Whether your staircase flows into your living area or the foyer, structure and style can make or break your décor. So let’s rethink, renovate, or update those dingy or outdated stairs!

Keep in mind, of course, that staircase regulations and codes vary by state, and if you’re planning on replacing or completely overhauling your staircase you will definitely need to make sure it is up to code. For example, you may need to add a handrail to a new staircase, or you may be able to take one away, depending on your regional housing and construction codes.

How to Paint Stairs

If you plan on painting your staircase, there are few things you should consider before you start. First and foremost is the paint! You’ll of course want to purchase the correct primer and paint type for floors. You can’t just expect to purchase wall paint and use it on your floors. Floors see a lot more traffic than walls and therefore require a special type of paint.

The best paint to use for wooden stairs and floors is BEHR’s low-lustre enamel porch and patio floor paint. This paint is scuff resistant and can be color matched to any color in your house. Not only do you want to use the appropriate floor paint, you should also add paint additive to it so that it is not too slippery. A great paint additive is BEHR’s non-skid floor finish additive. It can be purchased at your local hardware store.

After selecting the right paint, you’ll want to paint the stairs with at least two coats of paint. If you are attempting to paint a faux runner on your stairs or other similar designs, you’ll also need to purchase a lot of painters tape or stencils!

Think you’ll need the help of a pro? No problem! Pro Referral’s got you covered.


The White Staircase

This 1915 Scandinavian villa has an airy openness and refinement achieved through contrast of finished materials with natural textures, craftsmanship, and pure, translucent radiating white.

Likewise, white continues to be a winner when it comes to the staircase and foyer. See how white staircases pop in these illuminated details of modern townhouses and updated Victorians. White, though it may seem mundane, can breathe life back into a home.

The Black Staircase

Urban Bush Babes took this staircase and hallway area from dated and cheap to haute modern. The designer was able to reconsider the entire design, while also taking advantage of an original open plan structure.

Urban Bush Babes Stair Redo After

Black is a wonderful match with industrial style railings, and concrete floor. Black can give richness, depth and warmth when used thoughtfully.

And on a smaller scale, Janet, of Style to Move Blog, also used this idea as the finishing touch for her sitting room. She used black paint for the adjacent staircase, making the stairs part of the sitting area and bringing a formally awkward space into the realm of well-thought-out decor.

How to Apply Wallpaper to Stairs

Like paint, wallpaper can be used on more than just walls. If you want an eclectic and very unique staircase to liven up your home, consider using patterned wallpaper to achieve the perfect look.

Applying wallpaper to the tops of stairs isn’t recommended because stairs see a lot of traffic, but applying wallpaper to the front of steps can produce a wonderful look. All you’ll need is great wallpaper, Modge Podge or another similar glue, a pencil, a tape measure, and scissors!

Now, although you may be thinking, “Great! I’ll just measure one step, cut out the appropriate size of paper, and then duplicate that same paper size,” that is not the case! Although each step might look like it’s the same size, chances are it’s not. You’ll need to measure each step to ensure that you cut the appropriate size of wallpaper.

The Patterned Staircase

The staircase below doesn’t just incorporate one style of wallpaper, it uses many! Just look at the variety of patterns used to make this staircase truly unique.


If you prefer a less eclectic design but still want to use wallpaper, take a look at the beautiful black and white staircase below. This designer picked out wallpaper that almost appears to be made stairs! All you have to do if you pick out a similar wallpaper is cut along the edge of the wallpapers pattern, creating a cheekily retro design.

How to Install a Stair Runner

If you want a more traditional look for your staircase, and don’t want to paint or use wallpaper, you can always install a carpeted stair runner. Stair runners come in all types of designs, from old fashioned to modern.

To install a stair runner you’ll need tackless strips, carpet padding, the carpeted runner, and a stapler. First, you’ll need to install the tackless strips at the base of each step and on the top, back part of each step. Next, you’ll cut the carpet padding to the length of the step or the length between each tackless strip. Lay the padding over each step and between the tackless strips. Finally, lay the runner over the padding and tackless strips, stapling the carpet into place under each step.

The Carpeted Staircase

This stair runner is completely unique. From now on when you think of carpeted stairs, you won’t think about an old-fashioned home.

Blue Beauty Staircase @homedit

This bespoke stair runner mimics water as it flows down the staircase and into the hallway. What a great idea!

Complete Remodels

Although the design tips above would enliven most staircases, some people want to completely remodel their stairs. A complete stair remodel isn’t a DIY project, and if you’re looking to have a remodel done, you’ll definitely need to hire a pro.

The featured staircases below are exceptional, and most people don’t have such works of art in their homes. Although these designs might not necessarily be attainable, one can dream, no?

The Wood Staircase

Australian Architectural Hardwoods uses recycled woods to build beautiful contemporary staircases, flooring, cladding, and screens for cantilevered stairs such as this extraordinary model. Cantilever stairs are the mark of contemporary design, and a fine screen can create a refined and bespoke sense of style.

AA Hardwoods Screen view

Another winner is One Kind Design’s transformation of a Venetian water tower. Once home to Charlie Chaplin, this renovation hosts a fantastic staircase with storage. The glass wall is a clever use of the home’s verticality.

The Open Staircase

Designer Lanthia Hogg replaces a formally enclosed outdated staircase with gala-ready contemporary stairs. This open design complements the glass windows and modern art. It also shows off a view of the landscape. This designer’s spectacular vision re-thinks the concept of stairs.

Images courtesy of Dust Jacket Attic,  Home Edit, Splendid Willow, Bjrk LindenUrban Bush BabesStyle to MoveThe Room EditLonnyAustralian Architectural HardwoodsKind Design, and Lanthia Hogg.


About The Author

Art+Design Consultant

Art historian by training, curator, writer and design lover. Principal of Art +Design Consulting. Lover of all things well made.