads, tiles, and balustrades is among the most recommended whimsical DIY design ideas. Celebrate the kid in you with a playful wall pattern or an abstract painting on the wall.
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You can DIY a gallery wall of black and white photos for an industrial style. Otherwise, add metal banisters or patterned ceramic tiles on the stair risers.
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Your creativity and vision to combine colors, patterns, and geometric figures are the keys to your house’s impressive stairway design. Geometry is always a nice optical illusion with the proper materials and unlimited fantasy.
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Impress with a Beautiful Double Staircase in the Entryway
A twin staircase can turn into the glamorous entrance in the main hall. Sometimes homeowners or fancy hotel owners build two bifurcated stairs (the ones you saw in the main hall of the Titanic ship) for a double luxurious look.
A dual staircase is visually striking and an over-the-top design element. Still, it’s impressive how the space between the two curvy stair flights can turn into a perfect small living room for guests.
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Let the Materials Define Your Stair Design
Combine different materials and let them work their magic. Let the natural beauty of wood, the sleek elegance of metal, and the charm of marble hues on glass and steel stairs design blend together and add visual weight to your home.
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5 More Staircase Design for Home Ideas
Your staircase can be an expression of authenticity. Read further about different types of color combinations, textiles, and materials for the stairs to, hopefully, ease your decision on which one fits your needs better.
Stair Design Ideas Based on Color Combos
What’s the first thing that grabs your attention when you walk into a room? The combination of colors! That’s exactly what we will suggest in this section. Here are 5 Top Stairs Designs based on colorings that enlighten our moods and emotions:
Combine two colors in the overall stairs design and let it be the magic attraction in your interior decor. For example, you can paint the treads and risers in one light shade (white) and use a strong contrasting color (black) for the stair wall.
Black and white is the most popular color combination in different aspects of interior design. Strong duos can be a perfect choice to define the style of your decor.
- White steps & black railings for a modern touch
- Blue walls and railings and white steps evoke beach vibes
- Brownish wooden railing & soft creamy steps are best for a classic country style
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You can try a nice palette of mint, yellow, or glimpses of red and green in the tropical stairs design. This design must give the idea of a forest, a garden, or a soft woodland.
Mint is great for small space stairs design. In contrast, bright tropical colors are preferred for a more daring staircase that will turn into a focal point of the entire decor.
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This is a very specific combination. It doesn’t indicate blending different colors but various shades. In some cases, there are no tones at all. You can go all-white for your stairs grill design and add family photos on the stair wall for a nostalgic corner.
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Sometimes, simple doesn’t always indicate an all-white paint or a few light colors combined together. For some homeowners, a simple design is also a dark-themed decor. You can design a staircase with a more gothic look in mind.
A possible combination is adding black metal railings and old wooden treads with a dark gray wall. A dark staircase should give the idea of being in a gothic place or a cold, “scary” staircase where you don’t know what to expect on the second floor. This is a specific stairs design for very distinctive preferences.
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Daring Combinations of Colors
Add a personal touch to your living space with hand-painted wallpaper, colorful steps, or railings. Whether it fits the rest of the interior design or not is up to your preferences. This combination is about being daring, bright, and personal with your stairs design. Hand-painting is usually preferred for stair tile design.
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We suggest being very picky and mindful when choosing long-lasting and hard-wearing paint for the treads or your staircase wall design. Ensure that your paint fits the chosen material of your stairs, and test each paint for a cohesive final match.
First, it’s best to paint your wall. Secondly, paint the railings. Thirdly, paint the treads and the steps last. That’s the best way to cover up and fix any accidental drips.
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Earthy tones combination, known differently as nature-centric colors, suits better low country, classic, or Mediterranean style. It varies from a white milky color with soft beige shades to dark chocolate tones.
Often, wooden stairs design comprise soft beige steps with classic chocolate grills and railings. These are a preferred choice for a simple and functional look.
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Materials for Any Type of Stairs
Glass is the only material that will add the missing elegance to your space. Using laminated and tempered glass adds a touch of transparency to your staircase. It opens up areas, allowing more daylight in.
However, glass stairs require regular maintenance. Also, glass is less practical than other stair materials for internal house use. However, it goes perfectly with modern interior decor, spacious rooms, or contemporary buildings.
Glass gives a luxurious look, so it’s a great choice for a spiral, L-shaped, or curved staircase. Glass also allows you to add a lovely painting on the wall. Still, for a more spacious look, opt for light colors on the wall and for the railings.
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Marble is a timeless material in stair design for homes because it’s beautiful and highly durable. It’s often used for L-shaped, curved, and circular stairs. Its unique simple pattern with a few bright hues makes it an adaptable material for different house decors.
Marble is among the few materials that look great and modern, even in an all-black layout. Imagine decorating your stairwell on the corner of your house as a black enigma. Black marble steps, treads, railings, balustrades, and walls.
Maybe you would like to go with a dark gray on the walls to lessen the dramatic look of your marbled corner. Still, avoid paintings and other decorative elements if you go for black marble. This material is enough for a breathtaking design.
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Bring the natural stone and wood from the outdoors inside your home with your stairs design in the corner or at the entrance. Wood is another timeless material due to its natural beauty and durability.
Wood provides warm tones and rich textures when creating railings and stairs. It’s ideal for all stairs, bringing a fantastic sense of traditional style. Wood hand railing is among the most popular elements on stairs.
You might want to envision and try floating stairs with wooden steps. Apply a light color palette, such as all-white walls and treads. Add LED lights for a more modern look.
Image source: Angela Bailey
Steel & Metal Stairwell
Steel and metal are the go-to materials for bringing industrial vibes to the house. However, these two materials are mostly preferred because they are adaptable for building durable steps and railings in a stairway.
Steel, metal, and marble are often mixed together. Both have evolved into icons of modern architectural elegance, particularly when adorning floating stairs.
Steel and metal staircases are a trending combination for stair design in 2023 and 2024. To give a warm touch to these strong materials, we can suggest a nice dark carpet on metal treads and some silver frames (pictures or mirrors) on the wall. This will make it look like an extension of the railings on steel.
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We bet you have walked in a pair of concrete stairs, thinking it was made of marble. Concrete is a composite material of rocks, cement, and other rough and fine aggregates.
It’s long-lasting and can be painted in different colors and designs, making it easy to adapt to the rest of the interior decor. Gray concrete treads work perfectly with dark metal railings and dark wall shelves.
Image source: Alex Rodríguez Santibáñez
Corian is often a replacement or an excellent addition to quartz and granite steps. That’s due to its wide variety of shades and its solid quality. Corian is the material for manufacturing treads and claddings with a sustainable surface. It’s perfect for foyers, helical, spiral, and all types of curved stairs in interior and exterior decor.
The best color palette that looks smooth and never out of style for corian-built staircases has soft creamy tones of white and beige. Corian steps fit exceptionally well with wooden furniture and vintage ornaments, giving the room a more country-themed look.
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5 Key Takeaways on Stairs Design
1. Stairs have been essential to human habitation since people lived in caves. Now, they have evolved in their design to complete their function by enhancing the entire house decor.
2. Staircases have a significant impact on both the practical and aesthetic appeal of a space. They connect different building levels and contribute to the overall interior design.
3. Space availability, budget, safety, and functionality should be considered when choosing a staircase design.
4. You can use various materials for staircase construction, including glass, marble, wood, steel, metal, concrete, and corian. Each material has its unique characteristics and advantages. The choice of material depends on its aesthetics, durability, and maintenance.
5. Suggested different color combinations for stairs include strong contrasting duos, tropical themes, simple shades, daring hand-painted designs, and earthy tones.
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Which Staircase Design is Best?
With a boundless variety of ideas at your fingertips, all we can highly recommend is to choose what aligns with your home’s architecture, your unique needs, and your aesthetic preferences.
How to Design Interior Stairs?
If you want to build a staircase, we highly recommend hiring a professional to place it correctly in your house.
If you’re looking for DIY design ideas, the best recommendation is to apply hand painting on stair walls and tiles between the risers. For more trending ideas, check the sections above.
If you’re wondering how to transform your stairs cheaply, the best style to implement is a vintage theme with repurposed furniture, old paintings, and DIY hand-painting.
Should Stairs Match Upstairs or Downstairs?
Both! Stairs should match both levels. However, find a middle ground for a suitable transition in case of a different flooring upstairs from downstairs.
What is the Rule of Staircase?
You mean the rules in plural! Every staircase element has some rules of thumb.
Ensure to build equal steps to prevent trips and falls. Usually, it requires 4 to 8 inches of height and 9 to 12 inches of width on every step, but you do what’s best for your space. Always measure carefully or hire a professional to do it for you.
What are the pros and cons of a spiral staircase?
A spiral staircase is the most preferred type of stairs. That’s because of its compact design, which is space-saving and adaptable with different decorative elements. They’re easy to install and undoubtedly offer an eye-catching design in the overall decor.
Still, a spiral staircase has some drawbacks, such as not being suitable for all spaces and limiting its use. It’s not the safest type of staircase as it’s less practical for transporting items between the floors. Spiral staircases are among the priciest kinds of stairs, too.