10 Ways to Step Up Your Staircase Decorating Skills

Take your stairscape to the next level with mega color, oversized art and special wall treatments to elevate stairs.

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October 24, 2018

Photo By: Jessica Brown

Photo By: David Christensen

Photo By: Carl Mattison

Photo By: Savage Interior Design

Photo By: BAMO

Photo By: Madcap Cottage

Photo By: David Christensen

Photo By: Madcap Cottage

Photo By: Balance Design

Photo By: Preston Cohen

Modern Meets Victorian

The blank walls of a stairwell don't have to go unadorned. A modern black-and-white mural contrasts with an old wooden staircase in this Atlanta home that mixes design styles and eras. The Eastlake-style Queen Anne Victorian dates to the 1890s, but homeowner Kelly Jackson added the mural by Sam Eckersley when she and her husband bought the home in 2017.

Celeb Style

A stairwell is a great place to curate an art collection. This designer showhouse staircase starts with an oversized oil on canvas of Mick Jagger, by artist Alexi Torres, and then leads to acrylic and ink paintings on paper, a black-and-white nude and collages, all with a contemporary bent.

Dark and Light

Instead of curtains or blinds, stained glass lets light in but provides privacy, says designer Carl Mattison. The stained glass was added by previous owners and brightens what otherwise would be a dark stairwell in a Queen Anne-style home dating to the early 1900s in Atlanta.

Black and White Wonder

Opt for drama, as Savage Interior Design did for a Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City. The grand mirrored stairwell wows with hand-applied plaster by MJ Atelier in a custom design that depicts Southern plant and animal life. The wrought iron railing is an ornate touch in the two-story stairwell.

Floating By

A staircase is a great place to try out a more elaborate wallpaper. In this Hong Kong villa, trees take over a two-story stairwell via luxury hand-painted wallpaper by de Gournay. The wallpaper, which uses the grisaille technique in shades of gray, was part of the interior design by Pamela Babey of BAMO. The scenery shifts from trees to clouds as the wood and marble staircase continues.

Storybook Stairwell

"Create a storyline, then bring that adventure to life," says Jason Oliver Nixon with Madcap Cottage and co-author of Prints Charming: Create Absolutely Beautiful Interiors with Prints & Patterns. In the stairwell at the House of Bedlam, the Madcap Cottage interior design team's North Carolina home, hand-painted details inspired by great English country estates brought this once-dark space to life. The stairwell, along with the foyer, is no longer a space to pass through, but a place you want to stop and appreciate the fantasy.

Clean and Contemporary

Create layers with wall paneling and a painting. A modern white grand foyer designed by Melanie Turner Interiors for a Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens in Atlanta features paneled walls and a contemporary artwork by Sally King Benedict. The staircase has a sisal stair runner. The entryway also has a settee, a twig cocktail table and a screen with fabric in a Cubist design.

Colorful Charmer

Think of the staircase as its own small room where you can set a unique mood. Don't fear color in a stairwell. The designers with Madcap Cottage mixed green and blue for a whimsical, lively space with prints large and small, from the paint on the stairs to the striped round rug and the framed images leading up the stairs.

Sleek and Satisfying

Serve up a double-duty space. Balance Design created a home bar adjacent to the stairwell, which now is part of the bar's design, thanks to a glass sheet that serves as the backsplash. The brick wall of the stairs now is displayed in the bungalow renovation.

Bold Hues

A color that would feel intense and overpowering in a large room can be just right in a staircase. A vivid blue runner and contemporary artwork create a vibrant stairwell in a home with European and traditional interiors. The home was built in the 1920s in a historic Atlanta neighborhood, and the palette spices up the space.

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